5*, book review, non-fiction, true crime

#BookReview Manhunt: How I Bought Serial Killer Levi Bellfield To Justice by Colin Sutton. #TrueCrime #Manhunt @colinsutton @bonnierbooks_uk @jblakebooks

Manhunt by Colin Sutton.

If you like true crime then you will love this book, Manhunt by Colin Sutton is probably the best true crime book I have read. It sucked me right in and shocked me and upset me and made me feel almost every emotion out there. A very impressive book.

My Review:

I had wanted to read Manhunt by Colin Sutton for a good while before I finally got round to reading it. Like many I watched the television programme with the same name, staring Martin Clunes as Sutton. It was an excellent dramatisation but as someone who is fairly familiar with the crimes of Levi Bellfield I knew that a fair amount of dramatic licence had been used so it was time to read the book and hear the story from the man who led the police team who finally bought Bellfield to justice.

I’ve seen Sutton on various television programmes and I’ve always felt that he speaks well and knows he stuff. I was worried that the book would be full of how wonderful he is and how he almost single handedly caught Bellfield. But thankfully Sutton comes across as a team player, who appreciated his team and how hard they worked to catch the killer.

It is a shame that the blurb focuses on Milly Dowler, because this book is about so much more than her, and the other cases deserve to be as well known and talked about as Dowler.

The story is fascinating, the way in which Sutton and his team gradually pieced it all together, worked out that the killings and attempted murders were the work on the same person, the many hours of CCTV they trawled through and then eventually, the way they arrested Bellfield and then gathered further evidence as people finally felt safe to be able to talk about the things they had seen him do.

That bit was shocking and fascinating. So many people know just how awful a person Levi Bellfield is but were too scared to come forward while he was a free man. It was also really interesting to read how resources were thrown at Sutton and his team when they realised what a dangerous man Bellfield was, they were determined that Bellfield would not be able hurt anyone else while they compiled the evidence against him.

I really enjoyed reading this book, sure it is horrible to think that this really happened and Bellfield was able to hurt so many people over the years and how he managed to manipulate almost everyone to get what he wanted, but it was so interesting and a story that kept me hooked and desperate to keep reading.

Sutton surprised me as an author who was able to describe what had happened clearly and with impressive recall. I was surprised to read the criticism that he gave other police forces, especially the one responsible for investigating the disappearance of Milly Dowler.

If you are interested in true crime then this is a great book to read, if you have watched Manhunt and want to know more, then read this book. If you want to learn more about how the police go about solving major crimes, then this book is for you. So many people will get something out of this book, I got loads and it is a story that will stay with me for a long time to come. Thank goodness Bellfield is in prison and will never be released to hurt and manipulate people again.

Blurb:

NOW A MAJOR TV DRAMA STARRING MARTIN CLUNES

What does it take to catch one of Britain’s most feared killers?

Levi Bellfield is one of the most notorious British serial killers of the last fifty years – his name alone evokes horror and revulsion, after his string of brutal murders in the early 2000s.

At 3:07pm on 21st March, 2002, Milly Dowler left her school in Surrey for the last time. Less than an hour later, she was to be abducted and murdered in the cruellest fashion, sparking a missing person investigation that would span months before her body was found.

In the two years that followed, two more young women – Marsha McDonnell and then Amélie Delagrange – were murdered in unspeakably brutal attacks.

Yet with three murdered women on their hands, and few leads open to them, investigating officers were running out of ideas and options, until SIO Colin Sutton was drafted into the investigation for the murder of Delagrange. Seeing a connection between the three women, and thriving under the pressure of a serial killer hunt, Sutton was finally able to bring their murderer to justice after the case had begun to seem hopeless.

Manhunt tells the story of how he led the charge to find a mystery killer, against the clock and against the odds – day by day and lead by lead. At once a gripping police procedural, and an insight into the life of an evil man, this is the story behind what it takes to track down a shockingly violent murderer before he strikes again.

About The Author:

Colin Sutton was a Senior Investigating Officer in the Metropolitan Police from January 2003 to January 2011, leading more than thirty successful murder investigations, notably the Levi Bellfield case and the successful re-investigation of the seventeen-year reign of terror of the ‘Nightstalker’ Delroy Grant.

Manhunt: How I Brought Serial Killer Levi Bellfield To Justice by Colin Sutton is out now and is available from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

5*, blog tours, book review

#BlogTour #BookReview The Liar’s Sister by Sarah Denzil. @bookouture @sarahdenzil #TheLiarsSister #BooksOnTour

Today it is my stop on the blog tour for The Liar’s Sister by Sarah A Denzil. I’ve been a fan of the author for a while now and I know that I am not the only one who enjoys her writing because my review of Silent Child is one of my most read blog posts ever, and Only Daughter isn’t too far down the list either.

I received a copy of The Liar’s Sister by Sarah A Denzil from the publisher, Bookouture, via Netgalley. I was under no obligation to review the book and all thoughts are my own.

My Review:

Wow, I don’t really know where to start with this review. The Liar’s Sister starts off being your everyday psychological thriller and then it goes along seemingly following a normal path and then BAM! You realise that you stopped breathing a couple of minutes ago and you can’t read fast enough to find out what actually happened ten years before.

I quite liked Heather as a character, although I never really felt as though I got to know who she really was, but by the end that all made a lot more sense. I wasn’t sure about her sister Rosie, she seemed to be so consumed by guilt that it was impossible to work out what exactly she felt guilty about, although again that all became clear.

With The Liar’s Sister, Sarah A Denzil has weaved a clever story, one that gradually builds up the tension as more and more is revealed but it is hard to know who to trust.

The setting of Buckthorpe village was perfect, it felt claustrophobic and remarkably unfriendly, but why were the villages so contained, were they also keeping secrets too?

I feel as though I need to process this book a lot more to work out exactly what happened and why and also how I feel about it. It is one of those books that I will think about for a couple of weeks after finishing, a sure sign of a great read that kept me wondering and guessing right until the very last page.

I’ve really enjoyed previous books by the author but I think that this one is probably her best one yet.

Blurb:

A SHOCKING DISAPPEARANCE. A VILLAGE FULL OF SECRETS.

Ten years ago, a boy named Samuel Murray went missing from the quiet village of Buckthorpe and was never seen again.

Rosie Sharpe cried over her missing friend for weeks after. But her little sister Heather knows that Rosie’s tears hide the truth. Because the night Samuel was last seen, Heather watched her older sister climbing back through the window of their childhood bedroom. Her jacket torn, her eyes wild and her body trembling with fear.

Heather never told anyone what she saw, but secrets can’t stay buried forever…

A decade later, Rosie and Heather return to the home they grew up in when their mother falls ill. But when their house is ransacked and they receive a threatening note, it becomes clear that someone in the close-knit village doesn’t want them there.

When Heather finally confronts her sister about what really happened on the dark, rainy night Samuel vanished, Rosie’s version of the truth is more shocking than she could ever have imagined. But can she trust her sister? And who broke into their house that night? As the lies of the past begin to unravel, they have the power to put the lives of both women in terrible danger…

This twist-filled, page-turning psychological thriller from the million-copy-bestselling author of Silent Child will keep you hooked until the final, jaw-dropping pages. Perfect for fans of Behind Closed Doors and The Girl on the Train.

About The Author:

Sarah A. Denzil is a British suspense writer from Derbyshire. In her alternative life–AKA Sarah Dalton–she writes speculative fiction for teenagers, including The Blemished, Mary Hades and White Hart.

Sarah lives in Yorkshire with her partner, enjoying the scenic countryside and rather unpredictable weather. 

Saving April, Sarah’s debut suspense thriller, is a psychological look into the minds of the people around us who we rarely even consider – our neighbours. What do we really know about them, and what goes on when the doors are closed?

Author Social Media Links:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sarahadenzil/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/sarahdenzil

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/marmiteandbooks/

Website: https://www.sarahdenzil.com/

The Liar’s Sister by Sarah A Denzil is out now and is available from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

5*, blog tours, book review

#BlogTour #BookReview In The Absence of Miracles by Michael J Malone. @annecater @michaelJmalone1 @OrendaBooks #IntheAbsenceofMiracles

Today is my stop on the blog tour for In The Absence of Miracles by Michael J Malone. Thank you to Anne Cater for having me on the tour and to Orenda Books for giving me a copy of the book. I was under no obligation to review the book and all thoughts are my own.

My Review:

Having read and thoroughly enjoyed previous books by Michael J Malone, I was keen to read his latest book, In The Absence of Miracles. It was a book that I agreed to read without even reading the blurb, so I went in with no idea what to expect, apart from what I had assumed about the authors books from what I had read before.

This book is nothing like I was expecting. It was a story that was heartbreaking and difficult to read, and one which makes the reader face the assumptions we all make about the things we read and hear.

The main character in the book is John, a respected teacher who seems to be floating through life, a bit of a lost soul. When he discovers a brother that he knew nothing about John focuses on finding out what happened to him, and soon the search becomes an obsession.

It soon becomes clear that John is going to find out a lot more about his childhood than what happened to his missing brother. It’s a real journey and it is not an easy one to travel. How much can we trust what we remember from when we were young? Is it really possible to forget huge chunks of your life?

I was totally unprepared for where this book would take me, the story is full of heartbreak but also hope. It has left me thoughtful and sad, but also keen to read more from Michael J Malone.

Blurb:

A young man discovers a family secret that turns his world upside down in this dark, emotive, shocking psychological thriller by number-one bestselling author Michael J. Malone

John Docherty’s mother has just been taken into a nursing home following a massive stroke and she’s unlikely to be able to live independently again.

With no other option than to sell the family home, John sets about packing up everything in the house. In sifting through the detritus of his family’s past he’s forced to revisit, and revise his childhood. For in a box, in the attic, he finds undeniable truth that he had a brother who disappeared when he himself was only a toddler. A brother no one ever mentioned. A brother he knew absolutely nothing about. A discovery that sets John on a journey from which he may never recover.

For sometimes in that space where memory should reside there is nothing but silence, smoke and ash. And in the absence of truth, in the absence of a miracle, we turn to prayer. And to violence.

Shocking, chilling and heartbreakingly emotive, In the Absence of Miracles is domestic noir at its most powerful, and a sensitively wrought portrait of a family whose shameful lies hide the very darkest of secrets.

About The Author:


Michael Malone is a prize-winning poet and author who was born and brought up in the heart of Burns’ country. He has published over 200 poems in literary magazines throughout the UK, including New Writing Scotland, Poetry Scotland and MarkingsBlood Tears, his bestselling debut novel won the Pitlochry Prize from the Scottish Association of Writers. Other published work includes: Carnegie’s Call; A Taste for Malice; The Guillotine Choice; Beyond the Rage; The Bad Samaritanand Dog Fight. His psychological thriller, A Suitable Lie, was a number-one bestseller, and the critically acclaimed House of Spines and After He Died soon followed suit. A former Regional Sales Manager (Faber & Faber) he has also worked as an IFA and a bookseller. Michael lives in Ayr.

You can read my review of House Of Spines by Michael J Malone here.

In The Absence of Miracles by Michael J Malone is out now and is available from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

4*, blog tours, book review, crime thriller

#BlogTour #BookReview Her Last Breath by Alison Belsham. @BOTBSPublicity @MORECAMBEVICE @AlisonBelsham #HerLastBreath #MorecambeandVice

Today I am so excited to be part of the blog tour for Morecambe & Vice Crime Writing Festival. Thank you to Sarah Hardy from Books on the Bright Side Publicity & Promo for asking me to be part of this exciting tour featuring some fabulous crime writers.

I’m reviewing Her Last Breath by Alison Belsham, the second crime book by the author after The Tattoo Thief. The author provided me with a copy of the book, I was under no obligation to review the book and all thoughts are my own.

My Review:

I really enjoyed reading The Tattoo Thief by Alison Belsham, and despite it being one of the most graphic and unsettling books that I have read, I was more than happy to read the authors second crime book, Her Last Breath.

It took me a little while to get back into the characters, mainly police detective Francis and Marni, a civilian who seems to be remarkably good at getting herself stuck in the middle of crimes that occur in her local Brighton.

The fact that the murders in this book didn’t quite match the depravity of the first book says a lot, as the crimes being committed here are deeply unpleasant. I won’t give too much away but if you don’t like graphic and unpleasant killing methods then perhaps this isn’t the book for you.

But if you are more like me then delve right into this story that will have you wondering and reading and holding your breath. The big finale is spectacularly unpleasant, mainly because of where it is set. I am sure that I could visualise and even smell the scene.

Belsham is confident in her writing and we see the characters develop through the book, becoming more real to the readers which makes me emotionally invested in the story. All of which makes a great read, one that is fun to read, but also turns your stomach now and then.

Blurb:

He leaves his victims fighting for life,
And with the mark of death…

After old remains resurface in a heatwave, a young woman is attacked and left fighting for her life in hospital. 24 hours later she dies and a deadly tattoo is discovered on her body.

When another young woman disappears, Detective Francis Sullivan and his team fear a serial killer walks the streets of Brighton.

His team identify a suspect, Alex Mullins, son of his lover, Marni. Can Francis forget their shared past and save the next victim before it is too late?

About The Author:

Alison Belsham initially started writing with the ambition of becoming a screenwriter-and in 2000 was commended for her visual storytelling in the Orange Prize for Screenwriting. In 2001 she was shortlisted in a BBC Drama Writer competition. Life and children intervened but, switching to fiction, in 2009 her novel Dominowas selected for the prestigious Adventures in Fiction mentoring scheme. In 2016 she pitched her first crime novel, The Tattoo Thief, at the Pitch Perfect event at the Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival and was judged the winner. After signing with agent Jenny Brown, The Tattoo Thief was bought by Trapeze books and published in May, 2018.

Read my review for The Tattoo Thief here.

For more information and how to get tickets for the Morecambe & Vice Crime Writing Festival go to: https://www.morecambecrimefest.co.uk/

Her Last Breath by Alison Belsham is out now and is available from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

5*, book review, psychological thriller

#BookReview The Family by Louise Jensen. @Fab_fiction @hqstories #TheFamily #psychologicalthriller #book

The Family by Louise Jensen.

I do love Louise Jensen, her books are always great to read with lots of twists and turns. I’ve reviewed some of her books, The Date, The Gift and The Surrogate, and I’ve enjoyed them all. The Family is her first book published with HQ Stories (previously Bookouture published her books) and I received a copy of the book from the publisher via Netgalley. I was under no obligation to review the book and all thoughts are my own.

My Review:

I’ve enjoyed Louise Jensen’s previous books so I was looking forward to reading The Family. This is her first book published by her new publisher, HQ, and I have to admit that I was a bit worried that the change in editor would make this book different from her other books. Thankfully I needn’t have worried.

Jensen is great at weaving stories that revolve around families, normal families that find themselves in situations that nobody would want to be in. I love how she gives the characters this sense of normalcy, it really could be you or me that she is writing about.

We know that Laura’s husband died suddenly, leaving her and her daughter Tilly unable to pay their rent and waiting desperately for the life insurance to payout. But will the money come in time?

Obviously it doesn’t but Laura is grateful when someone steps in and offers them a safe home for as long as they need. The home is a farm that has been turned into a commune, where the members grow their own food, wear white and do as their leader tells them.

But things start to go wrong, Laura begins to feel uneasy about the way things work on the farm but she doesn’t know what to do as Tilly is loving her new life on the farm. and does not want to leave with her mother. Should Laura leave without her daughter?

I really enjoyed this twisty tale, I was never quite sure who to trust and who it was that was behind the bad things that kept happening. The thrilling ending left me shocked and for days after I finished the book I was thinking about the characters and what might have happened to them after the book ended.

This book really shows why Louise Jensen has sold millions of books, if you haven’t read one of them then you are missing out and need to change that immediately!

Blurb:

The latest psychological thriller from master story-teller, Louise Jensen, will leave you breathless.

COULD ONE MOTHER’S MISTAKE COST HER DAUGHTER EVERYTHING?

Laura is devastated when her husband dies, leaving her and their almost grown-up daughter, Tilly, alone. When the insurance company refuses to pay out, Laura is in danger of losing the house and has no choice but to seek help from elsewhere.

Oak Leaf Farm, a community that lives just outside of town, seems to be everything that Laura and Tilly need, so when this self-made family offer Laura the lifeline she’s been looking for she gratefully accepts.

But all is not right on the farm and when both Laura and Tilly are drawn to the community’s handsome and charismatic leader, mother and daughter find themselves on opposite sides of the battle line.

About The Author:

Louise Jensen has sold over a million English language copies of her International No. 1 psychological thrillers The Sister, The Gift, The Surrogate and The Date. Her novels have also been translated into twenty-five languages, as well as featuring on the USA Today and Wall Street Journal Bestseller’s List. Louise’s fifth thriller, The Family, will be published in Autumn 2019 by Harper Collins.

The Sister was nominated for the Goodreads Debut Author of 2016 Award. The Date was nominated for The Guardian’s ‘Not The Booker’ Prize 2018. The Surrogate has been nominated for the best Polish thriller of 2018. The Gift has been optioned for a TV film.

Louise lives with her husband, children, madcap dog and a rather naughty cat in Northamptonshire. She loves to hear from readers and writers.

The Family by Louise Jensen is out on 25th September 2019 and is available from Amazon UK.

4*, blog tours, book review, debut author

#BlogTour #BookReview The Lost Thumb by Orla Owen. @orlaowenwriting #TheLostThumb #RandomThingsTours @annecater

Today on If Only I Could Read Faster it appears to be twin day, because this is my second review today and both books have featured twins. Thank you to Anne Cater for asking me to be part of the blog tour for The Lost Thumb by Orla Owen.

My Review:

The Lost Thumb by Orla Owen is a quirky book, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started it but it definitely wasn’t any of the options that I had thought about.

This is the author’s debut novel and it is a really impressive first novel in many ways. The story is set in Australia, although that is totally irrelevant because the setting has no part in the story. I only realised that the book was set in Australia when I was about half way through and I realised then that it is really unusual to read a book that is so insular that the outside of the story doesn’t matter.

The other unusual thing with this book is that I have absolutely no idea what year the book was set in. There were no mentions of mobile phones which could be an indication but other than that I really have no idea. I think it would be from the 1960s on, perhaps in the 80s but who knows.

Lara and Luella are twins who live with their mother who controls everything about their lives, the twins have no say in how they live, where they go, what they wear and what they eat. They have no friends and live a colourless life, both literally and figuratively, and this is why the outside world doesn’t seem to matter, because for Lara and Luella it is totally irrelevant.

At times the book was hard to read, the abuse from the mother is shocking and upsetting, the description of the characters emotions was also quite raw. I also felt as though some of what happened was somewhat predictable and that was disappointing, given how different the story and characters were I had hoped that the author wouldn’t follow some predictable storylines.

But that didn’t stop this book from being a very clever debut, one that I enjoyed reading even though at times it made me feel very sad. Orla Owen is an author to watch.

Blurb:

In a small town in New South Wales, Lara and Luella Jeffreys lead isolated lives until the night they are left alone for the first time, and Luella decides to have some fun. 

That evening goes horribly wrong. 

After Luella wakes up in hospital, she’s kept prisoner at home with her mother acting as her warden. Lara is sent to school to keep up the pretence that she is fine, her sister is fine, and the world is fine. Except they aren’t. The local storekeeper, sensing that something’s wrong, pushes her son to befriend Lara but the results of her meddling are deadly…

About The Author:

Orla Owen is a writer, online editor, and author of the novel The Lost Thumb. She’s been writing since she was a child, and in 2016 was picked to be mentored by Sarah Savitt at Virago.

Her writing focuses on the dark and macabre side of family life, the parts that go on behind closed doors.

Before she became a writer, she was an actress and drama practitioner, studying Theatre at Bretton Hall College of the Arts. She has performed at the Royal Court and Edinburgh fringe, as well as working on The Women’s Theatre Workshop mentoring scheme.

Supporting women in writing is important to her, and she was lucky enough to work on a writers’ mentoring scheme, as an assistant to the author Kerry Hudson, at the WoMentoring Project. 

She is currently working on her second novel, PAH, which will be released in early 2020.

The Lost Thumb by Orla Owen is out now and is available from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

4*, blog tours, book review, crime thriller

#BlogTour #BookReview The Essence of Evil by Rob Sinclair. @RSinclairAuthor @canelo_co @Tr4cyF3nt0n #PoliceFiction #TheEssenceOfEvil

I’m delighted to be part of the blog tour for The Essence of Evil by Rob Sinclair. The first book in a new series about Detective Inspector Dani Stephens. Thank you to Tracy Fenton for asking me to be part of the blog tour.

My Review:

As a parent of twins I have to admit that I am drawn to read books that feature twins, especially boy/girl twins. This book might now sound like something that would appeal to a parent of boy/girl twins, given the boy in the story tries to kill his twin sister, but of course this is fiction and not something that could ever happen with my twins (obviously).

Dani Stephens is an unusual character, the consequences of the attack from her brother are something she continues to battle with, years after the attack occurred. I really liked how the author added details of Dani’s traumatic brain injury and the long term consequences on her and her behaviour. This added an element of drama, compassion, empathy, doubt, confusion and mistrust that is hard to achieve in believable fiction.

The book did feel a bit slow at times, and the last 15% was jammed full of action, which was great but I wish the pace had been quicker throughout and the majority of the book less of a slow burner.

But the scene is now set for a thriller series with a strong female lead who is vulnerable and flawed. Roll on book two.

Blurb:

He’s your attacker.

He’s a murderer.

He’s your twin. 

When D.I Dani Stephens returns to work after the attack that almost ended her life, she’s quickly plunged into a horrific new case, as dead bodies are discovered on the streets of Birmingham.

But with no link between the victims, Dani has to get inside a killer’s mind – so turns to the murderer she knows best. Her own twin brother…

But what makes a psychopath? Can understanding her twin help her find a murderer who leaves no trace? As the circle closes on Dani, the clock is ticking and she needs a breakthrough – before she becomes the latest victim.

A heart-stopping crime thriller that fans of Peter James and Mark Billingham won’t be able to put down.

About The Author:

@JigsawPhotographyUK

Rob is the author of the critically acclaimed and bestselling Enemyseries and James Ryker series of espionage thrillers. His books have sold over half a million copies to date with many reviewers and readers having likened Rob’s work to authors at the very top of the genre, including Lee Child and Vince Flynn. 

Rob began writing in 2009 following a promise to his wife, an avid reader, that he could pen a ‘can’t put down’ thriller. He worked for nearly 13 years for a global accounting firm after graduating from The University of Nottingham in 2002, specialising in forensic fraud investigations at both national and international levels. Rob now writes full time.

Originally from the North East of England, Rob has lived and worked in a number of fast paced cities, including New York, and is now settled in the West Midlands with his wife and young sons.

The Essence of Evil by Rob Sinclair is out on 12th September 2019 and is available from Amazon UK and Amazon US.