The Killing Game by JS Carol

kliing-2What  I Thought:

This book should come with a warning sign on the cover: Do not start if you have other plans for the day. The term un-putdownable is banded around fairly frequently in book reviews (yep, guilty) but this one really is!

Set over just 4 hours in an exclusive Hollywood restaurant frequented by the A-list elite, their Agents and top PR, a lone gunman with a bomb strapped to him walks in one lunch hour and takes the 25 patrons and staff hostage. After making them strip to their underwear to heighten the sense of fear and humiliation, he then begins his games by killing unexpectedly and at random, his opening line upon entering having been “From this moment on I am God.”

The book is very clever at painting the picture of the Hollywood set in all its ugly glory (behind many a successful star is someone who has plotted, manipulated and orchestrated with them and behind every news story is a team of people who will go to any lengths to get exclusives, not caring who lives or dies along the way). Yet inside the restaurant, these sometimes shallow and narcissistic people are just the same as anyone else – they have their own worries, grief, hopes and dreams.

The book is set in half hour timeframes over the course of 4 hours and the narrative is fast and furious with each short chapter ending on a cliffhanger that makes it impossible to put down. Not only that but as you are left dangling off the edge of that particular cliff, the next chapter flits to another part of the story so there becomes a point where you are dangling off about 3 cliffs simultaneously ensuring you can never put the damn thing down! Crafty.

 

  Verdict:

Seriously good! Thrilling, exciting, shocking and so absorbing that when you finally come up for air it’s a bit of a surprise to find you are sat on your own sofa in your own home. Lock the doors, turn your phone off, put the fire on and your feet up (snacks recommended as you are unlikely to want to move for the next few hours) and get ready for the ride!

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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)

Catch Me by Lisa Gardner

In three words:

Gripping, exciting, thrilling

 

 

What I thought:

I have been a huge fan of Lisa Gardner after discovering her books about 2 years ago, and I particularly like the Detective D.D. Warren series of which Catch Me is the latest. Her books always start with an intriguing prologue that grabs you by the throat but actually gives away very little meaning that the rest of the book is up to you to work out. I still have a lot of Gardners’ books to read (yay!) so I can only speak for the ones that I have read so far, but what I have found (and liked) is that there is usually an ureliable narrator at the helm. In some cases this is deliberate (for reasons that become apparant later on) and in some cases (i.e. Catch Me) it is because the narrator can’t actually remember any more than she’s telling us so we are muddling through in the same way that she is.

Charlie Grant (or Charlene Rosalind Carter Grant as she insists upon being called) tracks down Boston Detective D.D. Warren on 17th January to ask for help: she thinks she only has 4 days left until she will be murdered. On the last two January 21sts her two best friends, Randi and Jackie, were murdered a year apart and Charlie thinks she will be next. As well as working on what appears to be a serial killer of paedophiles , D.D. is intrigued enough to check out Charlie’s story at the same time, and becomes more so when it appears that the two cases may be linked…

You don’t have to have read all (or indeed any) of this series to be able to get full enjoyment out of this book (I have read only the latest 4 which means I can now go back to D.D’s roots and see where she started out) but I do like the fact that I have seen her character develop. Once hard-nut workaholic D.D. is now mother to 10 week old Jack and living with partner Alex and for once actually looking forward to getting home after a shift. Old habbits die hard though and D.D. ins’t one to let a case go cold and her spidey-senses start tingling like mad towards the end of this one.

What I also liked about this particular book was that characters from some of her other series’ had cameos too; in fact quite a few of them did. Again, if you’re not familiar with Gardner’s books you wouldn’t even notice (and it wouldn’t spoil the book in any way) but for fans this was actually a real treat.

Verdict: One of my favourites. I ripped through it in no time at all and enjoyed every page. Highly recommended for crime fiction fans.

 

(Source: I recieved this book from NetGalley)

 

The Retribution by Val McDermid

In three words:

Revenge, murder, pyschopath

 

What I thought:

I first discovered Val McDermid’s Tony Hill & Carol Jordan series about 7 or 8 years ago and I have been a dedicated fan ever since. The Retribution is not only the latest in the series of seven books but it also reintroduces one of the serial killers from a much earlier book The Wire in the Blood – the evil and twisted Jacko Vance. To be honest, I could barely remember a thing about that book so it wouldn’t make any difference to reading this book out of sequence if you haven’t read McDermid’s earlier ones yet.

Jacko Vance is clever – brillianlty clever and charming to boot. He has spent the last 16 year behind bars for the murder of a teenage girl (although he murdered many, many more but the prosecution couldn’t prove it). In The Retribution, Vance escapes from jail (no spoiler – it’s in the blurb) and is hell bent on payback to those who landed him in prison in the first place, including both Tony Hill and Carol Jordan. At the same time, another serial killer is on the lose in Bradfield killing prostitutes and Detective Carol Jordan’s team set out to track him down.

The fact that both these stories are running in tandem with each other means that not enough time was devoted to either. The prostitute killer felt almost like an afterthought and his ultimate capture was bordering on eye-rolling. The sotry of Jacko Vance’s escape and revenge would have been more than enough to keep us on the edge of our seats and, at times, I was. Waiting to see who would feed Carol Jordan’s cat (it will make sense when you have read it, I promise) had my pulse racing overtime and trying to figure out who was next on his hit-list was great stuff. Jacko Vance is such a brilliantly evil character that despite his psychopathic nature, I wanted to spend more and more time in his company in the book; I had to know what he was thinking and planning on doing next and loved seeing how he doesn’t see anything wrong with himself, just everyone else. However – and it’s with a heavy heart that I write this, being such a fan – I felt that this book wasn’t on a par with others in the series. In fact,  Beneeth the Bleeding (two books earlier) was also somewhat lacking and I wonder if Tony Hill and Carol Jordan are finally running out of steam….. or maybe McDermid is?

Despite my overall enjoyment of the book, I was left with a feeling that the ending was rushed and that the prostitute killer had almost been forgotten and that Hill and Jordan were not acting completely in character. As for the end….it felt so implausable that I almost saw the character involved as a charicature of themselves, complete with moustache-twirling “mwahahahahaaa”. The book also ends very abruptly, almost like the end of a chapter than the end of a book and it left me with a feeling of “now what?” rather than satisfaction.

Verdict: A really good read, just not a great one. I felt a little short-changed which is disappointing as I always look forward to the latest book in the series so much. Will I read the next? Absolutely!

 

(Source: I recieved my copy of this book for review from both Little, Brown and also Netgalley – thank you)

 

Day 39 – A book I expected to hate but loved

Love me, love me not, love me…

When I was younger I read and loved Agatha Christie books but that was probably as near as I got to crime fiction until James Patterson which I used to read in a single sitting on holiday. Then back in about 2004, our chosen book club book was layed out on the table and I remember picking it up tentitively and wrinkling my nose at the title. That book was The Torment of Others by Val McDermid.

I remember being almost so sure that I wouldn’t enjoy it (it sounded gory and hardcore and the cover wasn’t as nice as the new one shown below) that I nearly didn’t even buy it that night. Once home, however, curiosity got the better of me and I ended up flying through the chapters, completely enthralled by the twisted tale before me. It was brilliant!

The Torment of Others wasn’t the first book in McDermid’s Tony Hill & Carol Jordan (it’s the fourth I think) but it didn’t matter. Once I had read that book, I went right back to the beginning and read them all in order, pretty much back to back (just like I did when I discovered Gerritsen’s Rizzoli & Isles series). McDermid is one very clever author – I love the twists and turns, not just of the stories themselves but of the killers minds; I loved being alongside Tony Hill as he tries to fathom out their motives and what they’ll do next.

 

  Have you ever expected to dislike a book and had a pleasant surprise?

 

RIP VI is here!

Autumn must be here…

OK, to be fair, we haven’t really even had a summer in the UK but that’s nothing out of the ordinary. Autumn is my favourite season and alsways has been. I used to love going back to school after the long holidays (yep, must be a geek!) and it was my birthday, halloween and bonfire night. I love the crisp days and darker evenings when you have to put the fire on a curl up (with a book, naturally) and cup of hot chocolate or glass of red wine. Autumn is a time for classics, gothic reads and spooky tales hence my excitement for this challenge again.

I have successfully managed to avoid all challenges this year so far but this is one that I cannot igone! The Peril Challenge is right up my street and I loved taking part last year t00.

The purpose of the R.I.P. Challenge is to enjoy books that could be classified as:

Mystery, Suspense, Thriller, Dark Fantasy, Gothic, Horror, Supernatural.

As you know, I am likely to change my mind on a whim (I’m incredibly fickle when it comes to shiny new books attracting my attention) and side-tracking me from the best laid plans. However, here are some of the books that are on my list (for the moment):

Pet Sematary by Stephen King (currently reading)

The Retribution by Val McDermid (currently reading)

Suffer the Children by John Saul (read this as a teenager and want to read it again as I remember nothing about it except it spooked me)

Florence and Giles by John Harding (I hadn’t heard of this until Helen of She Reads Novels added it to her list and I looked it up – only 99p on my Kindle too…bargain!)

Cuckoo by Julia Couch (sent to me for review and looks like a great pyschological thriller)

Needful Things by Stephen King (after reading Carrie recently and now on to Pet Sematary I am on a bit of a SK kick)

The Remains by Vincent Zandri (recommended by a fellow blogger taking part in Thrill Week and again only 86p on my Kindle!)

Uncle Silas by Joseph Sheriden le Fanu (has been on my shelf for a few years and is supposed to be Victorian gothic at its creepiest – delicious!!!)

Blood Harvest by S J Bolton (the only one of her 4 books I haven’t read yet and it’s a sort of crime ghost story so should be perfect!)

The Resurrectionists by Julia Wilkins (another one recommended as really creepy by Helen at She Reads Novels last year during my Dare You Read It? series in October and I have since  found a second hand copy)

 

I think that little lot should keep me going for a while, but like I say, by the time I have finished the challenge it is probably unlikely to resemble the above list at all (oh the perils of shiny, new things……)

 

I will be doing the Peril the First challenge which is to read at least 4 books from the above categories (shouldn’t be too hard as they are my favourite genre at the moment).

 

Have you got any plans to join in? If so, what will you be reading?

 

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!