Early #SneakPeak 5* #Review Fear by Dirk Kurbjuweit @orion_crime @orionbooks @RebeccaGray

*I received an arc via Netgalley in return for an honest review. I also have the permission of the publisher to share my review as a #SneakPeak #Review.*

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Fear by Dirk Kurbjuweit
Synopsis:

You’d die for your family. But would you kill for them?

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Family is everything.
So what if yours was being terrorised by a neighbour – a man who doesn’t listen to reason, whose actions become more erratic and sinister with each passing day? And those you thought would help – the police, your lawyer – can’t help you.
You become afraid to leave your family at home alone. But there’s nothing more you can do to protect them.
Is there?

My review: (Written March 2017)

This is such a unique quirky read but it is also the first read this year to give me literal nightmares! Out of a staggering 56 read so far!
The plot and themes really get inside your head.

Fear is written by German author Dirk Kurbjweit and loosely based around his own real life case of being stalked. Stalking, or more so, terrorising is the central theme and it is so subtle yet eerie and fear provoking all at the same time. Randolph is the protagonist he is reluctant, kind and maybe slightly too passive and a successful Architect by trade. His wife Rebecca is the real intended victim of the stalker with every attempt being made, one to strike at her emotions and generate fear. They also have two young children Paul and Fay. What they don’t know when they move into the flat in Berlin is that it harbours a rather sinister secret within its basement in the form of the neighbouring tenant.

The stalking begins with biscuits and treats and is taken as it should be a friendly gesture of kindness. However, it quickly develops into poetry and letters. The basement tenant Dieter is relentless in his approach to victimise and terrorise the family, especially Rebecca. What starts as innocent over shows at attempts of affection escalates into sexualised harassments and intimidation. Eventually Dieter fully accuses Randolph and Rebecca of abusing their own children.
They begin to both become self-conscious and self-accusatory and their marriage begins to suffer.

One thing that really struck a chord with me with this novel, is that early on whilst receiving no help from the police at all. The couple begin to play down Dieters disturbing behaviour. I am not criticising their experiences, just wonder why do we do that in society? It’s almost as if we rush to assume that something we did actively contributed towards someone victimising us? Often we like to think when reading a novel that’s dark and haunting, that it could never happen to us, but as this novel shows essentially it can happen to anyone!

There is a backstory surrounding Randolph’s father being in jail for murder. The obvious conclusion is drawn that it is linked to the case, but to learn the full truth we must read the novel to discover. Randolph’s childhood is talked about and he perhaps too often repeats that he had a normal/happy childhood and is thoroughly middle-class. Dieter on the other hand grew up subjected to abuse, humiliation, physical beating and sexual assaults.
Could this be his motivation for tormenting the family? Is Dieter jealous of the family’s previous happy state? Is their Happiness the source of his rage?

With friends, family members and even the children affected by Dieter’s continued passive aggressive actions the question becomes, what is Randolph going to do about it? They exhaust the legal procedures. Sgt Leidinger can provide no further support due to their being no anti-stalking laws at this time. The family hits breaking point!

This novel would make ideal reading for book groups as the plot raises so many questions. Why do we allow casual sexual harassment? Why do we wait to be attacked? Why do we our legal systems undermine the power that slander and accusations can have in a modern world?
I thoroughly recommend this novel for fans of the thriller genre and as I have stated it will get in your head! 5*

***This novel is due to be released 25th January 2018 and it is sure to be a huge hit!***
Currently available for pre-order online!

#Review 5* Dear Martin by @getnicced Nic Stone #YA @randomhousekids @CrownPublishing #NewRelease

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Dear Martin by Nic Stone
Synopsis:
Justyce McAllister is top of his class and set for the Ivy League–but none of that matters to the police officer who just put him in handcuffs. And despite leaving his rough neighborhood behind, he can’t escape the scorn of his former peers or the ridicule of his new classmates.
Justyce looks to the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for answers. But do they hold up anymore? He starts a journal to Dr. King to find out.
Then comes the day Justyce goes driving with his best friend, Manny, windows rolled down, music turned up–way up, sparking the fury of a white off-duty cop beside them. Words fly. Shots are fired. Justyce and Manny are caught in the crosshairs. In the media fallout, it’s Justyce who is under attack

My Review:

Nic Stone may write fiction, but she certainly tells no lies! This is a powerful debut novel! The author holds nothing back and the novel offers you the opportunity to see life, through the lies of another, and that person is protagonist Justyce Mcallister!

As a white British woman of 34 years old. It is difficult to imagine the daily life and struggles of a 17-year-old African American teen. When you factor in the racial tensions, constantly bubbling in America and the case after case of police brutality. It becomes quite clear that Justyce and I lead very different lives.
But that is the hidden beauty of this novel, it enables the reader to walk in Justyce’s shoes.
Even if it is for just 200 pages.

The novel opens with Justyce and his ex-girlfriend Melo Taylor, as Justyce attempts to prevent her from drink driving. Melo is of mixed race heritage, but due to her mother’s Norwegian pale skin tone, can easily pass as white. When an officer of the law arrives at the scene, he is promptly judge, jury and executer of his own brand of justice.
Justyce finds himself cuffed, manhandled and treated with zero respect and dignity. But it is only when I read his thoughts as the scene unfounded, that I fully understood life from Justyce’s perspective……………….

Be respectful; keep the anger in check; make sure the police can see your hands.

Justyce is eventually cleared of all wrong-doing, but with no apology, the experience has planted a seed of how Justyce’s feel he is perceived in the world. Do people see a thug when they see him? Does his skin colour automatically, make him a likely criminal? Is he expected to be one of the many cases of young black men shot dead unlawfully?

The self-questioning and doubt lead Justyce to begin a diary to Dr Martin Luther King. It is in these letters entitled ‘Dear Martin’ that Justyce pours out his heart and soul!
The letters are incredibly moving and the writing profound. Justyce is an intelligent young man, but he also has an emotional maturity, that we see develop throughout the novel.

“Dear Martin, there are people that don’t see a man with rights when they look at me”

Justyce begins to explore other people’s attitudes and approaches to debates of race/culture. This includes class mates, teachers, best friend Manny and debate partner SJ (Sarah Jane).
SJ is quite an interesting character herself, a young white Jewish girl. Who is wise beyond her years! SJ has opinions on race/identity/privilege, that could put world leaders to shame!

There is a wide mixture of teens from all walks of life, included within the novel. Which is what makes the novel so great! Nic Stone hasn’t just considered one voice; she has written a magnitude of voices to be heard.
At times the novel made for uncomfortable reading. But so it should, racism is uncomfortable for everybody it makes a victim of. This novel could be an extremely useful tool within educational settings. To allow young adults to debate the themes within the novel and maybe learn a little of their own inner hidden prejudices!

“People often learn more from getting an undeserved free pass than they would from being punished”

I don’t want to review the novel too much and risk ruining this thought-provoking novel. At just 200 pages it is an easy read for young adults. I think the topic of BAME youth in education settings is at crisis point and this novel can shine a light on the how/why this situation developed in the first place.

“If nothing in the world ever changes, what type of man are you gonna be?”

I cannot speak on the race issue, from personal experience. But as a mother of two sons and as a fellow human. I am horrified at seeing young men either growing up way too soon, or being the victims of police brutality and even murder!
A compelling read by a very talented writer, who has a bright future ahead of her! 5*

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Nic Stone
Author Bio:
Nic Stone was born and raised in a suburb of Atlanta, GA, and the only thing she loves more than an adventure is a good story about one. After graduating from Spelman College, she worked extensively in teen mentoring and lived in Israel for a few years before returning to the US to write full-time. Growing up with a wide range of cultures, religions, and backgrounds, Stone strives to bring these diverse voices and stories to her work.
You can find her goofing off and/or fangirling over her husband and sons on most social media platforms as @getnicced.

Authors links:
Website: http://www.nicstone.info/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/getnicced

#Review Nine Lessons by @nicolaupsonbook @FaberBooks #HistoricalFiction #NewRelease

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Nine Lessons by Nicola Upson
Synopsis:
Josephine Tey is in Cambridge, a town gripped by fear and suspicion as a serial rapist stalks the streets, and in the shadow of King’s College Chapel, Detective Chief Inspector Archie Penrose faces some of the most horrific and audacious murders of his career.
The seventh novel in Nicola Upson’s highly praised series featuring Josephine Tey takes the reader on a journey from 1930s Cambridge to the bleak and desolate Suffolk coast – a journey which will ultimately leave Archie’s and Josephine’s lives changed forever.

My review:

This novel is the 7th in the series and to be fair to readers of my review. I should state, I am new to the series. That being said it didn’t impact my enjoyment of this novel.
The novel is set in 1930s Cambridge and gives a great insight into the era. I loved how the novel had an old fashioned feel to it. Very Agatha Christie, in its writing style.

The perfect murder mystery case!

The novel opens at the scene of a savage murder. Church organist, Stephen Laxborough is the victim of this violent and unfathomable murder. Detctive Chief Inspector Archie Penorse is summoned to the scene. He begins to gather details and evidence, but the case unnerves him as it is seemingly without motive.

Also in Cambridge for a while is writer/playwright Josephine Tey. She is a lifelong friend of Archie and I was desperate to learn more about their friendship. Josephine is quite the unique character, a woman born way before her time. She is gritty, determined and I really warmed to her. Josephine becomes concerned with a serial rapist in the locality.
A case she is hell-bent on solving……….

The murder case intensifies when Archie discovers a link to a bunch of students from Kings College. He also uncovers more victims, all of which had received threatening notes prior to their death. One clear link is a picture of a building call the priory.
But what is the motive? Is it mere jealousy, of this bunch of academics? Or is it something much more sinister?

“What is this I have done?” – Note

The private lives and secrets of Archie’s and Josephine’s is explored and it is brilliantly done. I found them multi-layered characters, which made them very admirable. When somebody Josephine knows becomes a victim of the rapist. She is angered and wants justice for the victim. When you think of the era, of the 1930s. it is not one that can be recalled, as of progressive in terms of women’s rights. Rape victims were often blamed and shamed and made to feel as though they had contributed towards their own rape!
But this is a case, Josephine will not rest until she solves…..

“The scars on the bodies of these girls will heal. The scars on the mind never will”

Archie’s case becomes tougher with the discovery of more and more victims. Can he solve the case in time to save others on the list? The ending comes with shocking twists in the tale and I think the author has done a brilliant job. The depiction of the era, the twists and the central characters are all brilliantly written.
Highly recommended for fans of historical fiction! 5*

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Nicola Upson
Author Bio:
Nicola Upson was born in Suffolk and read English at Downing College, Cambridge. She has worked in theatre and as a freelance journalist, and is the author of two non-fiction works and the recipient of an Escalator Award from the Arts Council England.
Her debut novel, An Expert in Murder, was the first in a series of crime novels whose main character is Josephine Tey – one of the leading authors of Britain’s Golden Age of crime writing.
She lives with her partner in Cambridge and spends much of her time in Cornwall, which was the setting for her second novel, Angel with Two Faces. Two for Sorrow is the third book in the Josephine Tey series, followed by Fear in the Sunlight.

Authors links:
Via Faber: https://www.faber.co.uk/author/nicola-upson/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/984417.Nicola_Upson
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NicolaUpsonAuthor/
Twitter: @nicolaupsonbook

#Review 5* Broken Bones by @WriteAngie Angela Marsons @bookouture #NewRelease #CrimeFiction

*I received an arc via Netgalley in return for an honest review*

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Broken Bones by Angela Marsons (#7 Kim Stone series)
Synopsis:

They thought they were safe. They were wrong.

The murder of a young prostitute and a baby found abandoned on the same winter night signals the start of a disturbing investigation for Detective Kim Stone – one which brings her face to face with someone from her own horrific childhood.

As three more sex workers in the Black Country are murdered in quick succession, each death more violent than the last, Kim and her team realise that the initial killing was no one-off frenzied attack, but a twisted serial killer preying on the vulnerable.
At the same time, the search begins for the desperate woman who left her newborn baby at the station – but what at first looks like a tragic abandonment soon takes an even more sinister turn.

When another young woman goes missing, the two investigations bring the team into a terrifying, hidden world, and a showdown puts Kim’s life at risk as secrets from as secrets from her own past come to light.

As Kim battles her own demons, can she stop the killer, before another life is lost?

My review:

Detective Kim Stone is Back!

The one thing I absolutely LOVE about Kim Stone is how the crimes get under her skin. She will not rest until they are solved and justice is served! This crime novel opens on Christmas day! It has the perfect wintery feel, for a novel you want to be reading as we approach Christmas! Well if your anything like me, anyway! The cases involve the murder of a young prostitute and an abandoned baby.
The cases appears to be two separate incidents, but Kim Stone has a hunch…………..

The prologue tells the story of Lauren Goddard. Having grown up on a rough estate, with a selfish alcoholic mother. Lauren has had it tough! But as she approaches the age of 16 years, she is going to be opened up, to a whole other world of degradation!
That is until she plummets from a roof!!!

The prologue left me reeling and I knew this was going to be an intense read. I feel the author did an absolutely cracking job of portraying women from all walks of life, as they find themselves ladies of the night! There was no judgement in the writing, it was cleverly written with a desire to understand these women rather than judge or stereotype. I commend the author on making those characters feel like real women. Real women, you felt deep sympathy for.

“The low value placed on life on the streets sickened her”

The novel also explores the violent side of sex work. The sleazy punters, the nasty and controlling pimps! The author holds little back. She wants you to see what the ‘profession’ is all about. Loan sharks, drug addiction and childhood abuse all play their own part in the women’s lives.

“Not everyone is exactly what they seem” – Kai Lord

The abandoned baby strikes at the heart of Kim Stone. Coming from an abused and abandoned childhood herself. It forces her to re-live the trauma. She forms an attachment to the child in one sense and becomes hell bent on finding the mother. However, when three different woman arrive claiming to be the child’s mother. We learn it is much more complex than we could have imagined.

The novel has a mixture of themes that make for interesting and thought-provoking reading!
One thing is for certain Angela Marsons writes a villain, that’ll make your skin crawl! 5*

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Angela Marsons
Authors links:
website: http://angelamarsons-books.com/
Twitter: @WriteAngie
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7942666.Angela_Marsons
Facebooks: https://www.facebook.com/AngelaMarsonsAuthor

#Review 5* #TrustMe by @TheAngelaClarke @AvonBooksUK #CrimeFiction #SocialMediaSeries

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Trust Me by Angela Clarke
Synopsis:

YOU SAW IT HAPPEN. DIDN’T YOU?

What do you do if you witness a crime…but no-one believes you?

When Kate sees a horrific attack streamed live on her laptop, she calls the police in a state of shock. But when they arrive, the video has disappeared – and she can’t prove anything. Desperate to be believed, Kate tries to find out who the girl in the video could be – and who attacked her.

Freddie and Nas are working on a missing persons case, but the trail has gone cold. When Kate contacts them, they are the only ones to listen and they start to wonder – are the two cases connected?

Dark, gripping, and flawlessly paced, Trust Me is the brilliant third novel in the hugely popular social media murderer series.

‘Smart and sassy’ SARAH PINBOROUGH, author of Behind Her Eyes

‘Clever and unnerving’ C.L. Taylor, author of The Escape

My review:

I am new to this series, but have read many positive reviews and praise. I initially assumed Freddie and Nas were male characters (my bad!). It was a pleasant surprise to see two strong female leads, in a contemporary, police procedural, crime fiction novel. This made the novel feel much more realistic to me. My bestie is a detective. So whilst I know there maybe be fewer female detectives, there are still more than is often portrayed in crime fiction.

The novel opens with Kate witnessing a savage and graphic rape and murder via a live stream on the internet. The periscope account is quickly deactivated, leaving Kate with no proof of what she saw. She contacts a local police officer, PC Jones who is dismissive and trivialises the event.
Leading Kate to start her own investigation!

But Kate isn’t the only one that witnessed the live stream…..

The novel then focuses on the police team. There is wide mixture of characters. With the main two being DS Nasreem Cudmore and civilian investigator Freddie Venton. Freddie is going through a role change. But the individual role of the team members is fully explained. They are currently investigating the case of a missing gang member Paul Robertson, who disappeared with his daughter Amber a year ago. They are linked to a local gang, THM tower hamlets massive and a rival gang the dogberry boys. The gangs are heavily involved in drugs and the trafficking of people, usually for the sex trade. When they investigate Amber’s social media, they are shocked to discover RIP messages. Is Amber dead? Or is this a threat?

There are chapters written from the perspective of someone involved in the live streamed assault. They are chilling! But they do offer an insight into the guilt, people may feel for their involvement or coercion into a brutal assault. Kate is struggling mentally with what she witnessed and becomes more and more unreliable as a character. She begins have delusions and ends up on sleeping tablets, to block out the images of what she saw. I felt this was also an insight into the life of a witness after the tragic event. I am not sure I would have coped much better than Kate.
It must be sheer hell to witness, what she saw…..

The novel continues at quite a rapid pace. We discover Kate’s personal grief, which fuels her delusions. The team also uncover more threats via social media. More witnesses come forward and Freddie and Nas begin to start asking themselves, are they now looking for a body?

“If you cross me I will come for the people you love. I will destroy them. I will take you apart piece by piece” Lex Riley FB post.

This novel has so many themes. We discover the depravity that can lurk in disenfranchised youth. The brutality of rape and its impact on innocent young women. The pain of witnesses in the aftermath. The lure and hold gangs, have over their members. The dangers of social media and the internet. How do the police officers cope, putting a case together, chasing leads and gathering the relevant evidence?
Highly recommended! 5*

*It may also be worth noting. There are a set of questions at the back for reading groups and a Q&A with the author herself. Which makes this ideal for a contemporary crime fiction pick, for reading groups!

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Angela Clarke
Authors links:
Twitter: @TheAngelaClarke
Website: http://angelaclarke.co.uk/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WriterAngelaClarke/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6993171.Angela_Clarke