Review: Hangman by @Daniel_P_Cole @orionbooks

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Eighteen months have passed, but the scars the Ragdoll murders left behind remain. DCI Emily Baxter is summoned to a meeting with US Special Agents Elliot Curtis of the FBI and Damien Rouche of the CIA. There, she is presented with photographs of the latest copycat murder: a body contorted into a familiar pose, strung up impossibly on the other side of the world, the word BAIT carved deep into its chest. As the media pressure intensifies, Baxter is ordered to assist with the investigation and attend the scene of another murder to discover the same word scrawled across the victim, carved across the corpse of the killer – PUPPET. As the murders continue to grow in both spectacle and depravity on both sides of the Atlantic, the team helplessly play catch up. Their only hope: to work out who the ‘BAIT’ is intended for, how the ‘PUPPETS’ are chosen but, most importantly of all, who is holding the strings.

Last year, I read and thoroughly enjoyed Ragdoll by Daniel Cole. It was a great and unique police procedural that made a difference because of the way the story progressed. By the time I finished reading it, I deeply admired Daniel Cole’s ability to craft such a unique storyline.

I didn’t know what to expect from Hangman, but the early reviews seemed promising enough. And while I wasn’t sure how I felt during the first few pages (confused, for sure), I soon became so engrossed in the story that I forgot everything around me. I read it compulsively and I didn’t want to do anything else.

As in Ragdoll, Hangman’s concept and consequent storyline is “big” and complex. This is not a small crime and it’s not set in a small town either. This is a rather spectacular case set both in London and New York, designed to stay in your mind, filled with graphic murders and shocking scenes that feel powerful and cinematic.

The main character in this book is not William Fawkes, aka Wolf (if you read the last book, you can imagine why), but her friend/colleague Emily Baxter. There were other major characters like Rouche and Curtis, and my personal favorite, Alex Edmunds. The interactions between them were sometimes hilarious and although Baxter isn’t exactly easy to love, you have to admire her wit. Rouche was incredible as Baxter’s partner in crime and her boyfriend will probably win the Boyfriend Of The Year award really soon.

I’ve consciously avoided mentioning any details about the plot because I want you to discover everything for yourselves. Hangman’s story is a complex web of lies and manipulation that will make you reflect on how villains are created. And of course, there were plenty of twist and turns for everyone to enjoy.

So even though I loved Ragdoll, I love Hangman even more. It’s bigger, it’s better, it’s surprising and captivating and it has everything I look for in crime/thriller books. Whatever you do, don’t miss it.

ARC, Trapeze, Orion Books, 2018

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#ThrowbackThursday The Kim Stone Series by @WriteAngie

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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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A year later after reading my first Angela Marsons book, I’m finally up to date with the series. The “Kim Stone” journey has been fantastic and this is already one of my favorite series ever! I’m so happy that we have plenty of books ahead to look for! I liked all the books, but my favorites were #3 & #6 and I will talk a bit about them.

I thought Silent Scream and Evil Games were unbeatable, but Lost Girls proved me wrong. It was such a compelling and twisty crime novel that I read it almost in one sitting. I didn’t realize I was on a plane. I was with Kim Stone, helping her bring the two girls home. The kidnapping case was smart and unpredictable, it changed directions more than once and provided some great twists that I never expected. And Angela Marsons is an excellent mystery writer, but she also writes the most beautiful and touching scenes.

After reading the fantastic Play Dead and Blood Lines, Dead Souls became my next favorite and the case was another gripping one. Old human bones were unearthed and a series of hate crimes are threatening the team… the last section of the book was equally terrifying and fascinating, it reminded me a bit of The Purge and Get Out and I couldn’t stop reading.

The last one, perhaps because it was my most recent, was equally impressive. An abandoned baby, murdered prostitutes… and an ending I never saw coming. Plus, Stacey and Dawson got to be partners and I loved their interactions in this book. And Dawson’s secret broke my heart. Did I mention how much I love him? Of course, Bryant and Stacey are great characters as well, Bryant is perhaps the most perfect man there is 😁

Here’s to many more books featuring Kim Stone and her team!

Mini Reviews #10 He Said/She Said & Now You See Me & These Violent Delights

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I initially didn’t set out to write a #feminist Mini Review post today, but all the books I wanted to review had that theme in common. It wasn’t on purpose, but I’m glad I can talk about these three books because I believe they’re timely and important. Unfortunately, these aren’t books I can say I loved, but they all have interesting aspects and I believe some of you might enjoy them a lot.

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As she saw his face for the first time, she knew he was going to kill her. She just didn’t know when. When the dismembered body of Lydia Steiner is found washed up in the waters of a blisteringly hot Louisiana swamp, Detective Jess Bishop knows for certain this isn’t the murderer’s first kill. Three other dismembered bodies have been found, all bearing the same marks. Marks that strike fear into Jess’s heart. They are identical to those from a case she’s spent her entire career trying to forget. As Jess and her team try to link the victims, another body is discovered and they fear the serial killer is taunting them. They know it’s only a matter of time before he kills again. As the body count rises, and the hunt goes cold, Jess knows she has to confront her past in order to catch the killer, even if that means making herself the bait…

Now You See Me is a new crime procedural featuring a bad-ass female FBI agent investigating a series of murders in Louisiana. Jessica Bishop has a dark past that wishes to keep secret and she’s used to deal with men who don’t take her seriously. I loved how she managed the relationships with her partners and defended the victims no matter their profession or status. She was strong and brave and I admired her for that.

The book was gripping and entertaining, and the Louisiana setting was great. I felt like I was there. The writing was engaging and I was never bored. Overall, this is a solid crime novel, but I can’t say I loved this book because of the predictability and the romance-focused relationships. I was silently begging for someone not to be the killer. It was way too obvious, I thought. It can’t be that person. I’m sure it won’t. And for a while, I was glad. But then I realized it was exactly who I thought it would be and that had me quite disappointed. In addition, there was way too much focus on Jess’s romantic life and her jealousy towards her partner’s wife and that bothered me because the case was more interesting than that and, to be honest, I believe that a man and a woman can be friends and that’s it.

Netgalley, Bookouture, 2017

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At Windemere School for Girls, one of America’s elite private schools, Dr. Gregory Copeland is the beloved chair of the English Department. A married father with a penchant for romantic poetry—and impressionable teenage girls—he operates in plain sight for years, until one of his former students goes public with allegations of inappropriate conduct. With the help of an investigative journalist, and two additional Windemere alumnae who had relationships with Copeland as students, the unlikely quartet unites to take him down.

These Violent Delights is an easy-to-read novel that deals with a very important topic nowadays. Following the Hollywood scandal and all the Spotlight-like cases, I can’t think of a more timely book today. However, although the topic is not a happy one, I didn’t think the book was a particularly tough read, and that was kind of weird.

I enjoyed this book and I’m certainly interested in the topic, but I didn’t feel emotionally attached to the characters, perhaps because of the structure or the writing (too much dialogue/articles/e-mails). It felt a bit like non-fiction in the sense that the importance relies on the case per se and not on the characters’ experiences. We never witness their pain directly, only through their e-mails and texts.

Have you ever read a book and thought that you liked what was said but not so much how it was told? This was my experience with These Violent Delights.

Netgalley, Griffith Moon Publishing, 2017

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In the hushed aftermath of a total eclipse, Laura witnesses a brutal attack. She and her boyfriend Kit call the police, and in that moment, it is not only the victim’s life that is changed forever. Fifteen years on, Laura and Kit live in fear, and while Laura knows she was right to speak out, the events that follow have taught her that you can never see the whole picture: something, and someone, is always in the dark.

This is another book that I believe it’s important to read right now. He Said She Said is the story of a couple who witness an attack and the consequences of their actions. I don’t want to say too much because I think this is a book that deserves to be discovered without knowing anything about it.

However, as much as I agree with the book’s message and its relevance today, I must say I was kind of bored during the first 60% of the novel. I know, I’ve read other reviews stating this was a slow-burn type of book, and it’s true , but despite loving the last few chapters, I’m afraid that didn’t make up for the rest.

Basically, I love the moral of the story and how the author embraces sorority above everything, but I wish I had been more engaged from the beginning. To be honest, the eclipse metaphor didn’t help much, and Kit chapters were kind of tedious to read.

 Hodder & Stoughton, 2017

#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.

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