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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***Sorry my post is a day later than scheduled***

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
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