Crime Thriller

Tastes Like Fear (DI Marnie Rome #3) – Sarah Hilary

Posted in Crime Thriller, Police Procedural, Thriller on April 7th, 2016 by admin – Be the first to comment




Tastes Like Fear is the third book in the excellent DI Marnie Rome series and it held me in its vice like grip from start to finish. Sarah Hilary goes from strength to strength in this series with realistic gritty storylines and complex, engaging characters.


In her latest book she takes on the topic of the homeless, specifically homeless young teens striving to survive in the harsh and grimy underbelly of London. These kids are missing, both literally and metaphorically as most of society manage to ignore their plight. However, it’s hard to ignore them when they are forced into the public eye, but when it is too late, when they’ve been murdered.


Although this works as a standalone novel, I would recommend reading the previous two books in the series beforehand as you will have a greater appreciation of the development of the main characters and their back stories especially Marnie’s relationship with her stepbrother Stephen and also the background of her sidekick DS Noah Tate and his brother Sol.


This is a pacy, compelling thriller with equal focus on complex characterisation and a plot line which will keep you guessing until the bitter end. Highly recommended.

Tastes Like Fear is published by Headline in the UK and the US on 7th April 2016.

My thanks to Netgalley, Headline and Sarah Hilary for allowing me to read and review an ARC.


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The Killing Lessons – Saul Black

Posted in Crime Thriller, Proofs on May 16th, 2015 by admin – 3 Comments

Pub Date – 21st May 2015 Paperback – already available on Kindle


I haven’t read a decent serial killer novel in such a long time – mostly because I grew rather weary of the genre since there was a dearth of original specimens out there.  Saul Black has succeeded in luring me back with this accomplished piece of writing which I devoured in one sitting.

The chapters are short and succinct with lots of twists and turns to make this a really addictive read.  The characters are true to life and the author takes care and time to let the reader know more about both the “goodies” and the “baddies” making them more than a means to an end.

There’s a lot going on in this fast paced thriller with the main detective being victimised by someone unknown, a child witness to a murder unable to get to safety, a serial killer tiring of his sidekick.

It’s a dark and disturbing tale but extremely entertaining at that…. strange but true!


Saul Black is the pen name of the acclaimed novelist Glen Duncan. He was born in Bolton in 1965 and studied philosophy and literature at Lancaster University. His first novel, Hope, was published in 1997, and has been followed by seven further novels: Love Remains; I, Lucifer, shortlisted for the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize; Weathercock; Death of an Ordinary Man; The Bloodstone Papers; and A Day and A Night

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The Shut Eye – Belinda Bauer

Posted in Crime Thriller on April 11th, 2015 by admin – 2 Comments

Pub Date March 12th 2015

Five footprints are the only sign that Daniel Buck was ever here.

 And now they are all his mother has left.

 Every day, Anna Buck guards the little prints in the cement. Polishing them to a shine. Keeping them safe. Spiralling towards insanity.

 When a psychic offers hope, Anna grasps it. Who wouldn’t? Maybe he can tell her what happened to her son…

 But is this man what he claims to be? Is he a visionary? A shut eye? Or a cruel fake, preying on the vulnerable?

 Or is he something far, far worse?


“So I write crime, but really I just write people” writes Belinda Bauer on her website and this sums up her novels perfectly and explains why I enjoy her novels so much.

Set in suburban London in 2000, The Shut Eye focuses on the disappearances of two young children and we re-encounter DCI John Marvel, the detective who featured in Darkside set in 2011. In this earlier incarnation we see Marvel as the same, sullen, thoroughly disagreeable character who treats his colleagues with derision and disrespect but his one saving grace is his determination not to give up on young Edie Evans who vanished a year before. There might be a connection with the recent disappearance of two year old Daniel Buck but his mother Anna is quite literally mad with grief and is seen as more hindrance than help.

The Shut Eye of the title refers to a term used by psychics to describe those who firmly believe they have psychic powers. Enter Richard Latham, local psychic who failed to help in the Edie Evans investigation but might still be of use to Anna Buck. This psychic element might prove unpalatable for some readers but it isn’t the main crux of the novel – the key is in the varied and fascinating line up of characters provided by Bauer. She is simply brilliant at creating credible, complex characters from the distraught mother to the dodgy garage proprietor, from the quietly confident policewoman to Marvel’s saint of a girlfriend. Added to the mix, is a layer of dark humour cleverly woven through the plot so it’s not all doom and gloom.

A compelling read which kept me gripped from start to finish. Highly recommended.

My thanks to NetGalley and Transworld for allowing me a digital copy for review purposes.

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Poppet – Mo Hayder

Posted in Crime Thriller on April 26th, 2013 by admin – Be the first to comment

Random House UK, Transworld Publishers

Pub Date: Mar 28 2013 |

Source - Net Galley

My Rating – 4 stars

Poppet is Mo Hayder’s tenth novel and the sixth to feature D I Jack Caffrey but fear not, it works as a stand-alone novel as there is enough back story to inform the new reader without boring existing fans.  I hadn’t read any of Mo Hayder’s crime thrillers until this one.  Why?  I guess I had read a lot of Karin Slaughter and Patricia Cornwell in my twenties and then experienced burn-out of this genre and perhaps motherhood made me shrink from the darker side of human nature.  In any case, I was so intrigued by the cover of Poppet and glowing reviews via Twitter and Good Reads, that I decided to take the plunge.

Most of the action takes place at a mental health unit where a spooky mythical creature, known as The Maude, seems to be the cause of a number of recent deaths and incidents.  The lead nurse, AJ, tries his best to calm down the inmates and staff but the hysteria is rampant so he calls in D I Jack Caffrey to try and get to the root of the problem.  Meanwhile, Jack has his own issues, trying  to locate a missing person without implicating a fellow officer.

This is a cleverly plotted, sharply written, compelling thriller and one which, whilst spooking me, fell short of scaring me witless…a good thing in my book as I like to be able to sleep at night!  Ideal holiday reading and I now have the delight of tracking down Mo Hayder’s back catalogue.

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Stolen Souls – Stuart Neville

Posted in Crime Thriller, Proofs on December 19th, 2011 by admin – 1 Comment

Stolen Souls

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Harvill Secker (26 Jan 2012)
  • Having thoroughly enjoyed Collusion, Stuart Neville’s second novel, I was thrilled to be offered the chance to review a proof copy of his third and latest novel, Stolen Souls and what a page-turner it is!

    Galya hoped for a new life in Ireland, a better life than her old existence in the Ukraine but she soon finds herself enmeshed in the grimy underworld of Belfast, on the run from Lithuanian gangsters.   The man she thinks might save her has other plans for her “salvation” but she won’t give up without a fight.  Meanwhile, Detective Inspector Jack Lennon (who featured in Neville’s first two books) hopes for a peaceful Christmas with his daughter but he too becomes caught up in a deadly race to save Galya from her predators.

    Stolen Souls is one of the most gripping reads I have ever read, I had to stay up until the wee hours of the morning to discover Galya and Lennon’s fate.  Stuart Neville has the knack of drawing you in from the very first lines and keeping you in a headlock until the final pages.  Like his other novels, the chapters are short and snappy, sweeping you like a whirlwind through the streets of Belfast – a Belfast not designed to appeal to tourists! 

    Yes, it’s an extremely fast-paced narrative but the characters still stand out with the author somehow showing the human qualities of even the most grotesque and psychotic individuals.  I particularly liked the back stories to the Lithuanian mobsters and Galya’s story – if they expected Belfast’s streets to be paved with gold, then they were sorely disappointed.  Even our “hero”, Jack Lennon, has his flaws and recognises his double standards but you have to fight dirty in a police force mired in corruption. 

    This is certainly not a novel for the faint-hearted – there’s blood, gore, mindless thuggery and violence with morality  thin on the ground but if you can cope with all that you’re in for a treat with this unputdownable story.  I certainly feel different walking along the streets of Belfast now!

    PS.  In the New Year, I will hopefully be hosting a giveaway for several signed copies of the hardback edition.  So watch out for it on the blog in January 2012.

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    Finders Keepers – Belinda Bauer

    Posted in Crime Thriller on December 6th, 2011 by admin – 2 Comments

    Finders Keepers

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam Press (5 Jan 2012)
  • “Finders Keepers” is Belinda Bauer’s third novel and, like its predecessors, it is set in the tiny, picturesque village of Shipcott on Exmoor.   It is the height of Summer and tourists usually swarm to this scenic location but children are going missing, stolen from cars and the local police force are out of their depth.

    This is a gripping read, not for the faint-hearted, with lots of twists and turns to keep the reader guessing.  I really enjoyed Belinda Bauer’s debut novel, Blacklands, and she has a knack for creating atmospheric settings and interesting, believable characters.   I was particularly engaged by Jonas Holly, the emotionally damaged policeman who is still reeling from the violent death of his wife.   The teenager Stephen Lamb, himself traumatised by past events, doubts Jonas’ innocence – could he be behind the childrens’ disappearance?

    “Finders Keepers” can work as a stand-alone novel but the reader might have a more complete picture of Stephen and Jonas by reading the previous novels first.  Another impressive, intelligent novel from a very talented writer – I’m looking forward to the next instalment, if Shipcott can stand any more excitement!!

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    Collusion – Stuart Neville

    Posted in Crime Thriller, N Ireland on September 20th, 2011 by admin – Be the first to comment

    Synopsis from

    Former paramilitary killer Gerry Fegan wanders New York City, hiding from a past he escaped at terrible cost. But he made a fatal mistake: he spared the life of Bull O’Kane, a ruthless man who will stop at nothing to get his revenge. Too many witnesses survived a bloody battle at his border farm, and now he wants them silenced, whether man, woman or child. O’Kane calls the Traveller, an assassin without pity or remorse, a killer of the purest kind.

    Back in Belfast, Detective Inspector Jack Lennon, father of one the witnesses, is caught up in a web of official secrets and lies as he tries to uncover the whereabouts of his daughter. The closer he gets to the truth about the events on O’Kane’s border farm, the more his superiors instruct him to back off.

    When Fegan realises he can’t shake off the trail of violence that has followed him across the world, he has no choice but to return to Belfast and confront his past. The Traveller awaits Fegan’s return, ready for the fight of his life.

    My husband, the Lovely Bry reviewed Stuart Neville’s debut novel The Twelve here last year.  Unfortunately I didn’t have the opportunity to read it as it was lent out to friends who lent it to other friends etc etc.  However, this time I was determined not to miss out so as soon as Bry turned the last page I snatched the book and devoured it in just one day, taking time out only to see that the children were fed and watered – it was really unputdownable.

    I have been assured by Bry that Collusion is an even better read than The Twelve and that you can see how Neville has improved his writing, tightening up the narrative, using short chapters which crank up the tension to an almost unbearable level.  Gerry Fegan and the mysterious Traveller both have a slightly supernatural element about them – Gerry is still haunted by his turbulent past as a paramilitary killer but retains his aura of invincibility.  Is The Traveller his nemesis? 

    It’s not a clearcut case of good versus evil here as the baddies far outnumber the goodies and each character is fully fleshed, flaws and all.  You really don’t know who to trust from one minute to the next. DI Jack Lennon is a really engaging character.  He’d given up so much in order to join the police at a time when Catholic recruits were few and far between and now his once respected superiors seem enmeshed in the filthy mess of collusion – loyalists and republicans even helping each other if there’s money to be made.  

    In short, a thrilling, taut read – not for those of a nervous disposition or those who object to “strong” language.  I’m really looking forward to Stolen Souls, another thriller featuring Jack Lennon, somehow I don’t think he’s going to get the  quiet life he’d hoped for!

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    Review – Red Leaves – Paullina Simons

    Posted in Contemporary Fiction, Crime Thriller on October 10th, 2010 by admin – 2 Comments

     Four friends at an Ivy League college – one is found dead, frozen in the snow, having lain there for nine days – her disappearance is somehow overlooked by her bosom buddies.  Spencer O’Malley, local police detective, is assigned to the case and is soon drawn into the web of deceit and secrets which ties the four students together.  Further complications arise when it turns out that Spencer knew the victim.

    In this, Simons’ second novel, she creates a tight and suspenseful thriller peopled with mostly unsympathetic characters who lead elitist, over-privileged lives.  Indeed, Spencer is possibly the only potentially likeable character although he sometimes strayed into cliched cop territory and did eventually grate on me!

    Overall, I enjoyed Red Leaves – I loved the college setting and the tight knit group of friends reminded me of the characters of Donna Tartt’s The Secret History, one of my all time favourite novels.   The pace is a bit laboured and slow at the start but I found the second half gripping.  I’ m looking forward to reading more from this author.

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