The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse – Review – First Monday.

About The Book

EVERYONE’S IN DANGER. ANYONE COULD BE NEXT.

An imposing, isolated hotel, high up in the Swiss Alps, is the last place Elin Warner wants to be. But she’s taken time off from her job as a detective, so when she receives an invitation out of the blue to celebrate her estranged brother’s recent engagement, she has no choice but to accept.

Arriving in the midst of a threatening storm, Elin immediately feels on edge. Though it’s beautiful, something about the hotel, recently converted from an abandoned sanatorium, makes her nervous – as does her brother, Isaac.

And when they wake the following morning to discover his fiancée Laure has vanished without a trace, Elin’s unease grows. With the storm cutting off access to and from the hotel, the longer Laure stays missing, the more the remaining guests start to panic.

But no-one has realized yet that another woman has gone missing. And she’s the only one who could have warned them just how much danger they’re all in . . .

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. The Sanatorium was a novel that made me feel extremely claustrophobic as I read it. I can only say it was due to the amount of snow that caused a different type of isolation to what most of world has become accustomed to and a brilliant storyline that was full of threat and red herrings . All held together by a slightly unreliable narrator.

The location was fascinating, I have visited Switzerland but never experienced the weather in the book, thankfully. I can’t imagine how terrifying it must feel stranded due to weather and also be at risk where you are forced to stay. I felt that the design of the hotel would have just added to the fear. It definitely wouldn’t be somewhere I would choose to stay, even though it did also sound stunning. 

Elin was a character that took me a while to like and understand. She had PTSD caused by a case that had possibly ended her career and was still suffering years after the death of her younger brother. I did feel initially that her backstory took precedence over her life in modern day but when she started to investigate I felt I got to like and know her more. She was much more complex than many other police officers I have read about though and I still feel there is a lot to learn. 

She wasn’t the only character who had issues, her brother and the people she met whilst during their enforced stay all seemed to have a past that they kept  hidden. Her partner appeared to be the only one who seemed balanced and his character was one I did have misgivings about and I don’t really understand why. There just seemed to be something that wasn’t quite right. 

The epilogue suggests that there will be a follow up to this excellent debut novel, I’m looking forward to reading it. 

Sarah Pearse will be appearing at Second Monday Crime alongside David Fennell, Matt Wesolowski and David Baldacci. You can follow it all on their Facebook page at 7.30pm on Monday 12th April.

The Dare by Lesley Kara – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

As a child, it was just a game. As an adult, it was a living nightmare.

‘This time it’s different. She’s gone too far now. 
She really has.’

When teenage friends Lizzie and Alice decide to head off for a walk in the countryside, they are blissfully unaware that this will be their final day together – and that only Lizzie will come back alive.

Lizzie has no memory of what happened in the moments before Alice died, she only knows that it must have been a tragic accident. But as she tries to cope with her grief, she is shocked to find herself alienated from Alice’s friends and relatives. They are convinced she somehow had a part to play in her friend’s death. 

Twelve years later, unpacking boxes in the new home she shares with her fiancé, Lizzie is horrified to find long-buried memories suddenly surfacing. Is the trauma of the accident finally catching up with her, or could someone be trying to threaten her new-found happiness?

Twelve years is a long time to wait, when you’re planning the perfect revenge . . .

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. The Dare is a dual time frame novel that is full of intrigue and twists. I have read a few reviews where the reader guessed at what was occurring but I can honestly say I never had a clue!

In her teens Lizzie suffered the trauma of her friend being killed whilst on their walk. As well with coping with her loss she has to deal with accusations from her Alice’s sister and school ‘friends’ that she hadn’t had a seizure as she claimed and was really responsible for Alice’s death.

Years later and in a steady relationship she has come to terms with Alice’s death and is making plans for the future. But she is dismayed when an unwelcome face from her past brings a lot of doubts and concern and she understandably feels ill at ease. Is this unwelcome friend genuine or are they a threat?

Most of this novel takes place in the present time and it was this part of the novel that I preferred. Older Lizzie has learned to live with her illness and is making plans for her future, younger Lizzie was very unhappy and struggling. Even before Alice’s death she never seemed to have the confidence to relax and make friends. 

I enjoyed this novel for its intrigue but also for its insights into how it feels to have epilepsy. Alice’s daily struggle felt like a real one, adapting to the changes in her life and feeling strong enough to make career and family plans. And of course how she felt stable enough to cope with the past coming back to haunt her. 

The Dare is a great novel that I read very quickly. 

The Sleepwalker by Joseph Knox – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

‘He said he didn’t remember killing them…’

As a series of rolling blackouts plunge the city into darkness, Detective Aidan Waits sits on an abandoned hospital ward, watching a mass murderer slowly die. Transferred from his usual night shift duties and onto protective custody, he has just one job…

To extract the location of Martin Wick’s final victim before the notorious mass murderer passes away.

Wick has spent over a decade in prison, in near-total silence, having confessed to an unspeakable crime that shocked the nation and earned him the nickname of The Sleepwalker.

But when a daring premeditated attack leaves one police officer dead and another one fighting for his life, Wick’s whispered last words will send Waits on a journey into the heart of darkness…

Manipulated by a reticent psychopath from his past, and under investigation from his new partner, Detective Constable Naomi Black, Waits realises too late that a remorseless contract killer is at work.

Can Aidan Waits solve his last case before fleeing justice?

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. A few years ago I read and enjoyed Sirens, the first book in the Aidan Watts series. I was intrigued with the Manchester setting but wasn’t prepared for how dark the storyline was, how corrupt the police were and mainly how flawed Aidan was.

By book three much is the same, the darkness and corruption is still evident but I started to see a different side to Aidan. He seemed to accept, without resentment, the way his life had gone and I started to see a more compassionate side to him. I first noticed it when he met Adam in Strangeways prison. I felt that he was genuinely concerned for him and that he wanted to make his life more bearable. This feeling continued throughout the novel and on finishing it, I think it was because he was aware of what lay in his own future. A few days after reading it I feel that this was the first book I liked him in.

It was a nice change to have a police officer who wasn’t corrupt. Naomi, who became Aidan’s new partner early in the novel when Sutty was injured whilst on duty. I could sense her loyalty, despite the frustration she felt towards Aidan at times. Even when he hurt her feelings she didn’t abandon him. She was the only member of the force who I didn’t feel had a different agenda. I have a feeling we haven’t seen the last of her.

The Perfect Betrayal by Lauren North – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

‘I THOUGHT SHE WAS OUR FRIEND. I THOUGHT SHE WAS TRYING TO HELP US.’

After the sudden death of her husband, Tess is drowning in grief. All she has left is her son, Jamie, and she’ll do anything to protect him – but she’s struggling to cope.

When grief counsellor Shelley knocks on their door, everything changes. Shelley is beautiful, confident and takes control when Tess can’t bear to face the outside world.

But when questions arise over her husband’s death and strange things start to happen, Tess begins to suspect that Shelley may have an ulterior motive. Tess knows she must do everything she can to keep Jamie safe – but who can she trust?

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. The Perfect Betrayal was a novel that made me feel tense from the very beginning. Not only because the narrator was one of the most unreliable I have ever come across in fiction, but also I couldn’t work out if I could rely on the other two main characters either.

Tess is struggling with bereavement and would rather talk to grief counsellor Shelley than her mother and brother. Shelley also has her own grief to deal with and at times I wondered if the friendship was good for her. Ian, the brother in law was just crass, insensitive and a bully. But was he responsible for any of the more intimidating things that were occurring?

What happened to Tess was devastating, I couldn’t begin to imagine what she was going through. It made me cherish the life I have more, aching for closeness as I read. The memories of conversations, days out and plans for the future had me close to tears a few times.

What was happening wasn’t a complete shock, I had my suspicions a few times but told myself I was wrong. The ending though was one that left me without words. 


The Suspect by Fiona Barton – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

When two eighteen-year-old girls go missing in Thailand, their families are thrust into the international spotlight: desperate, bereft, and frantic with worry. What were the girls up to before they disappeared? 

Journalist Kate Waters always does everything she can to be first to the story, first with the exclusive, first to discover the truth–and this time is no exception. But she can’t help but think of her own son, whom she hasn’t seen in two years, since he left home to go travelling. 

As the case of the missing girls unfolds, they will all find that even this far away, danger can lie closer to home than you might think…

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. The Suspect is the third book in the series that features DI Bob Sparkes and journalist Kate Waters. Bob appears a lot less in this book, he has other things to concentrate on. But Kate features heavily. Whilst the mystery of the two missing girls is a big story she also has a personal connection. 

There are various narratives. The Detective, the Reporter, the Mother and Alex who is one of the missing girls. Because the reader is aware of some of Alex’s story it was pretty upsetting. How the excitement of backpacking is short lived and nothing like she expected it to be. But, her account was the most fascinating.

I have to admit, I do have a problem with the type of journalists who feature in this novel. The ones who stand on a doorstep desperate for a story, ignoring the heartache that a loved one will be going through. Kate admits that she has been one of them in the past but her personal connection shows her exactly how it feels to be on the other side of the door and she soon realises how hard it is. 

Whilst I did have a good idea what had happened I wasn’t correct about everything, there were a few surprises. This is the type of fiction that the author does so well. Always keeping something back, and it’s always something that gives you plenty to think about.

The Suspect is my favourite in the series so far, and I am really intrigued about what might happen next.