Anne Bonny #BookReview The Rabbit Hunter by Lars Kepler #NewRelease #CrimeFiction @HarperFiction @fictionpubteam #JoonaLinna #Series – It begins with a nursery rhyme. Nineteen minutes later you die. . .

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The Rabbit Hunter by Lars Kepler – Joona Linna #6
My own copy from my TBR pile
Synopsis:

It begins with a nursery rhyme. Nineteen minutes later you die…

The sixth gripping thriller in Lars Kepler’s bestselling series featuring Joona Linna. Perfect for fans of Stieg Larsson and Jo Nesbo.

There’s a face at the window.
A stranger wearing a mask stands in the shadow of a garden. He’s watching his first victim through the window. He will kill him slowly, make it last – play him a nursery rhyme – make him pay.

A killer in your house.
There’s only one person the police can turn to – ex-Detective Joona Linna – but he’s serving time in a high-security prison. So they offer him a chance to secure his freedom: help Superintendent Saga Bauer track down the vicious killer known as the Rabbit Hunter, before he strikes again.

Only one man can stop him.
Soon another three victims have been murdered and Stockholm is in the grip of terror. Joona Linna must catch a disturbed predator, whose trail of destruction leads back to one horrific night of violence – with consequences more terrifying than anyone could have imagined…

My Review:

I am a huge fan of the Joona Linna series. If I remember correctly we were left on a huge cliff hanger, of an ending for quite some time. Knowing that there was both positive and negative outcomes for Jonna’s future.
I pre-ordered this novel and read as soon as it was delivered! It did not disappoint. The backstory of Joona is immense and the series is best read from the beginning. This is not my favourite of the series, as it lacked that insight into Joona, that we have come to know and love in every other edition to the series.

The novel opens with a brutal scene, of sexual degradation. A call girl arrive at a prestigious address in Germaniqviken, to a ‘date’ with a mysterious new client named Wille. Sofia has been an escort for 3yrs and is experienced in her work and the dangers it brings. But nothing can prepare her for the moment, Wille turns. He spits in her face and it is in this moment Sofia realises she has been drugged. A Cat and mouse game of sexual assault takes place until at last Sofia is saved by a figure wearing a mask. But who is the masked individual? And where did they come from?

Before Wille is shot by the intruder, they share some sinister words. . . .
‘I know that Ratjen opened the door and now. . .’ – Intruder
‘Who’s Ratjen?’ – Wille
‘And now hell is going to devour you all’ – Intruder
But what does it all mean and who is Ratjen?

Superintendent Saga Bauer nis working for counter terroism, when she receives a code platinum, the highest threat to national security. She arrives at the scene to find the dead body of the foreign minister (Wille), a hooker in handcuffs and an intruder that has fled the scene.

Janus Mickelson is put in command of the operation. But it is clear from the off, something is not at all right. The victim was shot in the stomach as distance, then momentarily later shot in each eye socket. What does it mean? Why did the killer, kill in this manner? The killer spent the time an effort to ensure no evidence this was left behind, this was not the work of an amateur but a trained killer.
Was he hired for the job?

Meanwhile, the witness Sofia dissolves into further emotional instability. Relieved to have survived an attempted savage rape, she is now faced with unorthodox treatment by the counter-terror squad. Saga is quick to bring in psychologist Jeanette Fleming to assess the witness and determine if she is too a victim.

Saga reflects back upon the previous foreign minister Anna Lindh’s murder via stabbing. She wonders if this crime scene is politically motivated at all.
If so why? And to what gain?

The counter-terror team, trace links to Salim Ratjen, who is serving a lengthy prison sentence for narcotics. Here’s the moment where Joona Linna will come back into the story. Saga asks Joona to covertly gather intel from Ratjen. A feat which is no easy task in maximum security jail, where nobody trusts anybody and Joona is well-known as an ex-cop. Will he do it? Will Joona help with the case?
After everything the police have put him through.

The novel continues with further twists and turns. It is cleverly plotted and incredibly detailed. Is it Lars Kepler’s finest novel to date? Nope, sorry! But that doesn’t mean it isn’t a fantastic thriller. I may have been guilty of personally putting this novel on far too high a pedestal. Initially I assumed a terrorism angle, but it is so much deeper than that.
This crime is a personal crime, a crime of revenge. 4*

LK
Lars Kepler
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Anne Bonny #BookReview It Was Her by @markhillwriter #CrimeFiction #NewRelease #DIRayDrake #Series @littlebrown The toxic family, with toxic children that hide behind a middle-class façade #ItWasHer

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It Was Her by Mark Hill
Review copy
Synopsis:

Twenty years ago, Tatia was adopted into a well-off home where she seemed happy, settled. Then the youngest boy in the family dies in an accident, and she gets the blame.

Did she do it?

Tatia is cast out, away from her remaining adopted siblings Joel and Poppy. Now she yearns for a home to call her own. So when she see families going on holiday, leaving their beautiful homes empty, there seems no harm in living their lives while they are gone. But somehow, people keep ending up dead.

Did she kill them?

As bodies start to appear in supposedly safe neighbourhoods, DI Ray Drake and DS Flick Crowley race to find the thinnest of links between the victims. But Drake’s secret past is threatening to destroy everything.

My Review:

I was a big fan of Mark Hill’s debut novel His First Lie, as a psychological thriller it worked well to have so many added twists and turns. This new release is similar in that sense, but the plotline is completely different. This time we have a new potential baddie by the name of Tatia. Can DI Ray Drake and DS Flick Crowley solve the case, whilst avoiding their own dark secrets?

One moment Will was there, and the next –

20yrs ago the Tatia Mamaladze was given the new name of Sarah and adopted into the Bliss family. Jill and Patrick Bliss are a politically ambitious couple and sought to expand their profile. However, it all went wrong one sunny day with a walk along the cliffs. Their life as they knew it was shattered and they were left to deal with the grief and pain of their 3yr son Will’s death. Siblings Poppy and Joel were ushered into the family fold, whereas Sarah was ostracised! Which left permanent scars, on her already fragile well-bring. Needless to say Tatia has never gotten over being the outcast. . .

The novel opens with the crime scene of murder victims of Simon and Melinda Harrow. They returned from their holiday early due to a work emergency, only to disrupt their burglar and were savagely beaten to death! The crime scene is a mess and there is evidence everywhere. Whoever did this is neither skilled nor even trying to hide their finger prints. The killer is brazen, with a clearly vicious temper.

‘Let’s hope Goldilocks has an alibi’ – Eddie Upson

Additionally, to the backstory of the Bliss family and present-day crimes, Flick is struggling to cope carrying the burden of Drake’s secret.
Will she expose them or keep it quiet?

The intruder murders – Goldilocks killings continue, with more victims discovered beaten to death in their own homes. When the killer eventually strikes at a home with children in bed. At the Judd residence the daughter Emily (5yrs) not only saw the killer but spoke to her and it is then revealed that the person she spoke to was female. The woman appeared caring in nature towards Emily and even tucked her back into bed after committing the murder of her parents. . .

‘Come along, Emily let me take you back to bed’

The novel then jumps from the current string of murders to the present-day Joel and Tatia. The pair live together with Tatia’s lover Carl. Joel appears immature and needy, he is submissive to Carl and lives under his rules. Tatia is protective of Joel and wants to have the ‘perfect family’. Whilst Carl is bossy and domineering. It is a bizarre set-up and one that is destined to spill over into violence.

‘Death, violence seemed to follow her everywhere’

The novels timeline moves around to show various stages in the aftermath of Will’s death. We learn that Sarah/Tatia was blamed for the death and most specifically by her adopted sister Poppy.
No matter how much she tries to impress upon Poppy, her mind is set. . .

‘Whatever deluded thought you have in your head, you are not, and never will be, part of our family’ – Poppy

The aftermath of Will’s death had huge ramifications for the family. Patrick would go onto become an alcoholic and commit suicide by hanging, to be discovered by his young son Joel. It is Tatia that continues to shoulder the blame for every misfortune that occurs to the family. But why? Is Tatia as evil as they say she is?

‘Tatia was a bad seed. Always was. Always will be’ – Poppy

This novel is a fast-paced rollercoaster of a ride. The toxic family, with toxic children that hide behind a middle-class façade builds to a dramatic ending for all concerned.
The various personalities of the Bliss family keep you guessing and guessing. It is clear to see, everything was far from bliss in that family. 4*

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Mark Hill
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My Review for His First Lie
Q&A with Mark Hill

Anne Bonny #BookReview Snap by @BelindaBauer #CrimeFiction #NewRelease #SnapBook @TransworldBooks ‘Bauer writes child characters scarily good!!!’

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Snap by Belinda Bauer
Review copy
Synopsis:

SNAP DECISIONS CAN BE DANGEROUS . . .

On a stifling summer’s day, eleven-year-old Jack and his two sisters sit in their broken-down car, waiting for their mother to come back and rescue them.
Jack’s in charge, she’d said. I won’t be long.

But she doesn’t come back. She never comes back.
And life as the children know it is changed for ever.

Three years later, Jack is still in charge – of his sisters, of supporting them all, of making sure nobody knows they’re alone in the house, and – quite suddenly – of finding out the truth about what happened to his mother. . .

My Review:

I am a HUGE fan of this author and have read ALL of her previous novels. I love the sound of the synopsis and the way the author has previous written the psychology of children in her novels. I literally could not wait to read this book!

The novel opens in August 1998 on the hard shoulder of the M5. Jack (11yrs) is in the broken down car with his siblings Joy (9yrs) and Merry (2yrs). Their heavily pregnant mother has left the vehicle to use the SOS phones on the hard shoulder. The setting of 1998 adds to the feeling of helplessness as the children must be left alone, whilst the mother attempts to get help.
But their mother never returns!

‘Jack’s in charge’

In 2001 we are introduced to another character, heavily pregnant first time mum Catherine. She disturbs an intruder and finds a knife and note stating ‘I could have killed you’. However, she takes the bizarre course of action to not tell anyone about the encounter. Not wanting to appear a victim or seen as weak in any form. It is a choice that will lead her to come face to face with her intruder.

Jack and his sibling’s fate goes from bad to much worse. The press continues to hound the family, resulting in the children being unable to return to school. Their father is a broken man, falling apart. It falls to Jack to take charge and make the decisions needed for his sibling’s survival.

Jack for me personally is the shining star of this novel. He is so emotionally fragile and vulnerable. He struggles to deal with his own feelings in the aftermath of his mother’s disappearance, leading to bad dreams and a criminal future.
Bauer writes child characters scarily good!!!

West Country Detective Chief Inspector John Marvel has transferred from the murder squad in Lewisham to the quiet town of Somerset. He is a no-nonsense cop and he is itching to solve some ‘proper’ crime. He puts together an operation to trap a local serial burglar nicknamed ‘Goldilocks’.

Catherine continues to be harassed by the anonymous intruder that left the note. She has a weird relationship with her husband Adam, which kept me guessing. I never really trusted her character, there is just something about her, I don’t like. . .

The first 40% of the novel is a difficult read and very slow burning. But once the twists start, the plot really takes off. I was so emotionally invested in the character of Jack. Maybe this is because I am a mother of two young sons. Or his journey of being the oldest sibling and the bearer of responsibility. But there is something very moving about Jack’s plight. His characterisation is an example of excellent writing. 4*

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Belinda Bauer
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Anne Bonny #BookReview The Brighton Mermaid by @DorothyKoomson #NewRelease #CrimeFiction #Mystery @penguinrandom ‘Edgy crime fiction, with a journey into the 1990s’ #TheBrightonMermaid

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The Brighton Mermaid by Dorothy Koomson
Review copy
Synopsis:

Brighton Beach, 1993

Teenagers Nell and Jude find the body of a young woman and when no one comes to claim her, she becomes known as the Brighton Mermaid. Nell is still struggling to move on when, three weeks later, Jude disappears.

Twenty-five years on, Nell is forced to quit her job to find out who the Brighton Mermaid really was – and what happened to her best friend that summer.

But as Nell edges closer to the truth, dangerous things start to happen. Someone seems to be watching her every move, and soon she starts to wonder who in her life she can actually trust…

Fast-paced and thrilling, The Brighton Mermaid explores the deadly secrets of those closest to you.

My Review:

This author is a new author to me. I saw the cover revealed on social media and instantly knew I wanted to review it. The cover is amazing and combined with the synopsis, gives the book its crime fiction edge. The mystery surrounding the Brighton mermaid; a murdered woman from 1993 and the young woman who found her body, now determined to get justice.

26th June 1993 Nell and her bestie Jude, having sneaked out in the night. Stumble across the dead body of a young woman. Nell feels the urge to help the dead woman and is in almost disbelief at what she is seeing before her. She can’t take her eyes from the detailed mermaid tattoo and it is this that will go on, to give the victim her name in the media.

‘She was still; tranquil, lifeless’

The novel then jumps to the present day 25yrs later. Nell has been working as a supermarket assistant manager for 8yrs, saving her every penny, to take a year off. A year off to pursue her own investigation into the Brighton mermaid case and the disappearance of Jude. I admired her dedication to the victims and you witness this throughout the novel.

Nell and Jude were severely mistreated in the 1990s, on the discovery of the victim. They weren’t treated as the child witnesses they were, but as potential suspects themselves. The racist policing in the 1990s is fully explored and the scenes are vividly played out before your eyes.

‘I looked into the faces of the police officers, saw how angry they were that we were wasting their time like this, and knew our lives were never going to be the same again’ – Nell

The scenes really got me thinking about 1990s policing. An era not only affected by institutional racism within the police force. But an era, where children/teenagers feared the authority of the police much more than they do now. An era where young people did not see the police as a figure of help or support.
I was also becoming addicted to the case of the Brighton mermaid.
What happened to the woman on the beach?
And why did Jude disappear?

In the present day, Nell has the support of her sister Macy, her partner Shane and children Clara, Willow and Aubrey. This is her little family and where she feels accepted. There are complications, due to the fact that Shane was originally Nell’s first teenage boyfriend. But her sister urges them both to put the past behind them. Nell and her sister Macy are very close.
But they Both have secrets.
Don’t we all?

In the past, after the discovery of the Brighton mermaid’s body. Enelle (Nell) and Judana (Jude) discuss the victim and their role in the case. Jude stole the victim’s charm bracelet as a keepsake and feels an attachment to the victim.

‘She looks like us Nell. That could be me or you strangled – and probably raped – on the beach and no one would care after a couple of weeks. It’s not right’ – Jude

Just a few weeks later, Jude goes missing, leaving Nell devastated and alone. Not only that the police circle in on Nell’s father, claiming him as a suspect due to his appearance as a “big. . . black fella”. Nell’s father faces on-going police and community harassment. That will not only change the way Nell views the police but in one way destroy her entire family. . . .

After the discovery of the Brighton mermaid and disappearance of Jude. Several other bodies were discovered and labelled as ‘mermaid’ victims also. It is then that Nell, begins to wonder is Jude a mermaid? Is that why she has never heard from her?

In the present day, the cop who harassed Nell’s father relentlessly pleads for her help. John Pope claims to have new evidence and possible links to the case. Can Nell trust him? How do you trust the man that destroyed your family?
They may make the most unlikely of pairings, but together could they solve the case?

I really enjoyed this novel. I found Nell to be daring, brave and driven. She is central to the plot and its unravelling throughout and this works extremely well. Nell is likeable, and I really enjoyed the time I spent with her, on her quest for justice. The tension within her surrounding relationships with others, creates a gripping ending!

Edgy crime fiction, with a journey into the 1990s 4*

DK
Dorothy Koomson
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Anne Bonny #BookReview The Retreat by @mredwards Mark Edwards #CrimeFiction meets #Horror #NewRelease @midaspr A missing child. A desperate mother. And a house full of secrets #TheRetreat

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The Retreat by Mark Edwards
Review Copy
Synopsis:

A missing child. A desperate mother. And a house full of secrets.

Two years ago, Julia lost her family in a tragic accident. Her husband drowned trying to save their daughter, Lily, in the river near their rural home. But the little girl’s body was never found—and Julia believes Lily is somehow still alive.

Alone and broke, Julia opens her house as a writers’ retreat. One of the first guests is Lucas, a horror novelist, who becomes obsessed with finding out what happened to Lily. But within days of his arrival, the peace of the retreat is shattered by a series of eerie events.

When Lucas’s investigation leads him and Julia into the woods, they discover a dark secret—a secret that someone will do anything to protect…

What really happened that day by the river? Why was Lily never found? And who, or what, is haunting the retreat?

My Review:

The Retreat is without a doubt a psychological thriller. It has elements of folklore and mythology scattered throughout. But ultimately it is the ‘whodunit’ or ‘whatdunit’ that keeps you on the edge of your seat. The synopsis is perfect and gives just enough information to gather a reader’s interest. A missing girl, a mother in grief, a tormented author and local legends. A recipe for success.

The prologue opens from the perspective of Lily on the fateful day she disappeared. It is eerie, and you know from the onset that the author has many more eerie scenes waiting to be unleashed upon the reader. . .

‘Mum’s cries faded into the distance as those strong arms carried her away’

Lucas Radcliffe arrives in his hometown of Beddmawr, Wales. He is headed to Nyth Bran, a writer’s retreat. He is looking forward to the quiet pace of life, seclusion and scenery. He is also hoping to find some inspiration for his next novel. His debut novel Sweetmeat was a breakout success and he has developed a case of writer’s block.
It would appear LJ Radcliffe has come to just the right place. . . .

Upon arriving at the retreat, he is quickly introduced to Julia. The other guests are at the local pub and so Lucas doesn’t meet them until much later. He states he would like at least a month stay, possibly more. He marvels at what a beautiful setting the retreat is and tells Julia of his background. Julia appears disinterested, yet Lucas is quite taken with her nonchalant approach to him.

Later on, the other guests arrive. They are quite the bunch of characters. There is Max lake, literary author and booky snob. Suzi Hastings, an aspiring debut novelist. Karen Holden, a mature lady, who is self-published. Over drinks they inform Lucas of the retreats do’s and don’ts. Whilst also telling him the wi-fi is next to useless and mobile signal non-existent.

Lucas is still itching to know more about Julia herself and through various acquaintances during his stay, he begins to understand her traumatic past. How her husband died trying to save their only child. How her daughter is still missing and how Julia is convinced she is still alive. What he learns via gossip, he keeps to himself. Not sharing with Julia what he has come to know.

We also learn that Lucas himself has known his own share of heartbreak, pain and grief. His backstory is detailed, and I found it actually made him much more believable and likable. From that moment on, I knew his interest in Julia was genuine and trustful,
or is it?

‘You’re not welcome here’

There are several incidents in the night hours, that lead the group to believe that the retreat maybe haunted. They all admit they are rational and logical people. Yet, quickly the succumb to believing in ghost stories and ancient myths.
Lucas remains level headed throughout.

Julia’s daughter’s disappearance disturbs Lucas so much, he asks a PI to investigate the case. To see if there are potentially any leads on Lily’s whereabouts. But with 2yrs having passed, it has little chance of coming to fruition.
But Lucas simply can’t get the case out of his head!

As the plot unravels more and more details are revealed. All of the town’s secrets shall be unearthed and many have secrets they would rather take to the grave. It did occur to be throughout that, everything and everyone Lucas comes into contact with mysterious circumstances occur. Had I been too quick to trust Lucas?
What do we the reader, really know about Lucas?

There are lots of twists and no one you can really trust. I became quite obsessed with Lucas myself, he just attracts trouble and problems wherever he goes. But for all intents and purposes, he makes an amazing protagonist for this very reason.

Folklore, urban legends and myths are huge right now in the psychological and thriller genre and this is definitely not one to be missed. 4*

ME
Mark Edwards
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The Retreat is released on 10th May in Ebook & paperback and it is available for pre-order!

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