Last Seen by Joy Kluver – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

I can see her, shouting with laughter as she swings as high as she can, her beautiful blonde curls flying out behind her. I can feel her tiny hot hand in mine, and my heart aches. My little girl. If only I’d listened to my gut. Then maybe she’d be safe here with me…

When five-year-old Molly Reynolds is snatched from the park in the small village of Otterfield, Detective Bernadette ‘Bernie’ Noel throws herself into the search, sick with worry for the quiet, sensitive little girl and her distraught mother.

Wasting no time, Bernie finds a small green cardigan under a bush in the park. It still has the smiley face sticker Molly won that week at school. It’s the first in a chain of clues – and Bernie can’t shake the feeling that it was left deliberately, as a message.  

But Bernie encounters a wall of silence. Otterfield is a close-knit community, yet no one in the village seems to care that Molly is missing at all. Why?

And then Bernie makes a chilling discovery: twenty-five years ago, another little girl went missing from the area. Her name was Sophie, and all they ever found of her was her teddy bear, hidden under a bush. Now Bernie knows she’s in a race against time to save Molly’s life.

Bernie’s team work round the clock to find a connection between the two girls, and just when they think they’re making progress a devastating tragedy strikes at the heart of the case. Molly’s family have been hiding a secret, and now their little girl is in greater danger than ever.

Can Bernie outwit the most warped criminal she has ever faced and bring Molly home safe, or will another innocent life be lost? 

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. Last Seen is an interesting debut novel which introduces the reader to Bernie and her team. Soon after attending the funeral of her beloved ’Pops’ Bernie has to investigate the disappearance of a young girl, Molly, from a play area. You would expect the local community to help with finding her but there is reluctance from the locals. The reasons why are revealed further into the novel but this is a close knit community and like many they don’t like questions, they are loyal and there are a lot of memories. I could understand how frustrating this was for Bernie and her team.

Bernie is new to the area, she relocated from the MET Police for reasons unspecified but the disappearance of Molly is putting her in the spotlight. Something which she is trying to avoid. The loss of Pops, not really knowing the local area and receiving  what could be a threatening card adds to her worry. Not to mention having to work with a new colleague who she can’t make her mind up about. 

One of the strengths of this novel is how long it seemed to take for the team to get their answers. It showed that not every case is fast moving and even though only a few days had gone they all felt the exhaustion and frustration and were fully aware that they needed to get a breakthrough. 

Little is revealed about most of them, including Bernie. Even though I liked her a lot, I felt I only knew her as a police officer. I wanted to know more about her life outside of the job. I expect that more will be revealed further into the series as she settles into her new life. I know that many series are similar and this isn’t a criticism but she seemed to be somebody I would like to know in real life. I am looking forward to learning more about all of them in book two.

The Family Friend by C. C. MacDonald – Review.

About The Book

KEEP YOUR FRIENDS CLOSE. BUT YOUR ENEMIES CLOSER…

Erin lives an idyllic life by the seaside with her baby boy and Australian fiancée. She’s upbeat and happy – a natural mum. At least that’s what her thousands of followers on Instagram think.

In the real world, Erin is struggling with anxiety and finding it difficult to connect with her screaming son. So when a famous agent offers to make her the biggest Instamum out there, she’s over the moon. And when Amanda, a family friend who’s visiting from Australia, says she’ll move in and babysit to help make it happen, it seems like the stars have finally aligned for Erin’s exciting new career. 

But when a devastatingly revealing video is posted online by an anonymous troll, Erin’s brought crashing back to earth. As everything she’s worked for starts to slip away, Erin must find out how far she can trust those closest to her…

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. The Family Friend was a book that appealed to me straight away. A face from the past where you couldn’t decide if they were friend or foe, a family with a young baby learning to adapt and the increasingly popularity of social media influencers. It was the latter of these that interested me most, like many I am dubious about the reliability of influencers and how genuine those who get paid a fortune to promote a product are. 

Erin was somebody I would definitely describe as an unreliable narrator and at first I didn’t like her at all. She seemed more obsessed with her on screen image and number of followers than she did with her baby. But as the novel progressed and she started to spend less time on screen and more time bonding with Bobby I liked her more. And I felt that she liked herself more too, she was definitely a character who was too hard on herself.

This novel is all about manipulation. The way the public are made to believe what they see on social media and the effect that the desire to be seen had on Erin’s life. And there are also glimpses of a diary from the past where a different side of control was shown. 

It isn’t an easy novel to read but it is one I would recommend. 

Blood Stained by Rebecca Bradley – Review.

About The Book

Can’t find her.

Can’t catch him.

Can’t trust anyone.

The first in a gripping new Sheffield-set crime series starring Detective Claudia Nunn.

Detective Claudia Nunn’s colleague DS Dominic Harrison has been leading the case against a dangerous serial killer, who hunts his victims using a dating app. But now his own wife has gone missing.

Then a large pool of blood is discovered in their garage. And Dominic is the prime suspect.

Is Dominic being framed by a serial killer or will Claudia expose an even uglier truth?

Can’t tell a soul how it ends.

My Review

With thanks to the author for the copy received. I have enjoyed all of this author’s earlier books and was looking forward to this new series. It is an unusual one, I’ve never read a book where a member of the team has to investigate a colleague. That colleague is Dominic and it concerns the disappearance of his wife, Ruth. He claims it is the work of a serial killer he has been investigating.

As the novel progresses you see both investigations, Dominic attempts to find the serial killer and Claudia trying to find out who, if any of them, is responsible for Ruth’s disappearance. And as usual there were times I was aching to find out what happened next with both.

With the author’s background I was prepared for the level of detail concerning a murder investigation. This made the book more real and at times more upsetting. Not with the forensics but the emotions and not just concerning families.You could see the effect the crimes had  on both of teams involved and the way they had to learn to cope. I also had a lot of appreciation for the way they worked together, in particular Claudia and Ross Kane. 

I read plenty of books and I’m not often taken by surprise but there were a few times in this book when I read something unexpected. One of them I had to reread, flicking back to see what I had missed. And it worked perfectly. 

A great start to a promising new series. 

Light Seekers by Femi Kayode – Review.

About The Book

When three young students are brutally murdered in a Nigerian university town, their killings – and their killers – are caught on social media. The world knows who murdered them; what no one knows is why.
As the legal trial begins, investigative psychologist Philip Taiwo is contacted by the father of one of the boys, desperate for some answers to his son’s murder. But Philip is an expert in crowd behaviour and violence, not a detective, and after travelling to the sleepy university town that bore witness to the killings, he soon feels dramatically out of his depth.

Will he finally be able to uncover the truth of what happened to the Okiri Three?

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. When Philip is asked by his father to help an old friend get answers about his son’s death he does so, despite finding out things about his father’s past life that upsets him. He has had many years experience in his career in America but isn’t prepared for what he faces in the small university town in Nigeria. The uneasy feelings he has about the case increase when a conversation with a passenger on the flight deteriorates when he mentions why he is going. But he soon realises this is the least of his problems, he isn’t made welcome by anybody in Okriki and he can’t rely on who he is working for. He can’t even rely on Chika his ‘driver’

I liked getting to know Philip and Chika, especially trying to work out who Chika was and his background, but the other characters were just as fascinating,. Madame Landlady was the first who had an impact on me. How her attitude changed when she realised why they were there. But she wasn’t the only one. The hotel manager, the university and especially the police make it evident that the questions weren’t welcome. There was also the town. The way of life, the lack of infrastructure,  and the lack of support to the students made Philip realise that this was a world where he was totally out of his depth and which soon made him homesick for his family and life back in America.

I know little about Nigeria and this novel was a fantastic and slightly unsettling introduction. It was also very believable. A small community facing judgement for their actions from the rest of the world, a police department who didn’t want to admit they had made a mistake and an acrimonious religious divide that was easy to manipulate. It is a novel that I will be thinking about for some time.

Femi Kayode will be appearing on First Monday Crime alongside Nadine Matheson, Tim Glister and Abigail Dean. You can watch this via their Facebook page on Monday 1st March at 7.30pm. 

Buried by Lynda La Plante – Review.

About The Book

DC Jack Warr and his girlfriend Maggie have just moved to London to start a new life together. Though charming, Jack can’t seem to find his place in the world – until he’s drawn into an investigation that turns his life upside down.

In the aftermath of a fire at an isolated cottage, a badly charred body is discovered, along with the burnt remains of millions of stolen, untraceable bank notes.

Jack’s search leads him deep into a murky criminal underworld – a world he finds himself surprisingly good at navigating. But as the line of the law becomes blurred, how far will Jack go to find the answers – and what will it cost him?

My Review

Even though I have watched numerous dramatisations of Lynda La Plante’s novels this is the first that I have read. And what an introduction it is! Even though it is the start of a series featuring a new team of detectives there are strong links to the book series Widows. I was pleased that I knew that storyline, even though I would have still enjoyed this novel without knowing anything about it.

My first reaction when reading this novel was that the author writes in away that reflects her enthusiasm and personality when she is being interviewed. At a very past pace and one that is very refreshing. Jack, her lead, wasn’t a saint and he often came to close to crossing the fine line in more than just criminal activity. He was probably one of the more convincing fictional detective I have met when reading crime fiction. You saw his strengths, his weaknesses and his frustration at having his efforts ignored or not being able to be proven. You also saw his devotion to his partner and his adoptive parents and the guilt he felt with his ongoing determination to find his birth father. With his team members I felt a combination of liking, annoyance and sympathy towards all three. None of these characters approached their jobs in the same way, again I felt this was a true reflection of detection.

The women that Jack was investigating were people that I struggled to judge. Some I had a lot of sympathy for, a couple I really liked and wanted to know more about. Some of them made me laugh and there were more poignant moments the more I read. I would definitely be interested in reading the Widows series and I’m looking forward to reading the second book in this series.