Book Reviews

My Book Reviews for September 2023

My Book Reviews for September 2023

My book reviews for September 2023 comprise three crime thrillers, set in Australia, America and Sheffield respectively, a literary novel and a historical crime novel set in Singapore..

The Torrent by Dinuka McKenzie

Set in the fictional town of Esserton in New South Wales, this police procedural features Kate Miles, a detective sergeant five days away from starting maternity leave. Her current case is a series of late-night robberies at food outlets. A teenage assistant is badly injured in the second attack.

At the same time, Kate is asked to review the case of Joel and Gabby Marshall, swept away in their car in a flood four months earlier. Only Gabby, a champion swimmer, survived and went on to become a media celebrity. Despite there being no evidence, Joel’s mother isn’t convinced her son’s death was an accident. As a friend of the assistant commissioner, she is able to convince the police to re-examine the file.

A second timeline follows a tale of young love.

Although the plot relies on small-town coincidences, the writing flowed and all storylines merged successfully.

Kate is a likeable character with several points of interest in her backstory that could be picked up in future investigations.

This is the solid first outing of a new series.  I look forward to book two, Taken.

With thanks to the author, publisher and NetGalley for the opportunity to read an early copy in exchange for an independent review. The book is published in the UK on 28 September.

 

See It End by Brianna Labuskes

This is the third in the crime series featuring diagnosed sociopath and police advisor, Dr Gretchen White. This time it’s not Gretchen’s behaviour under scrutiny. Instead Gretchen’s almost-friend, Detective Lauren Maconi, has been arrested for murder.

Despite – and because of – Lauren’s request to Gretchen not to investigate, Gretchen is determined to do just that and get Lauren set free.

The story is told across two timelines – a Now timeline from Gretchen’s viewpoint, and two Then timelines from the viewpoints of Lauren and another woman called Martha.

Gretchen delivers some sardonic, wisecracking one liners, the Lauren sections crank up tension and emotion, and Martha brings the mystery.

The pace increases as the story progresses. The last quarter, although I’d guessed the outcome, was a whirlwind.

See my review of the second Gretchen White story, What Can’t be Seen, here. I’ve now bought book one and look forward to reading it.

 

Below Ground by Michael Wood

The latest episode in an established series, this is ideal for fans of plot-driven police drama.

We don’t see much of the usual protagonist, DCI Matilda Darke, this time as she’s… well… the clue is the title… But other team members take up the reins.

The story starts from the moment the previous book, Silent Victim, ended, and the intrigue gets underway with the subplot discovery of human bones in dense woodland.

Although it can be read as a standalone, there is a lot of recapping that necessarily means spoilers to previous novels. At the least, I’d recommend reading beforehand:  book 4, The Hangman’s Hold; book 7, Time is Running Out; and book 8, Survivor’s Guilt.

With thanks to the author, publisher and NetGalley for the opportunity to read an early copy in exchange for an independent review. The book is published on 30 September.

 

Absolutely and Forever by Rose Tremain

Set in the 1960s, this is a character study of a ‘nice gal’ who tries to find herself through unrequited first love and sensible marriage. Ideal for fans of character-led literary fiction.

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

 

My reviews for September 2023 also include my extended review of Chasing the Dragon by Mark Wightman. I was pleased to be part of the recent blog tour for this first-rate historical crime novel. My review is here.

 

As we are in back-to-university season in England, I’ll end my reviews for September 2023 with a plug for my psychological thriller set in freshers’ week:

The Roommates – Four Freshers. Four Secrets. One Devastating Lie.

THEY LIVE IN YOUR HOUSE
University is supposed to be the best time of your life. But Imo’s first week is quickly going from bad to worse.

YOU SHARE EVERYTHING
A stalker is watching her flat, following her every move, and Imo suspects that her new roommates are hiding dark secrets…

BUT DO YOU TRUST THEM?
When one of them suddenly disappears, the trauma of Imo’s recent past comes hurtling back to haunt her. And she begins to realise just how little she knows about the people she lives with…

‘Gripping. We loved this book … full of twists and turns’ Closer

‘Deliciously dark & twisty… a gripping page-turner’ Woman’s Weekly

“Twisty and unnerving, Rachel is back with a thriller that will keep you up all night. Her best novel yet!’ Phoebe Morgan, author of The Doll House

‘From the very first page, the intrigue of this page-turning mystery builds until the gripping climax’ Caroline England, author of My Husband’s Lies

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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