The Stranger Diaries - Elly Griffiths

The Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffiths [review]

The Stranger Diaries - Elly Griffiths

Title: The Stranger Diaries
Author: Elly Griffiths
Publisher: Quercus

[Synopsis]

A gripping contemporary Gothic thriller from the bestselling author of the Dr Ruth Galloway mysteries: Wilkie Collins and MR James meet Gone Girl and Disclaimer.

Clare Cassidy is no stranger to murder. As a literature teacher specialising in the Gothic writer RM Holland, she teaches a short course on it every year. Then Clare’s life and work collide tragically when one of her colleagues is found dead, a line from an RM Holland story by her body. The investigating police detective is convinced the writer’s works somehow hold the key to the case.

Not knowing who to trust, and afraid that the killer is someone she knows, Clare confides her darkest suspicions and fears about the case to her journal. Then one day she notices some other writing in the diary. Writing that isn’t hers…

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[My Review]

I am a big Elly Griffiths fan, and love her Ruth Galloway series, so I was intrigued to try a book with different characters in it. The Stranger Diaries definitely feels like a different read, but it was just as entertaining and absorbing as her other novels, and the characters – which Elly Griffiths is always so great at shaping – read like real people I could, on the whole, imagine actually existing.

The plot is interesting and kept me intrigued; at some points it required some suspension of disbelief (definitely less believable than her Ruth Galloway series – sorry to keep comparing but, hey, I love those books) but it is a fun and engaging story, and has some enjoyable twists and turns. I have to say that Harbinder, the DS, shone in this novel – she’s very confident, knows her own mind and rubs people up the wrong way, but she’s a unique and interesting character who added something fresh to the story. I did like Clare but felt at times she was a little annoying/ snobby – I really couldn’t identify with some of her opinions – however Georgie, though a predictably stuck up/ whiny teenager some of the time, seemed likeable and overall a sweet girl.

This is a well-written story and a good start to a new series, if that is what it will become (I’d read more of DS Kaur for sure) but it doesn’t quite measure up to the brilliance of Elly Griffith’s Ruth Galloway series. Well worth a read, though.

[Rating: 4/5]

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

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In The Dark [review]

In The Dark

Title: In The Dark
Author: Cara Hunter
Series: DI Adam Fawley
Publisher: Viking

[Synopsis]

A woman and child are found locked in a basement room, barely alive…

No one knows who they are – the woman can’t speak, and there are no missing persons reports that match their profile. And the elderly man who owns the house claims he has never seen them before.

The inhabitants of the quiet Oxford street are in shock – how could this happen right under their noses? But DI Adam Fawley knows that nothing is impossible.

And that no one is as innocent as they seem…

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[My Review]

I loved the first in this series, Close To Home, so had high hopes for the second, In The Dark – and it certainly didn’t let me down!

What started out as a powerful and well-written series has only been reinforced with In The Dark – this novel builds on some great characters and offers up an exciting, complex-but-not-too-complex plot. It’s bloody brilliant!

Firstly, as I mentioned, the characters are just great. I enjoyed reading more about Fawley, Quinn, Somer – everyone! There are some flawed characters, including less-than-perfect police officers, so they felt like real people. I really felt for Adam Fawley at times, and am glad we get to see a good portion of the book through his own eyes.

The plot completely sucked me in and kept me intrigued at just the right pace. There’s mystery, character-building, and tension in spades, and some truly messed up occurences!

With plenty of twists peppered into a plot that slowly reveals more and more, this is addictive reading and bound to be high on the list for any seasoned (or new) crime fan. Give it a go (but if you haven’t read Close To Home, I say start there and relish having not one but two novels in this series to read!)

[Rating: 5/5]

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

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Death in Dulwich [blog tour review]


Death in Dulwich

Today I’m reviewing the first in the London Murder Mysteries series, Death in Dulwich! Read on to find out more and see what I thought…


Title: Death in Dulwich
Author: Alice Castle
Series: The London Murder Mysteries series

[Synopsis]

Thirty-something single mum Beth Haldane is forced to become Dulwich’s answer to Miss Marple when she stumbles over a murder victim on her first day at work. To clear her name, Beth is plunged into a cozy mystery that’s a contemporary twist on Golden Age crime classics. But can she pull it off? She already has a bouncy young son, haughty cat, a fringe with a mind of its own and lots of bills to pay, as she struggles to keep up with the yummy mummies of SE21. Join Beth in #1 of the London Murder Mystery series, as she discovers the nastiest secrets can lurk in the nicest places.

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[My Review]

Death in Dulwich is a sweet, enjoyable read which makes a refreshing change from the darker, more violent crime novels I often read. It combines all the elements of a cozy mystery that you’d expect (if you’re not familiar with the term, I’ll attempt to sum up some of the sub-genre’s tropes for you: amateur sleuths; small, countryside or isolated settings; and a lack of real violence portrayed, or at least not explicitly – often if there is any, it’s inferred).

The characters in this novel make it such a fun read – protagonist Beth is very likable and seems really sweet; you’re rooting for her to figure it all out, even if she can seem a little naïve at times, along with her friend Katie – and even slightly condescending detective York is quite a pleasant character.

Of course, there are the ‘dark sheeps’ of the story too – I won’t give anything away, but going along for the journey with Beth makes for an enjoyable, surprisingly relaxing story! If you’re expecting a dark, shocking, and gritty read then this isn’t for you, but otherwise give this a go -– this looks to be the first in a promising new series which I’d like to read more of.

[Rating: 4/5]

Many thanks to Rachel Gilbey for providing a e-copy of this novel on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review.


[About the Author]

Before turning to crime, Alice Castle was a UK newspaper journalist for The Daily Express, The Times and The Daily Telegraph. Her first book, Hot Chocolate, set in Brussels and London, was a European hit and sold out in two weeks.

Death in Dulwich was published in September 2017 and has been a number one best-seller in the UK, US, Canada, France, Spain and Germany. A sequel, The Girl in the Gallery was published in December 2017 to critical acclaim. Calamity in Camberwell, the third book in the London Murder Mystery series, will be published this summer, with Homicide in Herne Hill due to follow in early 2019. Alice is currently working on the fifth London Murder Mystery adventure. Once again, it will feature Beth Haldane and DI Harry York.

Alice is also a mummy blogger and book reviewer via her website:
https://www.alicecastleauthor.com. Why not join her on Facebook and Twitter, too!


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Now You See [review]

Now You See

Title: Now You See
Author: Max Manning
Series: Detective Dan Fenton
Publisher: Wildfire

[Synopsis]

I, Killer has posted two photos of his first victim online – Before Death and After Death. They’ve gone viral before DCI Fenton’s team even discovers the body.

Soon, another victim’s photo is similarly posted…and so begins the killer’s following.

DCI Fenton is determined to discover the identity of I, Killer. Then the murderer makes the hunt personal, and Fenton’s search becomes a matter of life or death for him and his daughter.

But as I, Killer‘s body-count rises, his number of online followers is growing – and he loves to give his fans what they want…

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[My Review]

This is a really solid, entertaining new crime series which grabbed me from the first page until last. The characters are well-crafted and likable – though Fenton wasn’t hugely memorable, he’s a solid detective who you have faith in, and I really liked (perhaps preferred?) Blake.

I particularly like the fact that it wasn’t all centered around the police, and seeing Blake’s side gave it a different slant. I also really enjoyed seeing into the mind of the serial killer – it’s been done before but I feel that it’s done really well by Max Manning here.

The plot is fun to read and the social media element is a little different too. The short chapters are great at making you think ‘just one chapter’, until suddenly it’s the middle of the night and you’ve got work in the morning!

Overall I found Now You See an engaging and fun read, and am looking forward to future installments in this series!


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

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Turn a Blind Eye [review]

Turn a Blind Eye

Title: Turn a Blind Eye [audiobook version]
Author: Vicky Newham
Series: DI Maya Rahman
Publisher: HQ

[Synopsis]

A twisted killer has a deadly riddle for DI Maya Rahman to solve in this pulse-racing thriller, the first in an addictive new series set in East London.

A headmistress is found strangled in her East London school, her death the result of a brutal and ritualistic act of violence. Found at the scene is a single piece of card, written upon which is an ancient Buddhist precept:

I shall abstain from taking the ungiven.

At first, DI Maya Rahman can’t help but hope this is a tragic but isolated murder. Then, the second body is found.

Faced with a community steeped in secrets and prejudice, and with a serial killer on her hands, Maya must untangle the cryptic messages left at the crime scenes to solve the deadly riddle behind the murders – before the killer takes another victim.

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[My Review]

I really enjoyed this novel which had all the elements of a police procedural that I tend to enjoy, and plenty of mystery and tension too.

I really liked Maya – she’s an intelligent, quick, hard-working detective who also happens to be Bengali. This makes a bit of a change from other white-male-driven novels in this genre, and her background and family life growing up affects Maya’s way of thinking and policing in Tower Hamlets and the surrounding area, where a headmistress has been murdered.

The story is really well structured, allowing the reader to slowly piece together what has happened whilst revealing more about Maya and her colleagues, and also touching upon many issues and subjects that are incredibly relevant today. There’s plenty of clues and along the way, and I really enjoyed listening to this on audiobook. It’s an easy listen (narrated really well by Sonia Kaur) and very engaging. The plot is tight, the characters are (on the whole) likable and interesting, and the setting in London is great with its multicultural characters – I would definitely recommend this for anyone looking to discover a gripping new crime series with a strong and likable female lead.


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Deadly Secrets by @RobertBryndza [review] @bookouture

Deadly Secrets - Robert Bryndza

Title: Deadly Secrets
Author: Robert Bryndza
Series: Detective Erika Foster (#6)
Publisher: Bookouture

[Synopsis]

To commit the perfect murder, you need the perfect cover.

On a cold icy morning, a mother wakes to find her daughter’s blood-soaked body frozen to the road. Who would carry out such a horrific killing on the victim’s doorstep?

Straight off her last harrowing case, Detective Erika Foster is feeling fragile but determined to lead the investigation. As she sets to work, she finds reports of assaults in the same quiet South London suburb where the woman was killed. One chilling detail links them to the murder victim – they were all attacked by a figure in black wearing a gas mask.

Erika is on the hunt for a killer with a terrifying calling card. The case gets more complicated when she uncovers a tangled web of secrets surrounding the death of the beautiful young woman.

Yet just as Erika begins to piece the clues together, she is forced to confront painful memories of her past. Erika must dig deep, stay focused and find the killer. Only this time, one of her own is in terrible danger…

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[My Review]

Another fantastic, well-written release from Robert Bryndza and the Detective Erika Foster series, which has quickly climbed to one of my favourite detective/ crime series, and which never fails to draw me into Erika’s world so completely. I know once I pick up a novel in this series I won’t be able to do anything else until I’ve finished it!

As well as lots of gripping investigation and police work, plus glimpses into the life of a disturbing killer, we also see a bit more of Erika’s soft side as she helps her father in law and deals with some surprising news from a certain someone…

I love the police procedural element of the story – as always the plot is gripping, tight and excellently written, with the perfect mix of personal elements surrounding Erika’s team and the police work itself.

Deadly Secrets could be read as a stand-alone, but with five previous (brilliant) novels to get stuck into, I recommend starting from the beginning so you know as much as possible about Erika and her background, as this only enhances each story!

[Rating: 5/5]

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

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Briguella by @AuthorVickiFitz [review]

Briguella - Vicki Fitzgerald

Title: Briguella
Author: Vicki Fitzgerald
Publisher: Creativia

[Synopsis]

After seven women fall victim to a serial killer, journalist Kate Rivendale becomes embroiled in the manhunt. The authorities have no suspect, only one forensic link dating way back to the 1930s.

Detective Chief Inspector William Beckley needs to salvage his career; he has too many deaths on his conscience. Beckley entices Kate to go undercover, a decision which backfires with devastating consequences.

While DCI Beckley reaches a horrifying conclusion about the murderer Kate enters a desperate fight for her life… while battling to keep her own secrets buried.

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[My Review]

Briguella is a gripping crime debut from Vicki Fitzgerald, an author I’ll certainly be following!

The novel itself has two main narrators: DCI William Beckley and reporter Kate Rivendale, and having both of these characters tell us their side of the story means the readers gets just the right blend of police procedural elements and ‘non-police’ actions and jargon. I really warmed to Kate, though she had her faults, and found myself caring what happened to her. I have to say, I wasn’t a big fan of Beckley due to the way he treated some characters and really mooned over *someone* (I found this rather irritating but I don’t want to be more specific as I don’t want to give away any elements of the plot). He just grated on me  – and don’t get me started on Kate’s mother and sister – no excuses for their behaviour! At times I felt the descriptions were a bit too long and flowing, but nevertheless I hugely enjoyed reading about the police’s (at times very flawed) investigation into the mysterious serial killer terrorising Westhaven’s streets. The plot it moved along at the right pace and kept me really wanting to read on.

There’s elements of gore and some pretty nasty parts – it is about a serial killer, after all -but this didn’t feel too over the top. I had guessed the killer’s identity towards the end of the book but it didn’t hamper my enjoyment at all, and overall I am hugely impressed by this brilliant debut which I would definitely recommend!

[Rating: 4/5]

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

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The Darkness [review]

The Darkness - Ragnar Jonasson

Title: The Darkness
Author: Ragnar Jonasson
Publisher: Michael Joseph

[Synopsis]

Be the first to read the incredible, chilling first novel in the new Hulda crime series from Icelandic superstar Ragnar Jónasson…

At sixty-four, Detective Inspector Hulda Hermannsdottir of the Reykjavik Police is about to take on her last case before she retires: A young woman, an asylum seeker from Russia, found murdered on the seaweed covered rocks of the Vatnsleysuströnd in Iceland.

When Hulda starts to ask questions it isn’t long before she realizes that no one can be trusted, and that no one is telling the whole truth. Spanning Reykjavik, the Icelandic highlands and the cold, isolated fjords, The Darkness is a thrilling new crime thriller from one of the biggest new names in Scandi noir.

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[My Review]

This is an intriguing, well-crafted novel which I hugely enjoyed. I have to admit I haven’t read any other novels by Ragnar Jónasson despite hearing so many great things, so I jumped at the chance to review the first book in a new series, as then it doesn’t matter if I haven’t read others. And I’m so glad to say that The Darkness is was a solid, really enjoyable read!

Firstly, this series (Hidden Iceland #1) looks set to be pretty unique as it’s actually the end of a series; subsequent novels will apparently cover previous cases (something I actually didn’t realise until I finished this book!). I really like the idea of this, and also Hulda as a character – she’s pretty abrupt and may to some seem unlikable, but I did warm to her as the novel went on – you see as you continue reading that she has had a lot to deal with over her lifetime. Plus, the police haven’t exactly been great to her – she’s being forced into an early retirement because they seem to want to create a younger workforce! I really liked that the main character is someone older as this makes a change from many other books.

The plot isn’t overly complex but enjoyable to read, and though there are quite a few people involved in the case it wasn’t too confusing. I found the writing really easy to read and raced through this (at under 300 pages it’s not too long, either). It’s not too gorey but has the right level of darkness and eeriness, making you imagine you’re there with Hulda in the Icelandic landscape.

Overall, I really enjoyed The Darkness and it’s definitely made want to read both more of this series and other novels by Ragnar Jónasson too!

[Rating: 4/5]

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

The Darkness is out in the UK in ebook and hardback on 15 March 2018! Pre-order / buy on Amazon here.


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The Dark Angel [review]

Dark Angel - Elly Griffiths

Title: The Dark Angel
Author: Elly Griffiths
Publisher: Quercus Books

[Synopsis]

Dr Ruth Galloway is flattered when she receives a letter from Italian archaeologist Dr Angelo Morelli, asking for her help. He’s discovered a group of bones in a tiny hilltop village but doesn’t know what to make of them. It’s years since Ruth has had a holiday, and even a working holiday to Italy is very welcome!

So Ruth travels to Fontana Liri, accompanied by her daughter Kate and friend Shona. In the town she finds a medieval shrine and a dark secret involving the war years and the Resistance. To her amazement she also finds Harry Nelson, who is enduring a terrible holiday at a resort nearby. But there is no time to overcome their mutual shock – the ancient bones spark a modern murder, and Ruth must discover what secrets there are in Fontana Liri that someone would kill to protect.

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[My Review]

The Ruth Galloway series is like returning to an old friend. I’m always excited for a new release and I know it’s going to be a great read. The Dark Angel reinforced this feeling!

I love the combination of archaeology and crime that runs at the core of this series, and The Dark Angel is no different. What is different, however, is that this book is not set mainly in Norfolk, as many of the previous novels are, but instead a lot of the narrative takes Ruth (and Kate) away to Italy! Though I love reading about Norfolk locations (some real, some made up) it’s actually quite refreshing to have the action relocated to sunny, exotic Italy – Fontana Liri, to be exact – and to meet some different characters as well as the favourites we’ve grown to know and love. In fact, I almost wish we saw a bit more of the old favourites in this book, but as I said it’s always nice to have a change! Ruth is a great character, as always, and still so solid, sharp and, ultimately, very believable; I never think she is overly dramatic about things and I feel like I can identify with her thoughts and feelings as she’s often so normal, despite not being normal – ie. brilliant – at her job. I also liked reading more about Nelson and his strong views; I do like him despite definitely not agreeing with everything he says or does. He’s not a perfect love interest and sometimes he’s quite annoying!

Something I always think about this series is that it’s never rushed. Take Ruth and Nelson’s relationship (or non-relationship, really), for example – they’ve been faffing around each other for years and years, and although there have been moments where you think ‘This is it! They’re finally going to get together‘, we’ve yet to see it properly happen- and this no doubt reflects ‘real life’ a bit more. There aren’t always happy endings or people abandoning their partners to run away into the sunset with other people. I won’t give anything away about The Dark Angel, but could it finally be time for Ruth and Nelson? That’s always something I wonder before I pick up a new book in this series – it keeps me guessing!

There’s exciting/ tense elements to the narrative which keep it interesting and it’s easy to read; Elly Griffiths has such an enjoyable way of writing. I always expect an intriguing and well written read story, which I definitely got in this novel, along with plenty of interesting archaeological details. A great read which only adds to this brilliant series!

[Rating: 4.5/5]

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

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The Confession by @spainjoanne [blog tour review] @QuercusBooks

The Confession - Jo Spain

Today I am lucky enough to be on the blog tour with a review for the amazing new novel by Jo Spain called The Confession. It’s a corker! Read on to see what I thought, and make sure you follow the rest of the blog tour as well!

Title: The Confession
Author: Jo Spain
Publisher: Quercus

[Synopsis]

Late one night a man walks into the luxurious home of disgraced banker Harry McNamara and his wife Julie. The man launches an unspeakably brutal attack on Harry as a horror-struck Julie watches, frozen by fear.

Just an hour later the attacker, JP Carney, has handed himself in to the police. He confesses to beating Harry to death, but JP claims that the assault was not premeditated and that he didn’t know the identity of his victim. With a man as notorious as Harry McNamara, the detectives cannot help wondering, was this really a random act of violence or is it linked to one of Harry’s many sins: corruption, greed, betrayal?

This gripping psychological thriller will have you questioning, who – of Harry, Julie and JP – is really the guilty one? And is Carney’s surrender driven by a guilty conscience or is his confession a calculated move in a deadly game?

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[My Review]

If you value your sleep, beware… The Confession is very likely to keep you up all night thinking “just one more page”. I couldn’t put it down! However this will be a no-spoiler review, so don’t worry 😀

Though there are many books with a similar theme, The Confession feels a little different because you know who has attacked Harry from very near the beginning of the novel, but you don’t know why – and why he handed himself in. The plot has lots of gripping narratives, each from a different point of view. We hear from Julie, whose husband Harry is the man who is violently attacked at the start of the novel, and JP, who handed himself in and is proved to be the man who attacked Harry. We also, interestingly, hear from Alice, a detective who will do anything to find out why JP attacked Harry. Can it just be coincidence or is there far more to this story? I think you know the likely answer! This novel slowly teases the reader with snippets of the three characters’ lives, both the present day and the events leading up to the day of the attack. This means I was absolutely desperate to find out what had happened.

There are plenty of twists, turns and surprises along the way, and I found myself doubting almost every character at some point (my favourite kind of novel!). I loved Alice – she was a great character who I really warmed to , and would love to see her featured in future books – but also couldn’t help myself really liking JP from quite early on, despite what he’d done. The characters in The Confession are multi-layered and never portrayed as strictly ‘good’ or ‘bad’ – they have different issues and/or quirks which make them convincing characters, and even the people you know are horrible people are not horrible 100% of the time! It also shows how the images that people portray can be very different behind closed doors…

The Confession is clever, gripping and deliciously dark, with characters you can’t help but want to know more about – highly recommended. Will definitely be reading anything Jo Spain releases in the future, and am determined to read her Inspector Tom Reynolds series as well!

[Rating: 5/5]

Many thanks to Quercus and Anne Cater for providing an ARC of this novel on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review, and for my place on the blog tour!

The Confession is out now in ebook format and out in paperback on the 25 January!

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