Anne Bonny #BookReview The Crooked Staircase by @deankoontz 5* #JaneHawk #3 #KickassSeries ‘Intense series with a feisty female protagonist. 5*’

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The Crooked Staircase by Dean Koontz – Jane Hawk #3
My own copy
Synopsis:

Jane Hawk faces the fight of her life

The No.1 New York Times bestseller and master of suspense Dean Koontz returns with a blockbuster new thriller featuring rogue FBI agent Jane Hawk.

‘I could be dead tomorrow. Or something worse than dead’

Rogue FBI agent Jane Hawk knows she’s living on borrowed time. But as long as she’s breathing, she’ll never cease her one-woman war against the terrifying conspiracy that threatens the freedom – and free will – of millions.

Battling the mysterious epidemic of murder-suicides that claimed Jane’s husband has made Jane a wanted fugitive, hunted relentlessly by the secret cabal behind the plot. They are determined to see her dead . . . or make her wish she was.

Propelled by her righteous fury, Jane will confront head-on the lethal forces arrayed against her. But nothing can prepare her for the chilling truth that awaits when she descends the crooked staircase to the dark and dreadful place where her long nightmare was born.

My Review:

The Crooked Staircase is the third instalment in the Jane Hawk series. Jane Hawk is a formidable force to be reckoned with and the central plot continues to get darker and more complex the further she digs into it.

The novel opens with Jane confronting Sara Holdsteck and as usual with Jane we never know how these confrontations will go and if someone will be left dead at the end!
The novel then jumps to scenes between Tanuja Shukla and her twin Sanjay. One of these pair will be the target of the mind-control’ experiment, but which one?

Throughout the novel you have to follow the clues and attempt to stay ahead of the bad guys. Much like our alter ego Jane. There are intense scenes as Jane continues her quest for justice against the Techno Arcadians.

With Jane’s son Travis’s secret hideaway becomes compromised, Travis is under threat. Now we will see Jane as we have never seen her before. Jane the lioness mother figure.
Jane digs further into the origins of the mind control and the men that use it. At times this makes for disturbing reading.
This series is action-packed, dark and most definitely THRILLLING!

There is a cliff-hanger ending that left me desperate to get my hands on the next in the series The Forbidden Door! Roll on December 2018!
I would also like to praise the author for his inclusive use of an autistic character. The character is a brilliant edition to a fantastic series. As a mother of a son with autism, I couldn’t wait to see how this character developed.
But for now, I will have to wait patiently!

Intense series with a feisty female protagonist. 5*

DK
Dean Koontz
Website
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Anne Bonny #BlogTour #Extract Tattoo Thief by @AlisonBelsham #CrimeFiction #Suspense @TrapezeBooks

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Tattoo Thief by Alison Belsham
Synopsis:

A policeman on his first murder case
A tattoo artist with a deadly secret
And a twisted serial killer sharpening his blades to kill again…

When Brighton tattoo artist Marni Mullins discovers a flayed body, newly-promoted DI Francis Sullivan needs her help. There’s a serial killer at large, slicing tattoos from his victims’ bodies while they’re still alive. Marni knows the tattooing world like the back of her hand, but has her own reasons to distrust the police. So when she identifies the killer’s next target, will she tell Sullivan or go after the Tattoo Thief alone?

Extract:

I peel away the blood-soaked T-shirt from the unconscious man’s back to reveal a spectacular tattoo. The photocopy I take from my pocket is crumpled but it’s good enough for me to check against the image on his skin. Thankfully, there’s just enough light from the street lamp to see that the two designs look the same. A round Polynesian tattoo in heavy black ink adorns the man’s left shoulder, an intricate tribal face scowling from its centre. Spreading out from the edges is a pair of stylised wings, one extending down the man’s shoulder blade, the other extending across the left side of his chest. All of it is speckled with blood.

The images match. I have the right man.

There’s still a pulse in his neck, but it’s faint enough to reassure me that he won’t cause any problems. It’s essential to do the job while his body’s still warm. If the corpse cools, the skin stiffens and the flesh becomes rigid. That makes the job harder and I can’t afford mistakes. Of course, flaying the skin off a living body means so much more blood. But I don’t mind blood.

My backpack is lying nearby, discarded as I pulled him into the bushes. It was easy enough – the small park was deserted at this hour. It only took one blow to the back of his head and he crumpled at the knees. No noise. No commotion. No witnesses. I knew this was the route he’d take when he left the nightclub because I’d watched him take it before. People are so stupid. He suspected nothing, even as I walked towards him with a wrench in my fist. Seconds later, his blood was spreading across the ground from a wound at the temple. The first step executed most satisfactorily.

Once he was down, I hooked my hands underneath his armpits and dragged him as quickly as I could across the stone paving. I wanted the cover of the shrubs so we wouldn’t be seen. He’s heavy but I’m strong, and I was able to pull him through a gap between two laurel bushes.

The exertion has left me breathless. I hold out my hands, palms down. I see the ghost of a tremor. Clench fists, then open again. Both hands flutter like moths, just as my heart flutters against my ribs. I curse under my breath. A steady right hand is essential to carry out my assignment. The solution’s in a side pocket of my backpack. A packet of tablets, a small bottle of water. Propranolol – the snooker player’s beta-blocker of choice. I swallow two and close my eyes, waiting for them to take effect. At the next check, the tremor is gone. Now I’m ready to begin.

Taking a deep breath, I reach into the bag and feel for my knife roll. Satisfaction floods through me as my fingers touch the soft leather, the steel outlined beneath. I sharpened the blades with great care last night. Intuition, you might say, that today would be the day.

I drop the roll onto the man’s back and untie the cords. The leather unfurls with a soft clink of metal, the blades cold beneath my fingertips. I select the short-handled knife that I’ll use for the first cuts, marking the outline of the skin to be removed. After that, for the flaying itself, I’ll use a longer, backward-curving knife. I buy them from Japan and they cost a small fortune. But it’s worth it.

They’re fashioned using the same techniques employed for Samurai swords. Tempered steel enables me to cut with speed and precision, as if I’m carving shapes out of butter.

I put the rest of the knives on the ground next to his body and check his pulse again. Fainter than before but he’s still alive. Blood seeps from his head, more slowly now. Time for a quick, deep test cut into his left thigh. There’s no flinch or intake of breath. Just a steady oozing of dark, slippery blood. Good. I can’t afford for him to move while I’m cutting.

The moment has arrived. With one hand holding the skin taut, I make the first incision. I draw the blade swiftly down from the top of his shoulder across the jutting angles of his scapula, following the outline of the design. A red ribbon appears in the wake of my blade, warm as it runs down onto my fingers. I hold my breath as the knife carves its path, savouring the shiver that rolls up my spine and the hot rush of blood to my groin.

The man will be dead by the time I finish.

He isn’t the first. And he won’t be the last.

AB
Alison Belsham
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Anne Bonny #BookReview Perfect Liars by @RebeccaCNReid 4* #Psychological #Thriller #DebutNovel @TransworldBooks ‘You certainly wouldn’t want these three as your enemies. . .’

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Perfect Liars by Rebecca Reid
Review copy
Synopsis:

They have it all. And they’ll do anything to keep it that way.

For fans of The Girlfriend and Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies as well as TV hits Doctor Foster and The Replacement.

Sixteen years ago, at an elite boarding school secluded in the English countryside, best friends Nancy, Georgia and Lila did something unspeakable.

Their secret forged an unbreakable bond between them, a bond of silence. But now, in their thirties, one of them wants to talk.

One word and everything could be ruined: their lives, their careers, their relationships. It’s up to Georgia to call a crisis dinner. – she knows there’s nothing that can’t be resolved by three courses in her immaculate kitchen.

But the evening does not go as planned.

Three women walk in to the dinner, but only two will leave.

Murder isn’t so difficult the second time around…

My Review:

Perfect Liars is a thoroughly modern psychological thriller, with a thoroughly modern cast of female characters. The three friends Nancy, Georgina and Lila have been friends since their childhood days at an elite boarding school. Now 16yrs later and older they are reuniting, only for one of them it’ll be the last time ever!

Each of the individual characters is carrying their own personal baggage (aren’t we all). But for one of the trio; their past is simply too much to bear and they wish to relinquish their guilt.

The novel has flashback scenes to their boarding school days. We learn that as teenagers the girls were not particularly known for being ‘nice’. Which raises the question, do spiteful teenage girls grow into spiteful women?
You certainly wouldn’t want these three as your enemies. . .

The women’s different backgrounds and future aspirations are explored and despite not particularly liking the women, you grow to understand why they are as they are.
At the dinner party (which the adult reunion revolves around) the claws come out and we see that none of these women have fully matured.

There are strong and emotive themes, mainly the repercussions of carrying guilt and the way in which that will taint your future life choices. The ending left much food for thought over the beginning and middle parts of the novel.

The perfect novel for people whom enjoy being in the heads of characters that may act/behave completely different to ourselves. If you love character based psychological thrillers, then Perfect Liars is perfect for you! 4*

RR
Rebecca Reid
Twitter

Anne Bonny #BookReview Charcoal Joe by Walter Mosley 5* #EasyRawlins #Series #14 #CrimeFiction @wnbooks ‘As always from the author a complex, deeply layered mystery. With characters just as sharp and quick witted’

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Charcoal Joe by Walter Mosley
My Own Copy
Synopsis:

Seymour Brathwaite, a young physicist, was found standing over the body of a murdered man.

Charcoal Joe, one of the deadliest men in America, wants Brathwaite cleared.

Easy Rawlins, a renowned Los Angeles PI, cannot refuse Charcoal Joe.

But what links the king of the LA underworld to Seymour Brathwaite?
And can Easy find the evidence before he gets embroiled in something much, much worse?

My Review:

I am a huge fan of Walter Mosley, I find his writing brilliant and his interviews very inspiring. I was so excited to finally catch up with the latest instalment in the Easy Rawlins series.

‘A professional detective with a bright future and a dark past’

The year is 1968, but the years never get any easier for Easy Rawlins. They usually bring news cases and more racial politics. Yet with this title, we the readers are also dealt an emotional blow in Easy’s love life. One that actually made me physically wince. Nothing is ever easy for Easy!

‘I been an outlaw since I was five’ – Mouse

I was glad to see the return of Mouse into a more central role in the case. There is also the added addition of Fearless Jones (a series I have yet to get too). Walter Mosley always introduces his characters with little backstories and they are sheer brilliance. This is one of my favourite dynamics of his writing style.

This particular novel revolves around Seymour Braithwaite a talented young physicist, who is found standing over the body of a murdered young man. When Charcoal Joe (one of the deadliest men in the USA) asks Easy to clear his name.
Easy knows this will be a complex case to solve.

‘Knowledge is the only real wealth any man can have; knowledge and the will to power’ – Charcoal Joe

Seymour is no easy mark to wrangle in, he believes the justice system in 1968, is just. He is young, impressionable and separated from the life Easy has known.
‘You think that PHD you got makes you immune from your skin’ – Easy to Seymour

As always from the author a complex, deeply layered mystery. With characters just as sharp and quick witted, they make me insanely jealous of the writer’s talent. 5*

WM
Walter Mosley
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Anne Bonny #BookReview Kindred by Octavia E. Butler 5* #TimeTravel #Slavery #DiverseLiterature @headlinepg ‘This is a powerful novel. It is intelligent and generates deep thought. The hierarchy of slavery and violence is fully explored.’

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Kindred by Octavia. E Butler
My own copy
Synopsis:

In 1976, Dana dreams of being a writer. In 1815, she is assumed a slave.

When Dana first meets Rufus on a Maryland plantation, he’s drowning. She saves his life – and it will happen again and again.

Neither of them understands his power to summon her whenever his life is threatened, nor the significance of the ties that bind them.

And each time Dana saves him, the more aware she is that her own life might be over before it’s even begun.

Octavia E. Butler‘s ground-breaking masterpiece is the extraordinary story of two people bound by blood, separated by so much more than time.

My Review:

Kindred is such an exceptionally difficult novel to describe. Especially when it comes to the area of genre. It has themes of historical slavery, time travel and at it’s heart a beautiful romance between Dana and her husband Kevin.
Although it is tricky to describe and review, I urge you to buy a copy!
You won’t be disappointed.

It is June 9th 1976, Dana’s 26th birthday when she first meets Rufus. She saves his life from drowning in the river and is met with the threat of death via the barrel of a gun!
Dana then reappears in the modern day (1976). Was this a dream? An hallucination? Dana desperately tries to piece it all together. Rufus’s southern accent, the scenery etc.

Dana continues to be drawn and pulled back into the past every time Rufus encounters trouble. When Dana plays close attention to Rufus’s language and the dialogue of his conversations, she then realises, she is in a dark era of time. Dana is being transported back to 1815. Also not just any location but the Weylin Plantation where 38 slaves are held. This is an extremely dangerous era for Dana to be pulled into.

‘The possibility of meeting a white adult here frightened me, more than the possibility of street violence ever had at home’ – Dana

‘Paperless blacks were fair game for any white’

In the modern day (1976) Dana is married to Kevin Franklin. The story of who they met and fell in love is incorporated into the story. He is the only person to have physically witnessed Dana’s journeys into the past and has deep concern. It may be worth noting Dana is African American and Frank is white. Something Rufus refuses to believe, when she attempts to explain the future to him.

‘Rufus fear of death calls me to him, and my own fear of death sends me home’ – Dana

There are violent scenes and scenes where you see the KKK in all their evil glory. They are painful to read but describe the violence and dehumanisation that was inflicted upon slaves and free black people in 1815.

‘Strength. Endurance. To survive, my ancestors had to put up with more than I ever could. Much more’ – Dana

In the lucid moments in the present day (1976) Dana and her husband frantically search for a link between her past and Rufus’s. Their research leads them to believe there is in fact a biological connection of some sort between Dana and Rufus but how?

‘I was the worse possible guardian for him – a black to watch over him in a society that considered blacks subhuman. A woman to watch over him in a society that considered women perennial children’

This is a powerful novel. It is intelligent and generates deep thought. The hierarchy of slavery and violence is fully explored.
I shall leave some of the thought-provoking quotes I noted below. 5*

‘I never realised how easily people could be trained to accept slavery’ – Dana

‘There was no shame in raping a black woman, but there could be shame in loving one’

‘It was so easy to advise other people to live with their pain’ – Dana

‘I had no enforceable rights. None at all’ – Dana

OEB
Octavia E. Butler
Website
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