Pretty Little Things by T M E Walsh

Publisher:                     H Q Digital

Date of Publication:     4th June 2018

Date of Review:            4th August 2018

Synopsis

It’s bad when the girls go missing.  It’s worse when the girls are found.

Six months ago, Charlotte almost lost everything. Now, she’s determined to keep her daughter, Elle, safe. So when local girls close to Elle in age and appearance begin to go missing, it’s her worst nightmare.

Charlotte’s fears are confirmed when a frantic search becomes a shocking murder investigation. The girls’ bodies have been found – half-buried, and with traces of mud and wildflowers under their fingernails.

As Charlotte’s obsession with keeping her daughter close pushes her marriage to the brink, local DI Madeleine Wood embarks on a gruelling search for the killer. And, as they dig deeper into the lives of the people they call friends and neighbours, they uncover secrets more terrible than they ever imagined…

Pretty Little Things is the nail-bitingly terrifying new serial killer thriller from TME Walsh – the perfect read for fans of Close to Home, Behind Her Eyes and The Child.

My Review

When I first started reading this e-book I wondered whether it would be a bit too dark for me. Narrated in first-person from the perspective of the antagonist, the prologue is full of blood and gore and in all honesty I was in two minds whether to continue. However, I always read a book to the 30% mark, to make sure I’m not missing out on a potentially good read. So how did this turn out? Read on to find out.

In a word, well a few actually. OMG yes.  As a new writer myself I have learnt so much from the way this story has been delivered through a well-structured plot. I’m mega disappointed that it’s only available as an e-book.  If I had a hard-copy of this I would be making highlighted notes all over the shop.  There are lots of seemingly coincidental happenings with lies and red herrings scattered throughout.

The main story is narrated in first-person from the perspective of Charlotte, the protagonist. There is also some first-person narration from the antagonist’s point of view, which as you can imagine is a dark one. But as the plot thickens, and even more-so as the story reaches its climax, this voice is essential to the final twist.

With a cast full of weird and creepy characters, and with Charlotte not knowing whether she can trust her best friend or her husband, there is plenty of guessing as to who is the serial killer. When it seemed to be one of the people I thought it was – yes there are plenty to choose from – there were almost sparks flying from the pages in my attempt to find out whether I was right. But then it looked as if somebody else might be the killer. I have to say I would have been disappointed if it was this person. But it wasn’t – phew.

But OMG the final twist will shock you to the core. I can honestly say with all the potential creepy characters I never guessed this.  For me, this was a bit much. But this is on the darker side of a psychological thriller so for anybody who likes a darker thriller this is a particularly clever twist.

This book has been awarded 5 out of 5 stars.

I absolutely loved this book and couldn’t put it down.

I recommend you stop what you’re doing and go and buy this book now!

Thank you to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for an Advance Review Copy of this book.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Pretty-Little-Things-nail-biting-unbelievable-ebook/dp/B073WNF17X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1540329828&sr=1-1&keywords=pretty+little+things

The Pupil by Dawn Goodwin

Publisher:                          Aria  

Date of Publication:          7th August 2018

Date of Review:                 6th August 2018

Synopsis

One moment of carelessness. Four shattered lives.

Literary agent Viola Matthews is sure she’s met Katherine Baxter before. So when her husband and bestselling novelist Samuel Morton introduces Viola to the quiet, unassuming woman he has offered to mentor, she knows their paths have crossed before. The question is where?

As their worlds collide and the bond between Samuel and Katherine deepens, Viola realises she must take control.  If Viola is right, then Katherine needs to pay for something that happened twelve years ago.

My Review

As soon as I saw this book I was drawn to its gorgeous cover. Simple yet classy with a hint of danger. This reminded me of the book cover designs for Louise Jensen. After reading the synopsis (as above) I was hooked and knew this was my kind of read.

The Pupil starts with a presentday first-person narrative from Katherine’s perspective, where she is coming to the end of a week-long creative course in London. The group are all going for a drink to celebrate the end of the course but being a mother of two primary-school age children, Katherine needs to get home. Luckily she has her friend, Helen, to help her out and Katherine is able to socialise with her new writing buddies, where after a few drinks her tutor offers to mentor her for free.

Writing has been a life-long passion for Katherine but she has always been surrounded by negative people with no faith in her ability. Her mother thinks it’s a pipedream, her best friend thinks she has enough on her plate being a mother, and her husband thinks she should be content washing his socks and cooking his dinner. But her tutor, Sam, is a prolific writer and for him to have faith in her has re-lit the passion she has for writing. When her husband shows little interest in her news, she knows he will just belittle her, so instead of telling him about her mentoring sessions with Sam, she persuades Helen to cover for her.  Uh-oh!

When Sam’s wife and agent, Viola, meets Katherine, she is sure she knows her from somewhere but isn’t sure where.  Viola offers to represent Katherine but without giving away any spoilers, we soon learn that Viola is the antagonist.

The novel has a varied narrative structure. As well as the present-day first-person narrative from Katherine, we also see some third-person narration from Viola’s perspective. There is also an epistolary style narrative from Katherine’s past, where we see glimpses of her diary as a teenager. But we also know there is something sinister that has happened in Katherine’s life since she has been married. Katherine writes under the pseudonym of her maiden name, Katherine Baxter, but her married name is Katie Haynes.

As well having all the elements of a good domestic noir, this novel is also an inspirational tale of how a down-trodden woman overcomes her past to fulfil her lifelong ambition. I love reading books about writing, and The Pupil is no exception.

I recommend this book for anybody who likes Louise Jensen or Shalini Boland.

Under Literature love’s rating scheme this book has been awarded 4 out of 5 stars.

I really enjoyed this book.

This book is highly recommended.

Thank you to the author, publisher and NetGalley for an Advance Review Copy of this book in return for an honest and unbiased review.

The Good Daughter by Karin Slaughter

Publisher:                  HarperCollins

Date of Publication: 13 July 2017 (hardback and e-book) 3rd May 2018 (paperback)

Date of Review:        29th July 2018

Synopsis

Twenty-eight years ago, Charlotte and Samantha Quinn’s childhoods were destroyed by a terrifying attack on their family home. It left their mother dead. It left their father – a notorious defence attorney – devastated. And it left the family consumed by secrets from that shocking night.

Twenty-eight years later, Charlie has followed in her father’s footsteps to become a lawyer. But when violence comes to their home town again, the case triggers memories she’s desperately tried to suppress. Because the shocking truth about the crime which destroyed her family won’t stay buried for ever…

My Review

I have wanted to read this book since the hardback came out last year so was delighted to receive an ARC copy for the paperback edition release. Although this is the first book I have read by Karin Slaughter, I have heard so much about this author and couldn’t wait to get stuck in to this book.

At first, I found the style very different to the kind of psychological thrillers I like to read. There was a lot of intense action with blood and gore which was a bit too much for me; I almost put the book down. However, I am so glad I never.

With an omniscient third-person narrative, family and relationships are at the heart of this book.  The novel explores the themes of love and deceit: how one person will do anything to protect those closest to them including putting themselves in danger; and another will do anything to protect themselves above anything or anybody.

Starting with Samantha and Charlotte Quinn, aged 15 and 13 respectively, we see how the lives of these young girls were torn apart when two masked men came to their house looking for their father. One of the masked attackers calls the other one by his name, and the other calls his accomplice ‘Bro’. The girls then recognise their attackers as two notorious brothers who are clients of their father.

Samantha is determined to protect her younger sister at all costs.  Charlotte finally manages to escape with her life by running to the house of a young school teacher, whilst Samantha is shot and left for dead buried in a ditch. But true to its genre, nothing is at is seems. When one of the brothers is sentenced to death, and the other is on death row, the neighbourhood accuses the girls of lying.

Twenty-eight years later and Charlotte is caught up in a shooting at her old school, where a young girl has seemingly shot one of her teachers (the husband of the teacher who came to Charlotte’s rescue) as well as another student. Caught with the gun in her hand it appears straight forward that Kelly is the shooter. However, her defence lawyer, Randy Quinn (Charlotte and Samantha’s father) believes she is innocent.

Set in an old town where nobody moves away and everybody knows everybody’s business, this page-turning plot delves into events of the past, linking them to events of the present day.  Not just to solve the shooting, but to uncover the hidden turmoil in the lives of the two sisters.

There are some great twists and turns in this novel; I did guess some of them but that just made me turn the pages all that faster to see if I was right. This was a very satisfying read.

Under Literature Love’s rating scheme, this book has been awarded 4 out of 5 stars.

I really enjoyed this book. This book is highly recommended.

Thank you to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for an Advance Review Copy of this book.

An Unwanted Guest by Shari Lapena

Publisher:                    Bantam Press

Date of Publication:   26th July 2018

Date of Review:          8th August 2018

Synopsis

We can’t choose the strangers we meet.

As the guests arrive at beautiful, remote Mitchell’s Inn, they’re all looking forward to a relaxing weekend deep in the forest, miles from anywhere. They watch their fellow guests with interest, from a polite distance.

Usually we can avoid the people who make us nervous, make us afraid.

With a violent storm raging, the group finds itself completely cut off from the outside world. Nobody can get in – or out. And then the first body is found . . . and the horrifying truth comes to light. There’s a killer among them – and nowhere to run.

Until we find ourselves in a situation we can’t escape. Trapped.

My Review

After reading The Couple Next Door and A Stanger in the House, I was super excited to learn Shari Lapena’s third book An Unwanted Guest was due for publication. Shari Lapena is one of those authors I just know is going to give me a great read, but after reading the synopsis I was in two minds. If I’m honest it did sound a bit cliché Agatha Christie: a group of strangers stranded in an old building with no power who get popped off one by one. But did I enjoy this book as much as the other books by this author? Read on to find out!

Most contemporary thrillers are written in first-person, drawing the reader into the protagonist’s frame of mind. This novel, however, has an omniscient third-person perspective which works really well for this whodunit mystery type thriller. With a large and varied cast of characters and no main protagonist, the all-knowing third-person narration gives a more traditional feel as if being told the story from the outside looking in; the reader being privy to the thoughts and feelings of the whole cast, allowing them to draw their own conclusions as to what is going on and adding a further layer of suspense through dramatic irony.

By the end of the first hook where we find out one of the characters recognises one of the other characters, I was completely captivated.  Although, on the surface, the plot doesn’t sound that original, the narrative is so well written, and the characters are so compelling, I could have quite happily devoured the whole book in one sitting. There are lots of twists and turns and red herrings along the way, and when the murderer was revealed it wasn’t the person I thought it would be.

Under Literature Love’s rating scheme this book has been awarded 5 out of 5 stars.

I absolutely loved this book and couldn’t put it down.

I recommend you stop what you’re doing and

go and buy this book now!

Thank you to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for an Advance Review Copy of this book in return for an honest and unbiased review.

About the Author

SHARI LAPENA  is the internationally bestselling author of The Couple Next Door and A Stranger in the House. She was a lawyer and an English teacher before turning her hand to fiction. She lives in Toronto.

https://www.sharilapena.com/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Unwanted-Guest-Shari-Lapena/dp/0593079647/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1533734902&sr=8-1&keywords=an+unwanted+guest

https://www.waterstones.com/book/an-unwanted-guest/shari-lapena/9780593079645