Snow White Must Die by Nele Neuhaus and Steven T. Murray

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Helllllo readers, apologies it’s been a little while since my last review – I’m still getting back into the swing of writing reviews so often. No wonder I was exhausted all the timee but I do utterly adore it. Today’s review is a book my lovely lovely sister gave to me. If my sis were to start a book blog it would be literally all CRIME BOOKS, cause she loves crime books. Anyway thanks Char Balds hoping you’re enjoying UNIVERSITY FREE TIMEEEE. Enjoy the review.

On a September evening eleven years earlier, two seventeen-year-old girls vanished from the village without a trace. In a trial based only on circumstantial evidence, twenty-year-old Tobias Sartorius, Rita Cramer’s son, was sentenced to ten years in prison. Bodenstein and Kirchhoff discover that Tobias, after serving his sentence, has now returned to his home town. Did the attack on his mother have something to do with his return?

In the village, Pia and Oliver encounter a wall of silence. When another young girl disappears, the events of the past seem to be repeating themselves in a disastrous manner. The investigation turns into a race against time, because for the villagers it is soon clear who the perpetrator is—and this time they are determined to take matters into their own hands.

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Right, so the blurb is kinda extensive so I’ll try to sum it up super quickly. We follow the truly devastating story of Tobias Sartorius. Pia Kirchoff is embarking on her saddest case so far after finding the bones of an unknown individual in an underground jet fuel tank. Pia and her partner in crime Bodenstein must unravel the secrets that surround the body. On the other side of town, there is another incident, a 7-car collision caused by the attempted murder of a woman pushed off a bridge. The woman in question is Rita Cramer and as it comes to light  there are more and more secrets in the town of Altenhain. Tobias is back in town after serving ten years for the murder of two beautiful girls whose bodies were never found not that he can remember what happened – when another young girl goes missing and once again Tobias is missing his  memory is everything as it seems?

Right, down to the nitty-gritty (finally.) In terms of the story there are multiple story-lines mixed in together and pulled in very quickly. The writing is really engaging and definitely draws the reader in. In terms of characters profiles, despite their being MANY MANY characters all of them are really well-developed and examined. I thought Tobias could have been developed a little better – I think because he was so closed off because of all that had happened it was at times difficult to feel for him.

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I must admit at times it does feel a little stilted, I think it’s because of the translation but it is sometimes a bit awkward. I also found it a little difficult to keep up with alllllll the names. I don’t know whether I’m just really bad with names but I struggled a little when characters were mentioned super quickly and then weren’t mentioned until another ten chapters later. Some of the police procedures were very different from UK practices? I guess it’s just a European thing but it added to the slight awkwardness.

However, what I did like was that there were lots of twists and turns, lots of mixed messages, red herrings and throughout there were LOTS of possible suspects for certain parts of the mystery. It’s one of those books were I felt maybe a diagram would have been a good idea just to spell out all the twists and turns but it plays out really well – it’s not too confusing but I adored looking at the different alliances with different members of the village, the use of town anxieties, and gossip. It just helped to fuel my excitement.

Before I go on for utterly forever  I would definitely recommend this book for a read. It’s one that recaptured my attention and I literally didn’t put down for over 2 and a half hours on the train to London. It’s a really good crime novel and although there are wobbles it’s still a brilliant book!

LIIIIINKKKKSSS

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Once Gone by Blake Pierce

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Helllllllo readers, hope you’re well and all happy bunnies. I’m on day 5 of dry February which feels pretty damn awesome still although tomorrow could be a struggle after the week I’ve had. However, today, it’s still Thursday but I’ve got a fantastic book to tell you about. Without further Lizzo warbling, onto the review.

Women are turning up dead in the rural outskirts of Virginia, killed in grotesque ways, and when the FBI is called in, they are stumped. A serial killer is out there, his frequency increasing, and they know there is only one agent good enough to crack this case: Special Agent Riley Paige.

Riley is on paid leave herself, recovering from her encounter with her last serial killer, and, fragile as she is, the FBI is reluctant to tap her brilliant mind. Yet Riley, needing to battle her own demons, comes on board, and her hunt leads her through the disturbing subculture of doll collectors, into the homes of broken families, and into the darkest canals of the killer’s mind. As Riley peels back the layers, she realizes she is up against a killer more twisted than she could have imagined. In a frantic race against time, she finds herself pushed to her limit, her job on the line, her own family in danger, and her fragile psyche collapsing.

Yet once Riley Paige takes on a case, she will not quit. It obsesses her, leading her to the darkest corners of her own mind, blurring the lines between hunter and hunted. After a series of unexpected twists, her instincts lead her to a shocking climax that even Riley could not have imagined.

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I’m going to do something a little less Lizzy and going to go straight into the review because I think the blurb gives enough away already. The first thing I have to mention is this book was free, and I know what you’re thinking free books are normally a little bit watery. This is full on whack – immediately we are thrown into the action; there’s barely time to take a breath and we’re in the horrifying atmosphere, tied up with a young woman who is terrified for her life. From here we’re taking on a rip-rolling adventure, with red-herrings, murders, terrifying back-stories and intriguing characters.

In terms of the characters we follow the story of Riley and her partner in the FBI Bill. Riley is struggling with her past and a terrifying event that happened on her last case. Currently taking leave from the force she is pulled back to her job needed for her intense ability to put herself in the shoes of the murderer. Her past story is fed into the tale to add intrigue and interest and I did wonder whether I was reading the second book in the series (I wasn’t I must add.) Bill is her lovable partner who has a lot of respect for Riley and constantly supports her. Both help to give the tale depth.

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In terms of plot it does move quickly and I have seen a number of reviews that have commented it moves too fast. For me, I don’t think it does although I think an extra 150-200 page wouldn’t have hurt I’m not sure that it wouldn’t have reaaaaly added anything and could have been a little bit of over-waffling so I’m not complaining. The writing is really excellent; it builds suspense and mystery and also weaves in a number of sub-plots that are well-written and add to the drama. The writing is gutsy, full of intrigue and exciting elements. It honestly drew me and kept me there.

The only wobbles come towards the end which I will try to explain without spoiling the plot. We see the backstory of the main character and how it affects her and yet she follows the complete same actions knowing how dangerous it is. I did actually take a minute to stop and say to myself ‘girl – what are you doing’ because it felt like exactly the same actions all over again. Additionally there are parts that feel a little over the top and we do spend a lot of time in the main characters mind for me it worked but only just. It’s a little bit dense.

However the ending is superb and will 100% be tuning in to the next book, if it’s half as good as this one, this reader will be a happy bunny.

Linnnnnks

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Q+A with Karen Long on her book The Vault

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Good afternoon readers, earlier this month I kicked off the blog tour for the wonderful Karen Long and her dark but incredibly exciting book The Vault which you can see here. After reviewing the book and writing the review I had so many questions I wanted to ask so I must admit this guest post is a little selfish because I really wanted some answers. However I thought that this would also work as a brilliant Q+A for you to read too. If you can’t tell from my review I loved this book and cannot wait to see what Karen comes up with next, I was so consumed by this book if you are a fan of crime and thriller books, or just looking for something new to read I would definitely recommend!

Where did the idea of plasticising the victims come from? It’s quite a terrifying concept, was it just an idea, or it did come from seeing something?

I had watched a couple of documentaries on Gunther von Hagens’ ‘Bodyworld’s’ exhibition and was fortunate to be able to see the show twice. It had also shown in Toronto in 2005. What struck me most about it was the beauty and accessibility of the human form. Here were real people, presented as pieces of art; people who continued to exist, albeit in a completely different form, after their deaths. They no longer possessed an identity, as their names had long since disappeared into anonymity but they had a ‘reality’ to them and I could see just how desirable an idea that was. To own someone who could never decompose, who never judged, argued or betrayed you could be, to an individual who spent his working life amongst the valued dead in a museum, a very tempting concept. This was an idea I had played around with in ‘The Safe Word’, so obviously something that resonates with my own peculiar personality.

How easy was it to research the process needed to go through the stages of plasticising or was it a more fictional description?

As far as I can tell there is very little that can’t be gleaned from the Internet and the process used by von Hagen and the history of embalming provided a wealth of papers. There are a great many proprietary chemicals used in the process but there are available equivalents, simpler compounds such as acetone, which appear to the same job. I imagine myself in the shoes of my psychopaths; once I understand what they want I try to imagine how they are going to achieve it a) with their current knowledge and skill base b) within the confines of their environment c) without being detected. So, yes the processes are scientifically accurate but under these particular circumstances are not completely successful. I hasten to add that I have, at no point, attempted the plastination of any person either living or dead.

When writing the book did you start at the ending and work backwards or was it a forward thinking process. I always wonder with thrillers/crime books whether the ending is completely decided or whether it comes through writing the book.

I am a very linear writer. I do the ‘What if?’ and then plan a broad outline and then chapter one. I haven’t a particularly structured idea as to how it will play out because the characters haven’t really come to life at such an early stage. Sometimes I’ll get a flash of where I want to head to but it’s disappointingly
a-z.

There are a number of extremely taboo themes covered in the book, was it always intended to be so dark in terms of subject or did lend itself to being more so as you kept writing?

Crime fiction is about the darkness of the soul. The very worst that can be done by and to another individual is the taking of life, everything else is survivable mentally and physically. I am not interested in revenge as a motive but rather the intricacies of a twisted mind; the sort of minds that don’t share common human values and follow their desires and internal narratives with a total disregard to the lives and happiness of others. I am very aware of and uncomfortable with ‘torture porn’ and am careful not to aggrandise or titillate with the subject of sado-masochism, necrophilia or murder. I think I have a darkness within me and need to explore these feeling through a dramatic medium.

Eleanor is a complex character, how did you plan out all the interweaving emotions that affect her throughout?

Eleanor’s strength and weakness is that she is a mirror to the murderers she hunts. To catch them she needs to understand them; to understand them is to be tainted by them. Every time she gets an insight into their desires, she steps closer to catching them and moves further away from her humanity. I see it as a game of chess. Every move has it’s cost and consequence.

What do you have planned next for writing? Is there another book on the cards, because I want to read it!

I love hearing that readers want the next book! It’s easy to work in a vacuum and have no real idea whether what you’re writing is wanted or enjoyed. I’m onto the third book, ‘The Cold Room’ at the moment. It’s about the same characters but hopefully has a new twist on Eleanor’s story.

So there you go, a very detailed and interesting set of answers to my questions! If you want to see more click the links below or get in touch using the comment box! Finally a huge thank you to Karen for being such a wonderful and utterly lovely author to work with. Cannot wait to see more of your writing! 😀 ❤

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Blog Tour: The Vault by Karen Long

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Good afternoon readers, after finishing the ten day review challenge I’m adding another to the list with the kick off review of the blog tour for Karen Long and her book ‘The Vault.’ Recently I’ve become a little more twitter obsessed and was tweeting away when I got a lovely message from @crimebookclub who asked whether I would like to take part in the tour. I readily said yes and settled down to read. It’s always a great privilege for me to be included in a blog tour because they are so wonderful at creating a buzz around a book and one as good as this thriller needs to be read. This one is dark, gritty and gory and I couldn’t get enough of; let’s hope I do it justice.

VAULT: A large room or chamber used for storage of valuables, especially an underground one…

In the unrelenting heat of the Toronto summer, a fire at a land-fill site uncovers the remains of a local prostitute. But the post-mortem reveals disturbing details – the body has been preserved and is not who or what it seems. DI Eleanor Raven is back on duty six months after barely surviving being kidnapped and tortured by a depraved serial killer. Work is her sanctuary but she’s carrying deep scars – mental as well as physical. Where do you go when the place you feel safest is also the place where you are most at risk? As Eleanor battles her own demons, it looks as though a killer in the city is making a gruesome human collection. And Eleanor’s fight to save the last victim of the Collector becomes a battle to save herself.

When I started this review I tried to think of word to sum up the book as a whole, maybe shocking or terrifying, or perhaps taboo or intense. As I rifled through the words I couldn’t think of one that could sum up this book on the whole it is all of those words and so much more. The book follows Eleanor Raven who a number of months before was terrifyingly kidnapped and tortured by a serial killer; however after a number of months away from the force she takes her rightful place back on the job just in time for a new case. A body is found in a local tip, thought to be a mannequin by a local worker; it has been almost perfectly preserved but why and by who? As the team work through the case methodically a new victim is revealed and the case must be solved quickly to stop this inhumane killer. As the case continues new clues, evidence and suspects are thrown up but will it all be too much for Eleanor who is fighting her own personal daemons? You’ll have to find yourself a copy, snuggle down and read to find out!

A couple of years ago I read a book that stopped me sleeping for a number of days and this could definitely do the same. First things first the premise of the book is incredibly strong but awfully horrifying. Someone is ‘plasticising’ victims and it’s not pretty. The idea of this was enough to make me shudder and as the author took me on this tale of horror and taboo I found myself feeling both sickened and also desperate to continue. There are so many themes throughout that are woven in, sexual tension, taboo, and also a transgender victim which is managed very well there’s not much the book doesn’t include. In terms of characterisation Eleanor is a wonderful character both determined and steadfast and also harbouring strains from past experiences that are running incredibly close to the surface. She is an exceptionally intricate character and that allows the author to play with her so much more. Although the story mainly follows her, because she is the main protagonist the supporting characters are equally well thought out and described.

In terms of writing style it was perfect for me, just enough detail and gore without giving too much away. I was surprised at how much information has been gathered and woven into the book because it felt so real and authentic. The research into the process of this type of crime is both fascinating and stomach turning. I loved the way the novel dipped and bobbed between different alternative sub-plots. The obvious one would be Eleanor’s past experiences but the author takes it further than that experimenting with sexual frustration and release and also starvation and malnutrition of the main character. It is both heart wrenching and utterly compelling. This matched with other subplots such as the distance from her partner and his request to join another force and also parts of the story told from the POV of the killer made for a complex but utterly compelling read. The pace to get everything in is snappy and rapid but matched with the strong writing style you don’t feel like anything has been missed out.

I think the author really went to town on the details, there is some much to go through and keep up with you do feel a little overwhelmed at points; the skulls, the wooden animals, the additional suspects, witnesses and the continuous and relentless pace would make you think this would eventually get muddled but the author manages (somehow) to create an incredibly coherent novel that just keeps giving you more and more. Continually throughout I found myself so engrossed and then utterly confounded and disturbed. Overall this is an incredibly detailed and exciting book that will be perfect for all you thriller readers out there, a wonderful protagonist, a sickening plot and a brilliant read.

As part of this blog tour we have a little competition for you wonderful readers; Karen is offering one of you a personalised signed copy of The Vault valid today only! All you have to do is suggest a name for a character in Karen’s next book and email mylittlebookblog2014@gmail.com The competition ends at midnight on the dot. I will pick my favourite and let you know by email tomorrow! Good Luck!

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_DSC7396Karen Long was born and raised in the English midlands, educated at Bangor University and taught English and Drama for fifteen years. During her teaching years she studied biology and neurology with the Open University and this interest in medicine, forensics and forensic psychology is reflected in her writing. She is an enthusiastic traveller and has spent time in Toronto, which became the backdrop and inspiration for The Safe Word.

She is a keen amateur naturalist with a deep and abiding love for the crow family. She has dedicated time, love and several fingers in an effort to rehabilitate crows, magpies, rooks and ravens.

Karen is happy to correspond with readers and can be contacted through her website KarenLongWriter.com, where she posts regular blogs.

The Safe Word is Karen’s first novel and was an Amazon bestseller, soon to be joined by the second in the Eleanor Raven series, The Vault