My #Review of #NewRelease The Innocent Wife by @AmyLloydWrites 4* @PenguinUKBooks #CrimeFiction #Psychological by @annebonnybook

*I received a proof copy via the publisher in return for an honest review*

The Innocent Wife by Amy Lloyd 

Twenty years ago, Dennis Danson was arrested and imprisoned for the brutal murder of a young girl in Florida’s Red River County. Now he’s the subject of a true-crime documentary that’s whipping up a frenzy online to uncover the truth and free a man who has been wrongly convicted.

A thousand miles away in England, Samantha is obsessed with Dennis’s case. She exchanges letters with him, and is quickly won over by his apparent charm and kindness to her. Soon she has left her old life behind to marry him and campaign for his release.

But when the campaign is successful and Dennis is freed, Sam begins to discover new details that suggest he may not be quite so innocent after all …

My review:

I was immediately drawn to this novel, after reading the online hype surrounding the release. The novel has an instantly eye-catching synopsis. The women who write to death row inmates, is an issue that has always fascinated me. Why do they do it? What do they gain? And what sort of woman pens the letters?

The novel centres around the relationship between Sam and Dennis Danson. Sam is an insecure, naïve and mousy school teacher from England. Whilst Dennis is the convicted murderer of an 11-year-old girl. He awaits his execution on death row, whiling away the hours by writing to his pen pals.
But what do this pair have in common?
What do they hope to achieve with this friendship?

This is when the novel takes an unusual but thoroughly relevant twist. Dennis is the star of a recent Netflix series; many people believe him to be innocent of the crime. Sam is one of many ‘fans’ who dissect the case piece by piece online. There are a wealth of theories and forums. Sam quickly becomes obsessed by them. Between their exchange of letters, a friendship/romance develops. When Sam is introduced to Carrie, the producer of the Netflix show, she decides to visit the US and Dennis in prison.

‘When she left, no one seemed to notice she was gone’

The novel is told by alternate chapters and book extracts. Which works well to give the reader Sam’s story, but also the facts surrounding Dennis’s case. I initially felt quite sorry for Sam, considering her to be a lonely woman, desperate for friendship. But as I grew to learn more of the criminal case and the missing young girls from Red River Florida. My sympathy for her waned. That is not to say, I wasn’t absolutely HOOKED because I completely and utterly was. I read the novel in one afternoon. I just felt there was something about her, I was not very keen to trust.

When Sam arrives in the US and the Altoona prison. She is swept away with the media attention, celebrities endorsing Dennis’s release and their first meeting. When we see her trust begin to waver, Dennis is quick to propose marriage.
Does he love her? Or is he manipulating her vulnerabilities?

The book extracts tell us about Dennis’s childhood. His alcoholic father and depressed mother, make for a painfully bleak upbringing. He had known poverty, violence and the foster care system, all before he reached 18 years old.
It is at this point I began to feel quite sorry for Dennis. This novel had me questioning myself. Why was I so keen to extend empathy/sympathy to Dennis?

Is the novel so cleverly written that Dennis begins to manipulate the reader?

The full details of ‘the girls of Red River’ is explored. The extracts offer an insight into Dennis’s arrest and trial. It is at this point, I vowed not to trust either of them! Finding both of the character’s behaviour strange. Yet I could NOT put this book down!
When new evidence comes to light and Dennis is exonerated. He is forced to adjust to a modern life, he left behind 21yr ago. Freedom does not come easy to Dennis. With Sam now playing the dutiful ‘wife’ to Dennis and his new-found freedom, the novel gets stranger and stranger.

A marriage of three: Sam, Dennis and suspicion…….

As Sam becomes more and more insecure. Dennis becomes cold, distant and dismissive of her. She is then the victim of online abuse and is left walking on eggshells around his moods. When Dennis doesn’t talk to her about his past. Sam fills in the blanks herself, creating her own narrative of their lives together.

The constant theme of suspicion, will keep you glued to the page! It makes you the reader, become obsessed with Sam and Dennis’s story. 4*

Amy Lloyd
Authors Links:
Via publishers
Goldsboro book of the month January

My #Review Field Of Prey by @J_Sandford 5* @simonschusterUK #CrimeFiction #Series #LucasDavenport by @annebonnybook

Field Of Prey by John Sandford

When a county deputy is called out to an abandoned farmhouse in the cornfields of Minnesota by a couple of terrified teenagers, he finds that a body has been stuffed down a cistern. And then another, and another.

By the time Lucas Davenport is called in, the police are up to fifteen bodies, and counting. And when Lucas begins to investigate, he makes some disturbing discoveries of his own. The victims have been killed over a great many years, one every summer, regular as clockwork. How could this have happened without anybody noticing?

Because one thing was for sure: The killer has to live close by. He is probably even someone they see every day…

My review:

This novel is #24 in the Lucas davenport series. But the first I have ever read! Needless to say, it will NOT be my last! This novel is extraordinarily dark, the killers involved nightmarish! In fact, I did actually have nightmares whilst reading this novel!
I am a fan of multiple genre’s, which includes the horror genre.
You’d think the blurb from Stephen King, would have given me the hint!
But no, I went in assuming a typical crime fiction novel. What I got was one of the creepiest crime fiction reads; since I read The Poet by Michael Connelly!!!!!

The novel opens with the caption ‘years ago’, which we learn is the killers kidnapping their fifth victim to be Heather Jorgenson. However, Heather isn’t as easy to abduct as their previous four victims. She makes a dramatic escape leaving one of the pair severely wounded! The killers are identified to the reader as R-A and Horn.
The chapters from their perspective, reminds me of staying up too late and watching the true crime channel.
Truly horrifying!

R-A and Horn’s killing spree, has gone virtually unheard of. That is until two teen love birds, stumble across an old cistern stuffed full of corpses!
When the body count reaches 15+ the bureau of criminal apprehension is brought into the case and with them is Lucas Davenport.

The crime scene is located in the middle of nowhere; with only small towns of minimal populations scattered nearby. The local cops want in, on the investigation. But it is CBA agent Bob Shaffer who is put in-charge of the case. With an intense investigation and heavy media scrutiny. The ‘Black hole of Goodhue’ needs all the cops to work together to apprehend the killers.

The police make a start by identifying the victims; which takes considerable time given the varying levels of decomposition. The victims are all female and of approximately the same age. But they have nothing in common, except natural blonde hair. How is the killer picking his victims? Is he an opportunist killer? Or is he stalking his victims?
One thing is for certain, the killer knows the area. To know the area and the buried old cistern so well, he/she must be a local. This puts fear into the local community and amps up the media frenzy over the case. When weeks go by, with each clue leading to a dead end. The media begin to turn on the cops investigating the case. Bringing up past cases, indiscretions and their professional records.
The cops need to solve this case, or their careers are in jeopardy!

Local sheriff deputy Catrin Mattsson, is known for her feisty attitude, but also her competency as a cop. After initially butting heads with Lucas, they begin to work together to solve the case.

I really liked Mattsson, she is tough and whilst the other cops wallow in low morale; she is consistently coming up with new ways to solve the case.
The novel has so much depth, it dips into Lucas’s previous cases; before he was seconded to the black hole investigation. The novel felt a very accurate portrayal of a cop’s daily life. Lucas also brings in, Virgil Flowers to help with the case. Although in this novel, he plays a background character. I got the distinct impression that the Virgil flowers novels, would be just as good as this series.

The case continues at a slow burning pace, but there are constant anomalies thrown in to keep the readers interest. The case in question maybe slowed down, but the action itself is not! Eventually the body count is held at 21 skulls. But when some are discovered to having been grave robbed, the case takes a sickening twist. Why would a killer, steal skulls from graves? Where did he get the skulls from? The grave robbing leads to local cemeteries and Shaffer takes off on his own to investigate further…….

When Shaffer goes missing, the tension in the novel reaches critical levels. I was absolutely hooked to the pages! The cops are now not only looking for an experienced serial killer; but a potential cop killer too…….

There are so many themes in this novel. It is impossible to cover them all in a review without spoiling the novel itself. But trust me, this is one hell of a creepy read! The killers begin to taunt the cops and plant leads; determined to control the investigation right up until the very dark brutal ending!
American crime fiction at its finest. Highly recommended! 5*

John Sandford
Authors Links: