I came to find a girl by Jaq Hazell

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Heeeelllloo readers, hope you’re well! Not quite sure what happened with my scheduling today – all the quote and image posts have kinda clumped together which is a bit annoying! I haven’t been reading as much this month so if there is a little bit of a drop off with reviews I apologise, I just need a bit of time to read a hella lot of books and then get back in but we’ll see – for now a book I was supposed to read/review FOREVER AGO. So, with masssssive apologies, for the length of time it’s been with me, the review.

“I was happy to hear Flood was dead. I wasn’t as happy as I thought I’d be, but I was happy all the same.”

A complex game of cat and mouse in the seedy streets of Nottingham ends in death. Young artist Mia Jackson is compelled to watch the posthumous video diaries of Jack Flood – controversial bad boy of the London art world and convicted serial killer. Can Mia allow Drake Gallery to show Aftermath, in their retrospective of his work? Muse or victim, why was she allowed to survive?

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So, did I enjoy this? Erm, yes. Yes I did. You know that feeling when you read a lot of thriller type books you can get a little bogged down and they feel a little tired; well not this one – books like this are the reason why thriller’s are forever in my top genre’s for reading. The book follows the compelling story following the disappearances of a number of girls in and around Mia’s life. Our main character, an art student in her final year of university and living in Nottingham, needs to focus on her ‘finale’ but something scary is going on. When her close friend Jenny also goes missing and with a certain Jack Flood in the picture, who keeps appearing in and out of her life Mia must ask- is he the reason for the missing girls? How is this all linked to her? Where have the girls gone? You’ll have to read to find out.

So onto the nitty-gritty – the writing is stunning. It has such a wide lens for observations inside the story line so you constantly feel drawn into the narrative, you’re almost in the mind of Mia. A description that I’ve seen mentioned a number of times, describes this perfectly;

“Boys with shaved heads and sharp suits stood in a Reservoir Dogs group while a Jesus lookalike in an artfully torn T-shirt popped something in his mouth.”

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It just flows beautifully. In terms of the dialogue it feels real – there’s no rambled passages, everything is realistic; clipped dialogue of real people. Additionally much of the story is told through the lens of a camera that is used to record a documentary film. At first it feels a little stilted and difficult to read but as I progressed through the book it felt more and more natural. It’s a brilliant way to cover a lot of ground quickly, but in a way that makes the story still feel grounded and yet somehow more exciting. I don’t want to spoil anything because you HAVE to read this – but Jack holds his character throughout, and making him a main character of the book definitely helped keep my attention. I hated him, don’t get me wrong, but I LOVED reading about him.

I loved the mystery that was woven throughout the story and as I came to the end I felt almost as though the book came to natural end rather than a massive explosive ending and for once that worked in a thriller book. Mia, is also beautifully written and many of the secondary characters are woven in and create a real world of the book. I don’t want to spoil you getting to meet Mia if that makes sense, but she makes a number of beautiful and brilliant observations;

It’s a supermarket world and we are merely stock items pre-stamped: Best Before, Display Until, Sell By, Use By – only we don’t know the exact date.”

There’s so much more to this book than meets the eye.

So did I enjoy? Yes, yes and yes again. A book that is full of dark and light and all the shades of the palette. It’s an earthy book full of mystery beautiful characters and a real gem. One to add to your tbr now. Yes, NOW.

Linnnksssss

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Dwelling by Thomas Flowers! Fresh off the press!

Helllo readers, some of you will have seen that I reviewed this wonderful book on Christmas Eve and as of yesterday Dwelling is available as a FREE download on Amazon Kindle. So let me leave a couple of words from the wonderful author.

“This will be the first promotional for either of the books in the Subdue Series and I couldn’t be more excited.”

But the promotion is free, why get excited about giving away your book?” And to this, I’d say, “Above all else, I want nothing more than to have people read, and if their reading my books, well…than that will be my bonus. I would rather people read my book for free than not to have Dwelling read at all.”

If you like horror tales, super-natural, or just a really well written book this is definitely one to get your hands on. As a book blogger I get the chance to read so many brilliant books and to be able to download this one for free is an opportunity not to miss. I mean I said this about the book –

“Every single paragraph, every sentence has been written with thought. You can tell that it’s all been utterly thought through and created to create this atmosphere that’s slightly uneasy and tense. I don’t know many authors that can do this. (Lizzy stop gushing) but honestly – bloody spot on.”

If you want to read more of my review you can here but what you should really do is download a copy – available here! Then you can thank me later (wink face.)

The Girl on the train by Paula Hawkins

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So, I finally got round to reading, The Girl on the train. I have seen this book doing the rounds on WordPress for months and it’s been underlined and underlined on my TBR list. I’ve mentioned this a little but recently I’ve been struggling a little with anxiety it’s nothing that can’t be fixed fingers crossed but after a big talk through with the wonderful Mumma B a couple of days later this book arrived with the note ‘just because x Lots of Love Mum xxx.’

I’m nearly twenty two and she’s still there for me every step of the way… what’s that quote again? Mothers hold their children’s hands for a while but their hearts forever. She is my saving grace and one of my best friends. I read this in two sittings; on the way to Copenhagen and the way back. Done and dusted and I utterly devoured it. It is definitely worth a read, and I bloody loved it.

Rachel catches the same commuter train every morning. She knows it will wait at the same signal each time, overlooking a row of back gardens. She’s even started to feel like she knows the people who live in one of the houses. ‘Jess and Jason’, she calls them. Their life – as she sees it – is perfect. If only Rachel could be that happy. And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Now Rachel has a chance to become a part of the lives she’s only watched from afar. Now they’ll see; she’s much more than just the girl on the train.

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So, the blurb had me from the word go. There’s something about it that really draws you in and makes you sit up and listen. The book, as the blurb states follows Rachel the girl on the train. We first meet her as she is cracking open a pre-mixed G+T on the way home from work. She states wearily, “it’s Friday, so I don’t have to feel guilty about drinking on the train. TGIF. The fun starts here.” But not is all as it seems; as Rachel travels along the backs of the house, ignoring number twenty three and the one in which she used to live, (and where her ex-husband Tom still does) she instead focuses all her attention on number fifteen. Rachel watches out for the youthful couple who live there, named by her Jess and Jason. Each time she takes the train she looks out for them, whimsically dreaming about their perfect life.

However, one day she sees something that shocks her and then next day seeing that Megan (Jess) is missing she decides to tell the police what she has seen. But there’s a problem; Rachel has a problem with blackouts brought on by her drinking habits and the police immediately dismiss her labelling her a ‘rubber-necker.’ She has also been harassing Tom and Anna (his new wife) and sending drunken emails, calls and turning up at the house the night that Megan goes missing. We watch as Rachel struggles with her alcoholic tendencies as she tries to remember the night. She knows there was a man with red hair, a blue dress, blood and she was in the underpass. But that’s all. What really happened to Megan? Is Scott (Jason) to blame? Or are there others that need to come forward.

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There are many reasons why I loved this book and I’m going to try my damned hardest to put it all down coherently. I thought the writing and the move to make Rachel such a flawed character was a really bold mood by the author. Rachel is often in a state of drunkenness, and we see the vomit on the stairs, the excuses for her abrasive behaviour and the soggy urine soaked underwear in clear clarity. It’s a strong writing of the cycle of alcoholism and the struggles that Rachel goes through to break them.

Rachel is written in an odd tone, she’s a little spiteful especially of Anna and her self-pitying throughout. She comes across weak however you want, or need her to come to terms with it all. She is written as both over-weight and a little unattractive and you can’t help but feel a sense of compassion for her. Anna is a glossy, yummy-mummy but as the plot continues we begin to see more similarities between her and Rachel. Megan is bright and buoyant but as we learn more about her and the plot dirties we see her in a different light, much like both Tom and Scott (Jason.) I thought the authors ability to change the characters so subtly throughout so you’re constantly re-evaluating each of them was skilfully done.

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This review is going to go on forever so I apologise. The writing is strong and pure, the perfect amount of description but not so much that the plot stilts or becomes boggy. I loved the writing about the trains (I’m a bit of a train fan: sad to say but true) and thought the clever contrasts between the three women was written with a real understanding of character build up. The plot conjures up a number of red herrings which help to sway the reader in the wrong direction and although I did guess the twist before it finally appeared it was written with dexterity and a real understanding of how to feed a story to the reader.

I could have gone on another page but my mother tells me my reviews are too long already! Hawkins is a stunning author, her ability to mix different time frames, and characters whilst also weaving a thriller plot line and the devastating tale of Rachel’s drinking was wonderfully done. It’s not so much a punchy thriller but one that tells a chilling tale that will stay with me for a long time. Bang on.

Linnnnks

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Goodreads

Courage Resurrected by R.Scott Mackey

Reviews, reviews, reviews, reviews; I am slowly climbing through the pile and attempting to get the list a little more organised and feel a little more manageable. If you are waiting for a reply to your email, I promise you will hear back from me. I don’t want to take on anymore manuscripts until I’ve made it through all the first ones emailed to me and as the number is nearing thirty or so it could be a little while. However please be patient and I will make it through to you as soon as I possibly can. I’ve had quite a few misses in terms of books recently and it’s left me a little bit miserable. All the ones I think have the chance to be brilliant have just missed the mark on so many levels. It’s been a lot of romantic genre books and it makes me more and more cynical about the genre as a whole I’m sad to say. Today however, a crime mystery that left me a little blown-away and wanting more. Something that I am a little surprised to admit but all the same a brilliant book to get your hands on.

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Ray Courage’s wife Pam died thirteen years before in a car accident. Or did she? Ray’s world is turned upside down when he receives a series of e-mails from someone claiming to be his dead wife, accusing him of attempting to kill her and vowing revenge. Ray sets out to find the identity of the e-mailer only to discover the circumstances of his wife’s apparent death appear to be all but accidental. Soon Police Detective Carla Thurber comes to suspect Ray of killing his wife, and of a subsequent murder of Pam’s confidant. Meanwhile, a murderous predator who does not want the facts of Pam’s death to surface aims to stop Ray. In the greatest challenge of his life, Ray must outrun the police and elude those who are out to kill him as he seeks the truth about his wife’s death.

 So, quite a devastating book plot but it’s one I think you will really and honestly find intriguing. Ray Courage’s wife Pam has been dead for thirteen or so, killed in a strange mishap or accident if you like because no vehicle was ever found at the scene of the crime. After the tragic event Ray attempts to move on with his life and make a new life for himself and credit to him, he does. However, one day his life is turned a little upside down when he receives an email apparently from Pam stating that he attempted to kill her. Thinking it is only a sick joke his is quickly made aware through further communication that the police has been contacted. As a disbelieving policewoman begins to point the finger at our main character the body of his wife’s former co-worker is found in his apartment and it’s becoming a little more sinister. Taking the law into his own hands we follow Ray as he drives to clear his name and regain his innocence.

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 Right so a little bit of a technicality first. I am reading this book without any prior knowledge of the books coming before. If I am correct this is book number three and therefore if any comments I make that relate to the first two instalments apologies. This book is a little bit of a whirlwind and after a number of disappointing books earlier in the week it’s brilliant to finally get something into my hands that is truly provoking of those feelings that come when you get caught up in a mystery. The writing is strong and bold, Mackey really knows how to spin the reader and keep them guessing. With thrillers I’m always trying to stay one step ahead, it’s a competition for me as a reader but here I really struggled to piece everything together. The characters are strong and witty but with bite that makes them feel genuine. Ray has a sense of oldness meaning he feels a little weathered but safe. Sometimes when you read mystery books the characters are just as jumpy as you are but here Ray instils a feeling of calm that jars with the tense atmosphere and it really works.

 I liked the red herrings that are mixed within the plot and I thought the entire story had a keen eye for detail. The clues are just subtle enough to create drama and intrigue but help pull the reader in making the twists, turns and surprises all the more enjoyable. Commenting as a reader of this book only, I liked the way the book started on the first page, it really grabbed your attention. I don’t know whether the previous two do but some mystery books feel like the cogs are slowly, slowly turning and just easing you in but here, no chance. I liked the constant toying between whether Courage’s wife could somehow still be alive and I thought that the interaction between him and his daughter Rubia was wonderfully described. It also added a human touch to the story. The pace is quick and light which means that you are constantly trying to sift through for the clues that are there but you can’t quite get to.

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 As a reader of this genre I would recommend this straight away. It’s a brilliant book with enough characters, bad guys, twists and turns to keep you thoroughly entertained. Even if you’re not a big fan of the mystery/thriller genre, I know not all are I think this has enough included, with the parts between Rubia and Ray to fill the gaps that you may normally miss from a book of this genre. I’m a little upset I’ve come into this series now  however I’m utterly happy I had the chance to experience this book for myself.

The Second Coming: A guest post by Karen Long

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Bookish Thoughts…

 I haven’t always written crime fiction but I have always read and studied forensic science. It had always been a delicious fantasy that I would suddenly develop an aptitude for study and become a pathologist but I didn’t, on either score. However, my grounding in the sciences from a later degree and an eye for a title grab (see below), enabled me to acquire a solid grounding in how a crime scene is worked, how to kill someone, how to cover your tracks and why that is so difficult in the light of modern forensics.

 The Forensic Casebook: N.E. Genge

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This is my favourite book on the subject of, well pretty much every aspect of forensics. It begins by defining what the differences are between the ‘scene of crime’ and the ‘crime scene’, a seemingly dry semantic debate. However, Genge’s style is pithy and well illustrated, using television, film and real life cases to expand and clarify concepts. The presentation is varied and invites a ‘dip in’ approach to reading. Bullet points, different fonts and highlighted sections break the material down into appetising segments. I loved the incidental job adverts and the well edited interviews with crime scene workers. The only weakness I would note is that the paperback copy I own has been published on very poor quality paper, which made the black and white photographs very difficult to view.

 Forensic Entomology: Dorothy E. Gennard

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I wouldn’t say this was an easy, or accessible read…at all. It is a serious, well documented degree level text book. There are some photographs but nowhere near enough for the lay reader. If I’m going to dip in, this is not a linear read by the way, I either access images on the internet or have an identifier open. I find insects astonishingly beautiful and alien, their life cycles and behaviour, which when combined with temperature, can pinpoint the time of death, is something I am particularly interested in.

 Postmortem: Dr Steven A. Koehler and Dr. Cyril H. Wecht

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This book has lots of glossy photographs and thoughtfully presented diagrams. The material is compact but it’s designed as a quick introduction to the study of forensics and, as such, is a great writer’s help. The photographs don’t pull their punches and the case notes are relevant, if a little rushed. There is an excellent chart on p75, which measures the visual changes of different bruises over a time period of 15 days. If it’s an exciting introduction to the discipline you’re after, then this book is the one for you.

 Molecules of Murder: John Emsley

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I am happy to recommend any of John Emsley’s books. They are well written, well researched and don’t skimp on the science. Each chapter has selected a poison and exemplifies its usage in numerous crimes both historical and contemporary. There is a helpful glossary, which gives further information on highlighted words. I confess to being particularly intrigued by the use of poisons and loved the way that Emsley’s conversational and enthusiastic style jumps out of the narrative, on occasion, and sweeps the reader off on an anecdotal journey.

 I believe that books make books. You read, absorb and mold information into narratives. Fact, however seemingly dry and inconsequential, is the basis of all crime fiction. Without a working knowledge of how forensics are applied in a contemporary, or even an historic setting, there will be gaps in your plot, or opportunities missed. I am not advocating that fiction should be determined solely by fact, you are not writing a textbook but to omit or fudge modern criminalistics is to deny richness and depth to your story.

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