Deep Dark Night by Steph Broadribb – Review.

About The Book

A city in darkness. A building in lockdown. A score that can only be settled in blood…
Working off the books for FBI Special Agent Alex Monroe, Florida bounty-hunter Lori Anderson and her partner, JT, head to Chicago. Their mission: to entrap the head of the Cabressa crime family. The bait: a priceless chess set that Cabressa is determined to add to his collection.

An exclusive high-stakes poker game is arranged in the penthouse suite of one of the city’s tallest buildings, with Lori holding the cards in an agreed arrangement to hand over the pieces, one by one. But, as night falls and the game plays out, stakes rise and tempers flare.

When a power failure plunges the city into darkness, the building goes into lockdown. But this isn’t an ordinary blackout, and the men around the poker table aren’t all who they say they are. Hostages are taken, old scores resurface and the players start to die.
And that’s just the beginning…

My Review

With thanks to the author for the copy received. After the events in the preceding book, Deep Dirty Truth I couldn’t wait to read this follow up. It would help if you knew what happened there but you could still enjoy this book by reading it as a stand-alone. 

From the opening chapters Lori is in danger despite J.T’s attempts to keep her safe. He  has health issues however and they do slow him down. But she is more than capable of looking after herself. Apart from having to learn poker. 

I have to admit that this is a game I know absolutely nothing about. I was a little concerned it would impact on my enjoyment of the novel but it only covers a couple of chapters. And those chapters were easy to follow, I just smiled at  Lori’s methods at convincing the experts she knew what she was doing.

 When the game came to an abrupt halt the tension increased dramatically. Because it is very short chapters which switch constantly between Lori and J.T’s predicament I struggled to put the book down. Each time one narrative ended I was desperate to find out what happened next. The author certainly knows how to keep a reader hooked. I liked both accounts equally but really appreciated getting to know more about J.T. 

It is a long time since I have felt so on edge reading a book. Wondering what would happen next and to whom. Wondering who was somebody who could be trusted and who fit the description by the  unknown electronic voice. And definitely who would be Herron. 

This has been my favourite book in the series, I hope we don’t have to wait too long to see what will happen next to Lori and J.T. 

Beast by Matt Wesolowski – Review.

About The Book

In the wake of the ‘Beast from the East’ cold snap that ravaged the UK in 2018, a grisly discovery was made in a ruin on the Northumbrian coast. Twenty-four-year-old Vlogger, Elizabeth Barton, had been barricaded inside what locals refer to as ‘The Vampire Tower’, where she was later found frozen to death.

Three young men, part of an alleged ‘cult’, were convicted of this terrible crime, which they described as a ‘prank gone wrong’
However, in the small town of Ergarth, questions have been raised about the nature of Elizabeth Barton’s death and whether the three convicted youths were even responsible.

Elusive online journalist Scott King speaks to six witnesses – people who knew both the victim and the three killers – to peer beneath the surface of the case. He uncovers whispers of a shocking online craze that held the young of Ergarth in its thrall and drove them to escalate a series of pranks in the name of internet fame. He hears of an abattoir on the edge of town, which held more than simple slaughter behind its walls, the tragic and chilling legend of the ‘Ergarth Vampire… 

Both a compulsive, taut and terrifying thriller, and a bleak and distressing look at modern society’s desperation for attention, Beast will unveil a darkness from which you may never return…

My Review

Beast is the fourth book in the Six Stories series. It could be read as a standalone but I would recommend that you at least read book three – Changeling before reading this. There are no spoilers but you would gain more by knowing what happened to Scott in his past.

I do like a novel about vampires and the legend of the ‘Ergath Vampire’ is a chilling one. Especially when it coincides with the very cold weather that the region was experiencing, the nickname the ‘Beast From The East’ has more than one meaning in this novel.

Lizzie B is the victim, if this was real life she isn’t somebody I would follow on social media, I don’t have time for self obsessed people who thrive on likes across their various channels. I definitely don’t understand the current fascination with unboxing videos on YouTube, but many do judging by how popular they are. Each to their own.

But Lizzie isn’t as liked or as popular as we are led to believe, even though she does appear to have many followers. The author shows how she is an expert in manipulation but amongst her supposed fans are some who have a grudge over events that happened before she became an internet celebrity.

There are parts of this novel that are unsettling. The control of social media, how fake and shallow it is. How it can be used to bully and create unrest. And how easy it is to hide behind a keyboard. There was also a description of events that occurred in an abattoir that could very easily have made me go vegetarian.

I love the way Scott King uncovers the reasons why Lizzie had to die. He never seems to judge, and he doesn’t do it to solve a crime. He just wants to understand and see how those connected feel. The reader isn’t expected to feel sympathy for either the victim or the culprits, just understand why it happened.

The Six Stories series has been added to with originality and style. I would love to see it televised and see who would be cast in some fantastic roles.

The Home by Sarah Stovell – Review.

About The Book

One more little secret … one more little lie…

When the body of a pregnant fifteen-year-old is discovered in a churchyard on Christmas morning, the community is shocked, but unsurprised. For Hope lived in The Home, the residence of three young girls, whose violent and disturbing pasts have seen them cloistered away…

As a police investigation gets underway, the lives of Hope, Lara and Annie are examined, and the staff who work at the home are interviewed, leading to shocking and distressing revelations … and clear evidence that someone is seeking revenge.

A gritty, dark and devastating psychological thriller, The Home is also an emotive drama and a piercing look at the underbelly of society, where children learn what they live … if they are allowed to live at all.

My Review

The Home is a crime novel, but instead of focusing on the suspicious death of a young girl in care it is more about the three girls who lived together, Hope, Annie and Lara, and what happened to them in their past.

They live in a beautiful and remote part of the country, near Langdale Pike. They should be safe from the past and be able to start rebuilding their lives. But as the story unfolds and you start to learn what each of them faced you saw how impossible it was. What happened to each of them was horrific, more so because you know that it happens. That there are children who experience the fear, neglect and violence that each of the characters faced.

It was impossible to decide who suffered the most but the one whose life story had the biggest impact on me was Hope. It wasn’t surprising that she coped the way that she did. And there was no way I could judge her, even though I did feel sorry for Annie who had to suffer the most from her occasional cruelty.

It was not just the three girls who suffered. The staff, underpaid, under appreciated and over worked. It’s not something I really thought about, how the dedicated staff neglect their own families to do their job and try and improve somebody else’s life.

A heartbreaking novel that has made me think more than any other about what some children experience and also the staff who try and pick up the pieces.

My Top Ten Books of 2019

The time has come again to face an impossible task of narrowing the 117 books I have read into a top ten list. As always it was difficult to do but I have managed and I will list them in no particular order. Apart from my favourite book of the year which I will reveal at the end. You can see my review for each book by clicking on the title.

Expectation by Anna Hope.

If Only I Could Tell You by Hannah Beckerman.

The Photographer Of The Lost by Caroline Scott

Changeling by Matt Wesolowski

Red Snow by Will Dean

From The City, From The Plough by Alexander Baron

On My Life by Angela Clarke

The Taking Of Annie Thorne by C. J. Tudor

The Girl At The Window by Rowan Coleman

My Book of 2019

Turbulent Wake by Paul. E Hardisty

Nothing Important Happened Today by Will Carver – Blog Tour – Extract.

About The Book

Nine suicides
One Cult
No leader

Nine people arrive one night on Chelsea Bridge. They’ve never met. But at the same time, they run, and leap to their deaths. Each of them received a letter in the post that morning, a pre-written suicide note, and a page containing only four words: Nothing important happened today.

That is how they knew they had been chosen to become a part of the People Of Choice: A mysterious suicide cult whose members have no knowledge of one another.

Thirty-two people on that train witness the event. Two of them will be next. By the morning, People Of Choice are appearing around the globe; it becomes a movement. A social media page that has lain dormant for four years suddenly has thousands of followers. The police are under pressure to find a link between the cult members, to locate a leader that does not seem to exist.

How do you stop a cult when nobody knows they are a member?

Extract

Other People 

The trick to running a cult is to get other people involved. Not new members or followers. Not more subscribers or a greater mailing list. It doesn’t matter if there are six people who think someone is Jesus or there are a million admirers hoping for a seat on the spaceship that will fly them away as Earth implodes with greed and apathy. 

It’s not the apostles that make the cult. 

It’s everybody else. 

What is needed are the other people. Because other people always fuck things up. 

Take the small town of Antelope, Oregon. A smudge on a map. Fifty people looking for quiet. They need a post office, a general store, a school and a church to exist. Not to survive. They haven’t moved here for that. Everybody knows everybody and everybody wants to be alone. Because they’ve come here to see out their years in peace. Then die. 

Drop in four thousand disciples adhering to the philosophies of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh. Watch as they are welcomed as a peaceful people, renouncing a world of materialism in favour of a spiritual life. Embrace their desire to establish their own community. 

Now get other people involved. 

See how the word ‘community’ transforms into the word ‘commune’. Now wait as tensions rise and hostility grows. Wait a little longer. Because here come the other people. And it’s easy to take other people and make them fear something. Soon, a school teacher or postal worker or bar owner or dairy farmer has used the word ‘cult’. 

Sit back and bask in your success as civilians are weaponised and cafes are poisoned and phone lines are tapped. 

This is other people. 

Take a student pastor at the Somerset Southside Methodist Church, Indiana. Tell him that he can’t integrate black people into his congregation. Piss him off. Give him a crusade. 

Watch as he moves on and gives people hope. See his drive for racial equality. You don’t call the healings fake. Not yet. You call them Baptists. You say they are a church. He calls them the Wings of Deliverance. 

Now let him open a soup kitchen for the poor, then watchas other people become involved. Because other people have an innate ability to take something good and turn it straight to shit. 

Migrate that church to Guyana. Call it a compound. Call it Paradise. Call it Jonestown. Say that members did not travel there of their own free will. Get other people to interfere. Intervene. Get shot at. Wait a moment while everything is ruined. While nine hundred men and women take cyanide to kill themselves. Let them poison their children. 

Now you can call it a cult. 

And feel safe that you’re not one of them. 

You. 

Other people. 

Take David Koresh. Take Waco. Tell the world he has several wives and fucks his kids. Set fire to buildings. Smoke him out. Kill twenty of those kids while you’re there. 

Get involved. 

Take the Manson Family. Take Scientology. Take any passage from any holy book out of context. 

Take the unknown and drop in some fear and insecurity. 

What have you done? 

You. 

The other people club

You. At arm’s length. Outside looking in. With your judgement and your free choice and your safety. You don’t understand. 

Not one of these people thought that they were part of a cult. 

And you, you’re no different. You could be part of a cult right now and you don’t even realise. You think you have a choice. 

So, put that rope around your neck. 

Now wait. 

Here come the other people.