The Stranger Upstairs

The Stranger Upstairs [blog tour review]

Today I’m excited to be a part of the blog tour for Melanie Raabe’s new novel, The Stranger Upstairs!

The Stranger Upstairs

Title: The Stranger Upstairs
Author: Melanie Raabe
Publisher: Pan Macmillan


He calls himself your husband. But you’re the only one who knows the truth.

Several years ago, your husband, and the father of your young son, disappeared. Since then, you’ve dreamt of his return; railed against him for leaving you alone; grieved for your marriage; and, finally, vowed to move on.

One morning, the phone rings. When you answer, a voice at the other end tells you your husband’s on a plane bound for home, and that you’ll see him tomorrow. You’ve imagined this reunion countless times. Of course you have. But nothing has prepared you for the reality. For the moment you realise you don’t know this man.

Because he isn’t your husband; he’s a complete stranger — and he’s coming home with you. Even worse, he seems to know about something very bad you once did — something no one else could possibly know about . . . Could they?

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[My Review]

The Stranger Upstairs is an atmospheric psychological thriller which effectively builds the tension right from the first page; I was really intrigued by Sarah’s story and wanted to know what had really happened throughout the whole novel. There were so many interesting conflicts which made me think one way or another about Sarah’s long-lost husband ‘Philip’ – or the man who seems to be pretending to be him – and made me flit between various theories on why this person would behave that way (none of which ended up being right, I should say!)

The novel is written in a way that encourages you to keep reading just one more chapter – the sentences are short, snappy and to the point (no long, flowing descriptions) and I generally like that when it comes to this genre; it keeps the book gripping and exciting. The chapters themselves are also fairly short, and we begin to see some chapters from the perspective of ‘the stranger’, not just Sarah, which adds even more confusion and sneakiness to the story’s many secrets and ‘hidden truths’.

I’m not sure exactly how I feel about the conclusion – in some ways I was hoping for something else, perhaps because – due to the long build-up – I thought it would end a certain way, but in many ways I feel it was just right: just the right level of surprise, just the right level of drama… and that very last page left me feeling really satisfied, which is all I can ask for in a psychological thriller!

[Rating: 4/5]

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

[About the author]

Melanie Raabe grew up in Thuringia, Germany, and attended the Ruhr University Bochum, where she specialized in media studies and literature. After graduating, she moved to Cologne to work as a journalist by day and secretly write books by night. Her novel, The Trap, won the Stuttgarter Krimipreis (Stuttgart Crime Prize) for best crime debut of the year.

[Follow the Tour]

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The Death of Her [review]

The Death Of Her - Debbie Howells

Title: The Death of Her
Author: Debbie Howells
Publisher: Pan Macmillan


A woman’s body is discovered on a Cornish farm, battered and left for dead in a maize field. Airlifted to hospital, her life hanging in the balance, no one’s sure who she is. Three days later she comes round, but her memory is damaged. She knows her name – Evie – but no more, until she remembers another name. Angel – her three-year-old daughter.

As the police circulate Evie’s photo, someone recognizes her. Charlotte knew her years ago, at school, when another child went missing. Leah Danning, who vanished whilst in Evie’s care.

When the police search Evie’s home, there’s no sign of Angel. More disturbingly, there’s no evidence that she ever lived there, forcing the police to question whether Evie’s having some kind of breakdown.

But even from the darkest place she’s ever known, Evie believes her daughter is alive. The police remain unconvinced – unaware that on the fringes of Evie’s life, there’s someone else. Someone hidden, watching her every move, with their own agenda and their own twisted version of reality.

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[My Review]

The Death of Her is a tense, twisty novel which kept me intrigued throughout.

The characters are really interesting and I enjoyed seeing the story from different perspectives, some of which were a surprise and some which gave an insight into the police investigation. I don’t want to give too much away but there’s definitely a sense of bewilderment at times whilst reading this – Debbie Howells effectively keeps you guessing and unsure of what exactly is going on sometimes, which I really liked.

I enjoyed reading about Cornwall and the investigation, though the police seemed a bit slow in their investigation sometimes! However there’s plenty of twists and surprises – the mix of Evie’s daughter Angel being missing, but there being doubts as to whether she event existed, combined with other possible crimes and unrealiable characters, left me wanting to read on!

I guessed a few smaller parts but the end left me feeling surprised and satisfied; I really enjoyed this novel from start to finish and would definitely recommend it.

[Rating: 4/5]

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


Last Seen [review]

Last Seen - Lucy Clarke

Title: Last Seen
Author: Lucy Clarke
Publisher: HarperCollins UK


In a small seaside community, there’s always somebody watching…

Twisty, pacy, and superbly plotted, Last Seen is the perfect psychological page-turner for fans of Clare Mackintosh and Sabine Durrant.

Seven years ago, two boys went missing at sea – and only one was brought to shore. The Sandbank, a remote stretch of coast dotted with beach huts, was scarred forever.

Sarah’s son survived, but on the anniversary of the accident, he disappears without trace. As new secrets begin to surface, The Sandbank hums with tension and unanswered questions. Sarah’s search grows more desperate and she starts to mistrust everyone she knows – and she’s right to.

Someone saw everything on that fateful day seven years ago. And they’ll do anything to keep the truth buried.

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[My Review]

Last Seen is a clever, gripping novel which kept me guessing throughout.

The characters are, at times, quite annoying – both Sarah, whose perspective we read most of the novel as, and her best friend Isla, have their irritating habits. As the novel continues we learn neither are perfect, which I quite liked – I am a fan of reading about flawed characters and often find these are far more realistic and convincing than those character who are clearly just ‘good’ or ‘bad’.

I won’t say too much about the story as I don’t want to ruin it or alert readers to any potential surprises but I will say that I didn’t guess the ending at all, which is always fun, and loved the twisty nature of the characters, as Sarah wonders who is being truthful and who may be hiding something. Some parts are a little slower, and focus on the relationship between Sarah, Isla and Nick and their sons too, and I felt this made up more of the book rather than ‘thriller’-style action or suspense. However there was a definite underlying sense of danger and of the unknown, as we the readers have no idea where Jacob’s actually gone, and if he’s even still alive.

Last Seen is definitely not a ‘thriller’ as such; it’s more of an exploration into family dynamics and the way one mistake – like not paying enough attention to kids at the beach – can change everything.

[Rating: 4/5]

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


Sweet Little Lies [review]

Sweet Little Lies - Caz Frear

Title: Sweet Little Lies
Author: Caz Frear
Publisher: Bonnier Zaffre


What happens when the trust has gone?

Cat Kinsella was always a daddy’s girl. Until the summer of 1998 when she sees her father flirting with seventeen-year-old Maryanne Doyle.

When Maryanne later disappears and Cat’s father denies ever knowing her, Cat’s relationship with him is changed forever.

Eighteen years later, Cat is now a Detective Constable with the Met. Called to the scene of a murder in Islington, she discovers a woman’s body: Alice Lapaine has been found strangled, not far from the pub that Cat’s father runs.

When evidence links Alice to the still missing Maryanne, all Cat’s fears about her father resurface. Could he really be a killer? Determined to confront the past and find out what really happened to Maryanne all those years ago, Cat begins to dig into the case. But the problem with looking into the past is that sometimes you might not like what you find.

For fans of Erin Kelly and Belinda Bauer, Sweet Little Lies is a suspenseful page-turner from a talented new voice.

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[My Review]

Sweet Little Lies is a sharp, intelligent novel which offers a more emotive side to the usual police investigation novels, because DC Cat Kinsella’s own family may be snarled up in their most recent case: the murder of Alice Lapaine, and an older case involved Maryanne Doyle.

We follow Cat and the team as they investigate a series of murders, some recent and some from years ago. Cat herself is a conflicted character with her own problems and issues, and she has various flaws which she’s well aware of, and is struggling with a troubled relationship with her own family which was interesting to read about. I look forward to future novels with her in as she seemed a likeable, smart character who I enjoyed reading about, as are her family members.

The case itself swings between fast paced and intriguing to a little slower; in fact the story in general did slow down at some points, and I found myself less gripped by the novel, but it soon picks up again. I was also aware that this made the book more realistic – police investigations can’t always be all go go go!

There are some humorous observations by Cat which kept me entertained throughout and made me laugh, and the fact that the novel really delves into Cat’s life adds an extra dimension to the story.

I really enjoyed Sweet Little Lies and feel that it’s something a little different.

[Rating: 4/5]

Many thanks to Bonnier Zaffre and Netgalley for providing a copy of this novel on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review!


The Fourth Monkey [review]

The Fourth Monkey - J.D. Baker

Title: The Fourth Monkey
Author: J.D. Barker
Publisher:  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt


Se7en meets The Silence of the Lambs in this dark and twisting novel from the author Jeffery Deaver called, “A talented writer with a delightfully devious mind.”

For over five years, the Four Monkey Killer has terrorized the residents of Chicago. When his body is found, the police quickly realize he was on his way to deliver one final message, one which proves he has taken another victim who may still be alive.

As the lead investigator on the 4MK task force, Detective Sam Porter knows even in death, the killer is far from finished. When he discovers a personal diary in the jacket pocket of the body, Porter finds himself caught up in the mind of a psychopath, unraveling a twisted history in hopes of finding one last girl, all while struggling with personal demons of his own.

With only a handful of clues, the elusive killer’s identity remains a mystery. Time is running out and the Four Monkey Killer taunts from beyond the grave in this masterfully written fast-paced thriller.

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[My Review]

There’s nothing I enjoy more than a fantastic, well-written new crime novel to add to my favourite list, and which I can really shout about. This is definitely one of them!

The Fourth Monkey has some great characters – I loved Detective Sam Porter and his great team – and a gripping storyline which features both Porter and the police’s progress in trying to find the latest victim of the 4MK (4 Monkey Killer), and also diary entries from the 4MK himself. I found both narratives so interesting to read, which I find isn’t often the case – there’s usually one or the other which I’d rather read more of , and I find myself wishing the secondary sections were shorter so we can get back to the main storyline. In The Fourth Monkey, however, I loved reading about 4MK’s early life, even the quite gritty, horrible parts, and as a result of this I found that this was a novel which I enjoyed every page of, from front to last!

It’s fast paced without being confusing, but still manages to include plenty of police procedural details which I really enjoy in books like this. It’s creepy, it’s dark and it’s so much fun to read, leaving you gasping for air at the end.

If you’re a fan of gritty crime – or even if you’re not – you’re likely to love The Fourth Monkey. It’s a great read for 2017 and one which I’m not surprised has already been optioned for TV/ film versions. Now I’d like more Detective Sam Porter, please 🙂

[Rating: 5/5]

I received an ARC copy of this novel. All opinions are my own and my review, as always, is completely honest and unbiased.



The Missing Ones [review]



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.

Don’t forget… follow me on: instagram @snazzy_stuff_goodreads Laura / and twitter @lauranazmdeh!

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!


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:

Other stops on the blog tour:

Dead Embers blog tour 1

Where I Lost Her [review]

Where I Lost Her - T Greenwood

Title: Where I Lost Her
Author: T. Greenwood
Publisher: Corvus


Eight years ago, Tess and Jake were considered a power couple of the New York publishing world—happy, in love, planning a family. Failed fertility treatments and a heartbreaking attempt at adoption have fractured their marriage and left Tess edgy and adrift. A visit to friends in rural Vermont throws Tess’s world into further chaos when she sees a young, half-dressed child in the middle of the road, who then runs into the woods like a frightened deer.

The entire town begins searching for the little girl. But there are no sightings, no other witnesses, no reports of missing children. As local police and Jake point out, Tess’s imagination has played her false before. And yet Tess is compelled to keep looking, not only to save the little girl she can’t forget but to salvage her broken heart as well.

Blending her trademark lyrical prose with a superbly crafted and suspenseful narrative, Where I Lost Her is a gripping, haunting novel from a remarkable storyteller.

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[My Review]

Where I Lost Her is packed full of suspense, with great characters and – to top it all off –written so well. It really draws you in, and avoids too many overused clichés which can pop up so much in this genre (though it is one of my favourite genres!)

Firstly, the storyline has just the right balance of mystery, with the big question mark over what happened to this little girl that Tess swears she saw. Then, there’s the creeping doubt as you read that perhaps she never saw anything at all – could her past be affecting her judgement? And there’s also the element of Tess and Jake’s relationship and what happened when they tried to adopt many years ago – can they survive another stressful situation as a couple?

Where I Lost Her is really well-written and manages to convey the sense of confusion and bewilderment that Tess is feeling, followed by the panic and worry for this mysterious little girl. I liked the conclusion and felt it wasn’t too ridiculous or over-dramatic, which was a big plus, and the characters were believable and interesting. One thing I will say, though, is that I was surprised that any police force would act the way they did in the novel – but then I am in England and I have heard police in America, and the way they conduct themselves, differs hugely between states. They were frustrating men and I disliked them all… apart from one…

I loved every page, racing through the book at a quick speed, and I would 100% read any other releases by T Greenwood – I am pleased to see she has many new releases. So, although this is a new author for me, I hope to familiarise myself with lots of her other novels soon. Definitely recommended.

[Rating: 5/5]

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

Where I Lost Her is out in paperback and ebook formats on 2nd March.

Local Girl Missing [review]

Local Girl Missing - Claire Douglas


Twenty years ago
21-year-old Sophie Collier vanishes one night.
She leaves nothing behind but a trainer on the old pier –
and a hole in the heart of her best friend Francesca.

A body’s been found.
And Francesca’s drawn back to the seaside town she’s tried to forget.
Perhaps the truth of what happened to Sophie will finally come out.
Yet Francesca is beginning to wish she hadn’t returned.

Everywhere she turns are ghosts from her past.
The same old faces and familiar haunts of her youth.
But if someone knows what really happened to Sophie that night then now’s the time to find out – isn’t it?

Except sometimes discovering the truth can cost you everything you hold dear – your family, your sanity and even your life…

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[My Review]

This was a gripping novel that really had me intrigued from page 1 – and one that, to write a really comprehensive review, everyone needs to have already read, so as not to give anything crucial away! So I’ll try and write this review without doing so, so be warned – it might be a little vague!

I felt that the characters are really well developed, with some of them leaving you with conflicting emotions – some people you know you should feel a certain way about, but you don’t, and I really liked that Claire Douglas manages to avoid characters being too black and white.

The story itself is really fun to read and full of twists and turns. I did feel like as the novel went on there was more and more that wasn’t so believable; this is definitely one to suspend your disbelief when reading! I know this could be said about a lot of books in the same genre (it seems to be mainly categorised in the thriller / pyschological thriller genres) but I felt it was more so when I got to the last third of the book.

Saying that, I still really enjoyed reading Local Girl Missing and slowly piecing together what had happened.  I love a novel which leaves you confused about who’s good and who’s bad, and this novel had that and some! The ending was a surprise but I really liked it personally; throughout the story there were a few clichés along the way but I ended the book thinking “I’ve got to admit, that was a great read” – what more could you want?

[Rating: 4/5]

* Many thanks to Penguin UK – Michael Joseph and Netgalley for providing a copy of this novel in return for an honest review *

Dear Amy by Helen Callaghan

Dear Amy [review]

Dear Amy by Helen Callaghan


Margot Lewis is the agony aunt for The Cambridge Examiner. Her advice column, Dear Amy, gets all kinds of letters – but none like the one she’s just received:

“Dear Amy,
I don’t know where I am. I’ve been kidnapped and am being held prisoner by a strange man. I’m afraid he’ll kill me.
Please help me soon,
Bethan Avery”

Bethan Avery has been missing for years. This is surely some cruel hoax. But, as more letters arrive, they contain information that was never made public. How is this happening? Answering this question will cost Margot everything…

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[My Review]

With missing people, suspicious characters and psychological thrills, Dear Amy looked right up my street, and I’d been looking forward to reading it for a while.

The book features intriguing characters which are crafted well by author Helen Callaghan, and the pace moves quickly along and includes plenty of action without being too over the top. The first half of the novel completely hooked me in – I couldn’t stop reading and really devoured it! I really liked agony aunt Margot, the main character, and really felt for her at various points in the story, plus I really liked the premise of the story – an agony aunt getting letter that seemed to relate to a missing person case from  years ago.

However as the story continued it started getting a little silly – even for this genre. I lost interest a little bit as, though there are plenty of twists, most are quite easy to guess and (especially as the novel went on) seemed a little far fetched and unbelievable (yes, even for this genre!).

I wish the story had included a bit more about why certain things had happened to certain characters (trying to avoid any spoilers), but overall this was still a really entertaining thriller that I enjoyed reading.

[Rating: 3/5]

* Many thanks to Michael Joseph and Netgalley for providing a coy of this novel in return for an honest review *