My Book Reviews for July 2023

My Book Reviews for July 2023

My book reviews for July 2023 include an engaging mystery, the second in a great new Wales-based crime series and several NetGalley advance copies.

Are You Awake? by Claire McGowan

Mary is a put upon mum with a husband who sleeps blissfully through the night and a toddler and a baby who don’t.

Tim is an insomniac war correspondent on long-term sick leave with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Out of their separate windows, these two sleepless people notice movement in a supposedly empty house across the road. Whatever they see is fleeting and they could put it down to their chronic sleep deprivation, but both feel sure someone is in danger.

When a young woman is reported missing in the area, both decide to investigate and end up joining forces and getting into danger.

These were two well-drawn characters that I rooted for, and an enjoyable mystery.

A Game of Lies by Clare Mackintosh

A great follow-up to The Last Party, which was the first in a new police procedural set on the North Wales/Cheshire border and featuring a chalk and cheese will-they/won’t-they pair of detectives. (Strictly speaking it’s will they/won’t they again – but you’ll have to read the first book to know what I mean.)

The second story involves criminal goings-on on the set of a reality TV show. I’ve read a few suspense thrillers lately that feature reality TV, but this is the first one I’ve come across that views it from the perspectives of the police as well as the contestants. The author did a great job of taking the I’m a Celebrity format and twisting it up a notch. There is also good use of satirical and sardonic humour.

I couldn’t keep track of all the characters or remember the roles some of them had played in the first novel. Nor could I follow the layout of the film set. But none of that mattered as I enjoyed the read. I gave a smug thumbs-up when my theory for ‘howdunnit’ turned out to be right.

Good characters, good story, good writing.

Here is my review of the first in the series, The Last Party. I look forward to book three.

With thanks to the author,  publisher and NetGalley for the opportunity to read an early copy in exchange for an independent review.


I was lucky enough to read several new titles this month. With thanks to the authors, publishers and NetGalley for the opportunity to read early copies of these books in exchange for independent reviews. I am pleased to include the following in my book reviews for July 2023:

Kala by Colin Walsh

Complex mystery drama set in Ireland across different timelines. Ideal for readers who like rich, literary writing with a distinctive, Irish rhythm.

The Bigamist by Rona Halsall

Packed with entertaining shocks, this is perfect for fans of domestic suspense. It will do well.

A Nurse’s Tale by Ola Awonubi

An easy-to-read historical novel inspired by the true story of a Nigerian princess who worked as a nurse. Ideal for readers who enjoy a dual timeline. Here we have Nurse Ade treating patients in war-torn London and her great niece, Yemi, in Nigeria in 2018. We see how both women live and learn to love.

All That’s Left to Say by Emery Lord

Grief, mystery and dark times at a private school. Ideal for fans of slow-burn YA suspense.

By Rachel Sargeant

Rachel Sargeant is a British author. She writes the Gloucestershire Crime Series, published by Hobeck Books. The first title is Her Deadly Friend, and the second is Her Charming Man. Her titles 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 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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