#BookReview Knock Knock (Lockhart & Green 1) by Chris Merritt @bookouture @DrCJMerritt

Title: Knock Knock (Lockhart & Green 1) by Chris Merritt

Publisher: Bookouture

Date Published: 17th March 2020

Genre: Police Procedural 

Description:

Natasha Mayston wasn’t expecting anyone to knock on her door so late at night. And she has no idea that the face staring back at her is the last one she’ll ever see…

As Detective Dan Lockhart is called to a wealthy London street to investigate Natasha’s death, he’s startled by the similarity to a previous case. Noticing the cable-tie restraints and the tiny scratches on Natasha’s wedding finger, Dan already knows what he will find if he looks in her mouth – the metal ball which choked her to death. He knows Natasha isn’t the killer’s first victim and is certain that he will strike again.

Months earlier, Kim Hardy was found in the same position in a run-down hotel across the city – an identical silver ball in her throat. But Kim’s murderer was caught and sent to prison – did they arrest the wrong man? And what connects the two victims? Fearing that he’s dealing with a psychopathic serial killer, Dan calls in psychologist Dr Lexi Green to help him to get into the perpetrator’s mind. Tough and smart, Lexi will stop at nothing to hunt down the man responsible for the deaths.

Then, another body is discovered, just as Lexi finds a clue online leading to the killer. Dan’s team aren’t convinced, but in pushing Lexi away from the investigation, they force her to dig further into the case on her own. Convinced that she’s on to something, she puts herself in unthinkable danger… but can Dan piece together the clues and identify the killer before it’s too late?

Fans of Angela Marsons, Robert Dugoni and Cara Hunter will love this thrilling new series from Chris Merritt. From an explosive start to a heart-stopping finale, you will not want to put this book down!

Review:

I want to thank Bookouture for my copy of this book (via NetGalley) in exchange for an honest review.

I’ve read a couple of Chris Merritt’s Zac Boateng series, so I was intrigued to see what these new characters, Detective Dan Lockhart and Dr Lexi Green, were like.

Knock Knock is a tension packed serial killer thriller and a great introduction to these new characters.

Dan is a former soldier suffering from mental health issues after his wife disappeared years earlier. Lexi is a talented psychiatrist who can hold her own in most situations. I sensed a bit of romantic tension between the two but having read Chris Merritt’s previous books he never makes anything easy for his characters! 

I really enjoyed the secondary cast of characters from Dan’s team, particularly Max, who’s not only a woman trying to make it in a male dominated profession but she’s also missing two fingers and a thumb on one of her hands. 

The serial killer in this novel was one of the most despicable I’ve come across, choking women with a metal ball. Yes, all serial killers are awful but this one’s hatred of women and all their accomplishments really dripped from the pages. 

I did get a little frustrated with Dan and his team, I mean they brought Lexi in and then pretty much ignored what she said. I hope in the future novels this changes!

This was a solid start to the series with plenty of room for characters to grow. I’m looking forward to reading the second instalment Who’s Next?

About The Author:

Hello! I’m a British author whose crime thrillers combine psychology, suspense, and characters you care about.

All my novels are set in London, where I live. My first trilogy starred Zac Boateng and Kat Jones, two detectives motivated by family, who tackle organised crime and police corruption. LAST WITNESS, the second Boateng and Jones book, reached #13 in the UK Kindle chart in 2019.

My second series features detective Dan Lockhart – an ex-soldier with a missing wife – and psychologist Dr Lexi Green, an American living in London. These novels are darker, more psychological serial-killer cases, with romantic relationships as a central theme.

I began writing fiction in 2014, after previous careers as a diplomat, based in Iraq and Jerusalem, and later as a psychologist working with victims and perpetrators of crime. I specialised in treating Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), which sparked my interest in telling stories about how people cope when faced with extreme adversity.

Now, I spend most of my time writing novels and drinking coffee while *thinking* about writing novels. When I’m not writing, I love climbing and playing basketball.

You can find out more about my work at http://www.cjmerritt.co.uk or follow me on Twitter @DrCJMerritt

#BookReview The Curator (Washington Poe 3) by M.W. Craven

Title: The Curator by MW Craven

Published: Constable

Date Published: 4th June 2020

Genre: Police Procedural

Description:

It’s Christmas and a serial killer is leaving displayed body parts all over Cumbria. A strange message is left at each scene: #BSC6. Called in to investigate, the National Crime Agency’s Washington Poe and Tilly Bradshaw are faced with a case that makes no sense. Why were some victims anaesthetized, while others died in appalling agony? Why is their only suspect denying what they can irrefutably prove but admitting to things they weren’t even aware of? And why did the victims all take the same two weeks off work three years earlier?

And when a disgraced FBI agent gets in touch things take an even darker turn. Because she doesn’t think Poe is dealing with a serial killer at all; she thinks he’s dealing with someone far, far worse – a man who calls himself the Curator.

And nothing will ever be the same again…

Review:

Ever since I picked up the Puppet Master a few years back this series has always been a must read for me and the third is no different.

Fingers are being displayed around Cumbria at Christmas, so Poe and Tilly are brought in to investigate. What seems to be a serial killer case takes an stranger turn when they discover a sinister figure, The Curator, is involved. Will they be able to find him before more people die?

The Curator is what I’ve come to expect with this series, a complex mystery, coupled with a few gruesome scenes and nail biting moments.

For me what makes the series a standout is Poe and Tilly. Their relationship is sweet, they’re very loyal to each other and always look out for one another, which makes the perfect contrast to the gruesome/upsetting murder cases they investigate. 

Truthfully, it kind of lost my attention a bit in the middle but the tense and emotional ending really made up for it.

The Curator is a good addition to this great series, I’m looking forward to Tilly and Poe’s next adventure!

About The Author:

M. W. Craven was born in Carlisle but grew up in Newcastle, running away to join the army at the tender age of sixteen. He spent the next ten years travelling the world having fun, leaving in 1995 to complete a degree in social work with specialisms in criminology and substance misuse. Thirty-one years after leaving Cumbria, he returned to take up a probation officer position in Whitehaven, eventually working his way up to chief officer grade. Sixteen years later he took the plunge, accepted redundancy and became a full-time author. He now has entirely different motivations for trying to get inside the minds of criminals . . .

M. W. Craven is married and lives in Carlisle with his wife, Joanne. When he isn’t out with his springer spaniel, or talking nonsense in the pub, he can usually be found at punk gigs and writing festivals up and down the country.

#BookReview A Fantasy Writers’ Handbook by Richie Billing @Magpie_Richie

Title: A Fantasy Writers’ Handbook by Richie Billing

Date Published: 12th June 2019

Genre: Non Fiction/Writing

Description:

‘A Fantasy Writers’ Handbook’ provides detailed guidance on the pillars of storytelling as well as aspects of writing that rarely feature in other books, such as writing fight scenes and world-building. At times the focus shifts away from the technical elements and considers the philosophies behind writing, ways to help you maintain focus, and methods of battling the demons of doubt that forever loom over our shoulders.

Section two explores the thriving genre of fantasy and the many facets that make it what it is, before looking at the histories of our world that so often inspire our fantasy tales.

The final part looks at the things that come after you’ve finished your story—formatting, peer-reviewing, finding publishers—and other things the contemporary writer can do to enhance their careers, such as making and maintaining a website, blogging, and marketing methods.

By the end, you’ll have a sound foundation upon which to build as well as the tools to venture on alone with courage and confidence.

Review:

This is a seriously overdue review, Richie Billing himself sent me a copy of this last year and I’ve only gotten round to reviewing it now!

I write mostly mystery but I’ve always had a bit of a fascination with fantasy but I thought there was no way I could write something like that, so I was interested to see what A Fantasy Writers’ Handbook had to offer.

Written in a friendly conversational style, A Fantasy Writers’ Handbook offers advice on characters, world building and even editing.

Don’t be put off by the title A Fantasy Writers’ Handbook because there are plenty of practical tips on things like characters and plotting that are helpful to any wannabe author no matter the genre.  

What made this standout for me was not only was there loads of writing advice, there were suggestions of extra reading on writing and editing which I really appreciated. 

Like most writing advice books, not everything will work for you but writing is a learning curve afterall!

A Fantasy Writers’ Handbook is a well written and helpful book that I’m glad I’ve got a copy of on my kindle shelf for when I want to tackle a fantasy story in the future.

About The Author:

Richie Billing writes fantasy fiction, historical fiction and stories of a darker nature. His short fiction has been published by, amongst others, Kzine, TANSTAAFL Press, Bewildering Stories, Liquid Imagination, The Magazine of History & Fiction, Aether and Ichor, and Far Horizons. His debut novel, Pariah’s Lament, will be published by Fiction Vortex in Summer 2020. He co-hosts the podcast The Fantasy Writers’ Toolshed, a venture inspired by the requests of readers of his acclaimed book on writing, A Fantasy Writers’ Handbook. Most nights you can find him up into the wee hours scribbling away or watching the NBA. Find out more at www.richiebilling.com.

#BookReview The Perfect Life by Valerie Keogh @ValerieKeogh1

Title: The Perfect Life by Valerie Keogh 

Date Published: 24th June 2020

Publisher: Bloodhound Books

Genre: Psychological Thriller

Description:

How far would you go to maintain the illusion of The Perfect Life?

Appearances can be deceptive…

Molly Chatwell has a beautiful house, a handsome husband, two children and a job she likes. It all seems so perfect but when her two children leave for university, she realises her life has become dull and empty. When her husband refuses to go away with her, Molly decides to go alone.

But what should have been a relaxing break turns into a nightmare.

Back at home in London, Molly tries to put it all behind her but when the police arrive at her door and tell her that a body has been found with connections to her, Molly realises that her perfect life is under threat…

Review:

I want to thank Valerie Keogh for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I really enjoy Valerie Keogh’s psychological thrillers so I was looking forward to this one.

The Perfect Life is a domestic noir story focussing on Molly Chatwell whose life seems perfect. She has a nice house and job. A great husband and two kids off at university. It’s only when she starts to really look at her life that she begins to see the cracks. A chance meeting with a stranger leaves her perfect life under threat.

I always love the way that Valerie Keogh creates such realistic and flawed characters. I really felt for Molly, suffering from empty nest syndrome and her husband is less than sympathetic about it.  

There’s plenty of peril for poor Molly along the way but I have to be honest I wasn’t entirely shocked by the ending.

The Perfect Life is a fast paced story with plenty of tension and intrigue, perfect for domestic noir fans.  

About The Author:

Valerie Keogh grew up reading Agatha Christie so when she started writing it seemed natural to write crime novels.

In March 2018, Valerie signed a two book contract with the publisher, Bookouture. The first of these, Secrets Between Us, was published in Nov 2018 and the second, The Housewife, in Feb 2019.

In June 2019, Valerie signed a three book contract with Bloodhound books. The first psychological thriller, The Three Women, was published in Feb 2020, the second is due in June 2020 and the third in Sept 2020. Bloodhound are also publishing Valerie’s Irish Crime series, the first of which, No Simple Death was published in Dec 2019, the second, No Obvious Cause in Jan 2020, the third, No Past Forgiven in March.

Valerie also writes a series based in the UK featuring Nicola Connolly, a serial killer. The Hudson and Connolly series: Deadly Sleep, Twisted Power, Bitter Business, and Wicked Secret.

Valerie has also written a stand-alone psychological thriller, Exit Five from Charing Cross

Like Valerie Keogh’s facebook page: facebook.com/valeriekeoghnovels

#BookReview The Brighton Mermaid by Dorothy Koomson

Title: The Brighton Mermaid by Dorothy Koomson

Date Published: 17th May 2018

Publisher: Cornerstone

Genre: Psychological Thriller

Description:

Brighton Beach, 1993

Teenagers Nell and Jude find the body of a young woman and when no one comes to claim her, she becomes known as the Brighton Mermaid. Nell is still struggling to move on when, three weeks later, Jude disappears.

Twenty-five years on, Nell is forced to quit her job to find out who the Brighton Mermaid really was – and what happened to her best friend that summer.

But as Nell edges closer to the truth, dangerous things start to happen. Someone seems to be watching her every move, and soon she starts to wonder who in her life she can actually trust …

Fast-paced and thrilling, The Brighton Mermaid explores the deadly secrets of those closest to you.

Review:

Another book that’s been gathering dust on my NetGalley shelf for no good reason.

Dorothy Koomson has been on my radar for the longest time but I’ve never gotten around to reading any of her books, until now.

What a fantastic read The Brighton Mermaid is, I’m really kicking myself for not getting around to reading this sooner.

The narrative is split between the past, when she found the Brighton mermaid and the unforeseen consequences and twenty five years later when it’s still unsolved.

What I relished about this book was the fact there was never a dull moment, the pace was constantly pulling me along.

I’m not usually a fan of first person POV but I really appreciated getting into the minds of both Nell and her younger sister Macy. They were so realistic. You can’t help but feel for them both. Nell seems tough and strong but won’t let anyone get too close, guided by her guilt she keeps digging into the Brighton Mermaid mystery regardless of the consequences. Macy on the other hand is much more fragile, I felt she was on a knife edge really at any moment her mental health issues might swallow her whole.

I also enjoyed the setting of Brighton which may not be a place I’ve ever been to but I could really picture the seaside town.

This book also covers the subject of racism, specifically back in the nineties. It was an utter disgrace that the police in general were allowed to get away with what they did and treat people like that.

The Brighton Mermaid is a fantastic twisty read that I just couldn’t get enough of. 

About The Author:

Dorothy Koomson is the award-winning author of 15 novels and has been making up stories since she was 13 when she used to share her stories with her convent schooldorothy koomson friends. Her published titles include: Tell Me Your Secret, The Brighton Mermaid, The Friend, When I Was Invisible, That Girl From Nowhere, The Flavours of Love, The Woman He Loved Before, Goodnight, Beautiful and The Chocolate Run.

Dorothy’s first novel, The Cupid Effect, was published in 2003 (when she was quite a bit older than 13). Her third book, My Best Friend’s Girl, was selected for the Richard & Judy Summer Reads of 2006 and went on to sell over 500,000 copies. While her fourth novel, Marshmallows For Breakfast, has sold in excess of 250,000 copies. Dorothy’s books, The Ice Cream Girls and The Rose Petal Beach were both shortlisted for the popular fiction category of the British Book Awards in 2010 and 2013, respectively.

Dorothy’s novels have been translated into over 30 languages, and a TV adaptation loosely based on The Ice Cream Girls was shown on ITV1 in 2013. After briefly living in Australia, Dorothy now lives in Brighton.

In 2019 Dorothy was awarded the Image Award by The Black British Business Awards to celebrate and honour her achievements.

For more information on Dorothy Koomson visit http://www.dorothykoomson.co.uk