#BookReview 4.5* Rivals Of The Republic by @afreisenbruch @Duckbooks (UK)#TheBloodOfRome #Series @overlookpress (USA)

*I received a paperback copy via Duck books (UK) publishers in return for an honest review*

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Rivals Of The Republic by Annelise Freisenbruch
Synopsis:

Using her supreme knowledge of the period, author Annelise Freisenbruch presents the great new heroine of historical fiction, Hortensia, who must navigate the male-dominated courts of law in her quest to uncover a sinister plot to overthrow the Republic. Drawing from historical accounts of the daughter of famed Roman orator Quintus Hortensius Hortalus, Freisenbruch delivers an atmospheric, meticulously accurate and fast-paced story that will have readers craving more. Rome, 70BC. Roman high society hums with gossip about the suspicious suicide of a prominent Roman senator and the body of a Vestal Virgin is discovered in the river Tiber. As the authorities turn a blind eye, Hortensia is moved to investigate a trail of murders that appear to lead straight to the dark heart of the Eternal City.

My Review:

This novel has is it all, the atmosphere, crime, scandal, life and death of Ancient Roman era. The characters are well written and the plot incredibly appealing to me.
I am a huge fan of historical crime fiction.

Rome 70 BC

The novel opens with Hortensia and her brother Quintus at a gladiator arena. They are saved by a gladiator called Hannibal The Conqueror from a crocodile. When he later loses his fight Hortensia urges her father, a wealthy lawyer to buy him as a slave due to his earlier heroics.
Hannbel’s real name is Lucrio and he will, come to mean so much more to Horetensia than she can ever imagine……..

Hortensia’s father is a prominent wealthy lawyer, in Rome. She is his favoured child and for this reason he agrees to allow her to marry for love. Something unheard of for the era. Hortensia chooses to marry her second cousin, Caepio and they move into their own accommodation. Taking Lucrio with them, but Lucrio has secrets of his own and a deep seated need for vengeance…..

As the novel develops, Hortensia feels compelled to help Drusilla, at court with the case of stolen dowry and her children’s custody. This gives Hortensia a voice for the first time, something virtually unheard of in Roman society! Her father is furious with her, for creating a potential scandal. He forbids her from any future such endeavours.
But then Hortensia is summoned to the temple of vesta.

The chief vestal informs her that a body has recently been found and they believe that the vestal virgin was murdered. Documents have either been removed, or forged and this could have an impact on Roman society as a whole. The victim managed to write the words Pomey M at the scene before her death. We learn more about Lucrio’s background and why he is seeking revenge. But it isn’t until he is backed into a corner that he confesses to Hortensia. At this moment, they realise that despite their positions in society.
They must work together to solve the case of the murdered vestal virgin.
4.5*

***** This novel is perfect for fans of the BBC TV show Rome! I was a huge fan of this series and this novel is very reminiscent.*****

AF

Annelise Freisenbruch
Authors links:
Website: http://www.annelisefreisenbruch.co.uk/
Twitter: @afreisenbruch
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3412996.Annelise_Freisenbruch

*A huge thank you to the author & Duck books for my copy and I look forward to the next in the blood of Rome series!*

#Review 4* #RightBehindYou by @LisaGardnerBKs @headlinepg @bookbridgr

*I received an arc via the Bookbridgr website, in return for an honest review*

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Right Behind You by Lisa Gardner
(FBI profiler book 7)
Synopsis:
Thirteen-year-old Sharlah Nash knows that the first time her brother killed eight years ago, he did it to save their lives.

Now retired FBI profiler Pierce Quincy and his wife Rainie Conner have offered Sharlah a new life of safety. She desperately wants to believe this is her shot at happily ever after.

Then two people are murdered in their local convenience store and Sharlah’s brother is identified as the killer.

Telly Ray Nash is on the hunt for Sharlah and as the death count rises it becomes clear that nothing and no-one, including Pierce and Rainie, will stop him getting to her.

Now, Sharlah has one chance to take control.

She can run for her life… or turn and face the danger right behind her.

My Review:

This is such an unusual crime fiction read. What I thought would present as a simple case and investigation, actually was a manhunt with clever clues woven into the plot.
It is action packed and would suit the reader, that likes to feel they are in on the pursuit of the criminal.

The novel opens with 13 year old Sharlah Nash, currently awaiting adoption by retired FBI profiler Pierce Quincy and his wife Rainie Conner. Sharlah has a second chance at life, but it hasn’t always been so easy…….

Sharlah and brother Telly Ray Nash, were raised in abject poverty. With trailer trash parents, a father a junkie abuser and an alcoholic mother who did little to protect them. Ultimately the situation comes to a head one day when Telly is forced to protect his younger sibling, resulting in the deaths of their parents.
No charges were ever filed but the children were separated and Telly labelled bad news!

There is news of a local crime scene at a gas station, with two victims left dead. Everything points to a young male perpetrator with no known motive. When a link is established to Telly, they trace his most recent foster parents, only to discover them dead also. What follows is a man hunt full of twists and turns.
Did Telly shoot his foster parents? If so why? What drove Telly to murder so coldly?

Telly Ray Nash’s childhood, mental state and motives are fully explored. There are a wealth of labels and terms thrown around with no clear diagnosis criteria. I felt this dampened the character at first, he came off as a text book killer rather than a human with emotions, vulnerabilities and childhood trauma. Sharlah’s mental health state is rarely debated and I felt this let down the whole mental health narrative.
Their childhood is fully detailed and makes for shocking reading, how do children like this ever stand a chance?

There are a series of professionals brought in to assist the man hunt and give advice on Telly’s state of mind. I found it quite emotional to read the part where it details the bullying Telly had withstood at school. No wonder some kids just snap?

“Telly Nash, armed with a bat, slugged his mother out of the park then whacked his father till all went dark…”

There are chapters from Telly’s point of view that help the reader establish his true motives. It becomes clear Telly had a deep bond with his foster mother and felt deep pain at the loss of his relationship with his sister. Maybe Telly isn’t what they think?
But the situation takes a drastic turn when Sharlah decides to assist Telly and in doing so runs away………

What will become of Sharlah? Can/will Telly protect her?

An action packed, man hunt story! Perfect for fans of the movie The Fugitive! 4*

LG
Lisa Gardner
Authors links:
Twitter: @LisaGardnerBKs
Website: http://www.lisagardner.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LisaGardnerBks/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18282.Lisa_Gardner

***This book is currently on #Kindle Ebook offer for just 99p***

 

#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!

AC
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

 

#Review 4* Hag-Seed by @MargaretAtwood @PenguinRHUK #LiteraryFiction #HogarthShakespeare

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Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood
Synopsis:
LONGLISTED FOR THE BAILEYS WOMEN’S PRIZE FOR FICTION 2017

Selected as a Book of the Year – Observer, Sunday Times, Times, Guardian, i magazine

Felix is at the top of his game as Artistic Director of the Makeshiweg Theatre Festival. His productions have amazed and confounded. Now he’s staging a Tempest like no other. It will boost his reputation. It will heal emotional wounds.

Or that was the plan. Instead, after an act of unforeseen treachery, Felix is living in exile in a backwoods hovel, haunted by memories of his beloved lost daughter, Miranda. Also brewing revenge.

After twelve years, revenge finally arrives in the shape of a theatre course at a nearby prison. Here, Felix and his inmate actors will put on his Tempest and snare the traitors who destroyed him. It’s magic! But will it remake Felix as his enemies fall?

My review:

Before I write this review, I have a little confession to make. Well actually two confessions. Firstly, this is my first book read, by Margaret Atwood. I know, I am ashamed of myself! But to be fair, I didn’t discover Steven King until my 20s! Secondly, I have not read The Tempest by William Shakespeare, of which the novel is largely based. The only Shakespeare, I have read is Romeo And Juliet & Macbeth. These being from my school days! There we go, Abby leaves confessional!

The novel opens with Felix, the artistic director of the Makeshiweg festival, being betrayed and uprooted from his position. I would like to say this is the only emotional pain in Felix’s life, but sadly it is not. Having lost his wife in childbirth and daughter 3 years later to meningitis. Felix is in deep emotional pain.
He vows revenge upon Tony, whom has betrayed him!

“Tony and Sal must suffer”

Felix packs up his belongings and retreats to a shanty cottage in the woods. Where he remains in exile for quite sometime…. Whilst in exile he begins to have delusions of his daughter. They empower him to seek vengeance and Felix becomes an internet stalker, of the men who have wronged him. On year nine of exile, he applies for a job at the Fletcher Correctional facility. Under the secret identity of Mr Duke, he applies for the role of running the literacy program delivered to the inmates.

Felix is accepted for the position and his role involved assignments and producing a play. Of which he chooses The Tempest, guiding and aiding the inmates to fully understand the play. I found Felix to be charismatic yet troubled and charming and likable. I began to root for Felix on his journey towards revenge. By running the program Felix meets new people, who improve his life and help him heal.
But not before he has, had his revenge……

I really enjoyed this novel and can see the huge appeal of the book to book groups. There is room for the debate of Shakespeare’s The Tempest and also the character is Felix and what guides his vendetta. I really enjoyed how cleverly written the novel is and I look forward to The Handmaids tale, which is also on my book shelves! 4*

MA
Margaret Atwood
Authors Links:
Twitter: @MargaretAtwood
Website: http://margaretatwood.ca/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3472.Margaret_Atwood
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MargaretAtwoodAuthor/

 

#Review #EvilGames by @WriteAngie Angela Marsons @bookouture 5* #CrimeFiction #Series

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Evil Games by Angela Marsons
Synopsis:

The greater the Evil, the more deadly the game…

When a rapist is found mutilated in a brutal attack, Detective Kim Stone and her team are called in to bring a swift resolution. But, as more vengeful killings come to light, it soon becomes clear that there is someone far more sinister at work.

With the investigation quickly gathering momentum, Kim finds herself exposed to great danger and in the sights of a lethal individual undertaking their own twisted experiment.

Up against a sociopath who seems to know her every weakness, for Detective Stone, each move she makes could be deadly. As the body count starts to mount, Kim will have to dig deeper than ever before to stop the killing. And this time – it’s personal.

My review:

I have heard lots about this series, from my blogger friend Sarah Hardy over at By The Letter Book Reviews. But sometimes it takes me awhile, to get round to reading a book recommendation. I am so glad I finally got round to reading the DI Kim Stone series. I now plan on buying ALL the others in the series. I must acknowledge for fairness, I started with this one, not at the start of the series. I often do this, if a specific synopsis appeals to me. Having worked in adult mental health previously for ten years, this was the perfect novel for me.
There are some amazingly on point, examples of mental health. So to my review…

I would describe this as police procedural and also very realistic. As DI Kim Stone and her team battle to solve multiple cases. I really liked Stone, as broken as she is inside, it only made me admire her more! She is savvy, feisty and ruthless in her pursuit of justice. The novel opens with her raiding a paedophiles property and taking his two young daughters into protective custody. You can feel Stone’s anger at the dire situation the young girls were placed in and she completely empathises with the victims.
She is determined to uncover everything about what took place, in Leonard Dunn’s cellar of depravity.

Across town Dr Alexander Thorne is attempting to help rape victim Ruth, heal after her brutal attack. The knowledge that her attacker has been released from prison, has caused a recent suicide attempt. Ruth is not well and desperately needs some support. Alex asks her to visualise stabbing her victim and obtaining ‘her light back’ and so the manipulation begins……..

Stone is called out to a crime scene where a convicted rapist has been found murdered. Viciously murdered in a stabbing. The reader is obviously aware of the two overlapping victims. But Stone is not, what comes next will pit these damaged women against each other. The developing mind games between Stone and Alex plays out, almost reminiscent of Batman and the joker. Both determined to break the others will.

There is a wealth of characters in the novel and many struck at my heart strings. The character of Shane, a childhood sexual abuse survivor, was heart-breaking. I began to despise Alex myself and every manipulative stunt she pulled angered me more and more. I would possibly go as far as saying she is one of the vilest characters I have ever read!

When the team discover evidence that another person was present in Leonard’s cellar, they rush to find out who. Attempting to gather information from the young victims Daisy and Louisa, proves fruitless. But then DNA evidence is uncovered, now the team just need to find a credible suspect. As Alex begins to dig into Stone’s past, Stone is returning the favour. One thing is clear, when these two finally come head to head. It is going to be, one epic showdown! The novel had me hooked from beginning to end and the author even saved an epic twist, for right at the very end. I am now off to buy the rest in this series and devour them as and when I can!
Highly recommended.
A huge bright and shiny 5*

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