My Book Reviews for October 2023

My Book Reviews for October 2023

My Book Reviews for October 2023 comprise two cracking police procedurals and two intriguing thrillers that feature reality TV documentaries.

The Party Season by SJI Holliday

My ideal kind of police procedural features multiple viewpoints, likeable detectives, a rounded culprit, page-turning suspense and smooth writing.  This novel ticked all those boxes and also managed to incorporate a fresh take on the festive mystery genre with a female serial killer preying on sleazy men at office Christmas parties. Although there were references to a previous case, these mentions avoided spoilers and made me eager to read the first Christmas-themed story in this series, The Deaths of December.

Perfect for readers who fancy some seasonal suspense.

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

Canticle Creek by Adrian Hyland

Jesse Redpath is a police officer in Northern Territory. When a likeable petty criminal, whom Jesse previously vouched for, is implicated in a murder in Victoria, Jesse goes there to carry out her own unofficial investigation. She’s not the only one with doubts about the boy’s guilt. Local horse-mad teenager, Possum, is keen to help Jesse with her enquiries, while former drug-addict, Nadia, doesn’t want to help at all.

The writing is breezy, with humour and action throughout. Jesse Redpath is up there with Jane Harper’s Aaron Falk and Chris Hammer’s Martin Scarsden as a sleuth who gets down and dirty with the harshest natural environments of Australia, and with some of the meanest human inhabitants. I look forward to future titles in this series.

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

Kill Show by Daniel Sweren-Becker

In a small US town, 16-year-old Sara goes missing. Her parents are distraught; the police search far and wide; the community rallies round; and a reality TV show films it live.

Ten years later, everyone involved contributes to a book about the show and the police investigation. The novel is set out as if we are reading this true-crime book.

Main contributors are the parents – Dave Parcell and Jeanette Parcell; the TV producer – Casey Hawthorne; and the lead detective – Felix Calderon.

We also hear from Sara’s younger brother, her grandmother, two school friends, her music teacher and the school principal; the TV studio boss, the associate producer, the editor, and a cameraman; the district attorney and the local news reporter; a neighbour, Sara’s boss at an ice-cream parlour, the widow of a car mechanic, the school bus driver and her father’s colleague; the founder of a Sara Facebook fan group and a conspiracy theorist; a pop culture critic and a sociology professor.

This sounds like a lot of characters to keep track of, but the way the writer headlines each section and has the characters refer to each other in their contributions ensures the reader doesn’t get lost.

As well as being unusual, the style is conversational and fast paced. Although we know from early on the outcome of the case, there are still shocks and suspense along the way.

It’s a missing persons mystery, but it’s more of an exploration of the manipulative power of reality TV and the insatiable desire for true crime as entertainment.

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

The Hotel by Louise Mumford

This is a good one for people who enjoy studying cult horror films. Four teenagers visit an abandoned hotel in a desolate location on the Welsh coast to make a film for their future college course. Despite something terrible happening, they keep filming. The experience devastates the teenagers and leaves their lives in ruins, but the film becomes a cult classic that spawns annual conventions, merchandise and obsessed fans.

Ten years on, a TV crew buys the hotel and gathers the original teenagers there for a documentary. One of them, troubled Bex, only agrees to take part because she hopes to put the demons of her past behind her and finally face what really happened during the filming.


My Writing News

I’m delighted to say I’ve completed the sequel to Her Deadly Friend. The new book is the second in my Gleveham Killers Suspense series. More details to follow, including the title.

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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