Anne Bonny #BookReview Perfect Liars by @RebeccaCNReid 4* #Psychological #Thriller #DebutNovel @TransworldBooks ‘You certainly wouldn’t want these three as your enemies. . .’

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Perfect Liars by Rebecca Reid
Review copy
Synopsis:

They have it all. And they’ll do anything to keep it that way.

For fans of The Girlfriend and Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies as well as TV hits Doctor Foster and The Replacement.

Sixteen years ago, at an elite boarding school secluded in the English countryside, best friends Nancy, Georgia and Lila did something unspeakable.

Their secret forged an unbreakable bond between them, a bond of silence. But now, in their thirties, one of them wants to talk.

One word and everything could be ruined: their lives, their careers, their relationships. It’s up to Georgia to call a crisis dinner. – she knows there’s nothing that can’t be resolved by three courses in her immaculate kitchen.

But the evening does not go as planned.

Three women walk in to the dinner, but only two will leave.

Murder isn’t so difficult the second time around…

My Review:

Perfect Liars is a thoroughly modern psychological thriller, with a thoroughly modern cast of female characters. The three friends Nancy, Georgina and Lila have been friends since their childhood days at an elite boarding school. Now 16yrs later and older they are reuniting, only for one of them it’ll be the last time ever!

Each of the individual characters is carrying their own personal baggage (aren’t we all). But for one of the trio; their past is simply too much to bear and they wish to relinquish their guilt.

The novel has flashback scenes to their boarding school days. We learn that as teenagers the girls were not particularly known for being ‘nice’. Which raises the question, do spiteful teenage girls grow into spiteful women?
You certainly wouldn’t want these three as your enemies. . .

The women’s different backgrounds and future aspirations are explored and despite not particularly liking the women, you grow to understand why they are as they are.
At the dinner party (which the adult reunion revolves around) the claws come out and we see that none of these women have fully matured.

There are strong and emotive themes, mainly the repercussions of carrying guilt and the way in which that will taint your future life choices. The ending left much food for thought over the beginning and middle parts of the novel.

The perfect novel for people whom enjoy being in the heads of characters that may act/behave completely different to ourselves. If you love character based psychological thrillers, then Perfect Liars is perfect for you! 4*

RR
Rebecca Reid
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Anne Bonny #BookReview Yesterday by @FeliciaMYap #CrimeFiction #Psychological #Thriller @Wildfirebks ‘With themes of politics, mental health, obsession and memory, this novel is a brave debut.’

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Review copy
Synopsis:

Today, the police are at your door.

They say that the body of your husband’s mistress has been found in the River Cam. They think your husband killed her two days ago.

You can’t recall what he did that day, because you only remember yesterday.

You rely on your diary to tell you where you’ve been, who you love and what you’ve done.

So, can you trust the police?
Can you trust your husband?
Can you trust yourself?

My Review:

This is a cracking novel with a unique edge, which is not revealed in the synopsis. The world of mono/duo’s is revealed much later in the novel. However, as a psychological thriller this novel definitely delivers. It has various themes within and I think the author was very brave to tackle such a multitude of themes in a debut novel. What I would personally refer to as ‘the author came out swinging’. The book market and in-particular the psychological/thriller genre is massively competitive. I can read this genre for an entire month of new releases alone and they will all be fantastic. But I suppose what you need as a debut author in this genre, is a niche that makes your book stand out against the rest.
Yesterday, has that niche.

The novel opens 2yr before the murder of Sophia Alyssa Ayling. With a female patient in a mental health institution talking directly to the reader. She talks of revenge and of past pain, it doesn’t make much sense at the time. Yet the words are incredibly powerful.
All will be revealed much later, as they say…

‘It’s the sum total of remembered grievances that makes hatred potent’ – Sophia

‘The cat of revenge will be easy’ – Sophia

The novel then introduces Claire Evans. Claire is a mono which means her memory is much shorter than the superior duo’s. She has been married to her husband, successful author and wannabe MP Mark for 20yrs. Part of his political campaign is built upon their successful mixed marriage.
Except the marriage is far from perfect, as we read on and discover. . .

‘This is why he think he’s superior’ – Claire

The marriage seems as though it is one of appearances and carefully constructed by the pair to give the illusion that their life together is perfect. They live in a mansion, have exotic holidays and appear to want for nothing. Yet something, just does not add up.

‘My life is idyllic – but only on the surface’ – Claire

In the mono/duo world, everyone keeps a diary. Apple have amassed a small fortune from providing the idiary with fingerprint recognition. However, it is what is locked inside these diaries that is so much more revealing. . .

‘Unlike my husband, I have done very little to be proud of in my lifetime’ – Claire

When the body of a woman is discovered in the river Cam. The police are quick to investigate those listed in the victim’s diary. Leading them straight to the door of Mark Evans. DCI Hans Richardson is the investigating officer, he has secrets of his own, which he must shield from discovery.

There are several chapters from Sophia’s diary, of her brief encounters with various men. I quite liked Sophia, she is feisty and not afraid to use sexual temptation to get what she wants. It becomes clear that what she really seeks is revenge. As revenge themes go, stealing 17yrs of someone’s life is strong enough but then having them incarcerated in a mental hospital, is far more enraging. No wonder Sophia wants revenge! But she has also learnt and adapted due to her experiences in various institutions. Sophia knows to be patient, bide her time and strike only with absolute certainty.

‘They stole seventeen years of my life’ – Sophia

As the police scrutinise Mark and Claire’s life. Mark becomes aware his political career is also at risk. But what links him to the body in the Cam?

‘No one elects a man who can’t keep his own household in order. No one’ – Rowan

Claire doesn’t know who or what to believe. But she is adamant Mark has been unfaithful and for this he must pay. Also driven by revenge, she begins to create a nightmare scenario under the media spotlight. But has Mark been unfaithful? Is Claire, right? Or is the ‘other woman’ merely an attempt to obliterate his political message?
‘Someone out there is trying to bring you down’

The novel also has various articles scattered throughout that explain and expand upon the mono/duo world, better than I ever could. They give you an insight into a world where your memory length, designates your place in the class system.
The diary entries are brilliant, I am rarely hooked on this kind of element and find letters/diaries a distraction from the story. But these are just so well written and key to the plot. I was absolutely gripped. Yet again Sophia, struck gold for me with the diary entries. She had read every person involved perfectly and her character was determined by their actions against her. but why was she so obsessed with Claire, I had no idea?

‘Looking ill in a hospital isn’t a good idea. It’s as bad as looking guilty in a court of law’ – Sophia

With themes of politics, mental health, obsession and memory, this novel is a brave debut. The relationships people hold with one another and a marriage that is not all it seems, which ends with a twist in the tale, impressive and I look forward to the next release by the author. 4*

FY
Felicia Yap
Twitter
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Anne Bonny #BookReview Strangers On A Bridge by @LouiseMangos #Psychological #Thriller #NewRelease @HarperCollins #StrangersOnABridge She should never have saved him. . .

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Strangers On A Bridge by Louise Mangos
Review copy
Synopsis:

She should never have saved him.

When Alice Reed goes on her regular morning jog in the peaceful Swiss Alps, she doesn’t expect to save a man from suicide. But she does. And it is her first mistake.

Adamant they have an instant connection, Manfred’s charming exterior grows darker and his obsession with Alice grows stronger.

In a country far from home, where the police don’t believe her, the locals don’t trust her and even her husband questions the truth about Manfred, Alice has nowhere to turn.

To what lengths will Alice go to protect herself and her family?

My Review:

Strangers On A Bridge is a clever story of obsession, packed with twists! I can see this being a huge hit for summer readers and a definite one for the beach. It tells the story of Alice Reed, who saves a random stranger from a suicide attempt. Only what Alice doesn’t know yet, is this will be the unravelling of everything she holds dear.

The novel is set in the Swiss alps, which really adds to the setting in terms of background scenery. You can imagine Alice on her morning run, by the Tobel bridge.
It conjures instant images in my mind.
It is at Tobel bridge she first encounters Manfred Guggenbuhl.
She finds him alone and anxious and her training as a psychologist kicks in. . .

“I cannot live with myself any more. I cannot live with who I am, what I do. What I have done’ – Manfred

Immediately Manfred sees Alice as a saviour figure and this is when her trouble begins.
At first it is mild and almost coincidental, Manfred appears desperate to please Alice and prove to her his gratitude. But then he begins to appear everywhere she goes. She feels hounded and harassed. The police won’t listen, her own husband doesn’t seem interested. Alice feels alone and desperate.

‘The only person I could talk to was my Swiss alps GP’ – Alice

Alice turns into her own personal investigator. She becomes determined to get to the bottom of creepy Manfred. His past, his family and his history. She is desperate to understand the man hellbent on ruining her life.

The unravelling of Alice Reed

Alice is without a doubt a memorable character. She is strong-willed and defiant, refusing to allow Manfred to sabotage her future in the Swiss new neighbourhood. What ensues is a battle of wills, who will win and who will lose? 4*

LM
Louise Mangos
Twitter
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Anne Bonny #BlogTour A Known Evil by Aidan Conway #GuestPost @ConwayRome #NewRelease #CrimeFiction @KillerReads #DebutAuthor A serial killer stalks the streets of Rome. . .

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A Known Evil by Aidan Conway
Synopsis:

A serial killer stalks the streets of Rome…

A gripping debut crime novel and the first in a groundbreaking series, from a new star in British crime fiction. Perfect for fans of Ian Rankin.
A city on lockdown.
In the depths of a freakish winter, Rome is being torn apart by a serial killer dubbed The Carpenter intent on spreading fear and violence. Soon another woman is murdered – hammered to death and left with a cryptic message nailed to her chest.
A detective in danger.
Maverick Detective Inspectors Rossi and Carrara are assigned to the investigation. But when Rossi’s girlfriend is attacked – left in a coma in hospital – he becomes the killer’s new obsession and his own past hurtles back to haunt him.
A killer out of control.
As the body count rises, with one perfect murder on the heels of another, the case begins to spiral out of control. In a city wracked by corruption and paranoia, the question is: how much is Rossi willing to sacrifice to get to the truth?

#GuestPost:

The Not So Dolce Vita

by Aidan Conway

 

I sat down to begin writing A Known Evil on ‘blue Monday’ in January 2014. Setting out on a totally new and uncharted adventure seemed like a perfect way to keep any incipient blues at bay on the, allegedly, most depressing day of the year.
To the best of my recollection, up until then, I had never once considered writing a crime novel. I have always been a writer, in one way or another, on and off. My bottom drawer contains ample evidence of that – first, second and third drafts of short stories which might eventually also see the light of day.
But no crime. Poetry too, with which I had achieved a reasonable amount of success. But no serial killers, no thrillers, no intrigue.
So what inspired me? Around that time, on a friend’s suggestion, I had fallen back on reading some crime novels for pure, escapist pleasure.
Which might beg the question what was I escaping from? Rome has been my home since 2001 and before that for a brief period Sicily was too. Both places are breathtakingly beautiful, dramatic, unique, but problems there are aplenty.
Tourists continue to be drawn to The Eternal City in their droves to gaze at what I too marvelled at when I first came to the place. The mind-blowing museums, the Roman Forum, the Appian Way, the cobbled side-streets and cafes, the Bougainville and Jasmine scented air, warm summer evenings and cold white wine. The chatter and street theatre, the laid-back pace of life.
But then there is the dark side. The politics. The intrigue. The corruption and violence that most visitors will never have any cause to see or experience. The world of work. The problems of bureaucracy, and nepotism, favours, bribes and blackmail.
In Sicily one evening I witnessed a bomb go off, likely the work of extortionists. It never made the papers.
In Rome, when it snowed for a day in 2013, a regional councillor bought himself a 4×4, so he could ‘get around’, and all on party funds. Paid for by the tax payer. Paid for, in part, by me.
And why, for example, does it take two or three times as long to build a motorway in Italy than it does in France? Why does it cost three times as much? Who’s pocketing the spare change?
The Italian Court of Auditors has estimated that corruption costs the Italian economy some 60 billion Euros a year. That’s a lot of coffee and free lunches. I’d say it’s a conservative estimate.

Around the time I began the book, the first big immigration problem had also landed on the national agenda. It quickly became a ragged and soiled political football – scapegoating and blame were the order of the day. Real solutions seemed a secondary consideration. It wasn’t pretty.
I even got the odd dirty look or loaded comment when I walked into a shop and my accent wasn’t quite right. Politicians were exploiting it all and often getting away with murder. The credit crunch crisis too was biting hard. People were getting angry. So much for La Dolce Vita.
Neo-fascism too had got a shot in the arm as simple-minded nostalgia and cynical opportunism drew oxygen from what was happening in Rome and in the country as a whole. The political system was perceived as sclerotic, inefficient, ineffective and the media was in thrall either to the political parties and their cronyism or the megalomaniac ambitions of a small man from Milan who shall remain nameless.
On the positive side? At least the mafia weren’t doing much. Or were they? Cosa Nostra was keeping itself pretty much to itself (but it’s always there) while the Neapolitan Camorra and the Calabrian N’drangheta were the big kids who had burst on to the block as cocaine and gun-crime racking Naples and its suburbs spread northwards from its heartlands, following the money, following the power to Rome.
I realised I had plenty to write about. More than enough. In my work as a language consultant I had also had some access to the corridors of power, state bodies, multinationals. I got to sit down with CEOs, oil executives, undercover policemen, and maybe even some spies. You find people open up to you when you are an outsider and you are chatting one-to-one. And you’re cheaper than a psychiatrist. It can be illuminating.
And then I got my big idea. A short while after that Blue Monday, in a flash, an epiphany, I knew exactly how my book was going to end. I scribbled it all down in a flurry and knew then I had nailed it.
I just had to fill in the rest. I did. It’s been fun. I hope it is for you.

AC
Aidan Conway
Twitter
Author bio:
Aidan Conway was born in Birmingham and has been living in Italy since 2001. He has been a bookseller, a proofreader, a language consultant, as well as a freelance teacher, translator, and editor for the United Nations FAO. He is currently an assistant university lecturer in Rome, where he lives with his family. A Known Evil is his first novel.

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#Review The Seven Deaths Of Evelyn Hardcastle by @stu_turton 5* #NewRelease #DebutAuthor #CrimeFiction @BloomsburyRaven @BloomsburyBooks #EPIC #DebutNovel

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The Seven Deaths Of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton
Synopsis:

‘Somebody’s going to be murdered at the ball tonight. It won’t appear to be a murder and so the murderer won’t be caught. Rectify that injustice and I’ll show you the way out.’

It is meant to be a celebration but it ends in tragedy. As fireworks explode overhead, Evelyn Hardcastle, the young and beautiful daughter of the house, is killed.

But Evelyn will not die just once. Until Aiden – one of the guests summoned to Blackheath for the party – can solve her murder, the day will repeat itself, over and over again. Every time ending with the fateful pistol shot.

The only way to break this cycle is to identify the killer. But each time the day begins again, Aiden wakes in the body of a different guest. And someone is determined to prevent him ever escaping Blackheath…

My review:

When I finished this novel, I did casually comment on social media that the novel was ‘like playing Cluedo on acid’. Now, whilst I still stand by this short peculiar assessment. It is simply because, there is so much to process, and I read this in 24hrs. My brain was exhausted from the constant twists and turns. I still cannot even begin to fathom, just how, the writer put it all together. The flow of the novel and pace of the plot fits perfectly. I am AMAZED this is a debut novel. I will be pre-ordering ANYTHING the author produces next.
Purely to see what he concocts next, as this novel was original and epic on every level!

The novel itself, is beautiful and the artwork on the inside covers, makes be glad I own a physical copy. There is an invitation to the ball and a list of guests and household staff.
A who’s who of Blackheath is very important, as you’ll need to keep up!

We are made aware from the invite that guests must refrain from discussions of Thomas Hardcastle and Charlie Culver, of tragic events in the past. This instantly grabbed my interest.
What are the tragic events of the past?
What significance do they have to the ball?

‘How lost do you have to be to let the devil lead you home’

The novel opens on day one. Our protagonist awakes smelling of cigarettes, alcohol and body odour. He is aware of a woman fleeing and in need of help, with a killer on her heels. The killer hands him a compass and tells him to ‘head east’. When he arrives at the house, we will come to know as Blackheath. He is disorientated and dishevelled. He enquires of the woman, who he vaguely remembers as Anna. But no one is aware of such a guest. Who is Anna? Is she still in danger? Or dead?

‘The dead cannot expect a debt from the living’

Once the man is brought into Blackheath he uncovers his identity. His name is Dr Sebastian Bell, yet he has not recollection of this man. Even his own reflection is alien to him. It is a puzzle within a puzzle. Struggling with the effects of amnesia, he urges the guests to find the missing woman alive or dead. Whilst Dr Richard ‘Dickie’ Acker is summoned to attend the nasty bang to the head he has received. They also find defensive knife wounds on his arms.
What happened out there? Why is Dr Bell here? What does it all mean?

‘I’m a man in purgatory’

It isn’t long until Dr Bell is startled by a masked man, who we later come to know as the ‘plague doctor’. He warns him to be wary of the footman. Then he finds a note from Anna, arranging a meeting and offering to explain everything. Despite the two personalities inside Dr Bell, he decides to stay and solve the mystery…..

‘That’s the beauty of corrupt men, you can always rely on them to be corrupt’

Eventually we learn who Dr Bell is, his role at the ball. We also learn of the mystery surrounding Thomas Hardcastle and Charlie Culver and the lake where it all took place. The ball is being held on the 19th anniversary of the loss of Thomas Hardcastle. But it is so much more than meets the eye. With such a bizarre bunch of guests, this is going to be one hell of a party!

‘Wealth is poisonous to the soul and my parents have been wealthy a very long time’ Evelyn Hardcastle

The plague doctor returns and explains the situation of Blackheath to Dr Bell, only this time he is Donald Davies. He offers him a proposition……
‘Somebody’s going to be murdered at the ball tonight. It won’t appear to be a murder and so the murderer won’t be caught. Rectify that injustice and I’ll show you the way out’
Through the plague doctor’s proposition, we come to understand just how Blackheath operates…..

‘I won’t return willingly to a madman’s game’

Our protagonist Aidan Bishop, must solve the murder of Evelyn Hardcastle. He will be able to enter various hosts, during his time at Blackheath. But never on the same day. He doesn’t have an unlimited number of hosts, he only has one per day. He isn’t aware of which host he will enter next and will have to fight their primal urges to behave in their own way. Every time he falls asleep, he enters a new host. There is no stopping or escape.
The game is well and truly afoot!

‘I know this isn’t the afterlife. Hell would have fewer servants and better furnishings’

Whilst attempting to solve the murder of Evelyn, Aidan warms to her personality. He then becomes focused on the dangerous task, of trying to prevent the murder ever happening at all….

‘Evelyn’s kind and gentle, and she’s been away nineteen years, who’d want to harm her now?’

Aidan will have to navigate other hosts trapped in the game, the violent and psychopathic footman and the illusive Anna. If he has any hope of solving the mystery and freeing himself from this eternal game of murder mystery.

‘Nobody has friends in Blackheath’ – Plague doctor

The various hosts Aidan finds himself within, are brilliantly written. They are (as said above) a unique bunch of characters. From the alcoholics, the drug users and the grabby handed perverts. Aidan must adapt to their attributes and friendship circles, to find clues.

‘You won’t get far in this house with sentiment’ – Stanwin

‘What kind of mind makes theatre of murder?’

As much as I was drawn to the mystery and scheming surrounding the murder of Evelyn Hardcastle. I was also still desperate to find out the mystery of the past. Early on, I was quite convinced there must be a link between the two and the writer did not disappoint!

‘Something evil happened here and it haunts the lake still’

The plague doctor, pops up every now and then. Usually to add a new twist into the plot and steer Aidan onto further clues he had previously missed or overlooked. You never truly know who’s side he’s on. Is he working to help Aidan uncover the mystery? Or leading him to mere distractions?

‘Too little information and you’re blind, too much and you’re blinded’

As you read you are desperately trying to unravel the plot. I loved the old-fashioned style era, the time hopping and the various spin off mysteries. The scheming, plotting and betrayal are brilliantly woven amongst all the guests. You never know if Aidan can trust anyone or if he can even trust himself……

A fantastic debut novel and an incredible novel to speed read! I would recommend to all bookworms, from those who read hundreds, to those who read just a few novels a year. The Seven Deaths Of Evelyn Hardcastle is a cracking novel, not to be missed! 5*

‘He means to kill us, though not before he’s had his fun’

ST
Stuart Turton
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