The Missing Ones [review]

the-missing-ones-patricia-gibney

[Synopsis]

The hole they dug was not deep. A white flour bag encased the little body. Three small faces watched from the window, eyes black with terror.

The child in the middle spoke without turning his head. ‘I wonder which one of us will be next?’

When a woman’s body is discovered in a cathedral and hours later a young man is found hanging from a tree outside his home, Detective Lottie Parker is called in to lead the investigation. Both bodies have the same distinctive tattoo clumsily inscribed on their legs. It’s clear the pair are connected, but how?

The trail leads Lottie to St Angela’s, a former children’s home, with a dark connection to her own family history. Suddenly the case just got personal.

As Lottie begins to link the current victims to unsolved murders decades old, two teenage boys go missing. She must close in on the killer before they strike again, but in doing so is she putting her own children in terrifying danger?

Lottie is about to come face to face with a twisted soul who has a very warped idea of justice.

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[My Review]

The Missing Ones is a fantastic start to what promises to be a brilliant new crime/ detective series (Detective Lottie Parker series).

I was intrigued from the very first page – it’s really well-written, with engaging characters who I really felt like I cared about by the end. Detective Lottie Parker is a bit of a wild card, often breaking the rules slightly to get the outcome she wants, and her partner Mark Boyd who I really warmed to as well! They’re both flawed in their own ways – neither of them are perfect – but  this only makes them more likable, in my opinion! Lottie is certainly not the perfect mother but her heart is in the right place and she has her own demons to struggle with. The personal lives of the officers added an extra element to the story, on top of the already gripping investigative storyline.

The theme of corruption in 1970’s Ireland, particularly in the Catholic Church, is a well-known one and I found it really interesting (if not quite uncomfortable) to read about. It felt well-researched and full of interesting details.

The pace moves along quickly, with no time for me to get bored or disinterested. There’s elements of humour, very dark parts and others which are entertaining. The case gets very personal for Lottie and some parts felt a little unbelievable, but I feel that readers always suspend their disbelief with novels like this, and I truly enjoyed every page- a fantastic new series which I’ll definitely be reading more of!

[Rating: 4.5/5]

Many thanks to Bookouture and Netgalley for a copy of this novel on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review.

The Idea Of You [review]

The Idea Of You - Amanda Prowse

[Synopsis]

With her fortieth birthday approaching, Lucy Carpenter dares to hope that she finally has it all: a wonderful new husband, Jonah, a successful career and the chance of a precious baby of her own. Life couldn’t be more perfect.

But the reality of becoming parents proves much harder than Lucy and Jonah imagined. Jonah’s love and support is unquestioning, but as Lucy struggles with work and her own failing dreams, the strain on their marriage increases. Suddenly it feels like Lucy is close to losing everything…

Heart-wrenching and poignant, this latest work by bestselling author Amanda Prowse asks the question: what does it mean to be a mother in today’s hectic world? And what if it’s asking too much to want it all?

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[My Review]

The Idea of You is an emotional, touching story of a woman’s struggle, not to conceive but to keep her unborn child from miscarrying. In doing this she simultaneously has to deal with tricky family situations which really test her and an awful incident in the past that keeps coming back to haunt her.

The characters in this novel are easy to identify with and likeable, making you actually care about what happens to them. The protagonist, Lucy, seems really great and I warmed to her instantly; she’s not always perfect in the way she handles things but she seems real, like someone you’d know and probably like. I really felt for her as things just seemed to get harder and harder, and sometimes the situations that were thrown at her with her ‘new’ step-daughter Camille were so difficult – I won’t give away any key plotlines but it just felt like things got more and more difficult for her with Camille’s behaviour and insensitive  – although well-meaning – comments from family and work colleagues.

Her partner, Jonah, is also really likable, even though I didn’t always agree with how he acted, and at times he really messed up. However,  when reading The Idea of You I felt it was really important to remember that no one knows how they’d feel in this situation until it actually happens to them (and hopefully it never will).

The issues in this novel are dealt with really sensitively, and without any undue ‘drama’ to make it more impactful – it didn’t need that as it was so moving anyway. It felt like any of this could happen to someone you know – and indeed it probably is, sadly – but the story line didn’t feel hammed up or over-exaggerated; it just portrayed the heightened, upsetting emotions which show in some limited way how going through this feels – and, as we see at the end of the book, Amanda herself has experienced miscarriages too, which therefore must be so difficult to write about.

There are plenty of different examples of mothers in this novel, which I felt was great as it demonstrates that motherhood comes in many forms – and not always as actually giving birth yourself. I felt for Lucy strongly and to say I ‘enjoyed’ reading it is probably the wrong word, but it made for an absorbing and heart-wrenching story.

Full of raw emotion and honesty, The Idea Of You is a touching novel that really highlights an issue that isn’t always discussed as openly and in as much detail.

[Rating: 4/5]

Many thanks to Amanda Prowse for providing a copy of this novel on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review.

WWW Wednesday [22 March 2017]

WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme, hosted by Sam at Taking On a World of Words.

Visit her blog to take a look, and get involved too if you can, even if you don’t have a blog yourself – as she says, you can leave your answers in the post comments. I’d love to see your answers too!

It’s been a few weeks since I last posted one of these (I never manage to post more than a few in a row, I’m rubbish!) but here’s this week’s WWW post which covers the last 3 weeks!

The three W’s are:

  1. What have you finished reading?
  2. What are you currently reading?
  3. What will you read next?

What have you finished reading? [3 week’s worth!]

What are you currently reading?

the-missing-ones-patricia-gibney

The Missing Ones – Patricia Gibney

Really enjoying this so far – seems a great new series! Review to follow once I’ve finished 🙂

What will you read next?

This Love – Dani Atkins (though I’m currently waiting for my copy to arrive!)
OR
Fire Damage – Kate Medina
What have you been reading recently? Any exciting books you’re looking forward to reading next?

If you do your own version of this tag please let me know in the comments below, I’d love to read your answers too!

Why not add me as a friend on Goodreads!

Goodreads Monday: All The Good Things

Goodreads Monday is a weekly meme hosted by Lauren’s Page Turners . To take part, you simply choose a random book from your TBR and show it off. Don’t forget to check out her blog and link back to Lauren’s Page Turners, and add your own links!

Today I’m going to pick the last book I added to my TBR list:

All The Good Things - Clare Fisher
Title: All The Good Things
Author: Clare Fisher
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Viking UK

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[Synopsis]

Twenty-one year old Beth is in prison. The thing she did is so bad she doesn’t deserve to ever feel good again.

But her counsellor, Erika, won’t give up on her. She asks Beth to make a list of all the good things in her life. So Beth starts to write down her story, from sharing silences with Foster Dad No. 1, to flirting in the Odeon on Orange Wednesdays, to the very first time she sniffed her baby’s head.

But at the end of her story, Beth must confront the bad thing.

What is the truth hiding behind her crime? And does anyone-even a 100% bad person-deserve a chance to be good.

Has anyone read this already (and if so what did you think) or have you got it on your TBR list? 

#RapidFireBookTag

rapid-fire2-901x506-535x300Thank you to Nicola at ShortBookandScribes for nominating me for the Rapid Fire Book Tag. Take a look at her blog if you haven’t already – she posts great, concise reviews and I have lots of book-choices in common with her!

So here goes…

#RapidFireBookTag

eBooks or physical books?
I’m happy to read ebooks (and most of the review copies are ebooks anyway) but I don’t think you can beat the feel of an actual book in your hands. Saying that, it’s must easier to read when it’s dark on an ebook without disturbing anyone else in the room, and my kindle (well, kindle app on my ipad) is ideal for if I finish a book whilst I’m on a journey or out, as I can just select a different one without carrying lots of books around.

For cookery books, though, it has to be print – I have lots of recipe books on kindle but they’re not anywhere near as easy to use when actually cooking!

Paperback or hardback?
Paperback – I remove the dust jackets on hardbacks anyway as I don’t want to get them dirty/ruined! So paperback is smaller, lighter, easier.

Online or in-store shopping?
Online! I am an ebay addict, and most of what you can find in shops you can get cheaper online so it saves money. I do feel bad sometimes as I feel I should be supporting the high street more, but to be honest I spend a horrific amount of money both online and in-store!

Trilogies or series?
I am a sucker for a good series – I love that there’s bound to be loads more if you like it. Plus I’m a big crime fiction fan and a lot of crime books are part of big series.

Heroes or villains?
I do love a good hero! Though a villain can be more entertaining I suppose…

A book you want everyone to read?
It’s an oldie but The Secret History by Donna Tartt is a great read. (I read this before starting my blog and realised I never wrote a review for it, which I should do sometime soon!)

Recommend an underrated book?
Hmm this is tricky to think off the top of my head… I guess I feel that the Detective Erika Foster series (by Robert Bryndza) should be everywhere, and though it has had lots of praise and buzz around it, I really think it should be up there even more, and be as well known as some of the more well-known series!

The last book you finished?
The Widow by Chris Brookmyre

Weirdest thing you used as a bookmark?
Whatever’s closest… I do have a bookmark a friend gave me but if it’s not in reaching distance I’ll use anything – a receipt, a flyer, takeaway menu… once I even used my contraceptive pill as a bookmark!

Used books, yes or no?
Used books are never a no, and you can get some great books for really cheap second hand and in charity shops. But for me you can’t beat a shiny new book – the smell alone is amazing!

Top three favourite genres?
This is hard… I suppose:
Crime/ Detective
Psychological Thriller
Novels with ‘timeslip’ elements (a bit specific, I know!) or just with dual narratives/ storylines

Borrow or Buy?
I get most of the books I read for review, but I buy lots of kindle books (to try and save space on my already groaning bookshelves) and my mum lends me lots of books too! So a bit of both…

Characters or plot?
Characters keep me interested in a series but if the plot’s crap I won’t want to finish the book. So plot ultimately, but it needs skill in both areas of course!

Short or long book?
Long if it’s good, as I won’t want it to end. But anything over 500 pages feels a bit much to be honest. Too many books, too little time! I don’t really read short stories, if that’s what this means, but maybe I should make more of an effort to…

Long or short chapters?
Short as I can’t stop in the middle of a chapter!

Book to movie or book to TV adaptation?
TV adaptation usually means more can be  fitted in, but I am a huge cinema fan so I love seeing books adapted into films.

Name the first three books you think of?
The Cuckoo’s Calling – Robert Galbraith
Everything But The Truth – Gillian McAllister (current read)
The Adventure series of books by Enid Blyton (no idea where that popped up from but I used to love them as a kid – all of Enid Blyton’s books in fact)

Books that make you laugh or cry?
I cry fairly easily; I think the last cry was at We Were The Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter. A memorable ‘crier’ novel was Me Before You by JoJo Moyes, one of my favourite books.

Our world or fictional worlds?
Definitely our world – I do enjoy fantasy/ sci-fi, etc, but can’t beat our own world. I can relate a lot more with it and find I get more involved in the storyline.

Do you ever judge a book by its cover?
I am ashamed to say I do – a lovely cover grabs my attention, but the story has to sound good too!

Series or standalone?
Either, as long as it’s good! But if I had to choose then probably a series – if I really like the characters, I know there’s more books about them coming to enjoy!

 

TAG TIME

I am now tagging these three people to do the tag – apologies if you’ve already been tagged!
Postcard Reviews
Rather Too Fond Of Books
Chat About Books

But anyone who fancies doing it, do go ahead and let me know – I’d love to see your answers!

Let The Dead Speak [review]

let-the-dead-speak-jane-casey

Title: Let The Dead Speak
Author: Jane Casey
Publisher: HarperCollins UK


[Synopsis]

When eighteen-year-old Chloe Emery returns to her West London home she finds her mother missing, the house covered in blood. Everything points to murder, except for one thing: there’s no sign of the body.

London detective Maeve Kerrigan and the homicide team turn their attention to the neighbours. The ultra-religious Norrises are acting suspiciously; their teenage daughter and Chloe Emery definitely have something to hide. Then there’s William Turner, once accused of stabbing a schoolmate and the neighborhood’s favorite criminal. Is he merely a scapegoat, or is there more behind the charismatic facade?

As a body fails to materialize, Maeve must piece together a patchwork of testimonies and accusations. Who is lying, and who is not? And soon Maeve starts to realize that not only will the answer lead to Kate Emery, but more lives may hang in the balance.

With Let the Dead Speak, Jane Casey returns with another taut, richly drawn novel that will grip readers from the opening pages to the stunning conclusion.

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[My Review]

As someone who hasn’t read any of the other books in the Maeve Kerrigan series, I was approaching Let The Dead Speak with completely fresh eyes, hoping to judge it as a standalone book in its own right. I have to say, I LOVED this book and am so glad I gave it a go – I only wish I hadn’t waited this long to read it!

As this was my first encounter with Maeve Kerrigan I wasn’t sure if I’d warm to her, but she is truly a great character; sharp, witty, prone to rash decisions (but most fictional Detectives seem to be!) but with a heart of gold. However she’s not perfect, which I like – she seems to really dislike new recruit Georgina and doesn’t seem to try and hide it. I liked her no-nonsense attitude and loved her relationship with Derwent – they are great to read about as a pair and I found some of their interactions really comical. Derwent himself seems like a likeable, if grumpy and irritating, character and his dry humour made me laugh at various points. Great characters are what I feel elevates a crime novel from good to great – and Jane Casey has certainly managed that with Let The Dead Speak!

The storyline itself is so well written – tightly plotted and believable but whilst still retaining plenty of drama and tension. It really keeps you guessing – packed full of characters who you constantly wander about (not about the police themselves, just the civilians!)… and with very good reason! There’s plenty going on in the neighbourhood where Kate Emery has gone missing and where the investigation is taking place, and everyone seems to have something to hide. It throws up plenty of questions and kept me completely enthralled, racing through the novel in no time at all. What a brilliant read – bring on the rest of the series!

[Rating: 5/5]

Many thanks to HarperCollins UK and Netgalley for providing a copy of this novel, on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review.

Everything But The Truth [review]

Everything But The Truth - Gillian McAllister

Title: Everything But The Truth
Author: Gillian McAllister
Publisher: Michael Joseph


[Synopsis]

Just how much can you trust the person you love?

Everything but the Truth is Gillian McAllister’s stunning breakthrough thriller about deceit, betrayal and one woman’s compulsive need to uncover the truth

It all started with the email.

Rachel didn’t even mean to look. She loves Jack and she’s pregnant with their child. She trusts him.

But now she’s seen it, she can’t undo that moment. Or the chain of events it has set in motion.

Why has Jack been lying about his past? Just what exactly is he hiding? And doesn’t Rachel have a right to know the truth at any cost?

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[My Review]

I really enjoyed this great psychological thriller. It’s a pacey, fun read which kept me completely absorbed.

The characters are great; I really liked Rachel and felt for her, even though she made some questionable decisions at times. Gillian McAllister has a great way of presenting the characters because she makes you think about the human side to their decisions – I can’t say much without giving too much away but she manages to make you think about whether what her boyfriend Jack may or may not have done is actually as bad as we may think, given the circumstances. And that is a key theme in this book, I felt – the idea that behaving in a certain way might not be quite so bad depending on the context surrounding it. I definitely enjoyed the moral questions it threw up, and felt that McAllister really portrayed Rachel’s conundrum in a great, convincing way. Rachel loves Jack, that much is obvious, but things that have happened in her past (as well as his) which threaten to ruin what seems like a perfect (albeit whirlwind) relationship, and that coupled with what seems to be lies, begins to ruin her trust in Jack.

There are questions at every turn in this book, and I liked that it seemed quite realistic, overall – the storyline, though dramatic at times, wasn’t overly ridiculous or unbelievable. It was crazy enough without making me think, “this is stupid” – something I unfortunately do feel a lot with books in this genre. It had just the right balance, and it makes you think about human nature and what you’d do in this situation.

I hugely enjoyed this novel and found it was a brilliant, riveting read which left my feeling satisfied.

[Rating: 4/5]

Many thanks to Michael Joseph for providing a copy of this novel on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review.

Dead Embers [blog tour]

Dead Embers - Matt Brolly

Title: Dead Embers
Author: Matt Brolly
Publisher: Canelo


Today I’m really excited to be a part of the blog tour for Dead Embers, the newest release in the DCI Michael Lambert series. Read on to find out what I thought, and see the bottom of the post for the other stops on the tour!

[Synopsis]

An explosive fire. A double murder. And that’s just the start…

When DCI Michael Lambert is called out to an apparent house fire, he knows it can’t be routine. Instead he finds the remains of a burnt house, a traumatised child and two corpses – one of whom is a senior police officer.

Lambert’s got other problems. Anti-corruption are onto his boss. His relationships is on the rocks. He can’t get over his ex-wife and he keeps blacking out.

But when a detective has been murdered the stakes are too high to get distracted. All is not as it seems. As the investigation continues Lambert realises he is getting drawn into something altogether bigger and more terrifying than he could ever have imagined…

Trust no one.

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[My Review]

Dead Embers is an interesting, pacey crime-thriller that I hugely enjoyed. I didn’t know exactly what to expect from this book having not ready any others in the DCI Michael Lambert series, but having read this novel I now want to read the others and see if they live up to this one!

I often feel that what makes a great crime-thriller (in my opinion) is great characters and a well-crafted, clever plot. This has both of these – the people within the pages, both good and bad, are interesting and fun to read about. One thing I did notice is that, having not read previous novels, there were a lot of names to remember who’s who, but I can confidently say that you really don’t need to have read the previous two novels in the series. This can be read as a stand-alone novel, as enough is explained, but I guess starting from the beginning is always good if you have that option, eh!

Lambert is an intriguing Detective, with his rebellious, daring streak… as is the case with many Detectives in series like this, but I felt Lambert was particularly likeable, and not too perfect. It’s interesting to learn about his private life and marriage, and I liked that he makes mistakes but he still gets the job done! You feel confident that he knows what he’s doing, so there’s never really an element of worry for his safety, but that didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the story. In addition to Lambert, Matilda is another great character who  was really likable and I enjoyed reading about Tillman, too, with his often slightly mad moments!

Dead Embers jumps right into the storyline without much preamble, and continues moving quickly at a great pace that isn’t too fast but is never, ever slow. I really enjoy police procedurals anyway, and this obviously had elements of that but with added action and suspense – hence the ‘crime-thriller’ category!

There were some themes and parts which were quite eerie, with often disturbing imagery  which upped the tension, and twists and turns which keep the plot interesting. I don’t want to ruin any of them, so I’ll just say that this is a really enjoyable, fast-paced read with plenty of tension and intrigue – definitely recommended and a series I plan to read more of!

[Rating: 4/5]

Many thanks to the publisher, Canelo, and Faye Rogers for providing a copy of this novel on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review.

Buy Dead Embers in ebook format from Amazon here.


matt brollyAbout the author:

Following his law degree where he developed an interest in criminal law, Matt completed his Masters in Creative Writing at Glasgow University. He reads widely across all genres, and is currently working on his Michael Lambert thriller series. Matt lives in London with his wife and their two young children.

Find Matt here:
Website: http://mattbrolly.co.uk/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/MatthewBrolly
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mattbrollyauthor/

Other stops on the blog tour:

Dead Embers blog tour 1

Blogger Recognition Award

I was kindly nominated for this Blogger Recognition Award, which is rather exciting, so here goes!

16427498_1248559731864532_5480232981277851756_n

Blogger Recognition Award

I was nominated for this award by Melissa Snow over at The Bookworm’s Fantasy. She has a brilliant blog and I really enjoy reading her posts, so definitely go and check it out  – she enjoys a good crime novel, as well as psychological thrillers and the odd romance, just like me, so I always enjoy her reviews! (Follow her on twitter too – @SnowMel1)

 

Rules Of The Award

1. Thank the blogger who nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
2. Write a post to show your award.
3. Give a brief story of how your blog started.
4. Give two pieces of advice to new bloggers.
5. Select 15 other bloggers you want to give this award to.
6. Comment on each blog and let them know you have nominated them and provide a link to the post you created.

How Did My Blog Start?

The main reason I started my blog, back in May 2014, was because I realised I read so many books and often advised or just discussed books with my friends and family, so I thought why not start a blog too? I have to admit that learning about Netgalley and sites like that (plus a recent addiction to Goodreads) helped encourage me to start a proper blog to review on, as it would hopefully mean I’d get to read some amazing books before they’re released, and I have loved book blogging ever since – despite sometimes struggling to get everything read alongside work (and life!). However reading is something I hugely enjoy (obviously!) so it’s never a chore to have to work my way through a big TBR list! It’s only been in the last 6 months or so that I’ve realised I needed to get my arse in gear with Twitter, too, as it’s a key way of promoting my blog and getting new followers. I do a lot of digital marketing at work so it’s ironic that I didn’t consider how much using Twitter would help my own blog, but there you go… my handle is @lauranazmdeh if you don’t already follow me but would like to 🙂 I also have an Instagram account (@snazzy_stuff_) too, but I don’t have many followers on there!

Two pieces of advice for new book bloggers:

1. Don’t go crazy and request 50,000 books on Netgalley/ Edelweiss/ anywhere you can get your grubby hands on books, because there might be delay with approvals (particularly at the beginning) and then suddenly you’ll have 50,000 books waiting for you and about a week to read and review them all in! (To be fair, I still do this today so I’m obviously not learning from my own advice!)

2. Just because someone’s sent you a book, don’t feel you have to lie if you didn’t enjoy it. Fair enough, if you hated it maybe contact them to explain before posting an awful review, but don’t feel pressured to change your opinions, otherwise you’re undermining your credibility as a blogger. That’s what I reckon anyway……

15 bloggers to pass this award on to:

It’s hard to pick just 15 as there are so many amazing blogs I follow! So here are some great bloggers that I don’t think have been tagged already, and who I’d like to see do this tag (apologies if you have been tagged before!)

Black Widow [review]

Black Widow - Chris Brookmyre

Title: Black Widow
Author: Chris Brookmyre
Publisher: Little Brown

[Synopsis]

There is no perfect marriage. There is no perfect murder.

Diana Jager is clever, strong and successful, a skilled surgeon and fierce campaigner via her blog about sexism. Yet it takes only hours for her life to crumble when her personal details are released on the internet as revenge for her writing.

Then she meets Peter. He’s kind, generous, and knows nothing about her past: the second chance she’s been waiting for.

Within six months, they are married. Within six more, Peter is dead – and Diana on trial for his murder, a nightmare end to their fairytale romance.

But Peter’s sister Lucy doesn’t believe in fairytales, and tasks maverick reporter Jack Parlabane with discovering the dark truth behind the woman the media is calling Black Widow…

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[My Review]

I LOVED this book. Great writing, an intriguing storyline and fantastic writing skill that kept me speeding through without ever feeling bored or losing interest. It’s another testament to what a great story this is because it’s a fairly long book compared to others in the genre, clocking in at over 400 pages, but at no point did I start feeling bored or uninterested. It held my attention to the very last page.

Black Widow is the first novel I’ve read by Chris Brookmyre but not having read the others hasn’t impacted my enjoyment (or understanding) of the novel one bit. Firstly, the characters are hugely interesting – not always hugely likeable but there’s something about them that made me want to read more. I really liked Diana Jager despite not knowing throughout the story whether she was guilty or not. She was a strong and independent (although often spiky and, at times, rude) feminist who I really enjoyed reading about. Jack Parlabane was satisfyingly curious and determined to unearth the truth, but I felt like he actually seemed like a secondary character until the end of the story, with Diana and others at the forefront of the book; having not read other novels in the series I’m not sure if Jack always takes a bit of a backseat in the storyline, staying kind of in the background, or if this novel is an exception…

The story itself has plenty of twists and turns, and the different points of view that the reader gets (mainly Diana, some of the police officers, and Jack Parlabane)only adds to the fantastic narrative that really drew me in. There’s humour sewn into the pages, too, with some observations and comments by characters striking me as really amusing. It hops back and forward in time, with the trial kicking the novel off and the story then moving backwards to note how things happened the way they did. All the time you’re wondering if things are exactly as they are described by witnesses, people close to Peter, etc, and it’s not until the end, that it’s all tied up – and rather satisfyingly, in my opinion!

I’m so impressed with this book – definitely recommended!

[Rating: 5/5]

Many thanks to Little Brown and Netgalley for providing a copy of this novel on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review.