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I live in Bristol UK horror dark fiction and crime are my books of choice and when not reading I like to run

Hang on for the ride!

The Cyclist - Anthony Neil Smith

The great thing about being a member of netgalley is the opportunity it offers to the avid reader to explore genres and authors that would have otherwise have passed him by. Equally it gives new authors the chance to reach out to a much greater audience when hopefully their books will receive a warm welcome. I thought The Cyclist was an excellent example of an exciting story that kept me captivated from first page to last and all in one sitting! Not bad for an author whose writing I had only just met...so what's it about?


Judd almost became a navy seal, his friend and mentor Burt "cleaver" worries about him following an incident with live ammo during a field training exercise..."Whatever made him think he was a SEAL material, God only knew".... Judd in his own mind is a washed out failure spending his time cycling and surfing the net in the hope?..........Cat is the answer to his dreams an online companion who finds him funny outgoing and personable, the fact that she lives in Glasgow and he in Minnesota is but a small problem. Judd makes the decision to take out his meagre life savings and make the long journey to Scotland hopeful and confident that Catrina is the love of his life. What follows is an exciting thrill a minute tour de force as Judd tries to comprehend the complex Cat as they journey and cycle north of Inverness in the harsh yet beautiful Scottish countryside. To disclose more would spoil the delights and gruesome pleasures that await you dear reader of my review! I will only add that "Cleaver" shows the meaning of true friendship, and Cat will need to explain to an infatuated Judd just what her relationship with Alistair is?


Many thanks to the good people of netgalley for sending me a gratis copy of The Cyclist in exchange for an honest review and that is what I have written. Highly Recommended.

A world of heartache and pain

Blanky - Kealan Patrick Burke

A sad deeply moving short story from one of my fav authors Kealan Patrick Burke. Stephen Brannigan and his wife Lexi are mourning the tragic loss of their daughter Robin. Unable to comprehend this life changing event both parents have resolved to live apart and deal with the grief in their own particular way. Stephen is tormented by dreams and visions and finds comfort with an old blanket that used to adorn Robins cot. Lexi living with her parents reaches out again to Stephen and the two once again find comfort in each other's arms.


An unforeseen event occurs that throws the healing process into confusion and Stephen in his utter despair seeks out the market trader who sold Lexi the baby blanket as he is convinced this is the route of all evil and the cause of his despair. But is Stephen suffering a mental breakdown? Can we believe his narrative? Stephen purports to love and worship his wife and daughter but can we trust his mental state?..."I may have lost my mind for a time, but grief makes everyone crazy. Losing someone makes you lose yourself, makes you yearn for the impossible"....


A beautiful, uneasy and difficult to read short novel by Kealan Patrick Burke. As with so much of his writing the emotion and sadness is laid bare for all to see.... " you must try to get on with things or the grief will destroy you. You must put away the reminders of loss to have any hope of surviving."......"I feared that when Robin died, Lexi buried me right alongside her."...."The seasons were changing and the house was old attuned like arthritic bones to alterations in temperature."..... The ending expertly complimented the themes of loss and heartache and it would appear that nothing could save the Brannigan family as they..."went to lay with the Goddess of Grief. Recommended.

Harry has an off day

The Overlook - Michael Connelly

Harry Bosch is called to the scene of a murder on the "Overlook" a high location in LA which offers stunning views of the city of angels. It soon becomes apparent that renowned physicist Dr. Stanley Kent was shot twice in the back of the head, all the marks of a professional killing. Very quickly the FBI are involved  in the form of Bosch's on/off lover Rachel Walling. It would appear that not only is this a murder scene but a hazardous  radioactive element "cesium" remains unaccounted for presumably stolen when the physicist  was executed. What at first was thought to be a simple homicide has evolved into a serious security issue and both the FBI and the LAPD must rush to contain an emerging national emergency. If there is one thing that angers Bosch it is having to share an investigation with other government agencies. As a maverick investigator he views with suspicion the actions of others and questions why not only the FBI but Homeland Security should "muscle" in on his turf!


As a long time admirer of the writings of Michael Connelly I must admit to be disappointed in this the 13th outing of our irascible hero Harry Bosch. He is much more comfortable (and so is the reader) when he is examining incidents peculiar to LA. Once the FBI and Homeland Security takes charge of this possible major chemical contamination, Harry is always playing catch up. Nevertheless, and almost unbelievably, it is Harry who from a single piece of evidence is able to resolve the matter by simply acting on his own intuition. What is the significance of Dr. Kent's wife? Why has a small yet potentially dangerous amount of the chemical been stolen? Is there an ulterior motive behind the theft?


This is a relatively short novel and even though I never felt comfortable with the storyline Connelly's writing, descriptions and his knowledge of this diverse colourful city always makes for enjoyable reading. There are some great secondary characters; Harry's new partner Ignacio (Iggy) Ferras who Harry refuses to call by his preferred name..."See you there, Ignacio Bosch said. Harry, Ferras said, I told you. Call me Iggy. Everybody does" Then there is the comical figure of Captain Don Hadley, affectionately know to his fellow cops as Captain Done Badly, who sees himself as a type of John Wayne figurehead.."The rest of you warriors mount up! We're going in." And lets not forget those wonderful descriptions...."Past the dam the city spread out in a blanket of a million lights, which shimmered in the cool evening air like floating dreams."........"The gray had not yet chased all of the brown out of his hair but it was getting close to victory."....."We are all circling the drain, he thought. Some are closer to the black hole than others; some will see it coming and some will have no clue when the undertow grabs them and pulls them down into the darkness forever."....

Outstanding Nordic noir

The Darkness - Ragnar Jónasson

 Detective Inspector Hulda Hermannsdottir is very close to retirement and she is not sure if this idea makes her feel good. When she is called to the office of her immediate superior Magnus because "We need to have a little chat about your situation" she is not sure what to expect. It seems her noble boss is eager for her to leave so that her replacement "a real high achiever" can take over her job and a deadline is set for two weeks. In fact the arrogant Magnus is eager for her to depart immediately but .."On full pay, of course" Refusing to be intimidated and not wishing to retire early she eagerly grasps at a throwaway comment made by Magnus..."But you, well, you could always look into a cold case, I suppose. Anything that takes your fancy. How does that grab you?."....The pompous Magnus will live to regret his decision and as Hulda revisits again the unsolved case of refugee Elena "She had come to a foreign country in search of refuge and only found a watery grave. And nobody cared."....she will unravel a murder that was never properly managed, and in the process question the original investigation.


The primary officer in the case Alexander did not suspect murder and closed his findings on a suicide verdict. But DI Hulda questions why a young refugee would take her own life when she had just discovered that very morning her asylum application had been approved. Clearly something had been missed, Magnus had hoped that this old case had been put to rest and he is most unhappy that Hulda is "making waves" and causing problems when she should be retired. We learn of Hulda's traumatic childhood, the tragic events surrounding her daughter Dimma, and the truth concerning her much loved husband, Jon, who died suddenly from heart failure some years ago. Against all this trauma and the approach of a lonely retirement looming ever closer "Retirement was something Hulda had never mentally prepared for.".....she meet Petur a retired doctor and the hope for future friendship, even love, now seems a possibility. Very soon DI Hulda puts herself in mortal danger as the net on the murderer closes and the events that unfold will stay in the memory of the Icelandic police force for many years to come.


This was an astounding tale beautifully told and  has made me appreciate the great contribution that Nordic crime has made over the last few years. Ragnar Jonasson is a very proficient story teller making a simple tale sparkle against the cold Icelandic landscape..."full of hidden volcanic craters and clouds of steam, scarred by the violent forces at work beneath the earth's crust here where Iceland straddled the divide between two continental plates".... I so hoped that Hulda could now find the contentment she so deserved especially as Petur held forth the hand of warmth and friendship. The conclusion of this story was totally unexpected yet brilliantly executed, to reveal more would spoil the enjoyment that awaits you dear reader of my review! Many thanks to the publisher penguin and netgalley for a gratis copy in exchange for an honest review and that is what I have written. A fantastic piece of storytelling brilliantly told and highly highly recommended.

Intimate and soul searching

Midwinter Break - Bernard MacLaverty

The mood of the book Midwinter Break and the content actually had the effect of making me question the longevity and even the purpose of marriage. Is it for companionship? Is it for love? What happens when that love loses through time its spontaneity, its freshness, and those little traits you once adored in your partner now appear as an irritation, an annoyance rather than a pleasure.


Gerry and Stella have embarked on a short break to the city of Amsterdam. This is a place that on the one hand is steeped in architectural magnificence and yet is more renowned even recognized for it's tolerance of escorts and prostitutes who brazenly advertise their trade in "rosse buurt" but better known to tourists as the red light district.


Gerry and Stella approaching the twilight of their years present to the readers as a loving couple comfortable in each other's company enjoying the good and bad of this colourful capital. As a retired architect Gerry has an immediate connection with Amsterdam and both can certainly appreciate the history and horror, the open wound that is The House of Anne Frank. Gerry possesses an alcoholic's desires and need to be constantly refueling with Ireland's most famous export; Jamesons blended whiskey. Stella has begrudgingly accepted this weakness viewing this as part of her husband's failings, but is this trip to Amsterdam Stella's opportunity to break free and discover within herself some inner peace and contentment before her body and mind succumbs to the ravages of time. A type of religious community, an order of women living "useful and happy independent lives"... appears to offer the redemption and release she craves, but would they accept her?


At the airport waiting for the flight home Stella tells Gerry that she does not wish to remain in their marriage any longer and on returning home to Scotland the flat will be sold. We learn of a traumatic incident that happened to Stella many years ago and her staunch support of the catholic church which Gerry views as..."Inflexible, narrow, capable of doing terrible damage by her adherence to rules and systems."..... Yet Stella views her relationship with the  church as a support helping her cope in those dark times..."Mass is the most precious thing in my life. It's the storyboard of how to get through."..


This is a very powerful, soulful, intimate tale showing the effects and damage that a long term relationship can have on the parties involved. In some ways this book presents itself as a depressing read, yet cannot it also offer hope? Relationships, and love within a marriage change, people need to be aware that as we grow older the way that we interact with our surroundings and the people we love the most never remains or indeed cannot remain the same...."What was love but a lifetime of conversations. And silences. Knowing when to be silent. Above all, knowing when to laugh".... Midwinter Break is informative, enjoyable and highly recommended


The King of Detectives

Echo Park - Michael Connelly

I could say that Echo Park was my favourite Harry Bosch novel but I would be lying, they are all equally brilliant. Harry is back out of retirement working for the Open Unsolved Crimes Unit with the LAPD, cases that have gone cold and need a revaluation with fresh eyes. He is partnered with Kiz Ryder and one day they receive a call from the District Attorney's dept in respect of the case of Marie Gesto, an unsolved murder that has bitter memories for Bosch.


When a van driven by Raynard Waits is routinely stopped, and during the search body parts are discovered wrapped in black plastic, the resulting fallout brings into question the handling of the Gesto murder inquiry some 15 years ago. It would appear that Waits is prepared to admit his culpability in the Gesto homicide. As Bosch delves deeper into the records it becomes clear that a valuable piece of evidence had clearly been overlooked in the original investigation. The case is further complicated by the political ambitions of a future DA candidate Richard O'Shea and when a dangerous life threatening  situation develops on a field trip Bosch is annoyed and confused over the lies and deceit directed towards him. At the same time Harry is presently surprised when he rekindles relationship with FBI agent Rachel Walling but it remains to be seen if the two have a future together.


Echo Park is an all consuming, edge of the seat thriller. Michael Connelly gives some great insights into the mindset of Bosch. He is an officer not accustomed or prepared to follow instructions or directions from his immediate superiors...."Bosch considered himself a true detective, one who took it all inside and cared. Everybody counts or nobody counts. That's what he always said.".....He always gets results but he is a maverick and as such his stubbornness and gung ho attitude creates dangerous and politically damaging situations for the LAPD


Rachel Walling must look within herself and question whether she is prepared to accept and indeed love a police officer who appears to go through each day without fully understanding how his dangerous conduct affects those around him..."Are you saying all is forgiven? There's nothing to forgive. The past is past and life's too short. You know, all of these clichés. She smiled and they sealed it with a kiss.".......


I am always astounded at the high quality of Connelly's writing his descriptions of the city of angels..."it was said that LA was a sunny place for shady people" and his deep understanding of a flawed but brilliant police officer so shaped by his difficult childhood and his experiences in the hell of Vietnam...."He had come many years and many miles but it seemed to him that he had never really left the tunnels behind, that his life had always been a slow movement through darkness and tight spaces on the way to a flickering light. He knew he was then, now, and forever a tunnel rat.".......Story telling of the highest order and highly highly recommend

Brutal and powerful in its execution

Cal - Bernard MacLaverty

The mid 70's to early 80's was a time fraught with danger in Northern Ireland. As an expat living and working in England I am well versed to understand the mindset of the various embattled groups that continued to carry on a war of attrition not only against the so called enemy (police and army) but equally against each other and if you happened to be of the wrong religion residing in the perceived wrong locality intimidation was an everyday occurrence.


Cal McCluskey and his dad are a catholic family living in a predominately protestant locality...."he could not bear to look up and see the flutter of Union Jacks, and now the red and white cross of the Ulster flag with it red hand.".... Cal was often the target of insults, taunting, and intimidation, but he tried to ignore, picking up his Giro on a regular basis and hanging around street corners, ripe pickings for paramilitary scouts. So he helped with the "cause" and when needed would act as a driver for his fellow republicans Crilly and Skeffington. With so much free time, and little hope of a job in this divided land, he was often to be seen perusing books and cassettes in the local library where one day he notices a new woman behind the counter. What follows is a beautifully written  story of a love affair that is doomed to failure from the start. Cal holds a secret that if revealed to Marcella would end their relationship as he is torn between loyalties to his friends and honesty to his lover.


The language and descriptive prose of the author reminded me of the many years I lived in a country riddled with hypocrisy and bigotry....."the weight and darkness of Protestant Ulster, with its neat stifled Sabbath towns.".... "people were dying everyday, men and women were being crippled and turned into vegetables in the name of Ireland. An Ireland which never was and never would be."....."I like the look of Donegal where nothing grows. Beaches, bogs and mountains."......"The parade led by Evangelists screaming about sin and death and damnation."....


The ending when it happens is unexpected and sudden in its execution and brutality but I felt that it suited so well the time and events in such a deeply divided community. Highly Recommended.

A remarkable book

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine - Gail Honeyman

This is not a book I would normally read but am most certainly glad I did and by so doing made the acquaintance of the eloquent Eleanor Oliphant. The story is told in the first person from Eleanor's point of view and on first meeting she seems a happy, contented individual employed as a finance clerk. I was therefore surprised when the author discloses that our young narrator has a facial disfigurement, and immediately I wanted to know how this occurred, was it by accident?....."It doesn't bother me at all when people react to my face, to the ridged, white contours of scar tissue that slither across my right cheek, starting at my temple and running all the way down to my chin.".....It also appears that Eleanor has very few friends and spends most weekends with only two vodka bottles and her memories for company. And what of the unusual conversations she has with her mother? Where is her mother and why does a parent say such cruel things to debase and belittle her child?


Gail Honeyman expertly explores issues of loneliness, kindness, hatred, the value of the human spirit to accept the cruellest luck and what happens when all hope is lost? The story is not however presented as a morbid read always containing genuine laughter yet all the while retaining the ability to shock....."My reflection showed a much younger woman, a confidant woman with glossy hair that brushed her shoulders and a fringe that set across her face, and set just over her scarred cheek. Me? I turned to the right and then to the left. I looked in the hand mirror Laura was holding behind my head so that I could see the back, smooth and sleek. I swallowed hard."........"Oh wait, Mummy- hang on a second. You said there were two things-what was the second thing you were thinking about? Oh yes, she said, and I heard her dismissive sideways hiss of cigarette smoke. It was just that I wanted to tell you that you're a pointless waste of human tissue. That was all. Bye then, darling! she said bright as a knife. Silence.".....


A different read, a superb study of social morals, a great understanding of the effects of loneliness, and a totally unexpected yet remarkable conclusion presents a book and narrative that is highly recommended.

An excellent crime series

Dark Water - Robert Bryndza

The third in the excellent Erika Foster series by an author who is fast becoming one of my favourite writers of crime fiction. Following a successful drugs recovery operation  in a long forgotten London quarry the skeletal remains of a young girl Jessica Collins comes to the attention of the detectives. This young blameless girl disappeared some 26 years ago and now some painful questions and long forgotten memories need to be revisited in order to give some closure to the family. What starts off as a relatively simple case becomes ever more complicated when evidence points in the most unexpected direction, and more blood will be shed before the unbelievable truth is known.


What a superb read with a great central character in Detective Erika Foster; a feisty and determined woman who will leave no stone uncovered in her attempt to discover the truth because at the heart of this story a young innocent girl paid the ultimate price.

Beautiful and lyrical

Travelling in a Strange Land - David Park

Sometimes you read a book and the affect it has on you is one of sheer astonishment...astonishment that the written word can be so powerful, so all consuming. David Park is one of the few authors who has the ability to retain my 100 percent attention and to transport me to a time and location that is profoundly sad but yet so lyrical. Tom is on a journey from Belfast to Sunderland to collect his unwell son Luke, and return him home to the family nest for Christmas. The weather is bad, airports are closed, and the journey involves Tom treacherously navigating a frozen landscape. In this desolate setting there is much time to reflect on family life, decisions taken, regrets examined and a haunted memory..."Something brushes a branch further up the slope and snow falls almost in slow motion. I know its Daniel even though I can't see him"....... It soon becomes clear that tragedy has befallen a family member and in the passing of those lonely snowbound hours the full extent and heart break of Daniel's story is laid bare.


What follows is a brilliant wretched story, that demands the reader's attention and sympathy, a sadness and situation that a family must accept and are powerless to change the inevitable ending. Let the words of David Park overwhelm you with their sparse and translucent prose...."The city looks like one of its sleeping homeless, huddled against the cold and layered in borrowed clothes"....."so I have to think things out on this journey but I don't know if the monochrome world I'm travelling through makes it easier or harder"....."life now ebbs and flows only as an inescapable welter of thought and image."....."Strange to be nursed by your child but I guess that reversal of roles is one that probably awaits us all down the road."....


A truly wonderful novel by an exceptional author, many thanks to the good people at netgalley and publisher Bloomsbury for a gratis copy in exchange for an honest review and that is what I have written.

Horror with a touch of class

Night Things - John Michael Talbot

Lauren Montgomery, her son Garrett and her "I love myself so much" rock star husband Stephen Ransom have rented a large palatial mansion in the Adirondacks in North Eastern New York. It soon becomes apparent that something terrible is going to happen in "Lake House" which has a reputation for murder and bloodshed. Garrett becomes attuned to the sounds and ghostly apparitions that frequent the house, Lauren becomes more and more concerned about the welfare of herself and her son, and the lovely Stephen with "his mane of dark ringlets" portrays a misogynistic attitude towards women only ever really concerned for his own selfish wellbeing...."we're playing in the big leagues here. You got to do it to them before they do it to you."......

Some beautifully strong characters make Night Things a joy to read and in particular I was drawn to the evil and aptly named Elton Fugate who has some very strange habits as young Garret learns when he observes him from a secret location....."For it was not a space being, or even something living, that Fugate was choking, but some sort of grotesque doll, or manikin of a woman....it was completely rigid and appeared to be constructed out of vinyl and inflated like a beach ball. It was also naked and possessed a frowsy and garishly made-up face and had scruffy patches of lurid yellow hair on both its head and its pubic area."..... Lake House is a place where evil is enticed in and soon it will become the focus of a battle between what is good and what is bad...."There were things that were evil in the universe, unfathomably evil. And there were things that were good".... The final Epilogue is like a story within a story, where Stephen will come to regret giving a lift to a rather petite blond woman called June with...."her sagging, middle-aged body gleaming in the moonlight"...and her friend Arnie.

Many thanks to the good people at Valancourt Books for sending me a gratis copy in exchange for an honest review and that is what I have written. The wonderful Valancourt Books are an independent small press who specialize in the rediscovery of rare, neglected and out of print fiction.

Complicated and very confusing

The Dead Ex - Jane Corry, Penguin Books

Last year I read and really enjoyed Blood Sisters by Jane Corry, and I particularly loved the rather claustrophobic, somewhat enclosed first person telling of the story. In particular the character of Kitty living in care, unable to communicate but the reader is privileged in that he has total access to the mind and thoughts of the hapless Kitty. Unfortunately The Dead Ex comes nowhere near to the thrill read that Blood Sisters was. It is the same type of first person storytelling from the point of view of a number of characters and again that presents as an effective and good method of relaying events. However if the story has little merit, then everything falls apart, in a confusing and dreary manner.

Vicki Goudman suffers with epilepsy and husband Daniel, rather than support her, decides to abandon her for his mistress the alluring, and seductive Tanya. When the police inform Vicki that husband Daniel is missing, possibly dead, she finds her world turned upside down when she realizes that she is the number one suspect. Vicki needs to prove her innocence but how is this possible as the drugs she is prescribed for her epilepsy appear to cause frequent and constant memory loss. The telling of this story is utterly confusing as we travel back and forward from the present to 2006/07 meeting Scarlet and Helen Evans. Vicki Goudman was a prison governor, then in inmate, ex husband Daniel has more than an interest in Tanya, Scarlet had an unhealthy relationship with a Mr Walters, Scarlet's mum Zelda is in prison, who is Jackie? Is Scarlett really Scarlet or Helen? does Zelda have an agenda from her prison cell?, is Daniel really David? what is the importance of Patrick? I could go on but I was just as confused as you are (dear reader of my review) trying to analyse and decipher just what the hell is happening!!. If a story becomes confused, complicated, and possibly losing the plot, then it is certainly difficult to retain the attention and support of the reader. I always endeavour to complete a book before offering an opinion but The Dead Ex really tested my stay ability! Many thanks to netgalley in sending me a gratis copy in exchange for an honest review and that is what I have written.....An extremely disappointing read, a confusing and complicated plot and a somewhat preposterous conclusion.

Meeting the great Chris Carter


What a great day on Tuesday time to meet one great crime author Chris Carter. It was fantastic to learn about his writing style and the fact that he has never been an avid reader but his career to date and especially his work as a criminal psychologist has certainly provided him with lots of crime writing material. The early part of the book signing involved Chris answering questions from a co presenter before turning the event over to the floor. I did wonder and indeed asked him was there not a little bit of Chris Carter in the character of Carlos Garcia as it turns out both were born in Sao Paulo Brazil and both have long and flowing locks which they like to keep tied back with a hair band! I was also curious as to who he thought should play Robert Hunter when the inevitable movie deal is offered. The casting is so important ( just look at Titus Welliver's brilliant interpretation of Harry Bosch) which probably comes down to, in the case of Bosch, the writer Michael Connelly being involved very closely in the production


Enjoyable first novel

The Murder List: An utterly gripping crime thriller with edge-of-your-seat suspense (Detective Zac Boateng Book 1) - Chris Merritt

The beginning of "The Murder List" is particularly poignant. Detective Zac Boateng is enjoying an early morning run with his daughter Amelia. At some point during the exercise he loses sight of Amelia and is shocked when a number of gun shots are clearly heard. The unthinkable has happened his beautiful Amelia is now lying before him fatally wounded finally succumbing to the gunshots and dying in the arms of her father.


We fast forward 5 years and Detective Boateng together with work colleagues Nasim Malik, Pat Connelly and DS Kat Jones is called to the scene of a violent crime The location is a pawnbrokers shop where the owner Ivor Harris has been bludgeoned with an axe left embedded in his skull. What follows is a detailed, intricate, tangled story that will test the ability and patience of Zac to the limit. Whilst attempting to discover and apprehend the pawn shop killer there appears to be a trail going all the way back to that fateful day in 2012 and Amelia's death. As evidence mounts, a culprit is identified who must not only contend with the wrath of Zachariah Boateng but it in addition a lone sniper, ex military who has been hired to execute him for reasons soon made clear.


Although the plot of this book is good it is the character and flaws of Boateng that set The Murder List above the average thriller. He is consumed by his inability to protect Amelia and is tortured each and every day that he did or could not save her.."Never give up. You owe it to that person you loved. To the memory you still love, that no one can take away"... So will the ending of this fast paced thriller give our lone detective some inner peace and the courage to be a good father to his son Kofi and wife Etta? You dear reader of my review will have to discover that for yourself but rest assured the journey will be exciting full of doubt and yes some hope....Many thanks to the good people of netgalley and the publisher Bookouture for a gratis copy of this excellent thriller in exchange for an honest review and that is what I have written.

Beware The Babysitter

The Babysitter: A gripping psychological thriller with edge of your seat suspense - Sheryl Browne

Detective Inspector Mark Cain is married to Melissa and they have two wonderful children Poppy and Evie. Mark is haunted by a house fire that occurred sometime in the distant past, a vision of a child overcome by smoke inhalation never leaves him. The family become acquainted with a neighbour Jade when her property is destroyed by fire (there seems to be a theme developing here!) Mark and Mel are very impressed by the kindness and warmth that radiates from Jade who in turn develops a strong bond with the two children Poppy and Evie. They are delighted not only to offer Jade a safe home to live in but also employ her services as a babysitter for the two young girls. The parents compliment themselves to what on the surface seems an excellent decision as it allows Mark the time to concentrate on finding a missing child, Daisy Evans, and Melissa freedom to indulge her passion of sculpturing.


It is at this point in the story that the fortunes of the Cain family disintegrate alarmingly. and in particular the mental health of Mel gives great reason for concern. There are questions over her ability to remain as a respected and caring mother. Thank goodness that the ever smiling, helpful Jade is able to step into the role as a surrogate mum. However is this supposedly wonderful young lady as helpful as the personality she projects? Is she linked in any way to the disappearance of Daisy? What is the reason behind her fascination with Mark? Is there any connection between her arrival and the rapid mental deterioration of Melissa Cain?


What an enjoyable fun read with a beautiful manipulative villain. The author and the reader have a bond, they know who is responsible for the misfortune within the Cain family, yet both are powerless and unable to help. They can only stand in the sidelines and watch in horror as Mark Cain stumbles from one crisis to another. Will the responsible and caring father be successful using his cunning and detective skills to win back his family, save the lost Daisy and by so doing find the perpetrator before it is too late?  Significantly The Babysitter also explores themes of loss (baby Jacob, Mark and Melissa's first child, died at only 6 months old) the power of the family unit, sexual abuse and how the fallout from such abuse can affect many people. Many thanks to netgalley and the publisher bookouture for a gratis copy in exchange for an honest review and that is what I have written.

Welcome back Detective Robert Hunter

Gallery of the Dead - Chris Carter

I've just finished this book. I feel numb as if I've just stepped off the biggest roller coaster in the world! (Kingda-Ka, Jackson New Jersey) There are crime thrillers abundant who showcase various detectives in a book series, and what this means for the reader is that the lead detective will always survive to fight another day in another novel. I'm giving nothing away by stating that Gallery of the Dead is no different in that respect. Detective Robert Hunter is with us from page one and is still very much alive at page 500 ready for book 10 in the series. What however is important is how the author fills the gaps between first page and the end, and how he holds our attention, how he introduces those unexpected twists as yet another psychotic genius commences a killing rampage. I can tell you that I have rarely read a book so gripping so graphic in its descriptions that I am literally shaking from adrenaline and excitement so keen am I to sing praises for one of the greatest thriller writers out there.....there I've said it so what is this book about I hear you shout with anticipation.......


Detective Robert Hunter works for the Robbery Homicide Division and in particular the Ultra Violent Crimes Unit (UVCU) based in LA, where together with his partner Detective Carlos Garcia is tasked with solving those cases where extreme forms of torture and brutality have been used. Robert is unique in the world of fiction detectives; a very high IQ, psychology graduate from Stanford and the author of a book now mandatory reading for the FBI's National Centre for the analysis of violent crime. He is a loner, an overactive brain that causes him to suffer recurring bouts of insomnia. but also a connoisseur of single malt Scotch whisky. The first body discovered is that of model Linda Parker "posed" in a room where the low temperature has kept away the inevitable blowflies but this does not stop the author graphically explaining the damage this  Calliphoridae insect can cause...."They would have concentrated their efforts in the mouth, the nose, the eyes and any open wounds. In the case of a skinned body, the entire body became an open wound and therefore a breeding ground for blowflies. In just a few hours there would have been as many as half a million eggs laid all over the corpse. Those eggs would have hatched within twenty-four hours and in a single day, the maggots that those eggs produced would have reduced a full grown body to half size.".......


The hands and feet have been separated from Linda Carter's body, the skin removed apart from a small patch at the rear where a series of marks and lines have been carved into the skin. Hunter becomes aware of the significance of this "signature" and as the body count escalates with more strange markings identified the detectives together with the assistance of the FBI work tirelessly in an attempt to make a connection between the bodies and thus hopefully identify the killer. The victims are displayed in a thought-out creative manner, Is the perpetrator trying to show the world how clever an "artist" he is or has he an underlying agenda? The answer when revealed demonstrates the author's understanding of the psychotic mind and reflects his training as a criminal psychologist.


As I read this book I was totally at the mercy of some very clever writing. I did not know where the adventure would take me, I was unable to second guess or spot the red herrings, all I knew was that a "Gallery of the Dead"  was being created by a madman who appeared to have a higher intelligence than both the combined power of the Robbery Homicide division and the FBI. As I raced towards the conclusion I felt sure I would be able to anticipate the final outcome but was left gasping when a totally unexpected event occurred which threw into doubt everything I had read before......


So there it is dear reader of my review an outstanding novel that leaves me wondering just how Chris Carter can improve? I leave you however with a thought; Carlos Garcia is Brazilian.."Everyone likes Brazilian people because we can samba."... he also likes to wear his long hair "pulled back into a tight ponytail"....do you notice some similarities between him and a certain author of psycho thrillers? I leave that thought with you..... My thanks to the good people at Simon& Schuster for this "gratis" copy in exchange for and honest review, and that is what I have written. Highly, highly Recommended.