Happy New 2022! Here are a few books I’ve read and loved in 2021. #writingcommunity #books #bestsellers #reviews

Here are just a few of the wonderful books I’ve had the privilege of reading this year. I always think a good book is one that makes me feel something; joy, fear, laughter, anything that compels me to read on. After studying the “look inside feature” Amazon offers, usually about 15% of the first few chapters, including the strapline and blurb, I can usually tell if the book is for me. You can “hear” the voice, relate to the characters and “see” exactly where the protagonist is in terms of setting. What did I learn? Did something about the book leave a residue for months to come? A captivating story and character development are always key indicators, and I think the books below have provided all this and so much more.

The Golden Couple by Greer Hendriks and Sarah Pekkanen is probably one of the best books I’ve read this year. So well written and brilliantly plotted, it was impossible to put down. Hardly surprising when you have two collaborative minds. I loved every chapter. As Avery doesn’t know what to expect when she opens her door to new clients, I didn’t know what to expect when she opened the door to Marissa and Matthew Bishop. What I loved about this book is that, although Avery is a hero, her clever techniques have certainly met their match with the Bishops. The challenges and struggles she faces are all very real. Very believable.

Lucky by Marissa Stapley is a pacey read, taking you inside the life of grifters Luciana (Lucky) Armstrong and her father. It alternates between past and present, from when Lucky was left outside a nunnery in New York City in 1982, to present day in a gas station bathroom in Idaho, where she changes her appearance and name, and buys a winning lottery ticket.

I was thrilled to be offered an advance copy of Her Perfect Family by the author. Like all Teresa Driscoll’s books, the writing style is easy to read, fast-paced and with enough description to drop you right into the action. You can’t help relishing such an addictive read, a brilliantly sustained psychological suspense.

A Flicker in the Dark by Stacy Willingham is another debut author I’ve enjoyed reading this year. Told from Chloe’s perspective the story alternates between past and present. Beautifully written and highly engaging, this was a book I found hard to put down. I read a lot of mystery and thrillers and this definitely stands up to the high quality popular established authors are writing. A sharp, twister thriller that has also been optioned. No surprise there.

The Apartment is the third Lucy Foley book I’ve read and one of the best. A psychological suspense, set against the Paris riots in 2019 that follows Jess Daniels to France after an invitation from her brother. But when she arrives at 12 Rue des Amants, he’s not there. Told mainly from Jess’ point of view there are other residents whose stories are interspersed with hers. The concierge, Mimi, Nick and Sophie, all with their shadowy pasts and all hiding secrets.

Complex and riveting from start to finish, The First Day of Spring will leave a pit in your stomach. Many thanks to Hope Butler at Penguin for recommending this book. Debut author Nancy Tucker delivers a nuanced narrative that describes the damage wrought by neglect. A fascinating and devastating read, one of the best this year! Narrated through the voice of the killer, the opening chapters describe the exiled and demoralized life of Chrissie whose Da is absent and whose Ma is unable to provide. I rooted for her and adored her voice which is testament to great writing.

I love Lisa Gardner’s books and One Step Too Far is no exception. Her writing is flawless and her characters are so relatable. Frankie Elkin, a recovering alcoholic and missing person’s locator, narrates the story. The opening is beautifully written, vivid descriptions put you in the middle of the great Wyoming wilderness where Frankie joins an expedition run by the father of a young man who disappeared on his pre-wedding trip five years ago.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading these brief reviews for the books I’ve had the privilege of reading this year. (Full reviews in my Blog section.) Highly recommended to those who love a good psychological thriller/domestic suspense novel.

Happy New 2022! May your year be safe, healthy and joyful.

Lucky by Marissa Stapley, published by Simon & Schuster (7 Dec. 2021). @simonschuster #review #blog #writingcommunity

Book Description:

REESE’S BOOK CLUB PICK
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

A thrilling roller-coaster ride about a heist gone terribly wrong, with a plucky protagonist who will win readers’ hearts.

What if you had the winning ticket that would change your life forever, but you couldn’t cash it in?

Lucky Armstrong is a tough, talented grifter who has just pulled off a million-dollar heist with her boyfriend, Cary. She’s ready to start a brand-new life, with a new identity–when things go sideways. Lucky finds herself alone for the first time, navigating the world without the help of either her father or her boyfriend, the two figures from whom she’s learned the art of the scam.

When she discovers that a lottery ticket she bought on a whim is worth millions, her elation is tempered by one big problem: cashing in the winning ticket means she’ll be arrested for her crimes. She’ll go to prison, with no chance to redeem her fortune.

As Lucky tries to avoid capture and make a future for herself, she must confront her past by reconciling with her father; finding her mother, who abandoned her when she was just a baby; and coming to terms with the man she thought she loved–whose dark past is catching up with her, too.

This is a novel about truth, personal redemption, and the complexity of being good. It introduces a singularly gifted, multilayered character who must learn what it means to be independent and honest…before her luck runs out.

REVIEWS:

“An electric story about an unconventional heroine who is on the run from her past with a winning lottery ticket that could change her future forever. But here’s the catch . . . she can’t cash it in! I loved all the twists and turns of this adventure, not knowing where Lucky was going to end up next.”
— REESEWITHERSPOON

“[A] rollicking road-trip novel . . . With Lucky’s traumatic childhood with her conman father revealed in flashbacks, it’s no wonder the TV rights were sold to Disney with Stapley tapped to write the pilot. . . . This book club pick will no [doubt] lead to lively debates on duplicity, truth, luck, nature vs. nurture in child-rearing, and how to spot a con from a mile away.”
— Zoomer

“A compelling and thrilling road-trip novel about a talented grifter whose past comes back to haunt her.”
— 49th Shelf

“A criminal with a winning lottery ticket scrambles to elude arrest in this thrilling adventure. . . . Stapley raises the stakes through Lucky’s increasingly desperate moves while adding depth via flashbacks to Lucky’s childhood, which was full of scams and disappointments, and through Lucky’s gradual reckoning with the truth. This page-turner packs in more than its share of heart.”
— Publishers Weekly

Lucky by Marissa Stapley is a pacey read, taking you inside the life of grifters Luciana (Lucky) Armstrong and her father. It alternates between past and present, from when Lucky was left outside a nunnery in New York City in 1982, to present day in a gas station bathroom in Idaho, where she changes her appearance and name, and buys a winning lottery ticket.

Leaping back to aged 10 and her life in the Adirondacks, things aren’t so easy for Lucky. Her father is a con artist, always on the run and never putting down roots. Although the “running” is adrenaline-filled, it is not the life Lucky wants. Nor does she enjoy bilking people to get where they need to go. Imprisoned by the grifter life-style, she searches for a way out, only to find she falls back into the routine as a means to an end. Lying comes naturally because it’s all she’s ever known. But everything is about to crash, and she begins to question all the things she trusted to be true. Who is she, really?

With a father who can spin a believable yarn and get away with it, Lucky is out of luck. She must find out who she is and where she came from in order to bring closure to her journey. This is what kept me reading until the early hours. I wanted her to succeed, but the safety of the lottery ticket was an agonizing burden. The more impossible the mission, the more invested I became in the book.

For me, this was a fun read. Even though you see Cary, Lucky and her father through their dialogue — their past, and their points of view — I did crave a little more detail in order to breach the many layers of these stimulating and compelling characters. It’s a Bonnie and Cyde caper, for sure. The ending wrapped up nicely, and overall, I really enjoyed it. The paperback is short, only about 256 pages, and the writing style is informal and concise. It’s unputdownable and I can see why it is a Reese Witherspoon Bookclub Pick.

About the author:

An image posted by the author.

Marissa Stapley is an award-nominated journalist and the bestselling author of the novels Mating for Life (2014), Things to Do When It’s Raining (2018) and The Last Resort (2019), which is an Oprah Magazine, New York Post, US Weekly and Parade Magazine favourite. Her writing has appeared in newspapers and magazines across North America, including the Globe and Mail, National Post, Toronto Star, Reader’s Digest, Elle and Today’s Parent. She has taught creative writing and editing at the University of Toronto and Centennial College. She lives in Toronto with her family. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @marissastapley or like her page on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/MarissaStapleyAuthor/) for updates and contests!

Other books by Marissa Stapley:

Darkness Falls by Robert Bryndza, published by Little, Brown Book Group UK, @RobertBryndza, @LittleBrownUK

Book Description:

Kate Marshall’s investigation into a journalist’s disappearance sends her down an unexpectedly twisted path in a riveting thriller by the author of Shadow Sands.

Kate Marshall’s fledgling PI agency takes off when she and her partner, Tristan Harper, are hired for their first big case. It’s a cold one. Twelve years before, journalist Joanna Duncan disappeared after exposing a political scandal. Most people have moved on. Joanna’s mother refuses to let go.

When Kate and Tristan gain access to the original case files, they revisit the same suspects and follow the same leads—but not to the same dead ends. Among Joanna’s personal effects, Kate discovers the names of two young men who also vanished without a trace.

As she connects the last days of three missing persons, Kate realizes that Joanna may have been onto something far more sinister than anyone first believed: the identity of a serial killer hiding in plain sight. The closer Kate comes to finding him, the darker it’s going to get.

ate Marshall’s investigation into a journalist’s disappearance sends her down an unexpectedly twisted path in a riveting thriller by the author of Shadow Sands.

Kate Marshall’s fledgling PI agency takes off when she and her partner, Tristan Harper, are hired for their first big case. It’s a cold one. Twelve years before, journalist Joanna Duncan disappeared after exposing a political scandal. Most people have moved on. Joanna’s mother refuses to let go.

When Kate and Tristan gain access to the original case files, they revisit the same suspects and follow the same leads—but not to the same dead ends. Among Joanna’s personal effects, Kate discovers the names of two young men who also vanished without a trace.

As she connects the last days of three missing persons, Kate realizes that Joanna may have been onto something far more sinister than anyone first believed: the identity of a serial killer hiding in plain sight. The closer Kate comes to finding him, the darker it’s going to get.

“Crisp detective fiction with the appeal of a just-the-facts true-crime program.” Kirkus Reviews

“Readers will look forward to seeing more of the empathetic Kate.” Publishers Weekly

“Bryndza’s detective novel is carefully plotted.” Library Journal

Darkness Falls is the third in the Kate Marshall series. It’s another smash hit with twisty plots and a denouement you won’t see coming. I would say this latest instalment comprises deeply layered police procedural and a lot of detail, which tends to give it a more leisurely pace than the first two in the series. A mixed cast of characters makes it complex and there will be plenty of rabbit trails to get lost in.

Written mainly in dual points of view, I particularly enjoyed the antagonist chapters which maintained the essential foreboding necessary to make this an unputdownable read. It takes great skill to hook readers and Bryndza does it every time. 

Stubborn Joanna Duncan, a journalist for the West Country News, disappears on 7th September. But since nobody just vanishes, the case is as frustrating for the original investigators as it is for her mother and the public. As we race back twelve years, the first chapter reveals a stalker, watching as she strides through the rain to her blue Ford Sierra, parked in the Deansgate multistory car park in Exeter — a quarter of a mile from the newspaper offices. What cases was she covering at the time? Had she exposed something far more sinister than a political scandal? 

The car park may be the last known sighting for Joanna Duncan, but someone knows where she is. As the case goes irritatingly cold, the victim’s mother refuses to let go. Enter Kate and Tristan thirteen years later, whose energy and expertise enable them to jump on the files and find something the original investigators might have missed. As they connect the dots, they begin to trace the face of a serial killer to someone they never imagined. 

Hints woven throughout the prose make it impossible to work out the ending. With diverse characters and subplots, you can’t help but devour this book in one sitting. The locations are familiar and I enjoyed following the characters in their fledgling PI agency. I absolutely love this new edition to the series, and the new team which is Kate and Tristan.

About the Author:

Robert Bryndza is an international bestselling author, best known for his page-turning crime and thriller novels, which have sold over four million copies in the English language.

His crime debut, The Girl in the Ice was released in February 2016, introducing Detective Chief Inspector Erika Foster. Within five months it sold one million copies, reaching number one in the Amazon UK, USA and Australian charts. To date, The Girl in the Ice has sold over 1.5 million copies in the English language and has been sold into translation in 29 countries. It was nominated for the Goodreads Choice Award for Mystery & Thriller (2016), the Grand prix des lectrices de Elle in France (2018), and it won two reader voted awards, The Thrillzone Awards best debut thriller in The Netherlands (2018) and The Dead Good Papercut Award for best page turner at the Harrogate Crime Festival (2016).

Robert has released a further five novels in the Erika Foster series, The Night Stalker, Dark Water, Last Breath, Cold Blood and Deadly Secrets, all of which have been global bestsellers, and in 2017 Last Breath was a Goodreads Choice Award nominee for Mystery and Thriller.

Most recently, Robert created a new crime thriller series based around the central character Kate Marshall, a police officer turned private detective. The first book, Nine Elms, was an Amazon USA #1 bestseller and an Amazon UK top five bestseller, and the series has been sold into translation in 18 countries. The second book in the series is the global bestselling, Shadow Sands and the third book, Darkness Falls, has just been published.

Robert was born in Lowestoft, on the east coast of England. He studied at Aberystwyth University, and the Guildford School of Acting, and was an actor for several years, but didn’t find success until he took a play he’d written to the Edinburgh Festival. This led to the decision to change career and start writing. He self-published a bestselling series of romantic comedy novels, before switching to writing crime. Robert lives with his husband in Slovakia, and is lucky enough to write full-time.

You can find out more about Robert and his books at http://www.robertbryndza.com

More Books by Robert Bryndza:

The Shadows of Men by Abir Mukherjee, published by Random House UK, Vintage, Harvill Secker. @radiomukhers @PenguinUKBooks @HarvillSecker #TheShadowsOfMen #NetGalley #blog #review #TheShadowsOfMen

WOW! What a fabulous and unique crime duo. The Shadows of Men by Abir Mukherjee is definitely one of the best books I’ve read this year. Why? Read on… my review is below the book description.

Award-winning crime novelist Abir Mukherjee is back with another brilliant mystery featuring police detective Captain Sam Wyndham and Sergeant Surrender-Not Banerjee, set in 1920s Calcutta.

Calcutta, 1923

The Shadows of Men: Wyndham and Banerjee Book 5 (Wyndham and Banerjee series) by [Abir Mukherjee]

When a Hindu theologian is found murdered in his home, the city is on the brink of all-out religious war. Can the officers of the Imperial Police Force—Captain Sam Wyndham and Sergeant “Surrender-Not” Banerjee—track down those responsible in time to stop a bloodbath?

Set at a time of heightened political tension, beginning in atmospheric Calcutta and taking the detectives all the way to bustling Bombay, the latest instalment in this remarkable series presents Wyndham and Banerjee with an unprecedented challenge. Will this be the case that finally drives them apart?

  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B08LW5CPH6
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Pegasus Crime (November 11, 2021)
  • Publication date ‏ : ‎ November 11, 2021

I was thrilled to be offered a copy of The Shadows of Men as I hadn’t read anything by this author before. Although this is book 5 in the series, it reads as a standalone and certainly didn’t undermine my reading experience in the least. Set in Raj-era India, you can bet your last rupee, this author is one of the best to bring historical details about colonial Calcutta to life.

The Shadows of Men: A Novel (Wyndham & Banerjee Mysteries) by [Abir Mukherjee]

We are thrust into the life of Sergeant Surendranath Banerjee, who takes us back to 1923 and the “eternal shroud of industrial smog” of Calcutta. In his humble way, he navigates British rule (gentlemen’s clubs and cricket grounds) and although some scenes of entitlement are cringe worthy, they are strikingly accurate for the period. There are so many descriptions I loved, not to mention internal monologue and observations which, at times, made me laugh out loud. For example: “How was I to explain to Lord Taggart that, while we all might look the same to him, a Hindu following Gulmohamed into the Muslim parts of town would stick out as much as he would at a meeting of the Women’s Institute.” To see life through his eyes was a privilege, and the author’s voice served to make me feel as if I was in safe and dependable hands.

The doggedly determined Captain Sam Wyndham, whose dry British wit and eternal optimism seems to drive him to the root of the problem. No matter what challenges he faces, you can’t help having complete faith in his skill. The pressures between upper and lower castes and Hindus and Muslims continues to escalate, and with Banerjee in a jam, Wyndham’s day just got worse. How will he ever reinstate Banerjee’s freedom? By putting himself in harm’s way to save his backside, that’s how.

The case takes him to Bombay and again, beautiful descriptions abound. I was treated to vivid characters; Miss Colah, Cyrus Irani, Cecily Parsons, and I particularly enjoyed the Englishmen armed with a drink and a cigar, “the brave men of the King’s Own Bombay Gin drinkers” — another dazzling display of brilliant writing. You can’t shy away from the haves and the have nots, the sheer opulence in contrast to the simplicity of everyone else. But crammed between these sweat inducing layers is the suspense, and I couldn’t read to the end fast enough.

Sam Wyndham and Surrender-not Banerjee are one of the most unique crime duos I’ve come across in a long time. I hope they will continue for many books to come. Many thanks to the author and to Harvill Secker, Vintage and Netgalley for an advance copy of this book.

Other books by this author:

Her Perfect Family by Teresa Driscoll, published by Thomas & Mercer @TeresaDriscoll @AmazonPub #mysteryandthrillers #blog #review

I was thrilled to be offered an advance copy of Her Perfect Family by the author. Like all Teresa Driscoll’s books, the writing style is easy to read, fast-paced and with enough description to drop you right into the action.

Description:

A gripping psychological thriller from the bestselling author of I Am Watching You. The perfect family? Or the perfect lie?

Her Perfect Family by [Teresa Driscoll]

It’s their daughter’s graduation and Rachel and Ed Hartley are expecting it to be one of their family’s happiest days. But when she stumbles and falls on stage during the ceremony, a beautiful moment turns to chaos: Gemma has been shot, and just like that, she’s fighting for her life.

PI Matthew Hill is one of the first on the scene. A cryptic message Gemma received earlier in the day suggests someone close to her was about to be exposed. But who? As Matthew starts to investigate, he finds more and more layers obscuring the truth. He even begins to suspect the Hartleys are hiding something big—from him and from each other.

While Gemma lies in hospital in a coma, her would-be killer is still out there. Can Matthew unravel the family’s secrets before the attacker strikes again?

  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B08N5YFL78
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Thomas & Mercer (November 1, 2021)
  • Publication date ‏ : ‎ November 1, 2021

I was thrilled to be offered an advance copy of Her Perfect Family by the author. Like all Teresa Driscoll’s books, the writing style is easy to read, fast-paced and with enough description to drop you right into the action. You can’t help relishing such an addictive read, a brilliantly sustained psychological suspense.

From a well-chosen pink dress in the prologue to blood-red spatters in Chapter 1, this was a frightening opening for me. And at such a public occasion where families and children were present. Pomp and pageantry turned to mayhem and unspeakable horror—a parent’s worst nightmare. This is an injury that will require enormous strength to tell a patient and if that’s not enough, a heartrending mystery to unravel.

The book is written from several points of view — the mother, the private investigator (PI Matthew Hill is my personal favourite and DI Melanie Sanders), the father, the daughter, all with their own stories to tell. Yet everybody has something to hide and, as more secrets come to light, you can’t help feeling you’ve been deceived somewhere along the line, and not necessarily by the character you thought. About 78% through the book I thought I’d guessed the shooter, but I was wrong.

This is a highly accomplished thriller, a very frightening one with a backdrop of evil you hope never to encounter. Driscoll expertly weaves her stories together in unexpected and clever ways. This book has every thriller’s trifecta: love, marriage and murder.

Thank you to Netgalley, the publisher and the author Teresa Driscoll for the privilege of reading this book.

@AmazonPub @TeresaDriscoll #mysteryandthrillers

Review

“Intriguing. Different. I raced through it beyond my usual ‘lights-out’ time. You simply HAVE to read to the end to find out what happens.” —Jane Corry, Sunday Times bestselling author

From the Publisher

I devoured Her Perfect Family in one sitting, unable to put the book down! If you love twisty and gripping thrillers, then bestselling author Teresa Driscoll’s brand-new psychological suspense novel will have you sitting up all night, desperate to find out what happens next.

Can you imagine watching your daughter get shot on what is supposed to be her proudest day? Gemma Hartley is graduating from university. Rachel and Ed Hartley are in attendance and prepared for a day full of hope and glittering futures. Until their perfect moment turns into a nightmare. With a detective on the scene and a heart-wrenching mystery to uncover, PI Matthew Hill realizes that even the most perfect of families have secrets to hide…

In this fast-paced thriller Teresa Driscoll takes you on a breathtaking ride as time ticks away with Gemma’s life hanging the balance. Can the killer be brought to justice before they strike again, or will this perfect day become the Hartleys’ perfect nightmare?

—Victoria Oundjian, Editor

About the Author:

Teresa Driscoll

Teresa Driscoll is a former BBC TV news presenter whose psychological thrillers have sold more than two million copies across the world.


Her first thriller I Am Watching You hit Kindle Number 1 in the UK, USA and Australia and has sold more than a million copies in English alone.


Teresa writes women’s fiction as well as thrillers and her work has been optioned for film and sold for translation in more than 20 territories.
For decades Teresa was a journalist working across newspapers, magazines and television. Covering crime for so long, she was deeply moved by the haunting impact on the relatives, the friends and the witnesses and it is those ripples she explores now in her darker fiction.


Teresa lives in glorious Devon with her family and blogs regularly about her “writing life” at her website – http://www.teresadriscoll.com.

More Books from this Author:

The Image of Her by Sonia Velton, published by Quercus Books. @Soniavelton @QuercusBooks #reviews #blogs #writingcommunity

A HUGE thank you to Quercus Books, Netgalley and author Sonia Velton for the privilege of receiving an advance copy of this amazing book.

Book Description:

STELLA and CONNIE are strangers, brought together by two traumatic events – cruel twists of fate that happen thousands of miles apart.

Stella lives with her mother, a smothering narcissist. When she succumbs to dementia, the pressures on Stella’s world intensify, culminating in tragedy. As Stella recovers from a near fatal accident, she feels compelled to share her trauma but she finds talking difficult. In her head she confides in Connie because there’s no human being in the world that she feels closer to.

Connie is an expat living in Dubai with her partner, Mark, and their two children. On the face of it she wants for nothing and yet … something about life in this glittering city does not sit well with her. Used to working full time in a career she loves back in England, she struggles to find meaning in the expat life of play-dates and pedicures.

Two women set on a collision course. When they finally link up, it will not be in a way that you, or I, or anyone would ever have expected.

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Quercus; 1st edition (July 22, 2021)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1529406498
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1529406498

I was thrilled to receive a copy of this contemporary upmarket thriller. Although I hadn’t read anything by Sonia Velton, I knew by the standard of the writing and pace it would be an enjoyable read. The plot follows two points of view, Stella and Connie — one living in England and the other an expat mother living in Dubai. I had no idea how these two lives would intersect, but I did get the sense the book would touch on many relevant and soul destroying issues.

Stella, a recluse after a near fatal accident, is healing slowly. Even makeup can’t cover the scars on her face or the fractured stranger she has become. She misses going to the library, a connection to the outside world. She has little in common with Connie, a happily married mother of two living in the UAE. Stella, written in first person narrative, confides in Connie through her thoughts, and at the same time struggles with the abuse she receives from her controlling mother. She watches Connie through the lens of social media — a privileged housewife who seems to have everything. But as the dual narrative unravels, it’s easy to see how underneath it all both women are shackled to disillusionment, their lives eroding with each page.

Connie is a mother and a wife. Her feelings of isolation are due to Mark working late and somewhat disengaged with the kids. She feels unsupported and that their once close solid relationship is unravelling. One perfect example is the school fete where Mark, partly due to a work-do hangover, is desperate to leave. Rosamie, the Filipino nanny, is working to pay for Gabriel’s education. With Marijo in trouble comes another set of problems for Rosamie. Even with the kafala system being reformed, it can’t protect all the migrant workers against abuse. But Stella has an idea. For me, this provided a tinge of excitement, a possible turning point.

What bond or common heritage do these women share? A tragic and yet inspiring read that is dedicated to an astonishingly brave woman. The compassion the reader has for each character is the mark of excellent writing and the tension kept me engaged till the emotional end.

 #TheImageofHer #NetGalley

About the Author

Sonia Velton

Sonia Velton has been a solicitor in Hong Kong, a Robert Schuman Scholar in Luxembourg and spent eight years being an expat Mum of three in Dubai. She now lives in Kent.

Her first novel, BLACKBERRY AND WILD ROSE was short-listed for the Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize, long-listed for the HWA Debut Crown and has been optioned for film.

Her second book, THE IMAGE OF HER, is a literary thriller about two women whose lives come together in a way that is both chilling and awe-inspiring.

Other books by Sonia Velton

The Heights by Louise Candlish, published by Simon and Schuster UK. @simonschusterUK @louise_candlish #blog #review

I was so excited to receive an advance copy of The Heights by Louise Candlish. I’m such a fan and this was just as good as all her others. My review follows after the book description and editorial reviews.

Description

FROM THE BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF OUR HOUSE, WINNER OF THE CRIME & THRILLER BOOK OF THE YEAR AWARD, COMES A NAIL-BITING STORY OF TRAGEDY AND REVENGE

‘Louise Candlish is the queen of the sucker-punch twist’ Ruth Ware

He thinks he’s safe up there. 
But he’ll never be safe from you. 

The Heights is a tall, slender apartment building among the warehouses of Tower Bridge, its roof terrace so discreet you wouldn’t know it existed if you weren’t standing at the window of the flat directly opposite. But you are. And that’s when you see a man up there – a man you’d recognize anywhere. He’s older now and his appearance has subtly changed, but it’s definitely him. 

Which makes no sense at all since you know he has been dead for over two years.  

You know this for a fact.  

Because you’re the one who killed him.  

‘It twists and it turns and it twists again. The Heights by Louise Candlish is the very definition of a “just one more chapter” novel. I devoured it. And it’s full of such great writing about the ferocity of maternal love’ Hannah Beckerman, author of If Only I Could Tell You

Praise for Louise Candlish:

‘Louise is the mistress of the “Oh my God, this could be me” nightmare’ Fiona Barton

‘The queen of the urban thriller returns’ Red

‘Louise Candlish just gets better and better’ Lisa Jewell

‘Stylish, suspenseful and absorbing’ Best

‘Psychological suspense at its most elegant and sinister’ AJ Finn

‘You won’t want to put down this roller coaster read!’ Closer

‘A gripping read with a brilliant first-person narrative. I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. It’s so good!’ BA Paris

‘Not only is Candlish a terrific storyteller, she has the gift of making you care about unlikable characters’ Guardian

‘A must read!’ Lucy Foley

?‘Gripping from start to finish’ Bella

‘I couldn’t put it down!’ Shari Lapena

‘The layers of plot astound’ Sunday Times Crime Club

‘An instant classic’ Mark Edwards

‘A chillingly addictive and glamorous thriller’ Sunday Post

The Heights by Louise Candlish is another well-plotted, highly entertaining book from this author. I’m one of those readers who rushes out to buy the latest Candlish offering because I know it’s going to be brilliant.

Ellen Saint is a remarkable character and has all the traits of someone fit for this role. Mother to Lucas and Freya, her intuition is spot on when Lucas finds a new friend. Kieran is not the type of person Ellen wants her son to hang out with. If you could use the metaphor “chalk and cheese” this is as good as it gets. Kieran scared me right from the start. He is the type of person that makes your skin crawl and there appears to be no redeeming features. He is creepy, vulgar and secretive, all the ingredients that make up a huge disaster. Throughout the book, Ellen is desperate to end their friendship and when tragedy strikes, her despair doesn’t stop there. A pact to end all this terror is about to happen and not in the way the reader thinks.

Candlish is skilful with twists and turns, so much so, you often miss the underlying character layers that call for these clever devices. It’s the “who’d have thought” image that kept surfacing chapter after chapter and there’s no way I would have predicted the ending. Kieran is so vile, I wanted to kill him myself!

Ellen is a tough bird trying to persuade those around her that this friendship is toxic. She is protective, often a little intrusive and stalky perhaps, but none of these traits stopped me from liking her. In fact, I applauded her. But in her aloneness, there is a wretchedness with which we can all resonate. Whether you’re a parent or a friend, you’ll find this book remarkably accurate in its portrayal of an endangered family, suffering the manipulation of one powerfully equipped individual.

The writing and plotting is second-to-none. You won’t find a better collaboration of author and editor. I leave Louise Candlish’s novels disgruntled that there isn’t another book coming sooner. Quality is at the forefront of everything she writes and you know you’re in for a darkly intricate ride. As always, highly recommended.

Thank you to Netgalley, author Louise Candlish and publisher Simon & Schuster UK for the privilege of reading this book.

A bit about the author: I live in a South London neighbourhood not unlike the one in my books, with my husband, teenage daughter, and a fox-red Labrador called Bertie who is almost two and is the apple of my eye. Books, TV and long walks have been my top sanity savers during lockdown. Oh, and wine.

Get up-to-date offers by clicking on the yellow ‘Follow’ button under my pic. For more book news (and doting pictures of Bertie), catch me on Twitter @louise_candlish, on Instagram @louisecandlish or find out more at louisecandlish.com and facebook.com/LouiseCandlishAuthor. I’d love to hear from you.

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FINDING SUZY: The Hunt for Missing Estate Agent Suzy Lamplugh and ‘Mr Kipper’ by David Videcette, published by DNA Books August 5, 2021. #Review #Blog @DavidVidecette

I was really excited to read this wonderful book. My review comes after the description and buying links for Finding Suzy by David Videcette.

How can someone just disappear?

Step inside a real-life, missing person investigation in this compelling, true crime must-read.

FINDING SUZY: The Hunt for Missing Estate Agent Suzy Lamplugh and 'Mr Kipper' by [David Videcette]

Uncover what happened to missing estate agent Suzy Lamplugh, as David Videcette takes you on a quest to unpick her mysterious disappearance and scrutinise the shadowy ‘Mr Kipper’.

One overcast Monday in July 1986, 25-year-old estate agent Suzy Lamplugh vanished whilst showing a smart London property to a mysterious ‘Mr Kipper’.

Despite the baffling case dominating the news and one of the largest missing persons cases ever mounted, police failed to find a shred of evidence establishing what had happened to her.

Sixteen years later, following a second investigation and under pressure from Suzy’s desperate parents, police named convicted rapist and murderer John Cannan as their prime suspect. However, the Crown Prosecution Service refused to charge him, citing a lack of evidence.

High-profile searches were conducted, yet Suzy’s body was never found. The trail that might lead investigators to her, long since lost.

Haunted by another missing person case, investigator and former Scotland Yard detective, David Videcette, has spent five years painstakingly reinvestigating Suzy’s cold case disappearance.

Through a series of incredible new witness interviews and fresh groundbreaking analysis, he uncovers piece by piece what happened to Suzy and why the case was never solved.

People don’t just disappear…

  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B0999M1FJ4
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ DNA Books (August 5, 2021)
  • Publication date ‏ : ‎ August 5, 2021
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 310 pages

This is a case that has haunted us all. Suzy Lamplugh, a negotiator working in an estate agent, suddenly disappears leaving no trace. She had no known enemies and the only suspect that emerged at the time was John Cannan, responsible for the abduction of 29 year-old Shirley Banks in Bristol a year later. But he was never convicted for Suzy Lamplugh nor was he completely eliminated. The enquiry tapered out a year later and in 1987, the police had no suspect and no motive. But for us — the general public — the mystery of her disappearance has never waned.

The investigation reveals the oblique reference to Mr Kipper in her diary, how the police went to her flat in Putney and saw nothing untoward. How her company car was found unlocked in Stevenage Road, which was about a mile and a half from Shorrold Road in Fulham. How the positioning of the seat determined that someone else must have been driving it. Reports of a possible altercation with a man and several eye-witness testimonies (including one from someone who knew her) only add to the confusion as to what really happened. Coverage from the media and help from the public was massive. Despite all this support, theories about Suzy’s fate continued to lead to a dead end.

David Videcette has spent many hours reconstructing Suzy’s last moments, chasing down witnesses and interviewing them again many years after the tragic event. I won’t go through each witness’s taped and noted statements here, you’d have to read the book to fully appreciate what they saw or what they heard. Videcette’s tireless determination will impress you as it did me. Finding Suzy opens up another theory to what the police confirmed at the time. The question is, will the police act on this new evidence? Or will they refute it and remain with the original? It’s a cold case worth re-opening and I’d love to see fresh eyes on this without any preconceived opinions put forward by the original investigators. For instance: The property key, what the next-door neighbour actually saw, Suzy’s partners at the time, and the Prince of Wales Pub, all play a huge part in her disappearance. The question is, did Suzy return to the pub to retrieve her secret pocket diary? Was the witness Videcette interviewed, credible?

All I can say is that the author and his partner did a fantastic job, digging and dismantling facts. He has exhausted all avenues to this case and it’s now up to the police do the rest. I think it would be a crying shame if nothing were done to exhume the last pieces of material so vital in Suzy’s disappearance. Really, what harm would it do to take another look?

The family’s agony was channelled into starting a charity in Suzy’s name, educating people to take steps to improve their safety. It was the only thing positive that came out of her disappearance. It’s an engrossing, modest book offering a different path, a what-if scenario that makes me believe evidence might have been overlooked at the time. Highly recommended reading for those desperately seeking the truth about estate agent Suzy Lamplugh.

About David Videcette

David Videcette

As an investigator, David Videcette has worked on a wealth of famous cases. He’s chased numerous dangerous criminals and interviewed thousands of witnesses.

With decades of experience working in counter-terror operations and combatting organised crime, David investigated the 7/7 London bombings as a Scotland Yard detective.

Today he uses his policing expertise to painstakingly investigate cold cases in his true crime series: Investigations by Videcette. David is also the author of the Detective Inspector Jake Flannagan thrillers.

David lives in London. When he is not writing, he consults on security operations for high-net-worth individuals and is a key media commentator on crime and policing for many broadcasters and newspapers, both nationally and internationally.

You can find out more about him here:

Visit his website at: http://www.DavidVidecette.com
Chat to him on Twitter: @DavidVidecette
Via Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DavidVidecetteCrimeBooks

For all the latest news and updates, sign up at: http://www.davidvidecette.com/title-reveal

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The Art of Loving You by Amelia Henley, published by HQ (Harper Collins Publishers Ltd) @MsAmeliaHenley @HQstories #blogger #review

Having read a few psychological thrillers by this author, I thought I’d try this lovely romance. Henley’s writing style is fluid, easy to read and she’s a marvelous story-teller. It was a pleasure to delve into Libby’s life.

Book Description:

They were so in love . . .
And then life changed forever . . .
Will they find happiness again?

Libby and Jack are the happiest they’ve ever been. Thanks to their dear friend, eighty-year-old Sid, they’ve just bought their first house together, and it’s the beginning of the life they’ve always dreamed of.

But the universe has other plans for Libby and Jack and a devastating twist of fate shatters their world.
 
All of a sudden life is looking very different, and unlikely though it seems, might Sid be the one person who can help Libby and Jack move forward when what they loved the most has been lost?
 
The Art of Loving You is a beautiful love story for our times. Romantic and uplifting, it will break your heart and then put it back together again.

* * * *

Praise for Amelia Henley:

‘A love story with a definite difference . . . intensely emotional’
Best

‘Beautifully written and plotted. Get ready for the final chapter – you have been warned’
Candis

‘Intriguing, unusual and intensely romantic’
Sunday Mirror

General Fiction (Adult) Romance Women’s Fiction
Pub Date 22 Jul 2021
EDITIONEbook
ISBN9780008375782
PRICE£3.99 (GBP)

Elisabeth Emerson (Libby) and Jack are about to start a new life together. With a new home that needs renovation, they are excited and planning their future. But when Jack meets with a tragic incident, all their dreams come crashing down. Libby, who doesn’t know what to expect, believes Jack will recover and all will go back to the way it was. But all their wishbone wishes come tumbling down and although Sid is there to comfort her, Libby is heartbroken. To add insult to injury, Jack’s parents are determined to have the last say.

This sudden change of events changed the mood of the book which is a thumbs up to the brilliant writing. As events begin to unfold, the book becomes raw and emotional. One life full to the brim with plans for the future, another heading off to his next adventure like the butterfly. The suspense of each chapter is what keeps me turning the page, and although the book is a romance novel, the pace is reminiscent of the thrillers Henley pens under different name. We can all resonate with the guilt of going out to get something for a patient, those precious few moment when something life-changing could happen and the intense what-ifs if it does. True to Henley’s style, a medical condition and a string of mood swings add to the mystery and sets her protagonist on her path to healing.

Libby’s reminder, a beautiful painting, is permission to let go for the guilt and to move on. Her journal is testament to Jack’s remarkable presence, his sacrifice and strength of helps her to recover. Liam is her project now and it’s to him she focuses all her energy. I loved Sid, although much of his backstory made me cry. Grief and restoration is at the heart of this book and the strength to move forward together. The house, a character in itself, begins to find its lustre and love may spring again in the most unexpected places.

This book brings you wonderful characters with engaging storylines and if by chance you’ve forgotten how to believe in love, forgiveness and faith in humanity, then this book’s for you!

Thank you to the publisher, HQ, the author, Amelia Henley and Netgalley for the privilege of reading an advance reader copy.

About the Author

Amelia Henley

Amelia Henley is a hopeless romantic who has a penchant for exploring the intricacies of relationships through writing heart-breaking, high-concept love stories.

Amelia also writes psychological thrillers under her real name, Louise Jensen. As Louise Jensen she has sold over a million copies of her global number one bestsellers. Her stories have been translated into twenty-five languages and optioned for TV as well as featuring on the USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestsellers list. Louise’s books have been nominated for multiple awards.

‘The Life We Almost Had’ is the first story she’s written as Amelia Henley and it’s out now.

Other books by this Author:

The Beresford by Will Carver, published by Orenda Books. @OrendaBooks @will_carver #review #blog

The Beresford by [Will Carver]

I absolutely loved Carver’s Detective Sergeant Pace books, so I knew I’d be in for a treat with this one! Solid writing that takes you to the tipping point. There’s no subject this author doesn’t tackle. Looks are so deceiving…

Description:

Everything stays the same for the tenants of The Beresford, a grand old apartment building just outside the city … until the doorbell rings… Will Carver returns with an eerie, deliciously and uncomfortably dark standalone thriller.

_______________

Just outside the city – any city, every city – is a grand, spacious but affordable apartment building called The Beresford.

There’s a routine at The Beresford.

For Mrs May, every day’s the same: a cup of cold, black coffee in the morning, pruning roses, checking on her tenants, wine, prayer and an afternoon nap. She never leaves the building.

Abe Schwartz also lives at The Beresford. His housemate, Sythe, no longer does. Because Abe just killed him.

In exactly sixty seconds, Blair Conroy will ring the doorbell to her new home and Abe will answer the door. They will become friends. Perhaps lovers.

And, when the time comes for one of them to die, as is always the case at The Beresford, there will be sixty seconds to move the body before the next unknowing soul arrives at the door.

Because nothing changes at The Beresford, until the doorbell rings…

Eerie, dark, superbly twisted and majestically plotted, The Beresford is the stunning standalone thriller from one of crime fiction’s most exciting names.

I’ve read a few of Will Carver’s books and every story is dark, fresh and unique. The most memorable book for me was Nothing Important Happened Today, but I think The Beresford beats it. This mesmeric and devilish novel is otherworldly and burrows into the marrow. It’s appallingly believable and paints a thought-provoking picture of mind control. Because everyone who stays at The Beresford is running from something. The question is, do they ever really leave?

Mrs May is omniscient, even down to the 60 second run-up to the doorbell. She is the gatekeeper, the guardian of souls, almost. Things happen at The Beresford, unexplained things that make you wonder if all the violence is simply where the carrion-eating live. A stopping place, or the end of the road. You take your pick. But what this grandiose building isn’t, is a peaceful stopping place for weary travellers, even though the price is right. Perhaps if something is too good to be true, it generally is.

You can’t help liking Abe; a gentleman, eager to help, willing to befriend. A man whose restful sojourn is quickly turned upside down and a brief love affair that changes him completely. But it’s his clever and somewhat farcical concealment of his dealings that kept me glued to the pages. That, and the transformation of Gail, a new tenant, pregnant and running from an abusive man. She is certainly put to the test. Protecting the unborn child is foremost in her mind and who can blame her. The treatment she received from her partner may set off sparks — triggers — perhaps, so this book isn’t for everyone.

You know what you’re in for when you open this book. It can get a little heave-ho in parts, so leave the bathroom door open and the toilet seat up. I almost lost my dinner in a few places. The ravenous and covetous Beresford swallows another tenant and then another and then another. This roller-coaster ride of nefarious transactions doesn’t falter and I was left with one question: whose soul will be bought next and at what price?

Not everyone will bond with this gruesomely brutal story. It’s what you come to expect when reading anything remotely Carver-esque. His sharp scrutiny of human nature and black comedy kept me turning the pages. Think of a train with no driver hurtling towards a precipice, doors locked, no way out. It really is one of the most twisted rides you’ll ever take.

Will you enjoy your stay at The Beresford? There’s only one way to find out.

Thank you to the author, Will Carver, the publisher, Orenda Books, for the privilege of reading this book.  

About the Author:

Will Carver

Will Carver is the bestselling author of the January Series – Girl 4 (2011), The Two (2012), The Killer Inside (2013), Dead Set (2013) – and the critically acclaimed Detective Pace series, which includes Good Samaritans (2018), Nothing Important Happened Today (2019) and Hinton Hollow Death Trip (2020), all of which were selected as books of the year in mainstream international press.

The books in this series have also been longlisted/shortlisted for the Amazon Readers Independent Voice Award, Goldsboro Books Glass Bell Award, Not The Booker Prize and the Theakston’s Old Peculiar Crime Novel of the Year Award.

Will spent his early years living in Germany, but returned at age eleven. He studied theatre and television at King Alfred’s Winchester, where he set up a successful theatre company. He currently runs his own fitness and nutrition business and lives in Reading with his children.

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