The Girl Who Came Back by Susan Lewis

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Synopsis: When Jules Bright hears a knock on the door, the last person she expects to find is a detective bringing her the news she’s feared for the last three years.

Amelia Quentin is being released from prison.

Jules’s life is very different now to the one she’d known before Amelia shattered it completely. Knowing the girl is coming back she needs to decide what to do. Friends and family gather round, fearing for Jules’s safety. They know that justice was never served; every one of them wants to make the Quentin girl pay. 

The question is, what will Jules do; and which of them – her or Amelia – has the most to fear?

Kat’s Rating: 3/5

Kat’s Review: I have been reading Susan Lewis for years and my very first review on Amazon nearly 10 years ago was one of her books. I always enjoy them but every now and then one comes along that I struggle with and sadly this was one of them. In the beginning we see glimpses of Amelia and instantly it becomes apparent she is no ordinary child and if that continues she may well become a very disturbed individual. Jules then becomes the main focus of the story and we see her struggle to come to terms with the news she has just been told. Amelia Quentin will be released from prison following an event that had far reaching consequences for her family.

As the story continues we see both present and past explored but it was done in an easy to read way. There are many elements to this book that maybe wont sit right with some people (subject matter for a start wont be everybody’s cup of tea), however the story flowed well and was easy to get into. However, there were one or two issues within the book I just felt had no added value, as well as the fact that certain elements within the story didn’t seem authentic and to be honest this spoiled things a little for me.

I continued reading and finished the book, and although I enjoyed it there were too many things I didn’t like or had niggles with so felt that the fairest rating would be the middle of the road. I certainly hope her next book is just as enthralling as the numerous others of hers I have read.

Right Behind ou by Lisa Gardner (FBI Profiler #7)

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Synopsis: Thirteen-year-old Sharlah Nash knows that the first time her brother killed eight years ago, he did it to save their lives.

Now retired FBI profiler Pierce Quincy and his wife Rainie Conner have offered Sharlah a new life of safety. She desperately wants to believe this is her shot at happily ever after.

Then two people are murdered in their local convenience store and Sharlah’s brother is identified as the killer.

Telly Ray Nash is on the hunt for Sharlah and as the death count rises it becomes clear that nothing and no one, including Pierce and Rainie, will stop him getting to her.

Now, Sharlah has one chance to take control.

She can run for her life… or turn and face the danger right behind her.

Kat’s Rating: 3/5

Kat’s Review: I was THRILLED to hear that Lisa Gardner was bringing back Rainie and Quincy as it’s been at least 8 years. However, having finished the book I was hugely undecided about the rating and was decidedly underwhelmed by certain aspects of this latest release.  I have read all of the books in this series which I think always helps, however you could easily read this as a standalone and have no issue with what is going on. Previous books have always had me on the edge of my seat and this book did too to a certain degree. However, there was a lot of repetitiveness and it felt like going over old ground time and time again.

Sharlah has been living with Rainie and Quincy for some time and they are looking to adopt her and offer her a new life and secure family. Although Quincy is retired he still gets called to work on cold cases as one of the elite FBI profiler’s. When two people are murdered in a local convenience store Quincy and Rainie get dragged in when it soon becomes clear that the main suspect is none other that Sharlah’s older brother Tell Ray Nash.

Okay, irritation point one is the name of the suspect, for some reason it just didn’t sit right with me and grated on me from the beginning. I don’t let things like that bother me too much, but as I started to read there was a certain something missing from this book that was present in her others. It felt like the spark was missing and maybe that was due to the fact there was too long a gap between the last book and this one? The pace was good but the second half was much better and I found myself reading the second half in just one sitting.

I know I mentioned that something was missing which is generally pretty vague I know, but even though the second half was great again it felt like there was something not right. In addition there were elements to characters (such as Cal the tracker) which if I heard one more time I think I might have screamed. I mean how many times do you need to be told that Cal makes cheese??? I know that sounds petty but that, along with the name Telly, as well as feeling something wasn’t quite as it has been in other books just left me feeling a little let down. I am a huge fan of the DD Warren series and those books are amazing and seem to get better with each one released. For me this fell short and I couldn’t honestly say it stayed in my mind for any of the right reasons. A solid read, but far too middle of the road for such an accomplished author!

Girl In Danger by Leigh Russell (Lucy Hall #2)

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Synopsis: Chasing a story, reporter Lucy Hall plunges into a desperate fight to save her own life.

Lucy Hall’s first summer in Paris promises to be idyllic. She’s fallen in love with the city and enjoys her new job as an investigative reporter. When her friend Nina comes to stay, the girls look forward to a wonderful summer. But Paris is a city of contrasts and Lucy is about to experience its dangerous side.

When an anonymous source promises her a scoop, Lucy can’t resist the chance to make her name. The deeply unsettling meeting with her informant indicates that there may be more at stake than she’d suspected. Returning home with questions instead of answers, Lucy finds her apartment ransacked and Nina gone.

Lucy knows her friend is in danger, but the police are unwilling to help. When her informant is found dead, she realises she may be next. Lucy has something the killer wants and he’ll do anything to get it back…

Kat’s Rating: 3/5

Kat’s Review: I read the first in the Lucy Hall series and enjoyed it, however they are certainly not the same as Leigh Russell’s series of books featuring Geraldine Steel. These are more mystery type of books and seem to be somewhat a slower pace. The first book in the Series Journey to Death I enjoyed and I thought it was a good introduction to Lucy. However, when we meet her in the second book she has moved to Paris to start a career as an Investigative Journalist. It becomes apparent pretty quickly that she is very new to it all and she takes every tip seriously in her quest to break into reporting. Her friend Nina visits her, however following an anonymous tip, when she returns home she finds her flat ransacked and her friend missing. 

The story moves along and she meets a man who seems willing to help her but Lucy can’t help but be wary as she isn’t sure who she can trust. We also see the story from Nina’s point of view, along with the main man who runs the criminal world in Paris. The reason I felt so indifferent with book 2 is that there were times it all felt a little repetitive. Although Lucy is a newbie, things fitted a little too neatly for her to ‘bag the story of her career’ and the subsequent chain of events lay just the wrong side of believable for me. 

Although I liked Lucy as a character I didn’t feel as connected to her in this book as much as I did the last one. Things seemed too well planned and this made me feel more indifferently about her than I did previously. The story was enjoyable enough and I think is probably a good alternative to those who don’t want hard hitting, gory or violent crime novels. For me I just couldn’t connect and as such didn’t feel it was one of Leigh’s stronger books.

Strictly My Husband by Tracy Bloom

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Synopsis: Laura loves it when Tom takes her for a late night tango around the kitchen after their friends have gone home and they’re avoiding the washing up. She can’t dance but who cares when no one is watching?

All that changes when Tom arrives on the doorstep with Carly, a professional dancer, and announces he’s offered her the spare room to rent while she performs in a show that Tom is directing.

An outraged Laura doesn’t feel like dancing with Tom anymore but Carly does. It only takes two to tango, and given Tom’s history who knows where it could end? Will Laura be the one left watching from the sidelines whilst Carly waltzes off with her husband’s heart?

Kat’s Rating: 3/5

Kat’s Review: I like Tracy Bloom books and although I have only rated this 3/5 it was still a good read. The problem I had with this book was Laura, the main character! Laura is married to the handsome Tom and her life is ticking along like normal. However, when Tom brings home a professional dancer Carly to rent their room things start to go rapidly downhill for Laura.

Laura and Tom are very readable and along with them we meet their married friends Jerry and Hannah as well as Tom’s brother Will. Jerry was without a doubt the star of the show for me and was hilarious, full of life and completely over the top. However, Laura just grated on me from start to finish. The woman never stopped moaning and to be honest I just didn’t like her. That’s my main reason for the 3 star rating. Laura, Tom, Carly, and the other characters were great. They were all easily read, humorous and swept the story along. However, every time Laura got on the phone to Hannah to moan I could almost feel the switch in my brain starting to turn off. 

Pushing that to one side, Tracy Bloom has a great balance between humour and storytelling and there is an easy flow to her books which makes them very readable. I feel like Jerry should make a return in future books as I would have loved to have read more about his adventures following the end of this book. Overall certainly not a bad read, but marred by my dislike for the main character.

The Slaughter Man by Tony Parsons (Max Wolfe #2)

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Synopsis: On New Year’s Day, a wealthy family is found slaughtered inside their exclusive gated community in north London, their youngest child stolen away. 

The murder weapon – a gun for stunning cattle before they are butchered – leads Detective Max Wolfe to a dusty corner of Scotland Yard’s Black Museum devoted to a killer who thirty years ago was known as the Slaughter Man.

But the Slaughter Man has done his time, and is now old and dying. Can he really be back in the game? 

And was the murder of a happy family a mindless killing spree, a grotesque homage by a copycat killer – or a contract hit designed to frame a dying man?

All Max knows is that he needs to find the missing child and stop the killer before he destroys another innocent family – or finds his way to his own front door …

Even the happiest of families have black, twisted secrets that someone is ready to kill for…

Kat’s Rating: 3/5

Kat’s Review: I really wanted to like this, and there were certainly elements I enjoyed but…yes there’s a but. There are major things missing in this book and it almost feels like a puzzle with some key pieces missing. I read the first book in this series and felt rather middle of the road about it. This time around the story was certainly engaging but I couldn’t gel with Detective Max Wolfe. There is a large lack of description for the characters which irritates me as I like to build up a picture in my mind. I have reads numerous books between the last one and this one so I still have no idea what he should look like in me head which is never a good sign.

The story line in this one seemed a lot more engaging and kept me more entertained than the last, but again there seemed to be some rather key elements to the story line either missed or overlooked. I really feel like there is potentially a really great series lurking behind these pages, but certainly things need to improve for me to continue on with the series. Even the supporting characters such as Max daughter Scout and his colleagues did little to leave an impression on me. This book was readable, but not memorable and these reasons can certainly be changed with future books.

My Mother’s Secret by Sheila O’Flanagan

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Synopsis: When Steffie helps her two siblings organize a surprise wedding anniversary party for their parents her only worry is whether they’ll be pleased. What she doesn’t know is this is the day that her whole world will be turned upside down.

Jenny wants to be able to celebrate her ruby anniversary with the man she loves, but for forty years she has kept a secret. A secret that she can’t bear to hide any longer. But is it ever the right time to hurt the people closest to you?

As the entire family gather to toast the happy couple, they’re expecting a day to remember. The trouble is, it’s not going to be for the reasons they imagined…

Kat’s Rating: 3/5

Kat’s Review: I am a big Sheila O’Flanagan fan and am rarely disappointed with one of her books. This latest one, although it wasn’t a disappointment as such, I just felt it was a little bit ‘middle of the road’ for my liking. It’s a typical family drama and the writing style is no different, there was just something that seemed a wee bit off kilter.

Roisin is the older sister to sister Steffi and brother Davey. When she throws an anniversary surprise party for their parents Jenny and Pascal, Steffi knows full well that this isn’t the sort of thing her parents want as they prefer the quieter life, so when her Mother drops a bombshell at the party it gets the book off to a great start. The characters are well fleshed out and you get that real Irish family feel to the story.  There are a lot of different personalities and threads which keep you engaged as a reader.

However, unusually for an Sheila O’Flanagan book, it didn’t seem to go much further than that for me. It’s a solid read but seems to be missing it’s usual magic, and the worst part is I can’t even tell you why. Yes it was a little predictable, but normally I overlook that as the enjoyment parts are so good. This time around, although I didn’t dislike any of the characters, I didn’t really care for them either way. Maybe it’s a one off, but for me this book felt a little bit too old fashioned and that just isn’t the case with this author normally. Here’s hoping her next released brings back that little bit of sparkle I felt was missing in this one. 

The Last Kiss Goodbye by Tasmina Perry

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Synopsis: Everyone remembers their first kiss. But what about the last?

1961. Journalist Rosamund Bailey is ready to change the world. When she meets explorer and man about town Dominic Blake, she realises she has found the love of her life. Just as happiness is in their grasp, the worst happens, and their future is snatched away.

2014. Deep in the vaults of a museum, archivist Abby Gordon stumbles upon a breathtaking find. A faded photograph of a man saying goodbye to the woman he loves. Looking for a way to escape her own heartache, Abby becomes obsessed with the story, little realising that behind the image frozen in time lies a secret altogether more extraordinary.

Kat’s Rating: 3/5 

Kat’s Review: I have to hold my hands up here and say I actually put off reading this book. I am a huge Tasmina Perry fan but when I saw her slight departure from style with both the cover and synopsis of this book I was slightly wary. This latest book is set over two time frames, both the 1960s and 2014. We have two stories set 50 years apart featuring Dom and Ros from the Fifties and Abby set in the current time frame.

Abby is archivist and after a separation from her husband she is finding her feet. She comes across a photograph that she longs to know more about. The photograph turns out to be that of Rosamund Bailey and Dominic Blake who was a famous explorer. This is where the story begins to separate and we see Dom and Ros feature. I have to be honest and say that the story was okay, but that’s where it ended for me. I didn’t care too much for either Dom or Ros and felt like Abby was rather flat.

The story itself trundles along but the characters which are just a fancy word for the glue that holds it all together just didn’t interest me enough. The writing style is still glaringly apparent but I suppose I have become accustomed to reading the Bonkbuster style books that Tasmina previously wrote. I am finding it difficult to articulate but in a nutshell I didn’t like or care enough about any of the characters for me to rate it anything outside of average. I can’t help but feel a bit disappointed, but can only hope her next book is as engaging as all her previous works.

The House on Cold Hill by Peter James

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Synopsis: The House on Cold Hill is a chilling and suspenseful ghost story from the multi-million copy bestselling author of Dead Simple, Peter James.

Moving from the heart of Brighton and Hove to the Sussex countryside is a big undertaking for Ollie and Caro Harcourt and their twelve-year-old daughter Jade. But when they view Cold Hill House – a huge, dilapidated Georgian mansion – Ollie is filled with excitement. Despite the financial strain of the move, he has dreamed of living in the country since he was a child, and he sees Cold Hill House as a paradise for his animal-loving daughter, the perfect base for his web-design business and a terrific long-term investment. Caro is less certain, and Jade is grumpy about being separated from her friends.

Within days of moving in, it becomes apparent that the Harcourt family aren’t the only residents of the house. A friend of Jade’s is the first to see the spectral woman, standing behind her as the girls talk on FaceTime. Then there are more sightings, as well as increasingly disturbing occurrences in the house. As the haunting becomes more malevolent and the house itself begins to turn on the Harcourts, the terrified family discover Cold Hill House’s dark history, and the horrible truth of what it could mean for them . . .

KAT’S RATING: 3/5

KAT’S REVIEW: I am most definitely what I would call a Peter James fan, however after reading this I was left feeling not so enamoured. Peter James has written a brilliant series featuring Roy Grace, and in my opinion his stand alone book Perfect People was GENIUS! However, this latest effort didn’t really make an impression on me. I admit I am not the biggest fan of ‘ghost stories’ but am open minded enough to try them.

This story centres on Ollie and Caro Harcourt and their twelve-year-old daughter Jade and their move to Cold Hill House. The opening of the book sets the scene pretty well and there is a heavy sense of foreboding (which of course is justified). The family are in for a nasty turn of events and these seem to spiral quite rapidly.

There was certainly nothing specific that I disliked with the book, but I just didn’t feel like there was any real substance behind the tale. Maybe I am just too adjusted to expecting a ‘Roy Grace’ type of book this didn’t suit me. I read the book to the end but in all honesty I felt like it was a bit of a struggle. I would admit I prefer to stick to crime and thrillers, however just recently discovered Caroline Mitchell who writes Supernatural and I love that series.

I guess I felt that this was missing something, but I just couldn’t put my finger on what. I’m aware that I am probably with the minority on the review of this book, but think in future I will stick to my Roy Grace or standalone crime novels by Mr James.

Down Among The Dead Men by Kerry Wilkinson

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Synopsis: ‘I’m going to do you a favour: I’m going to tell you my name and then I’m going to give you thirty seconds to turn and run. If any of you are still here after those thirty seconds, then we’re going to have a problem.’

Jason Green’s life is changed for good after he is saved from a mugging by crime boss, Harry Irwell. He is then drawn into Manchester’s notorious underworld, where smash and grab is as normal as making a cup of tea.

But Jason isn’t a casual thug. He has a life plan that doesn’t involve blowing his money on the usual trappings. That is until a woman walks into his life offering the one thing that money can’t buy – salvation.

Kat’s Rating: 3/5

Kat’s Review: After finishing this book I am still a little undecided but have gone with a middle of the road rating because I’m still unsure. I have never read any Kerry Wilkinson books but do have a couple of his books in the Jessica Daniels series to get started on. This one was a standalone so I thought it may be a good place to start.

Okay, so why the middle of the road rating? Well essentially the writing was excellent in terms of story flow and getting into the book quickly. What didn’t work for me were the characters. I tried and persevered but even towards the end I still wasn’t entirely convinced of the main character Jason as well as his ‘boss’ Harry.  Jason was saved from a pounding when he was a young lad living on a rough estate. What he didn’t realise was that the man who saved him was Harry Irwell, a man who he would end up working for.

Jason was a pretty average character to read about, and even towards the end I didn’t like or dislike him, I was just indifferent. In addition to that there were a couple of occasions which involve Harry which also didn’t feel right. Harry came across as a very bland and stereotypical ‘Crime Boss’. The story itself was okay and there were times when I became engrossed, it just didn’t have enough of a pull for me to rate it any higher.

Overall I can certainly see Kerry Wilkinson’s talents as a writer, but think that maybe I should start the series featuring Jessica Daniels. If the reviews on this series are anything to go by, it should be a hit!

No Place To Hide by Susan Lewis

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Synopsis: Why has Justine Cantrell suddenly changed her name, abandoned the husband and family she loves and a successful business to start a new life in a place many thousands of miles away? 

There isn’t a man involved, but there is a terrible secret that she must hide from her new friends and neighbours as securely as she needs to hide herself from those she’s left behind. 

What is Justine’s Secret?

Kat’s Rating; 3/5

Kat’s Review: I was really torn with this book and the synopsis says it all. There is absolutely no way you can really describe too much of the plot as the mystery surrounding Justine Cantrell is the whole point of the book. However, having now finished I’m unsure how I feel about it, and it seemed most sensible to sit on the fence!

Justine Cantrell has moved thousands of miles from her home in the UK to her birthplace USA. She has abandoned her husband and family as well as a successful business taking her youngest daughter with her to start afresh. Susan Lewis does a wonderful job describing Lake Maxinkuckee in Culver, Indiana which is where Justine is now living. I could just imagine the town, the people and the house she lives in. Her daughter Lula was a joy to read, a typical boisterous and fun loving young child who is clearly the apple of Justine’s eye.

It’s very unclear why Justine has moved away but her fear of being found is palpable. There is an underlying tension in the book and the more I read the more I wanted to know the why of her story. The negatives I had was the main crux of the story (which I cannot go into). It was a little too off the wall for me and just didn’t sit right. Having said that, the storyline was written with empathy and compassion so I don’t think SL did a bad job telling the story in the way she did.

As well as the main thread being revealed far too late in the book for my liking, the story just left a bitter taste in my mouth and to be honest although I enjoyed reading it, I still feel undecided by it. It’s certainly a far cry from Susan Lewis normal type of books, and maybe isn’t for everyone.