She Did It by Mel Sherratt

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Synopsis: Work colleague. Friend. Killer.

A successful businesswoman, Tamara enjoys her champagne lifestyle to the full. At least, that is the front she displays to the world. As well as being lonely, she’s running out of money. A promising new member of staff brings the injection of fresh blood needed to win the contract that will turn things around.

Working for Tamara is a perfect ruse for Esther. But, along with fake references and qualifications, she also has a plan for revenge. Sensing Tamara’s vulnerability, Esther uses their acquaintance as a way of getting close to someone who hurt her in the past.

Tamara is keeping things secret. Esther has a dark side she is trying to hide. For both of them, lying is a habit. But when mistakes begin to catch up with Esther, and people start dying, Tamara realises she’s chosen the wrong person to trust as a friend.

Kat’s Rating: 4/5

Kat’s Review: I am a big Mel Sherratt fan, especially her Allie Shenton series. When I received a copy of her newest release She Did It, I was looking forward to reading a standalone. Tamara and Esther are two very different characters, however they both have secrets they are hiding. When Esther turns up with fake references to work for Tamara, Tamara is grateful that she has finally found someone she can rely on. Esther in turn plays her part and on the surface looks to be supporting Tamara at a time when her business really needs the boost.

Esther was a more engaging character for me and although it was clear she was extremely devious and had an evil streak she was incredibly engaging. Tamara less so and at tims I found her a little bland in comparison and at times naive. However after the halfway point my attitude changed somewhat and I realised I didn’t really know what either woman was capable of or why.

As the story progressed the plot thickened but elements of the past started to make an appearance and pretty soon everything just started unravelling. It was an easy book to get pulled in to and I certainly feel like this is a slight move away from her normal books and this falls more into the Psychological Thriller genre for me. It was certainly a good read and one that I think her fans will enjoy. I still remain a stout Shenton fan and am really looking forward to the next book in tthe series.

BLOG TOUR: Don’t Look Behind You by Mel Sherratt (Eden Berrisford #2_

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Synopsis: She got into bed but sleep didn’t come easily. Every creak in the house made her alert. She was waiting for him to come and get her.

The small city of Stockleigh is in shock as three women are brutally attacked within days of each other. Are they random acts of violence or is there a link between the victims? For Detective Eden Berrisford, it’s her most chilling case yet. 

The investigation leads Eden to cross paths with Carla, a woman trying to rebuild her life after her marriage to a cruel and abusive man ended in unimaginable tragedy. Her husband Ryan was imprisoned for his crimes but, now he’s out and coming for her. 

As Eden starts to close in on the attacker, she also puts herself in grave danger. Can she stop him before he strikes again? And can Carla, terrified for her life, save herself – before the past wreaks a terrible revenge? 

Kat’s Rating: 4/5

Kat’s Review: We are finally back for the second installment featuring Eden Berrisford, and thankfully we didn’t have that long to wait! I really enjoyed the first in this series and was looking forward to seeing where Eden was at now. The one thing that struck me with the first book was that I didn’t really thing I got that much of an insight into Eden’s personal life. Sure we got the overview, but by the end of the first book I still wasn’t entirely sure what I thought of her, and I certainly wasn’t sure what sort or character she would turn out to be. It felt like we had only scratched the surface. Again this book takes back another layer, but I am still at the end of this book keen to know more about the lady herself. I have come to the conclusion though, that I am massively biased as my favourite character of Mel Sherratt’s has always been Allie Shenton!

This latest book brings you some uncomfortable reading material, but one that makes for a compelling read. There are a few stand out characters, and Carla is one such character. A woman who is trying to rebuild her life following the breakdown of her marriage to a violent and abusive man. That is just the tip of the iceberg for Carla and as event unfold in the book, events in Carla’s past also unfold bringing about an understanding as to why she has got to the situation she currently finds herself in.

Eden and her team are meanwhile trying to catch the perpetrator if some vicious attacks on the women in the area. Each attach becomes more brutal and violent and Eden and the team are left trying to work out what attacks are linked, if any and if they are then the need to find the person responsible. Eden’s team consist of a good bunch but actually the addition of the old school and almost neanderthal colleague Phil was actually a character that by the end, I was hoping would make a repeat appearance. However the characters within Eden’s team are all written in such a way it seems they are all meant to be together, so I look forward to seeing them all in the next installment,

There is a lot of violence surrounding domestic abuse and obviously the attacks on women add to that general theme of the book so sometimes it doesn’t make for light reading that’s for sure, but it certainly has the desired effect of putting an edge to every element of the story. This latest book was a thoroughly enjoyable read and I especially loved seeing a bit more about Eden’s home life, however I have a sneaking suspicion that with all that has gone on in this book, the next one will reveal even more. Another great series buy Mel Sheratt, although I have to confess it still doesn’t quite live up to the Allie Shenton books for me.

BLOG TOUR: The Girl’s Next Door by Mel Sherratt (Eden Berrisford #1)

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Synopsis: One warm spring evening, five teenagers meet in a local park. Only four will come out alive.

Six months after the stabbing of fifteen-year-old Deanna Miller, someone is coming after the teenagers of Stockleigh, as a spate of vicious assaults rocks this small community. Revenge for Deanna? Or something more? 

Detective Eden Berrisford is locked into a race against time to catch the twisted individual behind the attacks – but when her own niece, Jess Mount, goes missing, the case gets personal.

With the kidnapper threatening Jess’ life, can Eden bring back her niece to safety? Or will the people of Stockleigh be forced to mourn another daughter…?

Kat’s Rating: 4/5

Continue reading

Written In The Scars by Mel Sherratt (Estate #4)

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Synopsis: Scars. Sometimes they’re visible. Sometimes they’re hidden deep within. After years of living as a single parent, all Donna Adams longs for is someone to make her smile, to share hopes and dreams with, to keep her warm at night. But when that certain someone gives her the attention she craves, true love doesn’t always follow the right path. 

Home from the army, Lewis is a changed man. Angry and consumed by grief, troubled by nightmares and flashbacks, his mind is worse now than ever. Shutting out what he’s seen isn’t easy, but he risks losing everything he’s come back to if he doesn’t, including his sanity. 

Megan Cooper hides her scars for fear of being rejected. Mary Marshall can’t always remember how she got hers. If the past could be erased to make a better future, we’d all want that, wouldn’t we? But life is never that easy for the residents of The Mitchell Estate… 

Kat’s Rating: 4/5 Continue reading

Fighting For Survival by Mel Sherratt (Estate #3)

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Synopsis: When Caren Williams finds herself back on the estate she fought so hard to get away from, little does she realise she’ll be living opposite her arch-enemy, Gina Bradley. Gina thinks she and her family rule Stanley Avenue so when Caren starts to become popular, she decides to hit her where it will hurt the most – she wants her husband. Lonely and depressed, Ruth Millington turns to drinking and self-harm to get her through the dark times but finds it’s a constant struggle. Spiralling out of control, maybe she should let Gina’s husband help her out when he comes calling. Twins, Rachel and Claire Bradley, took control of the girl-gang, the Mitchell Mob, when their leader was sent to a juvenile detention centre for assault. But Stacey Hunter is out now and wants to hold the position again. No one will back down – let battle commence. Brawling in the street, fighting on the square and conforming to peer pressure – it all comes down to holding your nerve. But this time not everyone will stay alive on the notorious Stanley Avenue…

Kat’s Rating: 5/5 Continue reading

Behind A Closed Door by Mel Sherratt (Estate #2)

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Synopsis: Housing office Josie Mellor loves the community spirit of the notorious Mitchell Estate – when it doesn’t involve benefit cheats, aggression, or murder and mayhem, that is. 

But it isn’t exactly a party for some of her tenants. Kelly Winterton thinks Josie is sticking her nose in where it’s not wanted. Her partner’s just been packed off to prison and she’s left worrying how to fend for herself and her young daughter. Charlotte Hatfield has fled from her violent partner. With four children in tow, she lives in fear of him finding her again. Amy Cartwright has learning difficulties. She finds it hard enough looking out for herself and her six-month-old baby without being taken advantage of. 

In the midst of it all, Josie has secrets of her own. Trapped in a loveless marriage, she struggles to escape her controlling husband and, as her home life deteriorates, she realises only a thin line separates her from the people she’s trying to help. Can Josie save herself and return the estate to relative normality when a spate of burglaries causes havoc and deadly violence erupts? Or will both she and her tenants become victims of violence that no one will see?

Kat’s Rating: 4/5

Kat’s Review: It’s funny how when you haven’t read something for a while you forget the reason you loved it in the first place. I am certainly a fan of Mel Sherratt, however when I realised book 4 was due for release I caught up with book 3, only to realise I also hadn’t read book 2! Thankfully all the reasons I like these books came rushing back and this one was no different. Book one I thoroughly enjoyed, book 3 was an absolutely brilliant read as was this (although book 3 has the edge). Josie Mellor seems to be the heart of these books (although not necessarily the main focus of stories). As the Housing Officer for the Mitchell Estate where these books are set, she is a pretty central and important character.

In addition to Josie in this book we meet Kelly Winterton who is a charming woman although young and a little naïve. She and her daughter are now fending for themselves after her boyfriend is sent to prison. Her boyfriend, is certainly a character you can love to hate. However, I liked the way that multiple stories are told and we get to see another Tenant Amy Cartwright try to make her way as a young mother with learning difficulties. Add on top of this the death of a resident and multiple burglaries on the estate and you have lots of drama at every turn.

The nicest thing about this particular book is that Josie actually plays a larger part in it than in book 3, and you get to see a lot more about her personal life, which makes for an exciting plot line on its own. It took me only a couple of sittings to finish this and I really did enjoy immersing myself in the gritty worlds of the tenants living on the Estate. I think the only thing that made finishing this book less depressing, was knowing that I have book 4 lined up and ready to go.

Only The Brave by Mel Sherratt (Allie Shenton #3)

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Kat’s Rating: 4/5

Synopsis: When one of the notorious Johnson brothers is murdered and a bag of money goes missing, a deadly game of cat and mouse is set in motion. DS Allie Shenton and her team are called in to catch the killer, but the suspects are double-crossing each other and Allie has little time to untangle the web of lies. As she delves deeper into the case, things take a personal turn when Allie realises she is being stalked by the very same person who attacked her sister seventeen years ago and left her for dead.

*Please note that due to this book being part of a series, if you haven’t read the previous books and plan on doing so then don’t continue to read the review as it will inevitably contain spoilers*

Kat’s Review: I was so excited to get an early copy of the new Mel Sherratt, and especially pleased that it was another ‘Allie Shenton’ book. Taunting The Dead and Follow My Leader are books 1 and 2 respectively and I would strongly recommend you read the books in order. Allie is back and facing the worst possible scenario in her personal life. Her sister was attached 17 years prior and life has never been the same for her since. It seems that now, the person who attacked her sister is now targeting Allie. In addition to this the body of Jordan Johnson is found and typically it seems he has links to Terry Ryder (featured in previous book).

The big difference in this latest book is Allie herself. She seemed somehow more vulnerable than usual and maybe not as strong as in previous books (which isn’t always a bad thing). On the other side of the fence we meet all the neighbours living in the flats where Jordan’s body was found. It seems before long that there are numerous candidates and it seems there is more double-crossing going on than you can shake a stick at. The endless list of people who could be potential suspects are brilliant and I could picture each and every one of them. The other difference with this book is that it’s set over 24 hours so the chapters are started with the relevant time frame. I’m not that much of a fan of short time span books but this one worked well and had loads of pace and momentum.

Overall this was pretty much packed with all sorts of goings on and kept my interest right the way through. There are two storylines running throughout and for once this book finishes on something of a complete note. Hopefully this means that Allie will return fighting fit for another book and another new case. There is only one small thing that I consider a negative in this and previous books and that is Allie’s husband Mark. He doesn’t seem that prominent and to be honest would prefer that she got rid of him. I haven’t really felt like I connected with him as a character and he seems far too boring for her. The danger element of a man (such as in the last book) worked like a charm in my eyes. This is just a personal opinion but one that bugs me. Aside from the extremely boring husband another cracker for Mel Sherratt!

Follow The Leader by Mel Sherratt (Allie Shenton #2)

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My Rating: 4/5

Availability: Paperback, Audio, Kindle, Nook and Kobo (Released 10.02.15)

Synopsis: A man’s body is found on a canal towpath. In his pocket, a magnetic letter in the shape of an E. Days later, a second victim is found, this time with the letter V tucked into her clothing. As the body count rises, the eerie, childlike clues point to a pattern that sends DS Allie Shenton and her colleagues into full alert. The race is on. Allie and the team must work quickly to determine where the killer will strike next. The rules are simple but deadly—to catch the killer, they must follow the leader.

Kat’s Review: Allie Shenton is back in the follow up from ‘Taunting the Dead’. I have to say I was rather pleased that I could get stuck in as the last book ended on a bit of a cliff-hanger. A man’s body is found on a canal path and in his pocket is a magnetic letter. Allie Shenton and her colleagues start the investigation and before long the body count rises. The killer is front and centre and immediately gave me the creeps.

Allie and her team quickly spot a pattern and it seems to be a bit of a race against time to get to the victims before the killer does. Allie seems a little bit more in control of her life in this second outing, and for that I was glad. It was also nice to see the references to Terry Ryder (from book 1) pop up again, albeit in a subtle way.

Because we get to see the killer in action we also get to see his reasoning behind the murders. This makes it more intriguing because you wonder how long it will take for the police to catch up. In addition we see flashbacks in time which features both the killers and victims and the layers begin to unpeel.

I once again thoroughly enjoyed this book and think that it has a slight edge over the Estate Books (although that maybe isn’t fair as I have only read one!). I like Allie, and am dying to see what happens to her, and her family in the next book. I think my only disappointment was that once again, a certain element of the story was carried over. In one sense it’s great because the reader then wants to go on and read the next book, but for me…well I’m just an impatient one! I certainly should have started catching up with Mel Sherratt’s books sooner as they are a pleasure to read.

Taunting The Dead by Mel Sherratt (Allie Shenton #1)

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Kat’s Rating: 4/5

Synopsis: How far would you go to protect the ones you love? And how much further would you go to betray them?

Nine out of ten murders are committed by someone the victim knows. So when Steph Ryder has her head bashed in within earshot of her family and friends, DS Allie Shenton begins her investigation close to home.

Soon the lies, backtracking, and secrets multiply as each of the suspects tries to cover up their actions on that fateful night. Before long, Allie homes in on Steph’s ambitious and powerful husband, Terry. Convinced he’s hiding something, she interviews him again and again—only to find that she is falling, despite herself, for his smooth charms.

As the trail grows hotter, along with Allie’s feelings, the web of deceit pulls tighter and more bodies begin to pile up. Allie must race against time to uncover the shocking truth before she becomes the killer’s next victim.

Kat’s Review: I have read one of Mel’s Estate Series books as well as Watching Over You. With her imminent release of book 2 featuring DS Allie Shenton I figured I should read book 1 to familiarise myself. I am pretty glad that I did now as I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I also find it’s an added bonus that I have the next book as the ending was brilliant, albeit a cliff-hanger! Allie Shenton is a good character and easily likeable. She’s a copper who is working in Stoke, the place she was born and bred. The story itself was a bit of a slow burner, but by the second third I was well and truly gripped and read it right through to the end.

Steph Ryder and her dodgy husband Terry are the main focus of this book. Steph was frankly a rather despicable character. A virtual alcoholic we get to know exactly what are whop are relevant in her life. Terry Ryder, although an obvious gangster with a legit front, had a rather endearing character! We also meet additional characters that are all added to the mix such as Phil Kennedy who works for Terry, Steph’s friend Carole and her husband Shaun as well as Terry and Steph’s daughter.

The layers of the story are put there, and at times I thought they were maybe too much but I realised by the end that there is a method to Mel’s madness, namely the next book. As well as all the colourful characters, we get to know a bit about Allie, we meet her husband, her boss and her sister. All of this becomes a lot more relevant as the story continues. When Steph is murdered, nobody (including me) could work out what on earth was going on. It certainly added another layer of intrigue as each time I thought both they and I had figured it out, I was wrong!

This book certainly had me well and truly gripped, especially the last quarter of the book, and frankly the last chapter had me screaming in frustration. Luckily, the new book is already on my Kindle (due for release 10th Feb 2015) so I could get stuck straight back in. I think Mel Sherratt is definitely an underated author and I for one am starting straight on book 2. I think if you haven’t read Mel Sherratt before this book (or one of the Estate Books) is a fantastic place to start. Now if you don’t mind…I have another Allie Shenton book to read!

Watching Over You by Mel Sherratt

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My Rating: 3/5

Availability: Paperback and Kindle

Synopsis: Following the death of her husband and unborn child, Charley Belington sells the family home and bravely starts life over again. On moving into a new flat, she is befriended by her landlady, Ella, who seems like the perfect friend and confidante.

But, unbeknown to Charley, Ella is fighting her own dark and dirty demons as the fallout from a horrific childhood sends her spiralling down into madness—and unspeakable obsessions.

 As Ella’s mind splinters, her increasingly bizarre attentions make Charley uneasy. But with every step Charley tries to take to distance herself, Ella moves in a tightening lockstep with her, closer and closer and closer…

My Review: I feel pretty torn with my opinion on this book. I have read the first of Mel’s Estate books and really enjoyed it. It’s also clear from reading this latest of her books that she has bundles of talent and is overall a great writer. For some reason though, this book just didn’t sit all that well with me. I liked Charley Belington and the reader gets to see this brave woman try to get over the death of her husband. She is trying to move on and that means moving out of the home she shared with her husband Dan. When she moves into a new flat she meets the Landlady Ella who seems like an ideal friend.

At first Ella seems to be the ideal landlady and is going out of her way to welcome Charley into her new home. What the reader soon discovers is that Ella has her own demons and her horrific upbringing is seemingly now responsible for the adult she is becoming. It was clear from pretty early on that Ella has some serious issues and I thought that Mel Sherratt handled them in a way that made the reader understands a little more the way that their minds work. It certainly brings to the forefront the major issue with mental healthcare that many people still shy away from.

We also see neighbours that are part of the plot line appear and in their own way, they become part of Ella and Charley’s lives without them even being aware of it. The one thing I really did like is the plot thread that brought them all together. I thought this was probably the highlight of the book and cleverly done. For me though, I just felt like certain parts of the book were too repetitive and that it felt a little like overkill on certain issues. The book certainly had great pace and the storyline itself and suspense kept you reading. I just felt like overall, there were some things that were too much in my opinion. I’m certainly not prudish or shy (nothing could be further from the truth), but the sexual elements of the story seemed too much and I wasn’t sure they needed to be as much at the forefront as they were.

Overall it was an enjoyable read, but I felt like it was let down by a few things. No doubt Mel Sherratt will go on and produce even more amazing books such as she has been doing for some time. This is by no means indicating that the lady doesn’t have talent because she does. I just feel like this (in comparison to the Estate books), doesn’t do her the justice she deserves. Will no doubt be a winner with the majority, just didn’t quite do it for me.