Review of S6 by TS Westbrook

‘S6’ by TS Westbrook is an eco-themed investigative thriller, set in Edinburgh, but with world-wide significance. The Red Cross is trying to find a missing oil worker in a time sensitive humanitarian mission. RB McGehee, reporter for Global Press is asked to write a short piece on the story, never imagining it will blow up as it does. Based in the Scottish capital, the announcement of carbon reduction plans by the devolved government is a much more interesting story to him. Especially as it could mean a spat with Westminster and the Norwegian government too. When his livelihood is threatened due to his investigation, he knows he’s onto something more. Someone wants him to back off and more than his job may be at stake.

I found this an exiting and thrilling story, with many twists and turns. RB McGehee was not your usual clean cut hero. He was a man with faults and some unsavoury habits, but he got the job done and I grew to like him. He had depth and his character developed in a realistic and fascinating way.

McGhee found increasingly murky waters as he peeled back layers of secrets and lies. It was interesting to discover the machinations of those involved in the relationship between the Scottish government and the U.K. government- and where lines are drawn on what is devolved and what is not. It was especially pertinent when ones thinks of the recent political upheaval in the relationship over the GRR bill. It was a good story well told.

I was given this ARC to review.

Review of ‘Faberge’ by Jo Fenton

Becky, Joanna and Will at the White Knight Detective Agency take on the case of a Faberge Egg theft. Nothing is as it seems, and the trio soon discover that the thieves will stop at nothing to get away with their prize. Worth millions, the egg has brought out the worst in those involved, and solving the case is vital lest anyone else gets hurt. Can they find the people behind it before it is too late? 

I must admit that not having read any previous books in this series it took me a beat to familiarise myself with the characters and their relationships and backgrounds. But once I did, I raced through this book. It was fantastic and quickly became tense and exciting. So much so that I couldn’t put it down. 

I found the characters so realistic. They were normal people with normal everyday problems. Maybe that is what made them such good detectives.  Their own problems had an impact on the case too. I loved the naturalistic dialogue, which made me believe in these characters. 

The pace really hots up as the story progresses, and I couldn’t look away. I had to keep reading. I could see this story on the prime time  Sunday night slot on TV. It would work so well as a TV drama. 

I was given this ARC to review.

Review of ‘Leap’ by O.C. Heaton

‘Leap’ by O C Heaton is a sci-fi thriller, taking in the glacial wastelands of Iceland. Uma has high hopes for her LEAP device. She believes it is the answer to global warming, and tries to persuade billionaire tech giant Ethan Rae to help her launch it. But dangerous playboy Samuel Reynolds III wants it for his own nefarious plans, and the pair find themselves in grave danger. Can they save themselves, and ultimately the whole world? LEAP is too important to fall into the hands of someone like Reynolds, but it will take all they’ve got to defeat him.

I found the idea of the LEAP device enthralling. If such tech existed it would solve so many of the world’s problems. I could see why Uma was so determined to make it work for the good. From the moment she tells Ethan about it, the story is thrilling and full-on excitement. O C Heaton writes in short, impactful chapters, and this makes it all the more powerful. 

Just when you think you know where it’s going, there’s a surprise and a twist. 

It’s a thought provoking story, with so many questions. Questions many of us ask ourselves every day.  It kept my interest throughout. I found it to be well written and compelling. And I’m keen to read the next in the series. 

I was given this ARC for review.

Review of ‘Stolen Ambition’ by Robyn Nyx

‘Stolen Dreams’ by Robyn Nyx is set in the world of Mexican drug cartels, where escaping the clutches of the drug lords is a dream to which few can aspire. Luca Romera has been betrayed and finds herself trapped on a drug farm, with little prospect of a free life. Marissa Vargas, the beautiful and kind daughter of the cartel boss, has her own reasons for wanting out. But freedom seems just as elusive for her. As the pair become entwined in a fight for survival, they must rely on each other, and hope that they can flee before anyone finds out. Will their growing feelings for each other be enough to keep their dreams alive? And will they ever break free from the desperation and fear of life under Marissa’s evil father?

We can always rely on Robyn Nyx to ramp up the tension, and this story was no exception. The suspense was immense and I couldn’t put it down. She pitched the fear of living under the drug lords perfectly. It was brutal and scary, and individuals meant nothing to those making money from their labour. I could feel the sense of hopelessness in those forced to toil in the fields.

The relationship between Marissa and Luca was intense, emotional, and so passionate. It‘s the best written love story between any of her characters. I’ve read all of her books so far and this tops them all. It felt so real and immersive from the start. Being forced to share a plan for escape pulled the women together, but the attraction was already there, and grew stronger as they fought to survive the carnage.

I also appreciated the various ‘Easter Eggs’ scattered throughout the story. If you’re a fan of lesfic, you’ll pick up on those quickly. A brilliant story I can see myself going back to again and again. 

I was given this ARC to review.

Review of ‘The Mysterious Case of The Alperton Angels’ by Janice Hallett

‘The Mysterious Case Of The Alperton Angels’ by Janice Hallett is the third book I have read by this author, and I continue to be in awe of her talent. Her style is bold and modern, and communication is at the core of her storytelling. She uses WhatsApp messages and emails to open up the story, and it is extremely effective. 

Almost two decades after the Alperton Angels cult imploded, with the suicide of many of its members, Amanda Bailey is commissioned to write a book on the subject. But she’s not the only one. Her old rival Oliver Menzies hopes to uses his connections to beat her to it. But as they look into what really happened, it becomes apparent that collaboration is the only way to find out the truth. 

The cult, and its charismatic leader, convinced two teenagers that a newborn baby was the anti-Christ and must die to save the world from evil. The girl came to her senses in time and saved the child. But where is she? And what happened to the baby? Amanda is determined to find out, but the darkness she finds is so much stranger and takes her in directions she could not have imagined. 

The way the story is written made me compelled to keep reading. It was addictive. More and more clues are slowly revealed and it’s thrilling, dark and twisty.  The first ‘WOW’ moment knocked me off my chair, followed by another and then another . Ingenious storytelling at its very best.

I was given this ARC to review.

Review of ‘How To Write A Winning Fiction Book Outline – Crime Workbook’ by Hackney And Jones

If you are interested in writing crime fiction – and doing it well – then this is the workbook for you. I’ve wanted to write a crime novel for a long time, but couldn’t see how to bring all of the elements together. I would start with an idea, but failed to get to the finishing line. This workbook has changed that for me.

Hackney and Jones have used their considerable experience as novelists to compile a workbook that will take you from that seed of an idea, to a novel that is ready to be published. They even show you how to find editors and cover designers and how to write that all important blurb.

I learned how to structure each chapter, how to flesh out characters, and how to plot a compelling story that readers will want to devour. They also showed me what works in the crime genre and what definitely does not. They show what the best-selling crime books contain and how to tailor your own story to the market.

I found it compelling and the best writing workbook I’ve tried.

Review of ‘A Song Of Winter’ by Andrew James Greig

‘A Song Of Winter’ by Andrew James Greig is the chilling and evocative story of an event that changes the world forever.  In Edinburgh a warmer than usual winter gives rise to a sudden and significant fall of snow. Disappearing students, disturbing climate research and a government intent on keeping it all secret combine to start a chain of events that Professor Finlay Hamilton cannot stop.  His own research into dark matter seems to be playing a part, and he needs to act before it is too late. He must save his wife Jess and young children from what is to come. That means trusting someone from Jess’s past, and realising that there is more to Jess than he first thought. As the snow continues unabated, Jess needs to use everything she knows to get her family to safety. 

‘A Song Of Winter’ was compulsive reading – maybe due to the fact that I didn’t think it was out-with the realms of possibility that such a scenario might happen. It was beautifully written and kept my attention . I couldn’t put it down. It would make an amazing film or TV series.

It is far and away the best book I’ve read this year. It’s an astonishing story of survival and hope against the most terrible of odds. 

I was given this ARC to review.

Review of ‘Let Love Be Enough’ by Robyn Nyx

With ‘Let Love Be Enough’ Robyn Nyx has taken her characters into some of the most depraved corners of society and brought them out the other side. Madison Ford is an award winning journalist whose work ensures she has enemies all over the world. Her articles require her to take risks and come into contact with the worst elements of society. Elodie Fontaine is Hollywood’s darling and at the top of her career. But it is her humanitarian work that interests Madison. When she gets a chance to interview the star, she finds an attraction she was not expecting. An investigation into organ trafficking brings them together and with the danger comes a closeness that neither can deny. 

The story is well written, engaging and powerful. The subject matter deals with disturbing issues and extremely distasteful people. Nyx shows how damaged some people are by the start they get in life. Some escape, others do not.  There is appalling violence, and those who spiral further into the darkest depths show no mercy.

The light comes from the growing relationship between Madison and Elodie. They are passionate, intense and reach extreme heights of sexual compatibility. Finding your person will do that. I really enjoyed their story.

I was given this ARC to review.

Review of ‘Legacy In The Blood’ by Catherine Maiorisi

‘Legacy In The Blood’ is an intelligent, complex and thought-provoking crime novel, with believable and well written characters. NYPD Detectives Chiara Corelli and P.J. Parker are partners assigned to the suspicious death of a man in a park. When they begin to investigate further, the victim’s complicated life opens up a whole new avenue of questions. Ned Rich was an investigative reporter with a lifestyle way above that of a journalist. Where was he getting this extra money? The answer may explain why he was killed. As family secrets are unearthed, and a link to the white supremacist movement, the detectives find the danger brought to their own doors. 

This is the first book in this particular series that I have read and I had no trouble jumping right in and grasping the backstory. The relationship between the two detectives has certain nuances that are well explained by the author. I liked their rapport and I liked them. The descriptions of New York were excellent and it is clear that Catherine Maiorisi knows her way around. It made the story all the more authentic. I also loved the diversity of the characters in terms of race, age and sexuality. The story has good, tight plotting and flowed well. I felt completely invested. I can’t believe it has taken me so long to read this author’s work, but I feel compelled to go back and find more. A top-notch crime novel.

I was given this ARC to review.

Review of ‘Undercover’ by Barbara Winkes

‘Undercover’ by Barbara Winkes is the first in a new series, and features Kendall Mancini, boss of a crime family, but with a heart of gold. Jess/Robyn, an FBI agent is sent in undercover to try and stop a war between the powerful families in the city. Her aim is to convince Kendall to turn away from crime and work with the authorities to bring down the murderous elements within the families. What she didn’t expect was the attraction between them. Keeping secrets was always going to be dangerous, but now it is personal too. 

I liked that the story was told from two points of view. We got to know Kendall and Jess/Robyn intimately and could therefore empathise with their dilemmas. We also knew their secrets and the painful decisions each had to make. The author cleverly ratcheted up the tension, making me wonder whose side I was on. Did I want the head of a crime syndicate to prevail? Or the law enforcement officer? As their romance grew I wanted it to work out for them, whatever the cost. 

I thought I knew where it was going, but the author managed to  twist it all and surprise me again and again.  It was a very good story with relatable characters. It ended in a way that makes me desperate to read the next in the series.

I was given this ARC to review.