My Book Reviews for May 2023

My Book Reviews for May 2023

My book reviews for May 2023 include a good take on the police procedural and several great advance copies.

In the Blink of an Eye by Jo Callaghan

On her first day back after bereavement leave following the death of her husband from lung cancer, Detective Superintendent Kat is put in charge of a pilot project. Together with DI Hassan and DS Browne, she will review missing persons’ cold cases. The purpose of the pilot is to test the use of artificial intelligence in investigations. As well as her human team, Kat is assigned AIDE Lock, an AI unit that appears as a hologram of a smart young man in a suit. Also in tow is the young professor who designed Lock and has her own motives for wanting AI to be used in policing.

The team members rub along uncomfortably as they investigate two cases of young men who have vanished.

All the human characters had interesting backstories and Lock presented with a likeable combination of pomposity, curiosity and humour. The writing was accomplished and well-paced.

I enjoyed this very much and feel pretty smug that I worked out the clues several pages ahead of the AI machine.

I would definitely read a sequel.


The rest of my book reviews for May 2023 are for advance copies I had the privilege of reading. With thanks to the authors, publishers and NetGalley for the opportunity to read early copies in exchange for independent reviews.

Unsolved by Heather Critchlow

I really enjoyed this. It is a good take on the standard premise of journalist sleuth, motivated by a tragedy in his own past, investigates missing persons. I quickly realised the opening chapters were setting up a series and not everything would be resolved. The writer opened a good few strands of backstory and subplot that this reader will be happy to return to in future stories.

Now to the story in hand. In 1986 in Aberdeenshire, wild child Layla abandons her chores at the riding stables where she helps out and gallops off on the best thoroughbred mare. A few hours later the terrified, injured and riderless horse returns. Layla is never seen again. Nearly forty years later, Cal, needing one last chance to resurrect the popularity of his podcast, heads north at Layla’s parents’ request. Most of those who knew Layla still live nearby including Stephen, her violent on/off boyfriend and chief suspect. But the novel gives us a second timeline where we see things from Layla’s viewpoint and meet a few people that she annoyed and several men with an eye on her. I picked out the culprit from among them and felt suitably smug when my guess was proved right.

The Last Passenger by Will Dean

Caz and Pete are crossing from Southampton to New York on a luxury ship. When Caz wakes up on the first morning, Pete has gone. But his absence turns out to be the least of her worries. Caz discovers she has become the last passenger on board. An interesting but hopefully unlikely premise that made important points about a modern mode of entertainment. (I won’t elaborate to avoid spoilers.) I did spot the clues so the denouement wasn’t a total shock. However, it was an exciting, well-written story. I read the whole thing on a transatlantic flight. Glad I wasn’t on an ocean liner like Caz.

No One Saw a Thing by Andrea Mara

This is the second ‘every parent’s nightmare’ thriller by this author I have read. (Read my review of All Her Fault here.)This time it is the horror of seeing the Tube doors close with the children inside and the mum still on the platform. Told across two timelines – the day of the disappearances and three days earlier when the family arrived in London for a friends’ reunion – the suspenseful plot moves swiftly through some well-placed red herrings. Sive and Jude were good viewpoint characters.

Murder by the Seaside by Jackie Baldwin

Ideal for fans of light mysteries, this is the first in a new private detective series. Grace made a good lead character and her support team were good too, not to mention Harvey the dog.

The Seventh Victim by Michael Wood

Ideal for fans of the Matilda Darke series who want to read a standalone novel by the same author that is told in the same dark, gritty style. It will do well.

The Summer Holiday by S.E. Lynes

Sultry weather, exquisite Spanish food, a fabulous villa, holiday infidelity and a dark secret from the past – all the ingredients are here for fans of summer-themed psychological thrillers.

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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