#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

#Review The Dare by Carol Wyer @carolewyer @bookouture #NetGalley

Title: The Dare by Carol Wyer

Date Published: 25th April 2019

Publisher: Bookouture

Genre: Police procedural

Description:

Jane’s daughter is a good girl. But what is she hiding?

When thirteen-year-old Savannah Hopkins doesn’t come straight home from school as she always does, her mother Jane immediately raises the alarm. With her blonde ponytail and red school jumper, someone must have spotted Savannah.

Detective Natalie Ward is determined to help the distraught mother – her own daughter is the same age as Savannah. But before Natalie and her team can get started, their worst fears are confirmed when the teenager’s broken body is found in nearby shrubland.

Evidence points towards a local recluse, but just as Natalie closes the net around him, one of Savannah’s friends, Harriet, is reported missing. Harriet might look grown up and sophisticated but she is only fourteen…

As Natalie delves into the lives of both girls, she soon discovers a sinister video on both their phones, daring the girls to disappear from their families for 48 hours. She’s sure this is the key to the case, but before she can act, Harriet’s body is found discarded on a roadside.

Natalie’s superiors don’t have to put any extra pressure on Natalie. Devastated, she and her team work without sleep, watching that video over and over. But just as she thinks they’re getting close, the person Natalie loves more than anything goes missing.

Natalie is no stranger to loss. She is terrified and the clock is ticking. Can she push through her fear to catch this depraved killer, before her loved one becomes the next victim?

This gripping rollercoaster of a read will have you up in the small hours turning the pages. Fans of Angela Marsons, Rachel Caine and Robert Dugoni will love The Dare.

Review:

So this is the third in the DI Natalie Ward series and actually the first one I’ve read. I think it works perfectly well as a stand alone but if you want to get the full back story you should probably start with the first in the series, The Birthday.

When Savannah Hopkins goes missing, everyone is hoping that she will just turn up. Natalie is assigned to the case but their worst fears are confirmed when she’s found dead near her house.

A second girl goes missing and a disturbing video turns up on a website daring people to disappear. With her boss breathing down her neck, can Natalie and her team get to the bottom of it before another girl gets hurt?

When I finished this book, I said to myself, why haven’t I started reading this series sooner??? It really gripped me from the very beginning with loads of twists and turns.

This is such a realistic and scary scenario. It’s every parent’s nightmare if your child doesn’t come home from school, I know it’s one of my top fears as the mother of a teenage boy (even if he is a grumpy bugger most the time).

I also enjoyed the little snippets throughout the book from the killer’s perspective, giving the story that extra bit of creepiness. 

I liked Natalie. She’s a meticulous detective but also battling a complicated home life, with a husband she’s not sure she can trust and teenaged children.

I did have an idea of who the killer was but boy did Carol Wyer keep me on my toes, second guessing myself, until the end.

The Dare is a gripping and realistic police procedural that will keep you guessing until the very end.

About The Author:

Carol Wyer is an award-winning author and stand up comedian who writes feel-goodimage1 (1) comedies and gripping thrillers.

Her book, GRUMPY OLD MENOPAUSE won The People’s Book Prize Award for non-fiction 2015.

Carol moved to the ‘dark side’ in 2017 with the first Di Robyn Carter thriller. LITTLE GIRL LOST became the #2 best-selling book on Amazon, #9 best-selling audiobook on Audible and a Top 150 USA Today best-seller.

To date the DI Robyn Carter and DI Natalie Ward series have sold over half a million copies, earning her acclaim as a crime writer.

2019 sees the release of two romantic comedies and three DI Natalie Ward novels, including the much anticipated THE DARE and THE SLEEPOVER.

Carol has been interviewed on numerous radio shows discussing ”Irritable Male Syndrome’ and ‘Ageing Disgracefully’ and on BBC Breakfast television. She has had articles published in national magazines ‘Woman’s Weekly’ featured in ‘Take A Break’, ‘Choice’, ‘Yours’ and ‘Woman’s Own’ magazines and the Huffington Post.

To learn more about Carol, go to http://www.carolwyer.co.uk or follow Carol on Twitter: @carolewyer.

Carol also blogs at www.carolwyer.com

#Review The Retreat by Sherri Smith #NetGalley #PsychologicalThriller

Title: The Retreat by Sherri Smith

Date Published: 13th August 2019

Genre: Psychological Thriller

Description:

Sherri Smith illuminates the dark side of the self-care and wellness industry in a thrilling ride of revenge perfect for fans of Liane Moriarty’s Nine Perfect Strangers.

Katie Manning was a beloved child star until her mid-teens when her manager attacked and permanently scarred her face, effectively ending her career and sending her on a path of all-too-familiar post-Hollywood self-destruction.

Now twenty-seven, Katie wants a better answer to those clickbait “Where Are They Now?” articles that float around online. An answer she hopes to find when her brother’s too-good-to-be-true fiancée invites her to a wellness retreat upstate. Together with Katie’s two best friends—one struggling with crippling debt and family obligations, one running away from a failed job and relationship—Katie will try to find the inner peace promised at the tranquil retreat. But finding oneself just might drudge up more memories than Katie is prepared to deal with.

Each woman has come to the retreat for different reasons. Each has her secrets to hide. And at the end of this weekend, only one will be left standing.

Review:

Kate Manning is a trouble child star who thinks a wellness retreat, suggested by her brother’s fiancée Ellie, my be just the cure for her car crash of a life. She invites her two best friends, Carmen and Ariel.

When they get there everything quickly turns into a nightmare, until there is only one left standing.

The Retreat is slow burn psychological thriller with a hint of menace and plenty of creepiness running throughout.

Each of the characters were interesting, each with some secret they’re hiding. Ellie seems too perfect, Ariel is running away from something, Kate is struggling, drinking too much  and Carmen desperately needs money to help her family survive. None of them are particularly likeable but I think it works well for this story.

Fair warning there is a fair bit of drug use/sexual scenes scattered throughout the novel which I know some readers may not like.

Then there was the ending. I personally didn’t think it was all that surprising which was a shame because the rest of the story was quite gripping.

Overall The Retreat was creepy and compelling psychological thriller that I’d recommend for fans of this genre.

About The Author:

Sherri Smith has previously written two historical fiction novels for Simon & Schuster UK. Whensherri smith not writing she spends time with her family, three rescue dogs and restores vintage furniture that would otherwise be destined for the dump. She lives in Winnipeg, Canada where the long, cold winters nurture her dark side. FOLLOW ME DOWN (Forge Books, March 2017) is her first thriller.

#Review The Last by Hanna Jameson #Dytopian #Mystery #NetGalley

Title: The Last by Hanna Jameson

Publisher: Viking

Date Published: 31st January 2019

Genre: Dystopian/Mystery

Description:

BREAKING: Nuclear weapon detonates over Washington

Historian Jon Keller is on a trip to Switzerland when the world ends. As the lights go out on civilisation, he wishes he had a way of knowing whether his wife, Nadia, and their two daughters are still alive. More than anything, Jon wishes he hadn’t ignored Nadia’s last message.

Twenty people remain in Jon’s hotel. Far from the nearest city and walled in by towering trees, they wait, they survive.

Then one day, the body of a young girl is found. It’s clear she has been murdered. Which means that someone in the hotel is a killer.

As paranoia descends, Jon decides to investigate. But how far is he willing to go in pursuit of justice? And what kind of justice can he hope for, when society as he knows it no longer exists?

Review:

Jon Keller is at a conference in Switzerland at L’Hotel Sixième when the world ends. He is just trying to survive in this strange land but he comes across the body of a young girl, he’s convinced someone in the hotel is the killer.

So I have mixed feelings about this book, which is making writing this review quite hard but I’ll try my best!

The characterisation is really strong, with each character different and unique, if not all that likeable.

We see the whole story through Jon’s diary. He claims that he’s writing it down for historical purposes but like when he starts investigating the little girls death it’s more about keeping his sanity than anything else.

The hotel is almost like a character itself. A blood soaked history, with murders, suicides, even a serial killer stayed there once! I feel that this could have been played with a little more, really amping up the horror factor.

I have to be honest as a piece of dystopian fiction it’s great, as a mystery, which is what I expected it to be from the blurb…not so much. I almost DNF at 40%, but I kept on just because I really wanted to find out what happened to the little girl, yet in the ending for me, felt a little lacklustre.

I’d recommend this to people who love a realistic dystopian novel with complex and intriguing characters.

About The Author: (Taken from Goodreads)

Hanna Jameson’s fourth novel, part murder mystery and part post-apocalyptic thriller – THE LAST – is out early 2019, with Viking UK and Simon & Schuster – Atria Books US. The Last is the story of an American academic searching for the truth about a girl who has been murdered in his Swiss hotel in the aftermath of a nuclear war that has destroyed most of the Western world.

Jameson had written the first draft of her debut, award-nominated novel – SOMETHING YOU ARE – at just seventeen. Something You Are and two further novels in the series – GIRL SEVEN and ROAD KILL – are available now in the UK, Germany, Japan, and the Netherlands.

She lives in London currently, and is working on screenwriting projects. She likes whiskey, history, and emotionally taxing TV shows.

#Review Truth And Lies by Caroline Mitchell @Caroline_writes @AmazonPub

Title: Truth And Lies by Caroline Mitchell

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

Date Published: 30th August 2018

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Description:

Meet Amy Winter: Detective Inspector, daughter of a serial killer.

DI Amy Winter is hoping to follow in the footsteps of her highly respected police officer father. But when a letter arrives from the prison cell of Lillian Grimes, one half of a notorious husband-and-wife serial-killer team, it contains a revelation that will tear her life apart.

Responsible for a string of heinous killings decades ago, Lillian is pure evil. A psychopathic murderer. And Amy’s biological mother. Now, she is ready to reveal the location of three of her victims—but only if Amy plays along with her twisted game.

While her fellow detectives frantically search for a young girl taken from her mother’s doorstep, Amy must confront her own dark past. Haunted by blurred memories of a sister who sacrificed herself to save her, Amy faces a race against time to uncover the missing bodies.

But what if, from behind bars, Grimes has been pulling the strings even tighter than Amy thought? And can she overcome her demons to prevent another murder?

Review:

After the sudden death of her father, DI Amy Winters receives a letter from the ‘Beast from Brentwood’ Lillian Grimes claiming she’s her mother. She also claims that she’ll give her the locations of the remains of the last victims but only if she does as Lillian says.

At the same time a young girl, Hemmy, is kidnapped with precious few leads but Amy’s focus is not on the case. Can Amy and her team pull it together before something happens to Hemmy?

This is another ‘why didn’t I read this sooner’ book! This was such a riveting read, with so many twists and turns…I just loved everything about it!

The way the two main characters Lillian and Amy play off each other is so fascinating and I think would make an excellent TV show (throwing the hint out there ITV).

Serial killers I think for the most part fascinate most people but Lillian is the rarer type being a woman. She is an utterly despicable character, reminding me of someone like Rose West or Myra Hindley. A complete psychopath that can turn from charming to cruel at the drop of a hat but what I enjoyed most was the way the author casts doubt, was she framed or is it just more lies?

At first Amy is so confident, ambitious, head of her own team, she’s on her way to making DCI then she finds out she’s the daughter of serial killers. It’d be enough to throw anyone through a hoop, never mind a police officer. She starts to doubt herself, feeling tainted and wondering if she could be psychopath herself.

An honourable mention goes to Amy’s second in command, DS Patrick Byrne who is a bit of a complex character, unable to leave his abusive wife yet he’s fallen in love with another woman. I like the way that it spotlighted the fact that domestic abuse doesn’t just happen to women.

Overall Truth and Lies is an utterly brilliant book with so many compelling characters, a must for fans of serial killer thrillers.

About the Author:

A former police detective, Caroline Mitchell now writes full time.

She has worked in CID and specialised in roles dealing with the vulnerable victims—high-risk victims of domestic abuse and serious sexual offences. The mental strength shown by the victims of these crimes is a constant source of inspiration to her, and Mitchell combines their tenacity with her knowledge of police procedure to create tense psychological thrillers.

Originally from Ireland, she now lives in a pretty village on the coast of Essex with her husband and three children.

You can find out more about her at http://www.caroline-writes.com, or follow her on Twitter (@caroline_writes) or Facebook (www.facebook.com/CMitchellAuthor/).

#Review Whistle In The Dark by Emma Healey

Hello everyone and welcome to my last review of the year!

Title: Whistle in the Dark by Emma Healey

Publisher: Penguin

Date Published: 3rd May 2018

Genre: Women’s Fiction

Description:

In the award-winning Elizabeth is Missing debut novelist Emma Healey explored grandmother Maud’s attempt to solve a70-year-old mystery as she succumbed to dementia.

Now, in her dazzling follow-up Whistle in the Dark, we meet Jen, mother to 15-year-old Lana – who has just been found after going missing for four desperate days. Lana can’t talk about the missing days. As her daughter’s life falls apart, Jen turns detective to discover what happened . . .

How do you rescue someone who has already been found?

Jen’s fifteen-year-old daughter goes missing for four agonizing days. When Lana is found, unharmed, in the middle of the desolate countryside, everyone thinks the worst is over. But Lana refuses to tell anyone what happened, and the police think the case is closed. The once-happy, loving family returns to London, where things start to fall apart. Lana begins acting strangely: refusing to go to school, and sleeping with the light on.


With her daughter increasingly becoming a stranger, Jen is sure the answer lies in those four missing days. But will Lana ever reveal what happened?

Review:

So I absolutely adored Elizabeth Is Missing by Emma Healey so I was so excited when I heard about her new book and unfortunately it’s taken me this long to get round to reading it!

Whistle In The Dark opens with Jen’s suicidal fifteen year old daughter Lana being found after being missing for four days. Lana refuses point blank to tell her what happened to her saying she doesn’t remember. This sets Jen’s overactive imagination into overdrive, until she follows her daughters footsteps and finds out what really happened to her.

The book pulled me in with the dream like style of writing and the added mystery about where had Lana been. Had she been abducted or something else? Why won’t she tell anyone what happened to her? I was imagining all sorts I can tell you!

The characters are very realistic, especially Lana who reminded me so much of my moody teenage son. I have to be honest though pretty much all the story is told from Jen’s point of view, while she has this child-like overactive imagination, she is also pretty neurotic which grated on my nerves a little bit.

I will say this it does show a quite unflinching view of depression which I appreciated and also showed it from the parents perspective, the feeling of hopelessness and inadequacy that someone who’s child is suffering might feel.

Unfortunately I felt like it missed the mark slightly, mainly because I was expecting a little bit more mystery and intrigue and it kind of just morphed into a family drama (that’s why I marked this as women’sfiction rather than mystery/thriller). In all honesty the only reason I got to the end was to find out what happened to Lana which I found disappointing.

I’d recommend Whistle in the dark to anyone who enjoys realistic characters mixed with family dramas.

About The Author:

Emma Healey wrote her first short story when she was four, told her teachers she was going to be a writer when she was eight, but had learnt better by twelve and had decided on being a litigator (inspired entirely by the film Clueless). It took another ten years before she came back to writing. She grew up in London where she went to art college and completed her first degree in bookbinding. She then worked for two libraries, two bookshops, two art galleries and two universities, and was busily pursuing a career in the art world before writing overtook everything. She moved to Norwich in 2010 to study for the MA in Creative Writing at UEA and never moved back again.