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
Twitter
Website

Anne Bonny #BlogTour Q&A with @mredwards #Author of #NewRelease In Her Shadow #Suspense #Psychological #Thriller @AmazonPub #InHerShadow

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In Her Shadow by Mark Edwards
Review To Follow
Synopsis:

Isabel’s life seemed perfect. Successful business, beautiful house, adoring husband. And then she was dead.

For four years Jessica has never doubted that her sister Isabel’s death was an accident. But when Jessica’s young daughter seems to know long-forgotten details about her aunt’s past, Jessica can’t shake the feeling that there’s a more sinister truth behind the tragedy.

As Jessica unearths disturbing revelations about her sister, and about the people she loved and trusted most, it becomes clear Isabel’s life was less than perfect and that Jessica’s might also be at risk.

Did someone murder Isabel? Are they now after Jessica and her family? The key seems to lie in the hands of a child. Can Isabel reveal the truth from beyond the grave, or is the answer closer to home?

Q&A:
Q) For the readers, can you talk us through your background and the synopsis of your new novel?

A) I come from Hastings on the Sussex coast, famous for its battle. I’m not sure if that has any relevance but it’s possible that the salty air combined with constantly hearing stories about a man getting an arrow in his eye may have done something to my brain and imagination.

My new novel, In Her Shadow, is about a woman, Jessica, who lost her more glamorous older sister, Isabel, a few years ago. Isabel was found dead beneath the balcony of her beautiful home and the death was ruled accidental. But now Jessica’s four-year-old daughter seems to be communicating with Isabel. She knows things she can’t possibly know. She is acting up at school. And as Jessica is forced to question everything she believes, she starts to investigate what really happened to Isabel.

Q) Can you talk us through the journey from idea to writing to publication?

A) This is my eighth solo novel; fourteenth if you include the books I co-wrote with Louise Voss. I came up with the idea for In Her Shadow when I was halfway through my previous book, The Retreat. I thought of it as Big Little Lies – with its focus on female relationships and school gate drama – crossed with The Sixth Sense, with its child who sees dead people. My regular readers will know that there is always, in the end, a rational explanation for everything that happens in my books, and the big challenge was figuring out what was really going on with Olivia. Once I worked that out, it was relatively easy to write. It was also influenced by a big story that was happening in the news at the time I was writing it, a story about sex and power, but it would be too spoilery to reveal what it was.

Q) What are your favourite authors and recommended reads?

A) I read loads and I’m always worried about missing people out when I start listing my favourites, but a few books I’ve read recently that I loved are Skin Deep by Liz Nugent, Take Me In by Sabine Durrant and A Ladder to the Sky by John Boyne. All beautifully written and, most importantly, utterly gripping.

Q) What were your childhood/teenage favourite reads?

A) I used to read lots of Doctor Who books when I was about 11 or 12. I collected them and read one or two a week. I was obsessed with Doctor Who! Then I moved on to Stephen King and James Herbert. The scarier, the better…Herbert’s The Fog had a profound and disturbing effect on me. Also, his books were pretty rude and we used to read the most outrageous scenes out in the playground. Ah, the good old days!

Q) What has been your favourite moment of being a published author?

A) I could mention my seven No.1 bestsellers or receiving an award from my publisher for selling two million books but don’t like to show off. The best moments are usually spent at festivals with my writer friends, especially at Harrogate, which I attend every year. The crime writing community is filled with funny, clever, irreverent people and I love hanging out with them, drinking too much and, occasionally, doing karaoke!

Q) Who has been your source of support/encouragement, throughout the writing process?

A) My wife, Sara, is incredibly supportive and helpful. She has to put up with me rambling on about my writing, talks to me about my plots and helps me untangle the knots I’ve created. She listens to me and, most importantly, locks me in my office until I’ve written my daily 2000 words.
I’m joking about that last bit. Kind of.

ME
Mark Edwards
Website ~ where you can sign up to get a free box set of scary short stories
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Thank you for taking part in the Q&A on my blog, I wish you every success with your writing career.

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Anne Bonny #BlogTour #Extract Tattoo Thief by @AlisonBelsham #CrimeFiction #Suspense @TrapezeBooks

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Tattoo Thief by Alison Belsham
Synopsis:

A policeman on his first murder case
A tattoo artist with a deadly secret
And a twisted serial killer sharpening his blades to kill again…

When Brighton tattoo artist Marni Mullins discovers a flayed body, newly-promoted DI Francis Sullivan needs her help. There’s a serial killer at large, slicing tattoos from his victims’ bodies while they’re still alive. Marni knows the tattooing world like the back of her hand, but has her own reasons to distrust the police. So when she identifies the killer’s next target, will she tell Sullivan or go after the Tattoo Thief alone?

Extract:

I peel away the blood-soaked T-shirt from the unconscious man’s back to reveal a spectacular tattoo. The photocopy I take from my pocket is crumpled but it’s good enough for me to check against the image on his skin. Thankfully, there’s just enough light from the street lamp to see that the two designs look the same. A round Polynesian tattoo in heavy black ink adorns the man’s left shoulder, an intricate tribal face scowling from its centre. Spreading out from the edges is a pair of stylised wings, one extending down the man’s shoulder blade, the other extending across the left side of his chest. All of it is speckled with blood.

The images match. I have the right man.

There’s still a pulse in his neck, but it’s faint enough to reassure me that he won’t cause any problems. It’s essential to do the job while his body’s still warm. If the corpse cools, the skin stiffens and the flesh becomes rigid. That makes the job harder and I can’t afford mistakes. Of course, flaying the skin off a living body means so much more blood. But I don’t mind blood.

My backpack is lying nearby, discarded as I pulled him into the bushes. It was easy enough – the small park was deserted at this hour. It only took one blow to the back of his head and he crumpled at the knees. No noise. No commotion. No witnesses. I knew this was the route he’d take when he left the nightclub because I’d watched him take it before. People are so stupid. He suspected nothing, even as I walked towards him with a wrench in my fist. Seconds later, his blood was spreading across the ground from a wound at the temple. The first step executed most satisfactorily.

Once he was down, I hooked my hands underneath his armpits and dragged him as quickly as I could across the stone paving. I wanted the cover of the shrubs so we wouldn’t be seen. He’s heavy but I’m strong, and I was able to pull him through a gap between two laurel bushes.

The exertion has left me breathless. I hold out my hands, palms down. I see the ghost of a tremor. Clench fists, then open again. Both hands flutter like moths, just as my heart flutters against my ribs. I curse under my breath. A steady right hand is essential to carry out my assignment. The solution’s in a side pocket of my backpack. A packet of tablets, a small bottle of water. Propranolol – the snooker player’s beta-blocker of choice. I swallow two and close my eyes, waiting for them to take effect. At the next check, the tremor is gone. Now I’m ready to begin.

Taking a deep breath, I reach into the bag and feel for my knife roll. Satisfaction floods through me as my fingers touch the soft leather, the steel outlined beneath. I sharpened the blades with great care last night. Intuition, you might say, that today would be the day.

I drop the roll onto the man’s back and untie the cords. The leather unfurls with a soft clink of metal, the blades cold beneath my fingertips. I select the short-handled knife that I’ll use for the first cuts, marking the outline of the skin to be removed. After that, for the flaying itself, I’ll use a longer, backward-curving knife. I buy them from Japan and they cost a small fortune. But it’s worth it.

They’re fashioned using the same techniques employed for Samurai swords. Tempered steel enables me to cut with speed and precision, as if I’m carving shapes out of butter.

I put the rest of the knives on the ground next to his body and check his pulse again. Fainter than before but he’s still alive. Blood seeps from his head, more slowly now. Time for a quick, deep test cut into his left thigh. There’s no flinch or intake of breath. Just a steady oozing of dark, slippery blood. Good. I can’t afford for him to move while I’m cutting.

The moment has arrived. With one hand holding the skin taut, I make the first incision. I draw the blade swiftly down from the top of his shoulder across the jutting angles of his scapula, following the outline of the design. A red ribbon appears in the wake of my blade, warm as it runs down onto my fingers. I hold my breath as the knife carves its path, savouring the shiver that rolls up my spine and the hot rush of blood to my groin.

The man will be dead by the time I finish.

He isn’t the first. And he won’t be the last.

AB
Alison Belsham
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Anne Bonny #BookReview Only In Whispers by @GrimaJgrima #Thriller #Suspense #Mystery @BooksManatee ‘It is a story of secrets and lies. The secrets we all keep to protect one another.’

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Only In Whispers by Jacqueline Grima
Review Copy
Synopsis:

A forgotten past
An uncertain future
A family hiding from the truth
When their mother is hospitalised with depression, Annie and her brother Matthew are fostered by their beloved Aunt Helen. Their family eventually reunited, the siblings begin a new life in Derbyshire with their mother and new stepfather.
Now in her thirties and separated from her husband, Annie is struggling to escape the past and move forward with her son. Haunted by memories of her childhood, she begins to realise that there may have been more to her time in foster care than her mother claims. Why did social services take her and Matthew away? Who can she trust to tell her what really happened?
As Annie finds out more, things take a sinister turn…has the life she’s lived so far been a lie?

My Review:

Only In Whispers tells the story of Annie as she attempts to rediscover what happened in her past. After finally separating from her ex-husband David, 18 months ago. Annie has a new lease on life, taking care of her son Spencer 6yrs and reconnecting with her mother in a way she has never tried before.

‘It has felt like my husband still controls every aspect of my life’ – Annie

Annie reflects upon her own upbringing with brother Matthew, mum and stepdad John. Annie was very lucky considering the era, that when John took on the kids he fully enjoyed his role as ‘father’. He treated them as his own.

‘No-one was ever left out in our family, the two of us cherished each other’ – Annie

Annie lives in a big house in Buxton, she has a close friend Mags and her son is her entire life. But she can’t help but dig away at her own past and what occurred when social services became involved and her and Matthew were sent to live with their Aunt Helen and uncle Frank. She reflects on how her mother’s post-natal depression impacted her own life and mothering skills.
‘After Spencer was born, I had immersed myself into being the best mother that I could’ – Annie

Annie attempts to quiz her mother who is evasive and defensive. Her Aunt Helen is now suffering what appears to be early-onset dementia and confusion. Annie is struggling to find clues to help her unlock her past in her mind.
Eventually she finds help from an unlikely source, her brothers best friend Adam. He challenges Annie in ways she has never been before, and their bond is beautiful to watch grow.

‘You may not have any control over the way other people behave, Annie. But you do have a say in your own life and how you live it’ – Adam

The novel is slow-burning, and the tension slowly builds. Buxton makes for a perfect location and I could easily imagine taking walks along the pavilion gardens (Google Buxton pavilion gardens- image search)  with my own personal secrets on my mind.
It is a story of secrets and lies.
The secrets we all keep to protect one another. 4*

JG
Jacqueline Grima
Twitter
Website

Only In Whispers is released today and is available for just £1.99 (UK) and is listed under Kindle Unlimited. Happy release day to Jacqueline Grima 🙂 

Anne Bonny #BookReview Hydra by @ConcreteKraken Matt Wesolowski #SixStories #CrimeFiction #Thriller #Suspense #Horror @OrendaBooks ‘such a bloody great book! 5*’

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Hydra by Matt Wesolowski – Six Stories #2
My own copy from my TBR mountain
Synopsis:

A family massacre
A deluded murderess
Five witnesses
Six Stories
Which one is true?

One cold November night in 2014, in a small town in the northwest of England, 21-year-old Arla Macleod bludgeoned her mother, stepfather and younger sister to death with a hammer, in an unprovoked attack known as the Macleod Massacre. Now incarcerated at a medium-security mental-health institution, Arla will speak to no one but Scott King, an investigative journalist, whose Six Stories podcasts have become an internet sensation.

King finds himself immersed in an increasingly complex case, interviewing five key witnesses and Arla herself, as he questions whether Arla’s responsibility for the massacre was as diminished as her legal team made out.

As he unpicks the stories, he finds himself thrust into a world of deadly forbidden ‘games’, online trolls, and the mysterious black-eyed kids, whose presence seems to extend far beyond the delusions of a murderess…

My Review:

I really enjoyed the authors first novel Six Stories, it was clear to see that it was a fantastic debut novel and the author clearly had a natural talent for storytelling. I think the author brings something young and edgy to the crime fiction genre. It maybe the use of technology and crime novel surrounding a podcast. But I happen to think it is the writing style and knowledge of certain aspects of true life horror phenomenon. For example, when the lift footage of Elisa Lam was mentioned, I was instantly reminded of who creepy it is and yet it remains an unsolved case!

This podcast with Scott King revolves around Arla Macleod. A young woman who massacred her entire family one evening with a hammer! Why did this meek young woman commit murder? What drove her to kill those closest to her?

‘We rake over old graves’ – Scott king

The podcaster is able to video interview Arla, from her confines of Elmtree manor. Just the very theme of Arla being detained under the mental health act, rather than serving a lengthy prison sentence is cause for mass media speculation. Did Arla getaway easily with her crimes? Was she even mentally ill?
These are all themes Scott king wishes to explore with his podcast.

This is what makes Wesoloski’s novels so unique. They force you to question and explore why people do commit violent crimes and their personal reasoning for doing so.

In the first episode we hear directly from Arla. Although certain subjects are forbidden from discussion at the staff’s request. We also learn about Arla herself, the crime and the victims she killed. Arla lived with her mother and stepfather Stanley and sister Alice. Her biological father was violent and abusive and it was Stanley that ‘saved’ the family as they fled from Scotland to Stanwel. Stanwel is described as your typical run-down northern town, where nothing ever happens. That is until a young woman takes a hammer to her parent’s heads.

‘Her life was lived under the law her parents imposed’

Arla’s parents were right-wing Christians with firm and steadfast beliefs on issues such as abortion and LGBT rights. Arla began to reject her parents values in her teens and this seemed to inflame their attitudes towards her. With her sister Alice becoming the preferred ‘favourite child’.
Something happened to Arla, that much is clear.
But what occurred that day at 41 Redstart Road, Stanwel?

“I let them in. I let them in” – Arla

Arla talks of visions of ‘black eyed kids’ BEK, an urban myth amongst young teens. It is unclear if the BEK caused her to further seek out other occult behaviour or she was already actively seeking it out. Needless to say Arla was fascinated by the occult and the notion of escaping her current life.

Arla’s background is further explored and the details of her psychosis diagnosis. Is Arla mentally ill? Seems to be a common question in the novel and schizophrenia is known to present itself in the late teens/early 20s. So, there is more than enough room for speculation. Which I think makes for fantastic reading.

I typically avoid novels with a mental health theme, as that was my previous occupation and I hate to see it misrepresented in a novel. Statistically mentally ill people are more likely to harm themselves than others and too often it is distorted to fit a narrative in a crime fiction novel. But this was not the case at all within Hydra. The mental health aspects were backed up with knowledgeable facts. The central theme remained focused on understanding Arla, not condemning her due to her illness.
I must admit I really respect the author for that. It could have been too easy, to delve off into a tangent of mental health and loose sight of Arla completely.

As Scott King continues to interview people from Arla’s past such as her former teacher, childhood friend and holiday buddy. We learn more and more about why Arla was the way she was. Why she became so meek and introverted. Her obsession with the band Skexxixx and occult practices, is all explored.
At the same time Scott begins to receive personal threats to cease and desist with his Six Stories podcast. But he refuses to back down to the threats of an online troll.
But this troll just won’t simply go away!

‘No one wants you when the world tells you that you’re not important, that you don’t matter, that you’re an inconvenience – some people start to believe it; they make themselves unlikable’ – Angel Mawson

The novel has so many talking points, as it incorporates real-life themes within the story. In a comparison from Arla to the killers of James Bulger, we are forced to ask why the media was so quick to condemn two 10yr old boys instead of asking why they did it? The band Skexxixx is forced to shoulder some responsibility for the violent crime. Almost as if listening to a specific type of music can turn you into a killer.
But I can remember the exact same approach being used against Marilyn Manson in the aftermath of the Columbine shooting.

Why are we so quick to cling to meaningless reasons in the aftermath of a violent crime? Instead of seeking to understand the individual that felt the violent crime was their only way out!

I write my reviews days after reading the books. As I sit here now, I keep reflecting,
‘this is just such a bloody great book’.
So, there you go, this is simply put – such a bloody great book! 5*

mw
Matt Wesolowski
Twitter
Orenda Books