Anne Bonny #BookReview & #Extract Halfway by @bevjoneswriting 4* #Psychological #SerialKiller #Thriller #WinterReads

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Halfway by B.E. Jones
Review Copy
Synopsis:

If everyone is lying, who can you trust?

The Halfway Inn is closed to customers, side-lined by a bypass and hidden deep in inhospitable countryside. One winter’s night, two women end up knocking on the door, seeking refuge as a blizzard takes hold.

But why is the landlord less than pleased to see them? And what is his elderly father trying so hard to tell them?

At the local police station PC Lissa Lloyd is holding the fort while the rest of her team share in the rare excitement of a brutal murder at an isolated farmhouse. A dangerous fugitive is on the run – but how can Lissa make a name for herself if she’s stuck at her desk? When a call comes in saying the local district nurse is missing, she jumps at the chance to investigate her disappearance.

The strangers at Halfway wait out the storm, but soon realise they might have been safer on the road. It seems not all the travellers will make it home for Christmas . . .

My Review:

The prologue opens on 22nd December 2017, we are aware of an armed and frightened female. Then the novel cuts away to the present moment, of a hitchhiker stranded in a snowy isolated Welsh scene…

‘There will be noise and fury. There will be damage. There will be casualties’

The novel spans around various characters and their current circumstances. Which includes the local law enforcement. We become aware there is a crime scene at a farmhouse and the majority of the police have dispatched there. Leaving PC Lisa Lloyd (6 months out of probation) and soon to be retired Jim Price.

There are little snippets of information cleverly woven into the plot. Such as, we know the hitchhiker is making their way home and to a farmhouse. We also get the scene of an old man caring for his son Brian and bed bound wife Rose. The three main perspectives are from the old man, local cops and the hitchhiker, who has now been picked up by a district nurse.

As the plot develops, I never felt I could trust any of the individual characters. But when all the characters collide at a closed pub The Star, nicknamed Halfway… ALL will be revealed!!!! This title is a psychological thriller, perfect for the winter months! 4*

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B.E. Jones
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Extract:

Excerpt 1 – Prologue

When she sees the hatchet in his hand she knows it’s going to happen, right here, right now. It’s been coming for hours, longer probably, since before the storm howling and keening around the eaves began its slow creep across the countryside, before the car was abandoned at the side of the snowbound road.
This moment was waiting even before she raised her hand and knocked on the door of this godforsaken place, squatting below its slipping slates and bowing brickwork, beneath the low iron sky, under the weight of winter.
So here they are.
She’s glad now that she’d had the foresight to arm herself, downstairs, when the unpleasant ticking started in her chest, when she’d finally realized the answers to the questions plaguing her since her arrival: Who are these people? And why are they lying?
She’d been sure that something was very wrong for hours. She just hadn’t been able to gather the quiet nudges in the back of her brain into a single, clearly defined thought until now, now it’s punching itself to the fore, bullying her into the realization she’d have been safer out in the storm.
But it’s too late to leave, now that there are only three of them left alive, assembled under the twinkly Christmas star: a hitchhiker, a nurse, a landlord, , everyone, everything, bending itself into this moment, before the weight of what has been and what is to come. How could she have imagined for even one moment that she was the only one with anything to hide?
She knows it’s her own fault for allowing herself to be caught off guard, first back on the road and then over and over again until she stepped into this room. It happened so easily because this is the sort of place that’s supposed to be safe and steady, a quiet, nothing-ever-happens-kind of village where people look out for each other, still leave their doors unlocked and never, ever try to kill you.
Trouble is, you should never read only the surface signs and signals of anywhere or anyone, she knows that. There’s a lesson here, never assume you’re the biggest, baddest thing in the woods unless you’re prepared to prove it.
So this is it.
That bloody balding donkey understands, his red and white trimmed Santa leaning at a jaunty angle as he gives her that look again, as if he’s thinking what she’s thinking, knows what she knows – not all of them will leave this room alive. He may be happy to wait passively for the outcome but she isn’t, so she readies herself, plants her feet firmly apart on the floorboards, aware of every inch of her body, every twitch of muscle fibre and sinew, careful not to show that her hands are waiting and ready to move.
The ticking in her chest tells her it’s too late to stop the countdown, there’s no way back, the explosion is overdue. There will be noise and fury. There will be damage. There will be casualties.
So here they go!

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Anne Bonny #BookReview Too Far by Jason Starr @JasonStarrBooks 5* #Psychological #Noir @noexitpress #TooFarBook

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Too Far by Jason Starr
Review Copy
Synopsis:

One night. One date. What have you got to lose?

Jack Harper isn’t a bad man, but he’s stuck in a loveless marriage with a mediocre job just trying to keep sober. The only good thing in his life is his son. When an old college friend introduces him to a new extramarital dating website, he tentatively reaches out to find a distraction from his misery. But when he goes to meet up with his steamy online date, he quickly realises it was a dire choice.

Soon, Jack finds himself desperately trying to prove his innocence for crimes he did not commit, and the life he once had – unhappy as it was – is nothing but a dream. Now, he’s living his worst nightmare. . .

My Review:

The novel surrounds Jack Harper, trapped in a loveless marriage, with a boring and unhappy career in real estate. He reconnects with an old friend from 20yrs ago Rob McEvoy. Rob appears to have it all, wealthy lifestyle, huge ego and not to mention he openly boasts of cheating on his wife to ease his boredom.
Now, before the little feminist within me got riled, I decided it would be very intriguing to see how this fictional situation carried out before my eyes…

‘Sex has always been risky’

Jack’s wife Maria and young son Jonah are blissfully unaware of his shady late nights on the illicit dating site. But what starts out as just a bit of fun, soon takes a much sinister turn and before Jack knows it, he has lost everything he holds dear…

I don’t want to go into too much detail of the intricate themes. But this novel is far from seedy and much more a sinister psychological thriller. I was absolutely HOOKED! Oh how the other half live, indeed!!!!
I found this novel to be gripping and completely addictive, I read it straight through in just 3 hours!!!!! I couldn’t put it down at all. I HAD to know how it ended and the ending was phenomenal!!!! I was completely blown away! 5*

Huge respect to the author for this clever and addictive thriller. I have since bought Cold Caller and Hard Feelings. Which I shall leave the details of at the end of this post.

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HF
Hard Feelings by Jason Starr
Synopsis:

Richie Segal’s prospects are pretty miserable and, what’s more humiliating, his wife’s career is on the up. Richie knows he is a good salesman, but he just can’t seem to land an account. He’s starting to drink again and worry about whether Paula is seeing that old high school flame or maybe someone new. At thirty-four, he’s a little young for a mid-life crisis, but that’s what it feels like. And then there are those unwelcome memories of the neighbourhood bully, Michael Rudnick, and what he did to Richie when he was eleven…

Just when Richie is about as low as he can get, he runs into Rudnick on the street and knows exactly what he needs to do. Suddenly things seem to be going much better. That is until they get much, much worse.

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Cold Caller by Jason Starr
Synopsis:

Once a rising VP at a topflight ad agency, Bill Moss now works as a ‘cold caller’ at a telemarketing firm in the Times Square area. He’s got a bad case of the urban blues, and when a pink slip rather than promotion comes through, Bill snaps.

Now he’s got a dead supervisor on his hands and problems no career counsellor can help him with…

JS
Jason Starr
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Anne Bonny #BookReview The Winters by @lisagabrieletv 5* #Thriller #Suspense @harvillsecker

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The Winters by Lisa Gabriele
Review Copy
Synopsis:

An addictively suspenseful new novel set in the glamorous world of the New York Hamptons, about secrets that refuse to remain buried and consequences that cannot be escaped.

After a whirlwind romance, a young woman returns to the opulent, secluded mansion of her new fiancé Max Winter – a wealthy senator and recent widower – and a life of luxury she’s never known. But all is not as it appears at the Asherley estate. The house is steeped in the memory of Max’s beautiful first wife Rebekah, who haunts the young woman’s imagination and feeds her uncertainties, while his very alive teenage daughter Dani makes her life a living hell.

As the soon-to-be second Mrs. Winter grows more in love with Max, and more afraid of Dani, she is drawn deeper into the family’s dark secrets – the kind of secrets that could kill her, too.

Inspired by the classic novel Rebecca, The Winters is a riveting story about what happens when a family’s ghosts resurface and threaten to upend everything.

My Review:

‘Last night Rebekah tried to murder me again’

The opening line of this novel, is enough to give anyone nightmares. But what is revealed inside is a much more complex layered suspenseful mystery.
Just less than a year ago, the now newly engaged protagonist met Senator Max Winter. Having no family herself she was rushed off her feet in what is a typical paperback romance fashion. However, all is not as it seems at the Asherley Estate…

‘Recklessness is a luxury to someone like me’

In the secluded house there are photos of Max’s ex-wife Rebekah everywhere. Not to mention their teenage daughter, whom presents as mood and resentful. But this is more than just ordinary teen angst. Dani appears to have a personality disorder and her feelings have built up, to utter contempt and hatred.

‘There are things you do when you’re desperate, things that would shock you’

Eventually, the would-be step-mum and Dani seem to bond. With Dani confiding and offloading some deeply held secrets. But is Dani just a drama queen intent on causing problems? or is something sinister making her behave this way…

One thing is for certain, Max has clearly underestimated his new ‘bride to be’.
An intense and gripping psychological thriller. I thoroughly enjoyed every single page. 5*

LG
Lisa Gabriele
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Anne Bonny #BlogTour #GuestPost The Golden Orphans by @GaryRaymond_ #Psychological #Thriller #Cyprus @ParthianBooks @damppebbles

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The Golden Orphans by Gary Raymond
Synopsis:

Within the dark heart of an abandoned city, on an island once torn by betrayal and war, lies a terrible secret…

Francis Benthem is a successful artist; he’s created a new life on an island in the sun. He works all night, painting the dreams of his mysterious Russian benefactor, Illy Prostakov. He writes letters to old friends and students back in cold, far away London. But now Francis Benthem is found dead. The funeral is planned and his old friend from art school arrives to finish what Benthem had started. The painting of dreams on a faraway island. But you can also paint nightmares and Illy has secrets of his own that are not ready for the light. Of promises made and broken, betrayal and murder…

The Golden Orphans offers a new twist on the literary thriller.

Guest Post:

Gary Raymond explains how the ghost of Graham Greene helped him write his new literary thriller based on the island of Cyprus.

In June of 2006, just a few weeks after being made redundant from a job I hated, I found myself in Cyprus working in a beach bar for my cousin just outside of Ayia Napa. Back then Ayia Napa was notorious, so the “outside of Ayia Napa” bit is important – I was in essence placed at the outskirts of something, which is of course the correct positioning for a writer. In my twenties, the decade of my life I was in back then, I had a habit of cropping up in places I really had no right to be in. A casual biographer, which would surely be the only one I’d ever earn, might mistake me for some kind of adventurer, but I was always more motivated by the idea – a very simple idea – that going places meant opportunities to gather stories. Whether they ever ended up being written down or not, I was on the move to soak up characters and scenarios and dramas and comedies. But I also knew that where I might be modestly “cropping up”, there was a certain Graham Greene element to it.
In Cyprus I read, for the first time, Greene’s The Power and the Glory, his great rumination on faith and martyrdom all wrapped up in the dust and heat of a chase narrative. Before this book I had been led to believe, despite all of the evidence to the contrary, that literature was a serious business. To read is to gorge on the riches of the human experience, but to write – well this is no laughing matter – it is toil and torment and a thankless task at that. To borrow Angela Carter’s analysis on this subject – “the British put up a strong resistance to the idea that pleasurability might be a valid criterion in the response to literature, just as we remain dubious about the value of the decorative in the visual art”. I may be Welsh, but in so far as my reading habits and my understanding of literature, I was brought up British, with a British education demanding an understanding of a British context and British temperament. I discovered I had been just as under the influence of the Leavisite idea of eating up your broccoli as the rest of Christendom. You see one thing I was never told as a writer – and I am a glutton when it comes ideas about the craft – is that you can, if you really must, have fun.
It was quite the sea change for me. There was a week in Cyprus where an ex-pat couple asked if I’d look after their house while they visited home for a funeral – and I spent that time sitting on a veranda readings books set in hot climates, picking oranges from the tree just arms length from my chair – I read The Power and the Glory a few times over that week. A book that spoke to me about things I wanted to see discussed, and it also kept me turning the page, the action careered forward, every chapter perfectly poised to slip me into the next. It was a revelation.
I’d like to say I saw an affiliation with Greene, but that would be stretching it – his life was perhaps one of the most intriguing in modern literary history and I was basically a penniless hanger on, and not an MI6 agent masquerading as a journalist. The things that Greene was whispering to me back then, however, were not so easily deciphered, and it took another ten years and another two books for me to come back to him and see what I’d been left. I was not, you see, Oxford educated, and was never likely to be courted by MI6, and I was not as focussed or as talented a writer, and well it was a different time – we’d had punk, devolution (in Wales), and I’d frankly spent too much time reading the Americans – Greene would not have approved. But I had one thing important to an affiliation with Greene, in that I was “cropping up”.
Most of the characters in The Golden Orphans are based on real people I met in those six months I was out there. The only question for me, it turned out, was whether I wrote the story of what happened to me while I was out there – or whether I took what I saw and wrote something more fun, more compelling, and more “made up”. As I said, it took another 10 years to get to that, but get to it I did.
I’m not going to try and describe the murkiness of Cyprus to you – that’s what The Golden Orphans tries to do – but suffice it to say it is perhaps strikingly Greenian in its murkiness, in its ability to attract rogues and misfits. Cyprus is quite well-known for how attractive it has been over the years to Russian ne’er-do-wells, but it is also worth noting here the Lebanese pimp, the Egyptian cigarette smuggler, the Greek wideboys and shifty Israelis I met who didn’t make it into the book. There is something of the melting pot about the island, and exactly the sort of place you would have expected to see Greene.
In the end, I think it was Greene who showed me how to write about Cyprus. As a writer you never stop learning from others, but that was a bit of a bombshell.

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Gary Raymond
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Anne Bonny #BookReview The Secrets You Hide by @KateWritesBooks 4* #LegalThriller #CrimeFiction #Psychological @BonnierZaffre

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The Secrets You Hide by Kate Helm
Review Copy
Synopsis:

Georgia Sage has a gift: she can see evil in people. As a courtroom artist she uses her skills to help condemn those who commit terrible crimes. After all, her own brutal past means she knows innocence is even rarer than justice.

But when she is drawn back into the trial that defined her career, a case of twisted family betrayal, she realises her own reckless pursuit of justice may have helped the guilty go free.

As Georgia gets closer to the truth behind the Slater family, something happens that threatens not only her career – but even her own sanity. At first, she fears her guilt around the events of her terrible childhood is finally coming back to haunt her.

The truth turns out to be even more terrifying . . .

My Review:

The Secrets You Hide is an impressive debut novel, it is packed full of twists and turns; and you never know who you can trust. Which includes our protagonist Georgia Sage.

The novel opens in 1997, with a young girl Suzanne locked in her room, as her father commits an atrocious and traumatic crime.
‘Dad has been acting strange for months’
What’s on the other side of the door?

We then are introduced to Georgia in 2017, She is a freelance court room artist and has sat in on some horrific crimes in her career. As we meet her, she is on the morning of a awkward one night stand. We discover via her internal thoughts she is not as content with her career choice as she’d have others believe.
‘What kind of person paints pictures of the worst humanity has to offer?’

Georgia does take great pride in her work and believes that her courtroom sketches could ultimately impact the jury/public opinion. I wasn’t as sure about this, but I was intrigued by the way in which Georgia sold it to the reader…
‘I build up the layers, to reveal people as they really are, the secrets they hide even from themselves’

We become aware Georgia lives in a large property and has no financial concerns. I think this explains why she is content with a career choice that cannot earn her much money. We also become aware she is a lonely woman, with a troubled past. It is at this point she becomes an unreliable narrator, of her own story.

‘The fear of life was stronger than the relief of death’

The case Georgia is currently in court sessions for is a he/she said rape trial. But Georgia is convinced of the man’s guilt. But that isn’t the case that the novel revolves around. It is a case from Georgia’s past.
A case she has always been uncertain if justice truly was served…..

A complex twisty psychological thriller, with a shocking ending! 4*

KH
Kate Helm
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