Anne Bonny #BlogBlitz #BookReview and Q&A. Under The Woods by @KerryAnn77 KA Richardson 5* #CrimeFiction #NewRelease #ForensicFiles #AuthorTalks @Bloodhoundbook ‘All round this is a fantastic read!’ EBook just 99P

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Under The Woods by KA Richardson
Review copy
Synopsis:

Looking for a fast-paced crime thriller?
Then you’ll love the gripping Under The Woods.

When a homeless woman, Cheryl Whiffen, hears voices in her head telling her to do bad things, she can’t help but obey.

But when Cheryl becomes the victim of a serial killer who is collecting angels, this time the voices can’t help her. She is deemed not worthy of being an angel and the killer has to find another way to dispose of her body.

TJ Tulley has connections in the police force – her brother Jacob is a digital forensic analyst and her soon to be sister-in-law is a CSI. She knows many of their colleagues so when someone breaks into her house at the riding stables she owns, it’s not a surprise when the police dispatch CSI Jackson Doherty.

Is there a link between a suspicious fire at the stables and the serial killer?

As TJ and Doherty get closer to the truth they don’t realise the danger they are in. He is a killer – he’s angry at their investigation and he’ll do just about anything to protect his angels…

My Review:

I really admire this authors series and I was on the previous blog tour for Watch You Burn. They are police procedurals with a strong ethos on forensics. This novel is #4 in the forensic files. One thing I also love about the author is the way, in which she creates her characters. They come across authentic and she is not afraid to tackle difficult characters to create. Which in this novel, is the character of Cheryl Whitten a local homeless lady.

The prologue opens from the killer’s perspective, which is creepy and eerie. You almost feel like a voyeur watching a serial killer perfecting his craft. The killer talks of ‘his angels’ and ‘his treasure’ but what he is in fact referring to is society’s throwaway women, he has captured and killed. We become aware he is visiting the burial site of one of his previous victims, a beautiful drug addict turned ‘angel’.

Meanwhile, in Darlington it is the Christmas party for the forensics team. TJ Tulley has been dragged along as her brother Jacob’s designated driver. Jacob is a digital forensic analyst and the party is in full swing. It is at this party that TJ first meets loveable rogue Jackson Docherty. Jackson has an eye for the ladies, shall we say!

We later learn that TJ is the proud owner of Rainbow riding stables in Durham. However, the stables doesn’t come without its downsides. She must deal with local farmer and neighbour from hell Neil Brown. He is a brutish man and regularly openly berates TJ. He is an all-round pain in the backside. But you get a sense it is a simmering tension, waiting to bubble over into violence.

TJ herself has previously been the victim of a violent assault. Which has left her with chronic pain and physical suffering. The man who assaulted her was caught and committed suicide in his prison cell, adding further anguish to TJ’s recovery. Despite the trauma of her attack, TJ sees the positive in life and agrees to allow ‘difficult teens’ to assist at the stables. Which includes her attackers son Matthew. I really admired TJ’s ability to overcome the difficulties she has faced in life.
But I then began to wonder, were they just about to get a whole lot worse. . .

Cheryl Whiffen is a local homeless woman, she hears voices and they torment her every waking hour. When we meet her, she is hungry cold and feeling the strain of life on the streets. Her only friend in the word is a fellow homeless lady named Sally. When Cheryl goes missing, Sally is the only person to notice her absence. Can Sally get the police to take the case seriously?

‘She was definitely not, and never would be, one of his angels’

I think the author has done a fantastic job of her portrayal of not only homeless people, but of mental health conditions and how they manifest. I have worked in adult mental health and in facilitates which have re-homed mentally ill people from the streets. I think what the author did was give them a personality, a background etc. Allow the reader to see them as they truly are, people that matter! People that have lived through horrific life experiences, you hope to never endure.

But back to the case in hand, Jackson is at the scene of a dead body. A male drug addict found in the woods and partially eaten by his own dog.
Is this the killer that lurks amongst the pages?

There are chapters from the killer’s perspectives as he sets his victims tasks, of which they must complete. This element reminded me of the horror movie Saw. It was petrifying yet you couldn’t help but read on!
Especially the parts about the killer’s own childhood!!!!!!!

Farmer Brown’s son goes missing. Jackson faces harassment from an ex-lover named Nicki, who is a total bunny boiler. Someone is watching TJ, casually stalking her every move. Sally struggles to get the police to take Cheryl’s disappearance seriously. This novel is packed with various spin-off stories within.

The characters are authentic, their choices questionable but realistic.
All round this is a fantastic read! 5*

Q&A:

Q) Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your current series the forensic files?

A) My name is Kerry and I live in north east England with my husband Peter and our 2 Dogs, Tala and Riley. I used to work as a csi and still work for the police albeit in a different role now. My csi background and passion for forensics is a massive inspiration when it comes to writing. The Forensic Files can be read as a series or as standalones as the characters change in each novel though there is always some overlap. They’re crime novels that are heavy on the forensics and that side of the police investigation.

Q) In my review I talk about the authenticity of your characters. Are they inspired by real-life people? Where do you find your inspiration?

A) The characters are not based on any one person but may well feature traits from a few different people all melded together. I find inspiration in pretty much everything from children’s laughter to rain on the windows, but I do love a good people watching session and often build descriptions whilst sitting in coffee shops. Often an outfit or a pair of shoes seen while doing this may feature in one of my novels.

Q) The character of Cheryl Whitten as a homeless lady with mental health problems, is very accurate. Did you research homelessness or mental health problems?

A) Cheryl was a complex character to write – it did involve research into mental health – primarily multiple personality disorder and schizophrenia – and also homelessness though in my current role for the police I have some interaction with that side of things. I loved her character though – I felt bad for having to kill her off.

Q) The reason I adored the characterisation of Cheryl and Sally so much, was your ability to bring them over on the page as real people. Not a label or a stereotype, but real people with stories behind their eyes. Is this difficult to achieve as a writer?

A) That’s a tough question haha. Most characters come to me screaming loudly to be heard and desperate to tell their stories – I like them to be as real to the reader as they are to me so I get to know them first. I write a character profile for the main characters whether bad or good. This involves things like how I see them, eye colour hair etc, their hobbies, likes/dislikes and friends/enemies etc. Because I get to know them before I start, I feel I get a good handle on them being real to me. And that’s important – I love and live and breathe these characters for the time I write them so if I didn’t know them fully then they might come across as flat or 2-dimensional. This process works for the most part thought there’s always the odd one who throws you a curve ball you don’t see coming – which is also insanely interesting and fab! I love it when they surprise me!

Q) TJ Tulley comes across as a street smart and savvy woman. Yet there is this element of her that is willing to take grief from her neighbour from hell. I found this quite symbolic of how women are often expected to take a certain degree of insulting remarks or insinuations. Was this intentional?

A) Subconsciously perhaps – most of us are willing to take a lot of crap in real life before we stand up and say enough is enough. Not sure exactly why that is but with TJ, it was important to me that she not be a ‘wet lettuce’ kind of woman. She is strong – has gone through so much and still is. I think she balances what’s worth worrying about with what’s not quite well.

Q) The character of Jackson added at times a spin on the above question. As He is expected to put up with a female character infatuated with him. Even though her behaviour becomes more and more irrational. It was an interesting dynamic that draws you to the characters and their histories. What made you decide to give Jackson his stalker?

A) When I first began writing about Jackson in watch you burn, I knew instantly he’d have his own story. He has a one night stand – the first in many months for him which is unusual – he’s trying to settle down and not be a player – Nicki unfortunately didn’t like the idea of a one night stand and is rather persistent. I’ve seen this quite a lot through work – where one party in the relationship just can’t let go or sees it completely different to the other. Jackson needed a challenge to overcome as well as TJ did and I think Nicki was definitely erring on the more Challenging side!

Q) finally, what can we the readers expect from the next book in the series and are we allowed any information?

A) The next book doesn’t have a title yet (sometimes these come straight away and sometimes they reveal themselves a bit later) but it’s set in Edinburgh and feature more of Ali and Alex’s family – specifically his brother Mark who is younger than them. Mark is lovely – he’s buried himself in working as a detective for so long he’s almost forgetting there’s more to life than just work. He’s got some flaws – claustrophobia being one. And he’s not a big believer in things like psychics – until one shows up in his life. It’s about darkness and shadows, murders in the vaults under the city and family dynamics. I’m loving writing it.

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KA Richardson
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Anne Bonny #BlogTour #BookReview The Key To Death’s Door by @MTilburyAuthor 5* #CrimeFiction #Thriller #NewRelease @Bloodhoundbook Ebook 99p

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The Key To Death’s Door by Mark Tilbury
Review copy
Synopsis:

Looking for a dark and compelling psychological thriller?

If you could discover the murderous truth of a past life and seek justice in this one, would you?

Teenager Lee Hunter doesn’t have a choice when he nearly drowns after spending the night at a derelict boathouse with his best friend, Charlie Finch. After leaving his body and meeting a mysterious light, Lee is sent back to relive the final days of another life. A life that ended tragically.

After recovering from his near death experience, Lee begins to realise that he is part of two lives linked by the despicable actions of one man.

Struggling against impossible odds, Lee and Charlie set out to bring this man to justice.
Will Lee be able to unlock the past and bring justice to the future?

The Key to Death’s Door is a story of sacrifice, friendship, loyalty and murder.

My Review:

‘The day before I died started off pretty much like any other’

This novel has a unique plot, with a slight supernatural/horror twist. The novel tells the story of the two lives of Lee Hunter. It has various themes within, but the concept of teenage protagonists is the clear winner for me.

The novel opens with Lee in the present day/life. He lives with a single mum and has a best friend named Charlie. The pair are planning a night out, at a derelict boathouse. The each tell their parents they are spending the night at each other’s houses, to prevent any suspicion. There is a strong bond between the boys, despite their different childhoods. As someone with five brothers, I found Lee and Charlie to be very believable characters. Despite the darkness of the novel, there are moments where the banter between the boys made me laugh out loud! But the darkness of Charlie’s life always lingers in the background of every scene.

Charlie’s dad Daryl is what can only be described as, a thoroughly vile man! He is loathed by Charlie and the reader at his mere introduction. Daryl Finch is a sick and twisted man, but to discover how much, you must read on.

When the night at the derelict boathouse, leads to the boys being stranded from the shore. They attempt to swim to safety.
Lee finds himself in danger in the water and then he blacks out……

When Lee wakes, he is in the body of a man named Paul Collins. He has the knowledge of his past life, his mum and best friend Charlie. But he also has the knowledge of his new family and new best friend Bobby Lomax. Paul lives on a farm, with his parents and dog Sally. His sister Susan has recently moved in with her new boyfriend Daryl.
Daryl is here, and he has a new family to terrorise!

The family are taken hostage by an enraged Daryl. The time you spend at the farm is truly terrifying and I found myself reading with both my hands over my face! I often recoiled at the things Daryl said. The language is as coarse and vile as the man himself. But it adds to the realism. After all, when you take a family hostage and demand access to their bank accounts, you need to incite fear and obedience. Manners are not required.

The time slip, eventually reverts back and Lee awakens in his past life, with Charlie at his side. He vows to get revenge!

‘I’ll get him if it’s the last thing I do’

The theme of brotherhood and strong male bonds, adds to the intensity of the read. The personal experiences of domestic violence and savage cruelty are sickening.
Yet for many victims, it is the reality they have known.

‘What I need and what I got were about as distant as the earth and the sun’

A cracking crime fiction read, and I sincerely hope to never encounter a man like Daryl in real-life. 5*

They say truth is always stranger than fiction, don’t they?’

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Mark Tilbury
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Anne Bonny #BlogTour #BookReview My Little Eye by @crimethrillgirl Stephanie Marland 4* #CrimeFiction #NewRelease 99p Ebook @TrapezeBooks I spy with. . . my little eye. . . my next victim. . .

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My Little Eye by Stephanie Marland
Synopsis:

Can a group of true crime addicts take on the police to catch a serial killer?

A young woman is found dead in her bedroom surrounded by rose petals – the latest victim of ‘The Lover’. Struggling under the weight of an internal investigation, DI Dominic Bell is no closer to discovering the identity of the killer and time is running out.

As the murders escalate, Clementine Starke joins an online true crime group determined to take justice in to their own hands – to catch the killer before the police. Hiding a dark secret, she takes greater risks to find new evidence and infiltrate the group.

As Starke and Bell get closer to cracking the case neither of them realise they’re being watched. The killer is closer to them than they think, and he has his next victim – Clementine – firmly in his sights.

My Review:

This novel has a unique concept on the cat and mouse theme within a detective novel and it works instantly from the opening pages. I love the combination of modern social media and a crime thriller. My Little Eye will have huge appeal to those whom love a modern serial killer thriller.

The novel opens with a brutal scene of a young woman and her killer. The killer has set the scene with low-lighting, red wine and music. This lulls his victims into a false sense of security and adds to his fantasy of ‘wooing’ his victims.
I knew this was going to be dark and scary!

‘Kate Adams had a secret, and secrets are often the things that get people killed’

The two central characters on the hunt for the killer carry their own baggage and personal demons. Clementine and Dom are both determined and driven towards justice, as they attempt to follow the clues and put ‘The Lover’ in jail.
But who will catch the killer first?

Clementine is a university PHD student. Her doctorial study intends to prove that crowd-sourced crime solving would never be achievable. But it isn’t long before she becomes immersed in the online group Crime Stop. The online group is a form of specialised social networking for fans of true-crime. Clementine must navigate the members and provide live updates as the case unfolds. But can she trust the other members? How does she know whom lurks behind the screens?

‘True-crime fans never sleep’

Dom is the MET police officer in-charge of the case. There are already two previous victims, with Kate the third in a series of bizarre and ritualistic murders. The police have no obvious clues to go from, and are hounded by the press at every turn.
Dom is also battling a case from his past.
One that has landed him facing an IPCC investigation.

The online group consists of multiple members, who believe the police are either corrupt or incompetent. Their ‘leader’ Death Stalker sets individual tasks and insists on each member reporting back information or finding themselves kicked out the group. Clementine is faced with the pressures of the groups demands and that also of her professor. I began to suspect Clementine had her own secrets, the more I read on. . .

‘Hiding behind my own careful lies. Trying to understand those of others’

The crime scene is fully described, and this adds an element of realism. It is a dark and savage murder, with creepy love tokens left behind. The various police officers surrounding the case, are held back within the novel. As we learn more about Dom’s past with operation Atlantis. An undercover mission that was tainted before it ever began. I was unsure if I could trust Dom, is he one of the corrupt officers the group speak of?

‘Like a poisonous snake, he requires careful handling’

The novel has alternating chapters between Dom, Clementine and the killer’s perspective. You become aware that the killer is stalking a new victim and my head was full of the possibilities. Who is the killer stalking?

‘Make tough choices or you won’t survive’ – Clementine

Clementine is a constantly evolving character. I loved her background and emotional vulnerability. I felt it added depth to the plot. I was surprised to find her seeking more and more approval from the group. I began to wonder, is Clementine studying the group or are they studying her? The dynamics of the group and their agenda, is a whole novel within itself. I loved the desperate search for the true and their willingness to break new boundaries.

‘Could this group of true crime fans solve a live murder case?’

Perfect for crime fiction fans and fans of novels with a social media aspect!

SM
Stephanie Marland
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Anne Bonny #BookReview His First Lie by @markhillwriter 5* #CrimeFiction #DIRayDrake #Ebook 99p @LittleBrownUK

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His First Lie by Mark Hill
Synopsis:

Do you want a thriller that grips from the first line?

Do you want a thriller to leave you gasping for air?

Connor Laird frightens people: he’s intense, he’s fearless, and he seems to be willing to do anything to protect himself and those he loves. He arrives in the Longacre Children’s Home seemingly from nowhere, and instantly becomes hero and villain to every other child there.
Thirty years later, someone is killing all of those who grew up in the Longacre, one by one. Each of them has secrets, not least investigating cop DI Ray Drake.
One by one the mysteries of the past are revealed as Drake finds himself in a race against time before the killer gets to him.
Who is killing to hide their secret?

And can YOU guess the ending?

My review:

The theme of historical abuse of children within a care setting is an extremely tough topic to put across in a novel. I did have some reservations regarding how this would be given a sense of realism. However, the author did not rely upon graphic visual scenes of abuse. Nor did he portray the adult victims in an unrealistic way. What the author has done, is show how truly devasting the effects of abuse can be, to the young mind.

I recall another book, recently released which received negative comments for making the reader feel uncomfortable with its themes of historical racism. His First Lie, reminded me of that in one way. The theme of racism or historical sexual abuse of children is supposed to be uncomfortable. Because it was horrendously uncomfortable for those that endured it. I personally think the author has done a fantastic job of writing about such an emotive issue. Regardless of your personal feelings to real-life or high-profile cases, open the novel and listen to the journey of Connor Laird.
It is an incredibly powerful and heart-breaking journey.

‘The boy loved his parents more than anything on this Earth. And so he had to kill them’

The novel opens on the English Channel in 1986. It is an intense read, right from the opening pages. We are aware that there is a young boy consumed by self-loathing due to an event in his past. I love that the author hadn’t used violence to shock the reader. But the psychology of a broken mind, trying to grasp a hold of sanity. I knew this was going to be an intelligent novel, carefully crafted.

The novel then jumps to the present day. A bunch of coppers gather in a pub, to celebrate a recent commendation. The coppers are then briefly introduced. The central detectives are DI Ray Drake and his newly promoted DS Flick Crowley. The partnership between an experienced male police officer and a female eager to prove herself, works very well throughout the novel.
Flick and Ray are called to the scene of a brutal murder. A scene where three victims have been bound and stabbed. Flick is put in-charge of the case. Ray finds it difficult to let go of the case, especially when he recognises one of the victims. . .

The victims are identified as Kenny Overton, his wife Barbara and one of his twin sons Phillip. The situation becomes much more sinister when we learn the sons were lured to the house via a text message from Kenny. Did Kenny lure his son to his own death? Or did the killer intend to wipe out the whole family?

The novel has alternating chapters, rotating between the police case, the adult victims and the Longacre Children’s home of 1984. The scenes set in 1984 are harrowing, the powerless victims and their evil tormentor Gordon Tallis. But how did the abuse begin? Who knew about it? Did anyone cover it up? Longacre provides so many questions, as we the reader seek to understand the horror that occurred there.

Connor laird is found alone and wandering the streets of London. When he is collected and taken to Hackney Wick police station. From there he is taken to Longacre by Sally Raynor. We are aware that Sgt Harry Crowley is on the take, but for what, is not revealed. Are Sally and Sgt Crowley part of the cycle of abuse?

‘I’m nobody’s friend’ – Connor Laird

When Connor arrives at Longacre, it isn’t long before he asserts himself as the new ‘top-dog’. Leaving a young Elliot with a bloody nose and a bruised pride. But what does the duties of the ‘top-dog’ fully incorporate?
Has Connor just placed himself in serious danger?

In the present day, we meet a now-adult Elliot Juniper. Elliot is a low-level wheeler-dealer. He isn’t fully legit, but he is no criminal mastermind either. He is befriended and ripped off for £30K by a new friend ‘Gavin’. This drives him to the brink of a breakdown and then the calls begin. . .

‘She’ll know the kind of man you are’

The scenes from Longacre continue to add layer upon layer of tension. As you learn more and more, it is easy to understand how the events would have impacted the victim’s futures and their everyday relationships with others.
A victim’s past is never truly forgotten.

‘An evil from that home had been revived, he was certain of that. And if he didn’t take measures, it would be the end of him’

When the property of Kenny Overton is searched, the team become aware of a shoe box of news clippings and photographs. They directly link Longacre to a series of deaths.

Something happened at Longacre

Flick must trawl through Kenny’s notes regarding fellow residents of Longacre. She makes the shocking discovery that David, Karen, Regina, Ricky and Jason have all died in mysterious circumstances. With Elliot, Amelia, Deborah and Connor being the only survivors from the photos, but where are they now?

The background of Longacre is slowly exposed. The adults that ‘manage’ the home often abuse alcohol and suffer violent mood swings. Life at Longacre must have been hell on earth for the fragile young minds of the past. The children are frightened and have no real authority to stand up to the adults in-charge.
That is until Connor arrives. . .

‘Connor was a nutcase. It was the only explanation’

One of the news articles details a visit from high court judge Leonard Drake. A chairman of Hackney Children’s protection league. But why are Flick and Ray’s fathers tied to the history of Longacre? Will the sins of the father’s past, repeat on their children?

‘A refuge for many kids in the borough without a family’

The novel raises various thought-provoking topics and questions. The abuse of those whom wield all the power and control over their victims, must be unbelievably damaging. The psychology of child victims in the aftermath and into adulthood. The legal and justice system that allowed and effectively enabled these abusive ‘homes’ to flourish. The effect of institutionalising young children and the risks and social/psychological outcomes. There was an era of appalling abuse of society’s most vulnerable. I think this novel highlights the struggle the victims face and their desperation to eradicate their horrific pasts, wouldn’t you feel the same? I think this novel would be ideal for book groups and possibly for victim advocacy groups.

A powerful glimpse into the childhoods of children so overwhelmingly failed by a system intended for them to thrive. 5*

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Mark Hill
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Anne Bonny #Review Where The Missing Go by @emma_rowley 4* #NewRelease #CrimeFiction Just 99p @orionbooks @orion_crime #WhereIsSophie

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Where The Missing Go by Emma Rowley
Synopsis:

MY NAME IS KATE.

I volunteer at a missing persons helpline – young people who have run away from home call me and I pass on messages to their loved ones, no questions asked.

I don’t get many phone calls, and those I do are usually short and vague, or pranks.

But today a girl named Sophie called.

I’m supposed to contact her parents to let them know their child is safe.

The problem is, Sophie isn’t safe.

AND SOPHIE IS MY DAUGHTER.

My review:

“Too late to go back now
He’ll be waiting”

Sixteen-year-old Sophie Harlow went missing two years ago. Her mother has been left devastated and isolated since her disappearance. The case remains open, but there is no active investigation. Her mother has dedicated herself to tireless work at the message in a bottle helpline. A helpline service for people who have ran away and wish to leave a message with their family members. With the police classing Sophie as a ‘voluntary run away’, her mother Kate has little hope……

‘The thing about the missing is that they don’t always want to be found’

One night working at the helpline with Alma, Kate receives a call. But this is no ordinary call. The line has quiet and broken at times, but Kate believes that the call is from her daughter. Calling alone, scared and in desperate need of help.
Is it really Sophie? Is Kate hearing what she wants so desperately to hear?

Come home Sophie

The novel then goes further into detail about Sophie’s past, her disappearance and her family circumstances. The disappearance has cost Kate heavily. Her desperation and questioning keep’s you in suspense throughout the novel.
Kate is more or less friendless, except for elderly neighbour Lily. Lily is confused and makes several references to ‘Nancy’ and ‘her little boy’. When Kate finds a connection to a missing teenager from 20yrs ago. She attempts to connect the dots.

‘She’s alive. She called me. She’s reaching out. That’s all I need to think about, for now’

What makes the case more complex, is Sophie’s note that she left and the postcards that Kate receives regularly. The postcards inform Kate, that Sophie is safe and wants to be left alone. They offer a different viewpoint and create more mystery in the plot. The note shows complicity and defiance from Sophie, in the aftermath of her disappearance.

“I’m sorry everyone. But I need to get away please try not to worry about me, I’m going to be fine.
I love you all, Sophie x x x”

Where is Sophie?
Does she need saving?
Is Kate headed for a breakdown?
What made Sophie run away?

The novel is a thoroughly modern crime thriller. With modern technology playing a huge part in the search. I can see the appeal of this novel for the fans of Angela Clarke and the social media series. The emotional pull of the mother’s love for her missing teenage daughter, had me glued to the page. 4*