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!