My Book Reviews for December 2023

My Book Reviews for December 2023

My Book Reviews for December 2023 comprise a suspenseful murder mystery, 2 police procedurals, a psychological thriller and a YA Christmas suspense story. With thanks to the authors, publishers and NetGalley for the opportunity to read early copies in exchange for independent reviews.


Murder Town by Shelley Burr

There are a fair few mystery stories about historic crimes becoming current when a copycat killer strikes, but this one is set apart by its engaging lead characters: Gemma, the owner of a teashop close to where past and present murders occurred; and Lane, a former private investigator who is brought to the case by an unexpected client.

I was deeply immersed in chapter 8 before I realised this was a sequel to WAKE, my favourite book of last year. (See my review here.) When the penny dropped, I liked Murder Town even more. How clever of the author to have her sleuth operating from the most unlikely location ever.

Despite a lot of minor characters to get to grips with, I enjoyed the smooth, well-paced writing. This was a smug read for me because, somehow, I managed to unravel the complex plot in advance of the ending and was delighted to have my suspicions confirmed.

Shelley Burr is a talented writer and I can’t wait for book 3.

Murder Town will be published in the UK on 28 December.


Keep Your Family Close by Annette Dashofy

This is the second in a police procedural series set in Erie, both the city and the lake. My review of the first book, Where the Guilty Hide is here.

Detective Matthias Honeywell is back to investigate the shooting and apparent mugging of a man near the bar the man was drinking at.

Also back is Emma Anderson, a suspect in his previous case and his will-they-won’t-they love interest. She’s still looking for her missing sister.

Their paths cross again both personally and professionally.

I guessed the twists in this one, but it was still an enjoyable read.

The series is settling in, and I hope we see more of Honeywell’s sidekick, DS Cassie Malone, in book three.


Catch Your Death by Ravena Guron

The traditional country house mystery brought up to date and written for the YA market. Ideal for fans of the genre. The character of Devi was particularly engaging and the police interview sections were a nice addition to the narrative. A good book for the secondary school library.


The Night Side by M.M. DeLuca

Across two timelines twenty years apart, Ruby unravels the shocking secrets of her cruel, manipulative mother. Ideal for fans of suspense written in a straightforward style.


The Wiregrass by Adrian Hyland

This is a solid follow up to the first Jesse Redpath police procedural and sees Jesse working in a different Australian town but again facing a battle with the elements and the terrain and defending a suspect everyone else has written off as guilty.

After reading this, fans will be eagerly awaiting book three, and rightly so.

See my review of Canticle Creek, the first title in the series, here.


So those are My Book Reviews for December 2023. Coming soon will be my next blog post where I reveal My Best Books of 2023.


Henshaw Press Competitions

If you’re a budding short story writer, why not enter one of the Henshaw Press quarterly competitions? The competitions are now run by independent British publisher Hobeck Books. There is still time to enter the December competition. More details are here.

Henshaw/Hobeck offer a critique service. For a reasonable fee, the judges will provide a critique of your short story. This can be a critique of one you entered into the competition (after the results of the competition have been published) or for another story. Details are here.


Message for Anna H

A reader kindly contacted me on my website to ask me about The Good Teacher, but I couldn’t see the email address to reply, so I hope Anna sees this. There are no plans for sequels at the moment, but I am working on my Gleveham Killers Suspense series. The first title, Her Deadly Friend, featuring DI Steph Lewis, came out last year. I have now signed the contract for book two. Her Charming Man will come out next spring.


Chef Vanessa

With Christmas almost here, I’m posting again the photograph of the magnificent gingerbread house made by my daughter-in-law and Cordon-Bleu chef, Vanessa. To find out how Vanessa created this masterpiece, check out her post on Instagram.

By Rachel Sargeant

Rachel Sargeant is a British author. Under the name Rae Sargeant, she writes the Gleveham Killers Suspense series, published by Hobeck Books. The first title is Her Deadly Friend. Her titles as Rachel Sargeant, with HarperCollins, are: The Roommates, a psychological thriller set in a university during freshers' week; The Good Teacher, a detective mystery, featuring DC Pippa “Agatha” Adams, and The Perfect Neighbours, a psychological thriller set in Germany. Rachel grew up in Lincolnshire, studied at Aberystwyth University, spent several years living in Germany and now lives in Gloucestershire with her family. She holds a PhD from the University of Birmingham.

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