Local Gone Missing by Fiona Barton – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

Everyone watches their neighbours.

Elise King moves into the sleepy seaside town of Ebbing. Illness has thrown her career as a successful detective into doubt, but no matter how hard she tries to relax and recuperate, she knows that something isn’t right.

Everyone lies about their friends.

Tensions are running high beneath the surface of this idyllic community: the weekenders in their fancy clothes, renovating old bungalows into luxury homes, and the locals resentful of the changes. A town divided, with the threat of violence only a heartbeat away.

Everyone knows a secret.

This peaceful world is shattered when two teenagers end up in hospital and a local man vanishes without trace. Elise starts digging for answers, but the community closes ranks, and the truth begins to slip through her fingers. Because in a small town like this, the locals are good at keeping secrets…

Everyone’s a suspect when a local goes missing.

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I have read all of Fiona Barton’s books and this is my favourite so far. I really enjoyed getting to meet all the different characters and seeing the way they interacted with each other.

My Review

Elise is the lead detective, coming towards the end of sick leave after a cancer diagnosis and looking forward to getting back to work. She does have misgivings, chemo brain is a concern but Caro her colleague is a big help without being patronising. She has another assistant, her friend Ronnie, who isn’t a police officer but sees herself as another Miss Marple. This friendship was one of my favourite parts of the novel.

There are quite a lot of other characters, some whose link you couldn’t see at first. The victim, Charlie, was obviously a crook from the start and it could have been any one of the people he duped who was responsible for his death. Some of them I had a lot of sympathy for, especially his daughter who was the only one who couldn’t have been responsible.

The murder isn’t the only crime, a festival where drugs nearly caused fatalities has also had a big impact on the area. The suspicion, gossip and mistrust affected many and added to the hardships already suffered. But both cases aren’t as gritty and hard hitting as most crime novels I read. Instead the novel seems to focus on personalities and rather than the crimes committed.

I would love to meet Elise and Caro again, I can definitely see this novel as part of a series.

The Poet by Louisa Reid – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

I believe every word you say. That was always my mistake.

Bright, promising Emma is entangled in a toxic romance with her old professor – and she’s losing control.

Cruel, charming Tom is idolized by his students and peers – confident he holds all the cards.

In their small Oxford home, he manipulates and undermines her every thought and act. Soon, he will push her to the limit and she must decide: to remain quiet and submit, or to take her revenge. 

Written in verse and charged with passion and anger, The Poet is a portrait of a deeply dysfunctional relationship, exploring coercive control, class and privilege. It is also a page-turning tale of female solidarity and survival.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. As soon as I started to read this book I knew it would be different to everything I have read before. It does tell the story of a toxic relationship, which has been done many times before, but is done so in verse. I never thought I would be possible to have so much impact with so few words. 

Emma is in a relationship with Tom, lecturer, novelist, charmer, idolised by many. But beneath the surface you get to see the man for what he really is. A bully, cheat and liar who is prepared to do anything to protect his image. It takes Emma a while to realise what he is like but when she does she starts to think of a way in which she can get her revenge. 

It did take me longer than I thought it would to read it. I can only think that this was because it had such a big impact despite its brevity. I really sense how alone, betrayed and desperate Emma felt. I could see her self hatred  for giving in to him time and time again, not knowing the best way to cope with him. But in the latter stages of the novel I saw her change, able to show how much she hated him and I was cheering as she got what she wanted. 

This is an absolutely wonderful novel, I read a digital copy but I definitely need to get a printed edition for when I get the chance to reread it. 

Reputation by Sarah Vaughan – Review – First Monday Crime.

About The Book

Emma Webster is a respectable MP.
Emma Webster is a devoted mother.
Emma Webster is innocent of the murder of a tabloid journalist.
Emma Webster is a liar.
#Reputation: The story you tell about yourself. And the lies others choose to believe…

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I rarely read political fiction and I have never read a novel by Sarah Vaughan, but I did recently watch the dramatised version of Anatomy of a Scandal which I enjoyed a lot. I’m glad I made the decision to read this book because it is a cracker and I’m certain that this will also be filmed at some point.

Many of us will see politicians being passionate about something they agree with and who want to make changes to make victims suffer less. But not everybody will see the impact that this passion could have on their private lives. Especially when their child commits an act they are trying to prevent and which consequently damages a relationship and leads to them being tried for murder. The character who has to deal with all of this is Emma, ex school teacher, divorcee and dedicated to her career as an MP despite it leading to so much time away from her daughter Flora.

Whilst the main storyline concerns the death of the journalist and subsequent trial there is also a lot of focus on the amount of abuse that MPs and other public figures face daily. I was horrified at what Emma and others, had to cope with. A lot of which wasn’t dealt with quickly enough. You also got to see the impact on loved ones, especially Flora who had to deal with her own trauma at school. Flora was a character who I liked a lot and had a lot of sympathy for. All I could see when she featured was loneliness.

Emma isn’t the only narrator, you also get to read Flora’s and her stepmother Caroline’s point of view and towards the end a handful of others. All of these showed a completely different side to the novel and Emma’s storyline and one in particular I read with a sense of relief.

A crime novel concerning politics will never be anything I read about a lot but I feel that this novel is an important one. Especially when you hear about the threat faced far too often by those who try and do some good. 

Sarah Vaughan will be appearing at First Monday Crime alongside Will Carver, Sinead Crowley and Victoria Selman. You can catch the event on the Facebook page at 7.30pm on Monday 6th June.

Blood Lines by Angela Marsons – Review.

About The Book

How do you catch a killer who leaves no trace?

A victim killed with a single, precise stab to the heart appears at first glance to be a robbery gone wrong. A caring, upstanding social worker lost to a senseless act of violence. But for Detective Kim Stone, something doesn’t add up.

When a local drug addict is found murdered with an identical wound, Kim knows instinctively that she is dealing with the same killer. But with nothing to link the two victims except the cold, calculated nature of their death, this could be her most difficult case yet.

Desperate to catch the twisted individual, Kim’s focus on the case is threatened when she receives a chilling letter from Dr Alex Thorne, the sociopath who Kim put behind bars. And this time, Alex is determined to hit where it hurts most, bringing Kim face-to-face with the woman responsible for the death of Kim’s little brother – her own mother.

As the body count increases, Kim and her team unravel a web of dark secrets, bringing them closer to the killer. But one of their own could be in mortal danger. Only this time, Kim might not be strong enough to save them…

My Review

The Kim Stone series is one of my favourites, but it is also one ( of many) that I have not kept up with. I am determined to catch up this year and what a cracker to start with. I’m surprised I have any nails left!

There are two threads in the novel. A woman who is found dead in her car, swiftly followed by another death is the case that Kim and her team are trying to solve but the other, far more intimidating story is the threat that Kim faces from her past.

That is Alexandra Thorne, in prison, but still able to manipulate and control just for enjoyment. I don’t think that I have come across a character quite as scary as her. It wasn’t just Kim, there were also inmates and prison officers who suffered due to her actions. I was aching for someone to stand up to her, if only to wipe the smile from  her face when she got what she wanted time and time again.

The author does an excellent job of showing the differing personalities in Kim’s team. You get to see strengths but also their faults. I include Kim, whose main weakness was allowing Alexandra to get to her, but it would take a very strong person who could cope with what she had to face. I also had appreciation for the way mistakes were acknowledged and solved as a team. There was no room for blame.

This is a series that I have enjoyed since it began and I am looking forward to starting my catch up.

Return To Blackwater House by Vikki Patis – Review.

About The Book

You can run from your past, but you can’t hide forever…

Rebecca Bray has moved on from a childhood she desperately wants to forget.

She has everything she’s ever wanted – the perfect fiancé, a loving stepdaughter, a career she’s proud of, and now the house of her dreams.

But when the family move to the Cornish village where Rebecca grew up, everything she wanted to bury from those years starts to claw at the surface.

Then, when her stepdaughter goes missing at a New Year’s Eve party, Rebecca must finally face the ghosts of her past – or Ava might never come home safely…

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. When Rebecca returns to the area she lived in as a child as new owner of Blackwater House she has mixed feelings. Her childhood was difficult, neglected because of drug and alcohol abuse and the only one who was willing to help was Gwen who had left the house to her. She is determined to make the best of it for herself, partner Daniel and his daughter Ava. But when Ava disappears she has to face her demons to try and get her home.

With flashbacks to her childhood, her anxiety over Ava’s disappearance and the noticeable lack of support from Daniel you get to see how strong a character Rebecca was. Even though she couldn’t see it herself. The people she meets, from her childhood, who also show that they have changed since their teens. One of them is her family liaison officer, who features quite strongly in both a professional and personal capacity. I found this really interesting because all too often you only see the job. Another was Ashleigh, whose storyline was unexpectedly more devastating than I expected it to be 

But it was Rebecca who touched me most. I loved her relationship with Ava, her need to keep Ava’s mother’s family in their lives despite the increasingly obnoxious Daniel’s wishes. I also had a lot of respect for her determination to escape her past, seek vengeance and protect Ava. All I could do was admire her. Admittedly, I didn’t see any of twists as I was reading but this increased my enjoyment. 

I will definitely be looking at this author’s back catalogue, this was a book I liked a lot.