My Book Reviews for June 2024 (Part Two)

My Book Reviews for May 2024 (Part Two)

My Book Reviews for May 2024 (Part Two)

My Book Reviews for May 2024 (Part Two) include: a paranormal crime story; a fast-paced police procedural; and a psychological thriller set at a French wedding.

Ink and Bone by Lisa Unger

Twenty-one-year-old Finley sees dead people, but she mostly ignores them. Apart from whenever a trio of ghostly sisters get her to do things she’d rather not, she leaves the psychic stuff to her grandmother, Eloise, who is an adviser to ex-cop-turned-private-investigator Jones Cooper.

But one day, Eloise and Jones call on Finley’s help. A girl is missing, perhaps several girls, and the spirits aren’t talking to Eloise; this one’s for Finley.

Most chapters are told from Finley’s point of view, but other characters have their say, and several chapters are from the viewpoint of a frightened but determined child being held captive by brutal kidnappers. The writing is visceral in describing her fear and pain. As her predicament worsened, the pace increased and my heart pounded. I was invested in her story.

Finley, too, was an engaging narrator and I liked how the writing shimmered between the corporal and the spectral. And I had a soft spot for Rainer, Finley’s wayward boyfriend.

After this enjoyable read, I will work my way through Lisa Unger’s considerable back catalogue.

Fatal Trade by Brian Price

With probably one of the best openers in the crime fiction business, this gritty police procedural rattles along nicely with short chapters and sardonic one-liners.

Although it’s billed as the DC Mel Cotton series, this is an ensemble piece with several police officers, victims and criminals given viewpoint chapters. Despite this, there’s no padding with angst-ridden private lives. The book, instead, sticks to plot and moves through a gripping investigation with plenty of gore and gallows humour. There are graphic killings galore in a case that takes in drug running, prostitution and police corruption. (Fans of Michael Wood’s DCI Matilda Darke series should definitely give it a go.) There is also close attention to accurate forensic detail, no doubt a reflection of the author’s scientific background.

My favourite characters were Ellen and Marnie, and I sense we are going to meet at least one of them again in the series, hopefully both. I won’t have long to wait to find out as I bought a boxset and am poised to plunge into book 2, Fatal Hate.

Never Forgive You by Hilly Bamby

Hetty is the fish-out-of-water protagonist, attending a society wedding at a mansion in France. The bride is the cousin of Hetty’s boyfriend, Davey. In the lead up to the wedding, Hetty meets members of Davey’s family, including his two sisters, Ailsa and Jules. Although twins, the young women are different personalities. Ailsa is snobby and hostile to Hetty, whereas Jules in friendly.

The family refer obliquely to something bad that happened eight years earlier. Since then the family has not been welcome in the village, and Davey, Ailsa and Jules no longer spend their summers in France. Nothing is as it seems. Even unassuming Hetty harbours a terrible secret. Flashbacks from 2016 build up to the ‘something bad’ against the backdrop of the Brexit decision and the implications for this Anglo-French family.

The writer evokes the atmosphere of the grand old country house and gives an informed and interesting description of the stages of a tradition French wedding. That’s until the nuptials take an unexpected turn. Well, it wouldn’t be a psychological thriller if they didn’t…

Blood Red Summer by Eryk Pruitt

A true-crime podcaster is asked by a prisoner’s family to investigate a possible miscarriage of justice. When a shooter went on the rampage in a rundown community and killed five black people over the course of a summer, police weren’t overly concerned. When the sixth victim was a white journalist, they arrested the first young black man who fitted the profile. Although it’s a modern-day story featuring a podcaster and a TV documentary crew, the flashbacks to 1984 have a hardboiled edge to them. This socially aware story might, therefore, also appeal to fans of traditional American noir.

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

House of Shades by Lianne Dillsworth

Ideal for fans of Gothic tales with a hint of something Faustian. Rich in the telling. With thanks to the author, publisher and NetGalley for the opportunity to read an early copy in exchange for an independent review.

So those were My Book Reviews for May 2024 (Part Two). My earlier reviews for May are here: My Book Reviews for May 2024 (Part One) – Rachel Sargeant

Gloucestershire Crime Series

The first two books in my Gloucestershire Crime Series are out now. If you like your police procedurals on the Whitstable Pearl/The Last Detective/Midsomer Murders end of the crime fiction spectrum, please give the books a whirl.

Her Deadly Friend, the first in the series, is currently 99p in ebook from Amazon.

A random sequence of murders rocks West Gloucestershire. First one, then another. From calculated and clinical, to opportunist and frenzied. As the body count tops five, Detective Inspector Steph Lewis’s investigations point to Amy Ashby as chief suspect for the rampage.

Steph and Amy were arch enemies at school.

Amy, still seething with fury about what Steph did back then, refuses to let the detective stand in the way of her current hunt for a new man and a fresh start. This time, it is for keeps.

As the evidence mounts, Steph is convinced of Amy’s guilt. But is Steph obsessed with a schoolgirl vendetta that could wreck her career and destroy her family? Or is she closing in on a deadly killer?

Her Charming Man – The second book, Her Charming Man, came out on 14 May.

DI Steph Lewis of West Gloucestershire Police is working two cases.

A woman is found dead in the Cathedral grounds. Few, not even her family, mourn her. And a man has gone missing. His wife, colleagues and neighbours fear for the safety of this perfect gentleman.

A witness comes forward to say the cases are linked. A breakthrough, perhaps? But the witness has form for finding dead bodies and she knows things about Steph that the detective wants kept hidden. A reliable witness? Or a fantasist with the power to cause chaos in Steph’s personal life?

What could possibly connect the murder of an unpopular woman and the disappearance of a charming man?

The blog tour is currently underway and the first reviews have been lovely:

‘Fast-paced, flawless and unputdownable,  I’m not sure how Rachel Sargeant will follow such an outstanding book but I can’t wait to find out.  Unmissable and very highly recommended.’ – Michelle Ryles, The Book Magnet

‘a tightly plotted tale of murder and deception’ – Peter Fleming, Peter turns the page

‘a fascinating read’ – Bookmarks and Stages by Lou

‘I really enjoyed reading this book and seeing how things twisted and shifted, how one theory came to the fore, a different idea, another suspect… I love the character of Steph Lewis and I can’t wait to read more books in the series.’ – Karen Louise Hollis, I Heart Books

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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