Dead Woman Walking by Sharon Bolton

dead womanWhat I thought:

I have long been a fan of Sharon Bolton. In fact, I’ve read every single book she’s written (which surely makes me a super-fan?). I know I’m in for a treat when I settle down with on of her books, and I’m pleased to confirm that I haven’t been let down yet.

Dead Woman Walking starts in a balloon ride early one morning. A group of 13 people (which includes a couple, several hikers, a family with teenage children and two sisters, Jess and Bella, who are two of the main characters in this book) are enjoying their ride when they witness a crime on the ground below which ultimately turns their tranquil flight into the trip of nightmares. When the balloon fails to arrive back and the police are eventually called, what they find is a scene of carnage and devastation and a flight that wasn’t simply a crash, but a deliberate attempt to bring the balloon down.

Once the victims are accounted for, the Police realise they are one body short. From here, what ensues is a cat and mouse game between victim, Police and someone else who is just as determined to find her, although for entirely different reasons. I really don’t want to say any more than this as it’s best to read it and find out for yourself as you go along.

There are several plot twists in Dead Woman Walking and I did actually guess them all. I think I must read too much crime fiction as I constantly find myself playing detective and pick up on every little thing (particularly something that seems slightly out of place or almost irrelevant to the developing plot, as I often find that it is there for a reason in the end). Despite this, it did not detract from my enjoyment of the book and it was still as satisfying to find out my theories had been right (although I confess, I love it when I don’t see something coming).

Verdict:

Another belter from Sharon Bolton. Fantastic plot, great characters (the nuns were fantastic! – it was like watching the end of The Sound of Music when they sabotage the Nazi’s car).  Short chapters, great forward momentum and a fabulous aray of characters = a page-turning romp of a read.

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Have you read this or any of Sharon Bolton’s other books? Which one is your favourite?

Daisy in Chains by Sharon Bolton

Daisy in chainsWhat I thought:

There is little more comforting that settling down to read a book by one of your favourite authors and knowing you’ll be in for a treat. And little more satisfying than reaching the end and congratulating yourself on being right.

I first discovered Sharon Bolton’s books about 5 years ago (then known as S J Bolton) when I was recommended Sacrifice by a friend. I devoured it. And all her others since.

Daisy in Chains centres on prison inmate Hamish Wolfe, incarcerated for the murders of 4 young women. Despite the court case being lost and Wolfe being found guilty, he wages a campaign to get lawyer Maggie Rose on his side to help him prove his innocence. Maggie Rose has a reputation – that of an illusive, limelight-shunning lawyer who finds loopholes and inconsistencies in evidence that has overturned the convictions of even the guiltiest of murderers. That’s why Wolfe wants Maggie on his side, only she is playing very hard to get.

What ensues is a game of cat and mouse between Wolfe and Rose and we’re never really sure of either Wolfe’s guilt or innocence or Maggie’s belief in him. What I like about Bolton’s books is her way of dropping in bits of information throughout the book, some almost seeming irrelevant at the time. It is held back and then weaved cleverly in to the plot, constantly making your question your assumptions.

 

  Verdict:

In this age of the psychological thriller (and it is – just check out the supermarket shelves!) I have either read far too many of them that I can guess way too early what will happen, or publishers are jumping on a bandwagon and pushing any old rubbish out it sometimes seems, it restores my faith in good writing and plotting when I am left with some surprises at the end.

Great book, highly recommended. And if you haven’t read any of Bolton’s other books please make sure you do, they really are fantastic.

 

 

Dead Scared by S J Bolton

In three words:

Cambridge, nightmares, scared

 

 

What I thought:

Just over a year ago I discovered S J Bolton’s books, starting with Sacrife which I absolutely loved. Since then I have gone on to read three more of her books and this latest book is every bit as good as all the others.

Dead Scared is the second book featuring Detectives Lacey Flint and Mark Joesbury and this time they are in Cambridge investigating an unusually high number of student suicides at the University over the last 5 years. Lacey is sent undercover to live as student Laura Farrow at the Universtity and only days into her “new life” she discovers that the suicides aren’t quite what they first seem. The students, usually female and pretty, are killing themselves in increasingly violent ways after complaing of nightmares and being terrified for weeks  beforehand. Lacey/Laura delves deeper into the lives and histories of the student deaths with the help of University Psychiatrist Evi Oliver (who is apparantly a character from Blood Harvest which is the only obe of Boltons books that I haven’t read yet – to be rectified VERY soon!). Evi is the person who alerted the police to her concerns about the high suicide rate in Cambridge and soon finds that  not only is she suffering from nightmares herself but strange and very scary things are starting to happen to her in her own home too.

Despite this being the second book to star Flint and Joesbury, I don’t think that it is at all necessary to have read the first in the series, Now You See Me. There are a few references to things that happened in that first book but I was really pleased to note that Bolton didn’t give away any of the plot that would spoil it for readers who haven’t picked that one up yet. Also, the way that this book ends means that surely there is a next in the series to come. YES!

Verdict: Highly recommended. I found this book absolutely fantastic and had trouble putting it down. It had me hooked from page one (which has been something pretty rare recently as I have struggled to get into a few books), and it was an intelligent and fast-paced thriller with genuinely creepy moments and if you are of a nervous disposition I would heartily recommend that you don’t read this book alone in the dark….

 

  Have you read any of S J Bolton’s books. If not, are you going to?

 

(Source: I received a copy of this book for review from Netgalley)

The Thrill Week Blog Hop

Thrill Week is here! Mwahahahahahaaaa!!!

It’s finally here – Thrill Week – where myself and 6 other blogs will be celebrating all things crime fiction (one of my favourite genres). Pop on over to host Marce’s blog (Tea Time with Marce) to see her answers to the following questions and then have a peek at these lovely bloggers too – you’re bound to get some ideas and inspiration about which books you should be reading:

Best O’Books

Cafe of Dreams Book Reviews

Mental Foodie – A Book and Food Lover

 
 
 

  So to kick off the week, here are my answers to the questionnaire:

 

1) What is your favourite genre out of Thriller, Mystery, Suspense and Horror? Why?

I think I would have to say mystery. I love a good whodunnit and especially love trying to work out the perpetrator as early on as I can (what I especially love is, despite being a seasoned crime fic reader, the author can still fool me).

2) Who are your top 3 authors in those genres?

Tess Gerritsen, Val McDermid, Mary Higgins Clark.

Both Gerritesen and McDermid I love because of their ability to pull me in from page one with promises of high body counts, red herrings and clever psychological and forensic detail. I like intelligent crime fiction and these two are among the best for me. Mary Higgins Clark, on the other hand, is my Queen of Comfort in the crime genre. Her books are pretty formulaic but that’s what I love as I know what I’m going to get and she has never failed to deliver. I think MHC is a fantastic author who gets overlooked a lot but, for me, if I ever need a comfort read then she is at the top of my pile (and despite her books being formulaic, I hardly ever guess whodunnit until the end).

I am really excited to have have interviewed Mary Higgins Clark last year and I also have interviews with both Tess Gerritsen and Val McDermid coming up shortly so keep an eye out for those 🙂

3)Tell us who your favourite male and female authors are in the genre?

Female: Tess Gerritsen, Val McDermid, Mary Higgins Clark, Agatha Christie, Elly Griffiths, S J Bolton, Karen Rose, Tana French, Lisa Gardner

Male: Linwood Barclay, Harlan Coben, Jo Nesbo, Steig Larsson, Peter Robinson, James Patterson, Robert Goddard

Interestingly enough, I was able to immediately write down all the names of my favourite female authors, but with the exception of the first two males I had to go off and check what books I had read (which was accompanied by many “oh yeah”‘s) Wonder why that is?

4) What book do you remember loving but don’t remember the details?

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie. I read this when I was in my early teens and again in my twenties but I don’t remember a thing about it other than there are 10 people who are called to an island and one by one they are killed off and the reader has to try to work out who is doing it. I could read it again today and still have no idea until the end. In fact, I really must read it again – it’s a fantastic book and I highly recommend it!

5) What has been your favourite book this year so far:

ThrillerThe Surgeon by Tess Gerritsen

MysterySacrifice by S J Bolton

SuspenseBefore I Go To Sleep by S J Watson

HorrorCarrie by Stephen King

  6) What series or trilogy would you recommend ?
 
  Rizzoli & IslesTess Gerritsen (Fantastic Detective / Forensic Pathologist duo who solve some really interesting and unusuak crimes between them. My favourites!)

Hill & JordanVal McDermid (Detective and Criminal Pyschologist who work together to solve serial killer cases and really get into the mind of the perpetrators. Brilliant series!)

Ruth & NelsonElly Griffiths (I love these two! Detective and Forensic Archaeologist who solve some old and new crimes when bones have been found. You gotta love Ruth & Nelson!)

The Millenium TrilogyStieg Larsson (Swedish Journalist, Blomkvist, gets involved in some high profile cases with the aid of his rather unique sidekick, Lisbeth Salander.)

Inspector Alan BanksPeter Robinson (Set in the Yorkshire Dales where it’s supposed to be rural and sleepy except bodies keep turning up, leaving Inspector Alan Banks to investigate. Great series.)

Gretchen LowellChelsea Cain (Not for the feint hearted. Gretchen Lowell is sick, sick, sick but you can’t help but read about her exploits).

  7) Recommend 1 or 2 books that you think more around the blogosphere should read
 
  If you want a proper crime, serial killer type book then you should definitely read Retribution by Jilianne Hoffman. I loved this book – pacey, gripping, creepy. Just brilliant!
 
 
  For something a little gentler then I would recommend Gentlemen and Players by Joanne Harris. It’s a great book and I never saw the twist coming at the end!

  8 What authors have you tried and look forward to reading more from them?

Linda Castello – I have read her first book in a series of crime books set in the Amish community, Sworn to Silence,  and loved it so I am looking forward to reading the next two

Jane Casey – Has written 3 books and I have only read the second one, The Burning, which I loved.

Karen RoseI have only read her latest book, You Belong to Me, and I really enjoyed it and am very excited to know that I have 10 more of hers waiting to be read!

Stephen Beckett – Againm, I have only read the first one (The Chemistry of Death) out of the 4 books he has written so far with the same lead character so I have more to look forward to.

Jilianne Hoffman – Despite loving Retribution (see above) I still haven’t read the other book by the author but I do have it at home so I am looking forward to diving in to that one.

  9) What authors in the above genres are on your TBR list but you haven’t tried yet?  Who should I read soon?
 
  I am always on the look out for new crime ficiton authors so I am open to suggestions.  Based on my likes, which authors or books do YOU think I should be reading?
 
 
  Have you seen anything you like? Do you already any of the authors above or do you think you might give any of them a go? And don’t forget those recommendations 🙂
 
 

  I will be doing another Thrill Week post on 6th September and I have the MOST AMAZING GIVEAWAY too! A total of  FIFTEEN BOOKS to giveaway so make sure you drop by!

 
 

Meet the author: S J Bolton

Anyone who follows my blog will know that I am a massive crime fiction fan (and I seem to be on a one-woman crime (fic) wave at the moment! ) A couple of months ago I discovered S J Bolton and she has now been added to my list of favourite authors after devouring three of her four books in just a few months (the final one is almost top of my TBR pile too). I was thrilled when Sharon (Bolton) agreed to be interviewed on my blog.

Check out more about this fabulous author on her website here.

 

 

Meet the author:

Boof – Firstly, congratulations on your third book, Blood Harvest, being
longlisted for the Theakstons Crime Awards. How do you feel?

Sharon – Hugely flattered, but not desperately hopeful. The next stage is decided by public vote. I mean, Lee Child is on the longlist too and he has a few more readers
than I.  About four million!  

Boof – Your latest book, Now You See Me, is out now. In this book the murders of women in London are being investigated and they have all the hallmarks of Jack the Ripper (a case that was never solved back in the 18th century). What is your fascination with Jack the Ripper and what sort of research did you do for the book?

Sharon – Millions of us are fascinated by the killer who was unspeakably brutal, totally merciless and, ultimately, completely untouchable. (Secretly, we all want to be one who finally solves the mystery.) I don’t pretend to do that but I hope I’ve given the story a new and original twist.  My main character in Now You See Me, DC Lacey Flint, is something of a Ripper expert so I felt I had to be too. I’ve done a huge amount of reading over the past couple of years and could almost lead a Ripper tour myself now. 

Boof – There were (and still are) several theories about who Jack the Ripper was, and you use one of them in your book. Without giving anything away (as this is a big part of the book) is this your opinion of how Jack managed to get away scott free each time?

Sharon – I don’t know who Jack the Ripper was and I probably never will. I have my own pet theory (which isn’t shared by Lacey, by the way) but it will only ever be that.
What we have to take away from the Ripper story is that a clever and lucky killer once managed to evade all efforts to catch him. I don’t doubt it could happen again and in Now You See Me, it does.   

Boof – What process do you use to write your books: do you have a plot all mapped out from the beginning or do you see where the plot and characters take you? Have you ever been surprised how a book has turned out?

Sharon – I’m in awe of writers who start out with a basic idea and then see where it
takes them. (Straight to the drink’s cabinet is where it would take me!) I have a basic idea and then do a whole pile of research. This can take several months in the first instance and all the time I’m reading and learning, I’m thinking and making notes. The story starts to shape itself. If the research period has gone well, I’ll have an outline plot by the time I start work on the first draft. I then plan each chapter and even each scene. Walking the dog and driving to school are great thought-provokers. I am continually surprised though, by how stories form themselves and how characters make their own decisions. This is one of the great joys of writing fiction.   

Boof – Were books a big part of your life growing up? Which books were your favourites as a child?

Sharon – If we weren’t allowed books at the breakfast table, my sisters and I fought to
read the cornflakes packet. We all read constantly in those days. Now, one of my big fears for my son is that, with so many other distractions and amusements at his call, he cannot possibly grow up sharing my passion for books.   

Boof – Who are your literary heros now?

Sharon – Stephen King, JK Rowling and Joanne Harris are the three writers who, for me, combine a formidable gift for prose with powerful, quirky and sometimes very dark imaginations. I read many other authors for pleasure but those three have assumed mythical status for me. I met Joanne not too long ago and was so star-struck I simply could not string a sentence together. [Boof – I met Joanne Harris (also one of my very favourite authors) at a book signing years ago too and I had the exact same reaction!]


Boof – Have you ever read a book and thought “damn! I wish I had written that!”?

Sharon – Many times, and usually because of the power and originality of the underlying plot. PD James’ The Children of Men was one such, Donna Tartt’s The Secret History another.  [Boof – LOVE, LOVE, LOVE The Secret History!]

Boof You’re stranded on a desert island for a year. Which 3 books do you take with you and why?

Sharon The Lord of the Rings, because I’m a huge Tolkien fan and that would give me three massive books in one. Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials for exactly the same reasons, although I do admit I’m cheating now. And Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, because it is the only true Bronte masterpiece and the best thriller ever written. [Boof – Jane Eyre! *squeal*]

Boof – You can time travel to any period in history for a day: where and when would you go and why?

Sharon – May 19th, 1536, to rescue Anne Boleyn from the scaffold. Of all the women who were ever manipulated, used and then discarded, by men who claimed to love them but who, ultimately, destroyed them, she is the one who stands out.  

 

Boof – Do you have any famous fans?

Sharon – Lee Child has read both Sacrifice and Now You See Me and gave me a very
complimentary endorsement quote for the latter. I can’t though, in all seriousness, claim he is a fan. Can I? Oh, all right then, he’s nice enough to let me get away with it. (I hope!)   

Boof Are you working on any more books right now and if so can you give us any sneek previews?

Sharon – I’m in the process of finishing off my fifth, the second in the Lacey Flint/Mark Joesbury series, set in Cambridge and featuring an undercover police
investigation into bizarre student deaths.  

Boof – Is there a question you wish I had asked and if so what is it?

Sharon – It would be nice if you’d asked me how I feel about being number one on the
Bestseller List, but I do completely understand why you didn’t!

Boof Quick fire round:

Favourite colour: Green, possibly yellow, maybe a greeny-yellow. Or a  yellowy-green?

Favourite animal: My lurcher, Lupe.

Favourite food: Cold sausages (also
Lupe’s favourite).

Favourite song: Fallen, by Lauren
Wood.

Favourite film: The Thomas Crown
Affair (remake)

Favourite holiday destination:Dartmouth

Favourite childhood memory: Big
family Christmases at Grandma’s.  

Thank you to Sharon for taking the time to answer these questions so that we can find out a little bit more about her. Have you read any of her books yet? Do you think you will?

Book Review: Now You See Me by S J Bolton

The Blurb:

“Despite her fascination with Jack the Ripper, Detective Constable Lacey Flint has never worked a big case or seen a dead body up close. Until now… 

As she leaves a south London estate one night, she is horrified to find a woman has been viciously stabbed, right next to Lacey’s car. 

Thrown headlong into her first murder hunt, Lacey’s quiet life changes overnight. Then Lacey receives a familiar hand-delivered letter, written in red blood, and it is clear the police have a Ripper copycat on their hands. 

Lacey must be the bait if they are to prevent a second, brutal murder. But can this inexperienced DC outwit a killer whose infamous role model has never been found?…”

(source: amazon.co.uk)

  What I thought:

This is the third S J Bolton I have read in the last two months: up until that point I hadn’t even heard of her and now she is one of my favourite authors! The other two books I have read by her are Sacrifice and Awakening – if you haven’t picked them up yet, what are you waiting for? Get thee down to the bookshop now!

Now You See Me is narrated by a young detective with the Metropolitan Police, Lacey Flint, who opens her telling of the tale with the murder of a woman outside a block of flats in run down area of London. Lacey is on the scene immediately but not because she has been called out – because she is walking back to her car and the dying woman literally falls into her before dying. Lacey has missed the killer by seconds. What first appears to be bad luck and coincidence that the woman died in Lacey’s arms soon becomes something else entirely when a journalist receives a Dear Boss letter reminiscent of those sent to the press and police by Jack the Ripper. Not only that but Lacey is named in the letter. As more murders occur on the exact same dates as those of the Rippers victims (and in the exact same gruesome manner)  the whole of London goes on high alert, especially the colleagues of Lacey Flint who are convinced that the killer is fixated on her.

Once again, as in Boltons previous books to some degree, the protagonist is flawed. In this case, Lacey has her own secrets which she also keeps from the reader, making her an unreliable witness. She makes no secret of the fact that she has a somewhat disfunctional background and is no longer in contact with any of her family but what else is she hiding? Trying to figure Lacey out is as much part of the plot as figuring out “whodunnit” and the two seem to have some links. Of course, no respectable crime fic book would be the same without a heroine who ignores all police advice to stay away and instead hares all over London in an attempt to investigate on her own. Oh no.

In summary: fast-paced, great plot, intriguing protagonist, cleverly written, a few pinches of gore (to warn the feint of heart, but none felt uncecessary), twists and turns a-plenty. Another belter from this author.

(source: I received my copy of this book from Amazon Vine)

Now You See Me is out in the UK on 26th May.

Author interview:

I will be posting my interview with author S J Bolton tomorrow so watch out for that. Find out all about her fascination with Jack the Ripper and how that made the transission into ficion.

One Book, Two Book, Three Book, Four… and Five…

A fun meme for a Friday courtesy of the lovely Simon at Stuck in a Book (check out his blog; he’s really good fun):

 

 

The book I am currently reading:

The Tiger’s Wife by Téa Obreht. This seems to be taking me an age to read but I am enjoying it. A little slower than I would have liked but sometimes it’s a good thing to savour a book rather than race through it. And of course it features a tiger (and you know how much I love tigers – à la Richard Parker from Life of Pi).

 

 

The last book I finished:

Now You See Me by S J Bolton. I am lucky enough to have a copy of this already as it hasn’t quite reached the shops yet (although look out for it as it will be on those shelves in a matter of days). I have discovered this author this year and have just loved her books. Now You See Me is no exception. Women are being killed in London and they have all the hallmarks of Jack The Ripper….

 

 

The next book I want to read:

 

This is a really difficult one as I am incredibly fickle and can be easily swayed by something shiny and new, but at the moment I want to read The Attack by Yasmina Khadra. I reserve the right to change my mind entirely on a whim, however.

 

 

The last book I bought:

Battle Royale by Kaushun Takami . This was recommended to me as being sort of Hunger Games-ish only set in Japan and a lot more brutal. I found this copy yesterday, brand new, in my local garden centre for one pound!!!

 

 

The last book I was given:

Hmmmm, this is a difficult one as I hardly EVER get any books given to me (people seem to think I have too many already. Tsk!). Apart from lovely publishers who regularly send me parcels (I love it – and them!) then probably the last book I was given was  I’d Know You Anywhere by Laura Lippman (known as Don’t Look Back in the UK) by lovely friend Stacie from the USA who I know from a group on Goodreads (there are 14 of us and we do a Secret Santa every year).

 

What would your five be?