#ThrowbackThursday The Teacher by Katerina Diamond

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Renee @It’sBookTalk began this Throwback Thursday meme as a way to share some of our old favorites as well as sharing books that we’re FINALLY getting around to reading that were published over a year ago. I’ve wanted to join this meme for a long time and I thought it would be a great idea because it forces me to read books from the TBR and not only new releases. And, of course, I can also include some old favorites!

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You think you know who to trust? You think you know the difference between good and evil? You’re wrong… The body of the head teacher of an exclusive Devon school is found hanging from the rafters in the assembly hall. Hours earlier he’d received a package, and only he could understand the silent message it conveyed. It meant the end. As Exeter suffers a rising count of gruesome deaths, troubled DS Imogen Grey and DS Adrian Miles must solve the case and make their city safe again. But as they’re drawn into a network of corruption, lies and exploitation, every step brings them closer to grim secrets hidden at the heart of their community. And once they learn what’s motivating this killer, will they truly want to stop him?

As you all know, I’m a big fan of Katerina Diamond’s mysteries. I read and loved both The Secret & The Angel but I hadn’t read The Teacher yet. I found this a highly entertaining novel, although I think The Secret and The Angel are waaaaaaay better. I think they’re incredibly different, too.

I loved the structure in The Teacher, the way each chapter had a title and we got to see everyone’s point of view. I loved that I got to spend more time with Imogen & Adrian, two characters whom I really love. I also enjoyed how dark this book was and the way the story ended, it wasn’t the typical procedural conclusion and I appreciated that.

However, the main reason why I love the sequels is that I never know what to think, I don’t know what will happen next. They’re twisty and unpredictable and as Inge stated on her review, there are too many things going on. I love how chaotic they are, because despite everything, somehow, it all makes sense in the end. And no, I didn’t have that feeling when reading The Teacher. I found it predictable in terms of plot. Still, I enjoyed it and I’m glad the author is going to write many more books (I hope so?) because I’m a big fan.

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Review: Murder Game by Caroline Mitchell @Caroline_writes @bookouture

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A killer is playing a twisted game of life or death with his victims. After he captures them, a countdown begins. He marks the time by sending clues to the whereabouts of the women he has taken in three disturbing images: alive, tortured, dead. In a race against the clock, East London Detective Ruby Preston must play the killer’s terrifying murder game and decipher the clues before more women die. But this isn’t the first time the police have seen such a sickening crime. The notorious Lonely Hearts Killer, Mason Gatley, was put behind bars ten years ago for murdering six women in exactly the same chilling way. Desperate for more information, Ruby asks her gangster boyfriend, Nathan Crosby, to set up a dangerous meeting to allow her to see into the twisted mind of a murderer.

Murder Game is the third and final installment in the Ruby Preston series. And what a good ending! Murder Game is as entertaining as the previous two and I found this particular case fascinating. While my favorite is still number one, I really enjoyed this one too.

Ruby is investigating a series of kidnappings and murders of women who seem to share a weird connection. What I liked about this case was that it was seemingly connected to an older one: “The Lonely Heart Killer” murders, which makes Ruby and her team believe that they’re dealing with a very dangerous copycat killer. In a Silence of the Lambs fashion, Ruby starts interviewing famous serial killer Mason Gatley and tries to gather clues that can help solve the case. But is he reliable? Can he really help our protagonist?

The case is full of twists and turns and there are plenty of red-herrings, so you don’t need to worry about that. One thing I loved was the whole Sanity Line angle, but I won’t give any more details just in case. The only part that I didn’t enjoy as much was Ruby’s relationship with Nathan. I know this couple has a lot of fans and I loved them in Death Note, but I lost interest in the last book and this one didn’t make me fall in love with them either. However, the novel is still interesting without their troubling relationship. I especially love DI Dowes. He’s flawed but so interesting!

Something that’s common in all three books is that Caroline Mitchell always manages to surprise me with the last twist. They’re not *mind-blowing* twists that change the whole book perspective, but you gotta admit she’s great with “whodunits” and I miserably failed this time too.

Caroline Mitchell 3 — Annie 0

Netgalley, Bookouture , 2017

 

#ThrowbackThursday Lacey Flint series by @AuthorSJBolton

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Renee @It’sBookTalk began this Throwback Thursday meme as a way to share some of our old favorites as well as sharing books that we’re FINALLY getting around to reading that were published over a year ago. I’ve wanted to join this meme for a long time and I thought it would be a great idea because it forces me to read books from the TBR and not only new releases. And, of course, I can also include some old favorites!

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I’m not going to lie, my mission today is to convince you to buy the whole Lacey Flint series after reading this post. I don’t know how to thank Renee for making me read them when I asked her which series should I start next. A year has passed and it’s already one of my most favorite book series ever.

What I love the most about Sharon Bolton’s series is that they’re incredibly smart and well-written; the mystery itself is amazing but the characters are appealing as well. Lacey is not a character I would’ve particularly liked had she been written by another author, but after four books, Sharon Bolton has managed to make me feel like Lacey is already part of my family.

I don’t think I could choose a favorite book. Book one, Now You See Me, was my first introduction and I absolutely loved the darkness and the twists. Dead Scared was the most depressing of them all and the one with the most powerful ending in my opinion (I’ll never forget it). Like This Forever had me on the edge of my seat and I suspected everyone except the one that was eventually the villain. I forgot about everything else while I read it. In addition, I had read several times that A Dark and Twisted Tide was the weakest of the bunch, but I didn’t feel like that was true, as I enjoyed it just as much as the others. This time, like in Dead Scared, I had an idea of who the killer was but I enjoyed the resolution anyway. I even loved Joesbury’s novella: Here Be Dragons, which is perfect for reading after finishing A Dark and Twisted Tide.

Speaking of Joesbury. I can’t wait for you to meet him. I find it fascinating that he’s not even a main character, he barely shows up most of the time, and still he’s seriously AMAZING. Book boyfriend alert! I can’t get over his love for Lacey and the tension between them. This is a kind of love that I have never seen before. They’re so sure of their feelings they don’t even care what the other has done.

There’s something almost funny about Lacey and her dynamics with the London police. All the books follow a somewhat predictable structure that works perfectly well every time and never gets old simply because Sharon Bolton makes it work. I love how dramatic and dark Lacey is. She’s always like “I’m going to give up the police once and for all and live forever alone in my boat” and then she always becomes involved in another case and everyone is like “guess who found another body” and “what if Lacey is a suspect?” and they start investigating the murders and Lacey isn’t even in charge of the investigation but solves the case anyway.

But hey, don’t go in thinking this is a conventional procedural, because it is not. At all. Every single time, the mystery is as fascinating as can be. And you will fall in love with this series, I promise.

 

Review: Lightning Men by @Mullenwrites @LittleBrownUK

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Atlanta, 1950. In a divided city, crime comes home. White officer Denny Rakestraw joins Lucius Boggs and Tommy Smith from Atlanta’s Negro Officer precinct to face the Klan, gangs and family warfare in their rapidly changing city. Black families – including Smith’s sister and brother-in-law – are moving into Rake’s formerly all-white neighbourhood, leading Rake’s brother-in-law, a proud Klansman, to launch a scheme to ‘save’ their streets. When those efforts leave a man dead, Rake is forced to choose between loyalty to family or the law. Meanwhile, Boggs has outraged his preacher father by courting a domestic, whose dangerous ex-boyfriend is then released from prison. As Boggs, Smith, and their all-black precinct contend with violent drug dealers fighting for turf in new territory, their personal dramas draw them closer to the fires that threaten to consume Atlanta once again.

A year ago, I read and enjoyed Darktown by Thomas Mullen. It was a great book dealing with a delicate topic and I thought it was handled very well. When I learnt that there was a sequel coming soon, I immediately decided I wanted to read it. For those who haven’t read Darktown, this can be perfectly read as a standalone. I didn’t remember a lot of details, but it wasn’t necessary. And I liked Lightning Men even better.

This novel, like Darktown, tells the story of two young men who are amongst the first black cops in Atlanta, Georgia. The year is 1950 and things are definitely not easy for them. They can only patrol the “black” neighbourhoods and barely have no power, as the white cops don’t respect them and think they shouldn’t be working with them at all. This makes it hard for Boggs and Smith to investigate the cases and this one was especially difficult to break.

It’s sad because I believe now things aren’t much better. Of course we’ve come a long way since then, but it’s not enough. This is a very relevant book right now and it can make all of us reflect on the way our society behaves. Because not all racism is physically violent, but it’s still there and this book perfectly portrays something that is still happening today. A fine example of this is Rakestraw’s storyline, a young policeman whose German origins help him understand what it’s like to feel different. In Lightning Men, Rake’s wife and their neighbours are trying to raise money in order to buy the newest black residents out. What astounded me was that Rake’s wife and the neighbours actually thought they were doing a good thing only because they weren’t behaving violently (as opposed to the KKK case that Rake is investigating). These people merely wanted the neighbourhood to be completely “white”. As they said: “Those poor families were tricked, they didn’t know what they were doing, let’s buy their houses to force them out”. I. Can’t. Even.

The characters in Lightning Men are complex and multi-layered, especially Boggs and Rake. While I still think that Rake was too passive and could’ve prevented plenty of things, I liked him better this time around. On the other hand, I thought Boggs needed to urgently drop his “golden kid” act and grow up. I didn’t like his air of moral superiority towards his girlfriend, Julie, whom I liked a lot, by the way. As for the negatives, the only thing I didn’t like about this book was that I wasn’t able to *love* any of the characters, I didn’t feel I would miss them when I got to the end.

Nevertheless, this is a fantastic novel that I’d recommend to anyone who wants to read a good story that it’s actually important and relevant in today’s society. Don’t miss it.

ARC, Little Brown UK , 2017

Blog Tour: The Angel by Katerina Diamond @TheVenomousPen @AvonBooksUK #Extract

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When a burned body is found in a disused signal box, suspicion falls on lonely teenager Gabriel Webb. There’s no doubt he was at the scene of the crime, but does he really deserve what awaits him in prison? DS Imogen Grey is certain there’s more to the case than meets the eye. But while she struggles to convince those around her of the truth, her partner DS Adrian Miles is distracted by his own demons. When a brutal double murder is reported, their investigation is stopped in its tracks. Is the body in the box even who they thought it was? The duo realise Gabriel might have been locked up for a crime he didn’t commit. But with enemies watching Gabriel’s every move, they may be too late.

So when I thought nothing could be better than The Secret… The Angel proved me wrong. Oh well, let’s just say I absolutely love this series. I had read the last book almost a year ago so I’m embarrassed to admit that I had kind of forgotten about it, but when I started this one yesterday, I instantly knew why I had devoured the previous one so fast. Katerina Diamond is undoubtedly one of the best crime writers out there. And this series is so underrated. Why isn’t more people talking about Miles and Grey?

What I enjoyed the most about The Angel was that the case was not what I expected at all. I love it when a mystery starts off as something and after only a few pages, it has become something completely different. I had no idea of what was going on. There were several storylines and everything interested me: the fire, the double murder, Dean’s behaviour, Adrian and Lucy’s relationship… and, of course, my favorite, Gabriel.

It’s no secret that I always enjoy stories set in prison and that’s probably why I couldn’t get enough of Gabriel’s narration. It was heartbreaking. I find prison dynamics fascinating and I feel like not all the books manage to portray prison life the right way. Not everything is black and white, you know? I found myself actually caring about some of these convicts…

My favorite feeling when I’m reading a mystery is not knowing how all the stories will connect together, I’m sure you all know what I mean. Forgetting details and feeling utterly shocked when you realize something you hadn’t even considered. And The Angel managed to do all that and it also made me care about its characters. What more could you ask for?

I love both Imogen and Adrian Miles and adore their relationship and the way they are always there for each other (not in a romantic way… yet! Hey, I love Dean, too). They understand each other and know what to expect. They’re a great team and I hope I get to read their adventures for many more years.

I know I’ve said this a thousand times already, but if you like twisty crime thrillers, you definitely need to read this series. This is one of my favorite crime books of the year.

ARC, Avon Books, 2017

Extract Three from Prologue, pp 9-10

Charlie grabbed his son and followed as Martina hastily did the rest of her dress buttons up and grabbed her coat. That’s when she saw her husband’s car, pulling into the drive just as the paramedics got in the back of the ambulance. One of them offered her a hand to bring her inside too. She saw her husband get out of the car and approach them, saw his confused gaze as his eyes wandered over her dress. She looked down and saw she had buttoned it wrong – he then looked at Charlie, his trousers hanging from his hips, shirt half untucked, no ambiguity about what had been going on.

‘Martina? What the fuck is going on?’

‘I’m so sorry, it’s Jamie, he stopped breathing!’

‘Are you coming with us, ma’am? We really need to get going. He was without oxygen for at least a couple of minutes, he needs to see one of the doctors ASAP,’ the paramedic’s voice was urgent. Martina saw panic flood her husband’s face.

‘No, I’ll come,’ he said, stepping in front of Martina as though she wasn’t even there.

‘I’m sorry! I didn’t mean for this to happen!’ she cried, tears streaming down her face, knowing full well that he knew what she had done.

‘Mate . . .’ Charlie looked at his feet.

‘I’ll deal with both of you later!’ He clambered up into the ambulance and pulled the door shut.

Martina watched as the ambulance pulled away. Just at that moment Charlie’s son started to cry, a normal cry, a baby out in the snow cry. She couldn’t look at him. She ran back inside, slamming the door. She couldn’t let Charlie back in the house, not now.

The phone rang and Martina answered. It was her husband.

‘Is he OK?’

‘I want you out of the house by the time we get home. I never want to see your face again.’

‘But . . . it was an accident.’

‘I know what happened. I know what you did. It was obvious from the state of you both.’

‘I was lonely. I know it’s no excuse but since Jamie was born you have made me feel worthless. I just wanted to feel special for one night. I didn’t mean for that to happen, you must know I didn’t!’

‘And that makes it OK?’

‘No, of course it doesn’t.’

 

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