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Five Sparking Crime Novels – Reviews of Recommended Titles

I’ve had a lot of writing ground to make up after being laid low last month so not much time for reading. However, I managed five great crime novels.

The Magpies by Mark Edwards
The plot is simple: Kirsty and Jamie buy their first home together and plan to marry and start a family, getting all their ducks in a row. But they reckon without Lucy and Chris, the magpies in the downstairs flat who are intent on wrecking their love nest.
As the magpies’ nasty campaign and cruel behaviour escalate, Kirsty and Jamie fear for their safety and state of mind.
This is a good, well-paced bestseller – a little overgenerous in the number of sex scenes. (Now don’t all download it at once!)

Follow You Home by Mark Edwards
A good psychological thriller with plenty of action, some of it gruesome.
Thirty-something couple Daniel and Laura are backpacking around Europe, their last big trip before settling down to marriage and children. But in Romania their passports and money are stolen. As they look for help, they stumble across a sight that will haunt them forever.
Back in England three months later, they struggle to cope with what they saw. As their lives unravel, they discover with horror that the evil has followed them home. The author handles well a large cast of characters and a complex plot in this past-paced page turner.
Mark Edwards is rapidly becoming my go-to author for reliably written crime novels. You can read my review of The Lucky Ones here.

The Fear by C.L. Taylor
In The Fear we get three engaging narrators: Lou – now 32 years old but still living in the shadow of the abuse her karate teacher inflicted on her when she ran off to France with him as a teenager; Chloe – a vulnerable, confused 13 year old currently in thrall to the same man; and the mysterious Wendy with her own deliciously malicious part to play in the story.
Although the drama escalates quickly and it becomes a revenge story written for entertainment, C.L. Taylor handles the serious topic of grooming with respect to the victims and gives some inkling of how young people might fall prey to manipulative paedophiles.
I hadn’t read any crime novels by this author before so didn’t know what to expect, but I’ve already bought another book by her.

My Little Eye by Stephanie Marland
This was a fresh take on the detective story. We had two detectives – a police inspector and a PhD student – unknown to each other, providing two separate narratives of the same case. Dom the policeman comes with the requisite backstory baggage. In this case he’s being investigated for a failed undercover operation in which his ex-lover, his best mate or his sister’s boyfriend may be implicated. Clementine is a PhD student who has joined an online forum for true crime fanatics as part of her research into online personas. Like an intellectual Lisbeth Salander, she is a resourceful young woman driven by demons from her past. There is definitely more unpredictability to come from her in future episodes.
As well as introducing promising series characters, there was a decent plot here – topical with its online themes and making good use of misdirection. I’m looking forward to book two in this series of crime novels.

I am Watching You by Teresa Driscoll
Two 16-year old girls take their first trip to London but one doesn’t come back. The story takes place a year after the girl disappeared and is told from four viewpoints:
The Witness – who saw the girls on the London train in the company of two young men just out of prison. She blames herself for not intervening. Someone else blames her too and is sending her poison postcards.
The Father of the missing girl – a conflicted man with a secret. He was the best-drawn character.
The Private Detective – brought in to investigate the poison postcards.
The Friend – the other girl who went to London – the least likeable character with her own agenda.
A well-structured and well-paced mystery. I’d read another book by this author.

By Rachel Sargeant

Rachel Sargeant is a British author. Her latest thriller, The Roommates, is a Closer Magazine "Must Read". Her other titles are The Good Teacher, The Perfect Neighbours and Gallipoli: Year of Love and Duty. Rachel won Writing Magazine’s Crime Short Story competition and has been shortlisted in various competitions including the Bristol Short Story Prize. She was born in Lincolnshire and is a graduate of Aberystwyth University. She now lives in Gloucestershire with her husband and children.

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