The Darkness Within by Lisa Stone

The Darkness Within by Lisa Stone

A gripping new thriller debut that asks the question, how deep in our hearts does evil lie?

When critically ill Jacob Wilson is given a life-saving heart transplant, his parents are relieved that their loving son has been saved.

However, before long, his family are forced to accept that something has changed in Jacob. Their once loving son is slowly being replaced by a violent man whose mood swings leave them terrified – but is it their fault?

Jacob’s girlfriend, Rosie, is convinced the man she loves is suffering from stress. But when his moods turn on her, she begins to doubt herself – and she can only hide the bruises for so long.

When a terrible crime is committed, Jacob’s family are forced to confront their darkest fears. Has the boy they raised become a monster? Or is someone else to blame?

I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the publisher.

The Darkness Within as a debut thriller from Lisa Stone promised wonderful, deliciously dark things from it’s blurb. I was really looking forward to an exciting thriller filled with twists and turns and a seam of excitement at its core. Unfortunately I find this book wanting by the end. The story itself had potential, the concept of personalities transferred during organ donation. The darkness that takes over the new host is so out of character it must be a result of the transplant.
34066358This element of the book presented an interesting dynamic, something that has been hypothesised with some anecdotal evidence, but nothing medically concrete. The story charts the last days of the donor alongside the days prior to the transplant for the recipient. The story flips post-operation to chart the change in personality of Jacob and the all consuming darkness that takes over his persona.

This is the part of the story that really let it down for me. I found the “twists” to be predictable, the direction and destination visible very early on. The characters started to grate on me – as the books progressed their attitudes and motives never wavered even when presented with evidence making them feel a touch unbelievable. The story itself was okay, but lacked what I look forward to when I dive into a thriller – a thrilling story.

My rating:
okaybook

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Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

According to The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch (the world’s only completely accurate book of prophecies, written in 1655, before she exploded), the world will end on a Saturday. Next Saturday, in fact. Just before dinner.

So the armies of Good and Evil are amassing, Atlantis is rising, frogs are falling, tempers are flaring. Everything appears to be going according to Divine Plan. Except a somewhat fussy angel and a fast-living demon—both of whom have lived amongst Earth’s mortals since The Beginning and have grown rather fond of the lifestyle—are not actually looking forward to the coming Rapture.

And someone seems to have misplaced the Antichrist . . .

I purchased a copy of this book for my personal reading.

Good Omens as been in my TBR pile for far longer than it had any right to be there for. With the recent release of the TV adaptation on Amazon Prime recently I felt it was the perfect time to dive in to Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman’s comic fantasy novel describing the events preceding the end of days. In the past, I’ve struggled with co-authored books where subtle differences in writing style became apparent throughout. This always broke my enjoyment. On this front I was pleasantly surprised as Pratchett and Gaiman weave a story with no break in the narrative.fantasy6I absolutely loved this book and cannot understand why or how I have waited so long to read what is now a firm favourite book for me. The story follows the prophecies of Agnes Nutter, a witch who has the unusual talent of being the only person to ever predict anything with something close to accuracy. Her prophecies foresaw the end of days and all of the events leading up to it and the coming of the Antichrist. The armies of Heaven and Hell are amassing ready for the ultimate war.

The demon Crowley and meek angel Aziraphale have been on Earth ever since Adam and Eve gave in to temptation and were expelled from the Gardens of Eden. The two have spent aeons on Earth sowing the seeds of evil and good mostly respectively, though occasionally each sowing both for efficiency. Their relationship is built throughout the book developing a millenia-long friendship of two figures who are polar opposites in character.

The cast of supporting characters – Anathema Device, Newton Pulsifer, The Them, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse to name a few are wonderfully-well crafted. Good Omens has become one of my very favourite books and I cannot believe I waited so long to read it. The comic timing, the fantasy, the science-fiction, everything about this book has been put together with a deftness of touch the only two of the best fantasy authors could produce. And while I am here, five episodes into the six episode TV adaptation of the book, and what a wonderful adaptation it is too! Yes there are some things in the book not in the series, some things in the series not in the book but nothing story-critical in either camp: both make for fantastic pieces of art in their own rights.

My rating:
goodread

Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew J. Sullivan

Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew J. Sullivan

When a bookshop patron commits suicide, his favorite store clerk must unravel the puzzle he left behind. Lydia Smith lives her life hiding in plain sight. A clerk at the Bright Ideas bookstore, she keeps a meticulously crafted existence among her beloved books, eccentric colleagues, and the BookFrogs—the lost and lonely regulars who spend every day marauding the store’s overwhelmed shelves.

But when Joey Molina, a young, beguiling BookFrog, kills himself in the bookstore’s upper room, Lydia’s life comes unglued. Always Joey’s favorite bookseller, Lydia has been bequeathed his meager worldly possessions. Trinkets and books; the detritus of a lonely, uncared for man. But when Lydia flips through his books she finds them defaced in ways both disturbing and inexplicable. They reveal the psyche of a young man on the verge of an emotional reckoning. And they seem to contain a hidden message. What did Joey know? And what does it have to do with Lydia?

As Lydia untangles the mystery of Joey’s suicide, she unearths a long buried memory from her own violent childhood. Details from that one bloody night begin to circle back. Her distant father returns to the fold, along with an obsessive local cop, and the Hammerman, a murderer who came into Lydia’s life long ago and, as she soon discovers, never completely left.

I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the publisher.

I have been looking forward to starting this book for some time now. The premise caught my eye, the idea of it being a little bit of a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma. A local down and out, Joey, who frequents the Bright Ideas Bookstore, he strikes up a friendship with Lydia, a bookseller with a broken history. Having survived an horrific murder at a sleepover as a child, Lydia struggles through life making the best of things that she can. One night Joey is found in the bookstore, having taken his own life, by Lydia. That alone was unexpected enough, but the discovery of a photo from Lydia’s childhood birthday with two young friends only adds to the confusion.
34094991

From this shocking revelation the story unravels into an avalanche of mysteries and secrets. As a massive fan of mystery novels I was really excited to see where this one would lead. Unfortunately that excitement was short lived. It took until well beyond the halfway mark for the mysteries to begin to make sense and the rest of the book followed suit.

While the book was unpredictable in terms of the scope and nature of the mysteries it really did not rescue the book for me. It felt like it ground along far too slowly, and with a lead in Lydia who as far too inward-looking, I really struggled to push through. I found it a real struggle as it limped from one revelation to the next. Much as I wanted to like it, it just moved too slowly. I am sure for many, the mysteries and the plot will be entertaining, but my predilection for fast-paced, high-octane mysteries this did not work for me.

My rating:
notforme

Kitty Hawk and the Hunt for Hemingway’s Ghost by Iain Reading

Kitty Hawk and the Hunt for Hemingway’s Ghost by Iain Reading

Kitty Hawk and the Hunt for Hemingway’s Ghost is the exciting second installment in a new series of adventure mystery stories that are one part travel, one part history and five parts adventure. This second book in the series continues the adventures of Kitty Hawk, an intrepid teenage pilot who has decided to follow in the footsteps of her hero Amelia Earhart and make an epic flight around the entire world. After flying across North America Kitty’s journey takes her down south to Florida where she plans to get a bit of rest and relaxation before continuing on with the rest of her long and grueling flight. As Kitty explores the strange and magical water world of the Florida Keys her knack for getting herself into precarious situations sweeps her headlong into the adventure of a lifetime involving mysterious lights, ancient shipwrecks, razor-toothed barracudas and even a sighting of the great Ernest Hemingway himself. This exhilarating story will have armchair explorers and amateur detectives alike anxiously following every twist and turn as they are swept across the landscape and history of the Florida Keys all the way from Key West to the strange and remarkable world of Fort Jefferson and the Dry Tortugas.

I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the publisher.

Kitty Hawk returns in another globetrotting adventure in her trusty de Haviland Beaver seaplane. Ahead of an attempt to emulate her hero Amelia Earhart in trekking solo around the world. Following a series of upgrades to her seaplane and a shakedown flight across Canada and the Northern United States, Kitty heads down to the Florida Keys for a relaxing break before the longer flights yet to come. Rest and relaxation are the order of the day in Key West – lazy days by the pool, pampering treatments in the hotel spa and a tour of the past residence of legendary author Ernest Hemingway.18516023A short hop from Key West down to the furthest tip of the Florida Keys lies the Dry Tortugas National Park, home of the ruins of Fort Jefferson. The chance to camp out and study the history of the facility was enticing to Kitty, making the most of her break. But wherever Kitty seems to go, adventure and conspiracy are never far behind. Mysterious lights out in the water catch the young adventurer’s eye leading to a discovery of centuries lost sunken treasures and illegal attempts to recover it.

After reigning in her overactive imagination, Kitty, with a little help from some new friends, begins to dig in to the mystery and uncover the unusual goings on. The history of the area is played out before her as she learns of the Spanish occupation of the New World and the trade in valuable metals and jewels, and the perilous seas in the area. Putting herself into some questionable situations Kitty manages to uncover a far less supernatural truth than that which she first suspected, nonetheless bringing the case to a conclusion.

Once again author Iain Reading has crafted a fun, informative and exciting read. The bubbly and adventurous Kitty Hawk makes for a wonderful heroine filled with energy, passion and a curiosity that is never stunted even when faced with adversity. The second book in this series picks up right where the first left off and doesn’t disappoint. The history sprinkled liberally throughout makes for interesting reading, while the story itself is captivating. Once again, Reading has created a book enjoyable for young and old to read.

My rating:
goodread

The Killer in Me by Olivia Kiernan

The Killer in Me by Olivia Kiernan

Detective Chief Superintendent Frankie Sheehan does not wish to linger on the grisly scene before her eyes. Two mutilated corpses. In a church. In Clontarf. Her profiling background screams one fact: this is just the beginning of a sickening message.

Meanwhile, a 17-year-old case is playing out on a TV documentary, the convicted professing his innocence and historical police errors being exposed daily in the media. Frankie’s superior, commissioner Donna Hegarty, makes no bones about who she expects to clean things up – both in terms of past mishandlings and the present murders.

But not everyone working the cases wants the truth to come out. And the corridors of power have their own vested interest. Soon Frankie pinpoints just what is making her so nervous: the fact that anyone could be the next victim when justice is the killer.

The Killer In Me is a fast-paced thriller in which lies are safer than the truth, the past is never far from the present, and the ability to kill could well, it seems, live in everyone.

I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the publisher.

Olivia Kiernan returns with another dark rollercoaster ride through the Irish criminal world. DCS Frankie Sheehan back on duty after the traumatic events in Too Close to Breath. For her second outing, Sheehan finds herself thrown head first into a grisly case far too close to home her liking, echoes of the past reverberating through to the present. Kiernan kicks of this dark novel with a double murder in a parish church close to Frankie Sheehan’s childhood home, while her sister-in-law asks her to help prove a man innocent who was convicted of the murder of his parents and attempted murder of his sister back when he was a teenager.
The Killer in MeI was so happy to have the chance to read the follow up to one of the best books I had the pleasure of reading last year. And as a debut book it was unbelievable just how good it was, so much so it ended 2018 as one of my top books. Then came the difficult second book. The Killer in Me easily lives up to last year’s debut and possibly eclipses it.

The murders as they continue are dark, the mystery ever deepening and the cast of suspects wide ranging and seemingly lacking any real connection. Kiernan has crafted a fantastic, tense and enjoyable read. I was hooked from the very first page and found myself often thinking “just one more chapter!”. It was a quick read, the desire to uncover the secrets intertwined in this case driving my desire to keep reading headlong towards the final conclusion.

The Killer in Me is the perfect second book to rejoin Frankie Sheehan in her journey into the murky Irish underworld. I thoroughly enjoyed this wonderfully written police procedural. At no time did it ever feel bogged down in detail in an attempt to add false credibility to the facts of the criminal justice system. The sense of frustration felt by the officers as the case stalls is palpable and the frenetic energy as the case draws close to an end, the killer close to being unmasked is unmistakable. If I enjoyed Too Close to Breath, The Killer in Me was the perfect way to sate my thirst for more and has only stoked my desire to read more from Kiernan and see what comes next for Frankie and the team.


My rating:

goodread

Area 62 by Michael R. Martin

Area 62 by Michael R. Martin

When Colin Thurcroft decided to expand his hiking gear business with a retail outlet, the derelict shop close to the centre of his home town seemed ideal. But something truly bizarre happened there nearly forty years ago, and it has left behind some tantalizing clues. As Colin digs deeper, he comes face to face with an international conspiracy beyond his wildest imaginings and the darkest of government secrets.

Brought to the very edge of reason, he must challenge his understanding of reality and accept a future within which the human race has little influence.

I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the author.

Area 62 is the second book I’ve had the pleasure of reading from Michael R. Martin. With the first book, Screams in the Woods I was treated to a horror mystery which I thoroughly enjoyed. Area 62, as the name suggests, is a fantastically-well written sci-fi.Area62_KDP_Front_CoverColin Thurcroft’s quest for answers as the the strange goings on in his new retail outlet over the last four decades take him on a journey that tests his concept of reality along with his marriage. The things he sees, experiences and learns along the way would be difficult for many to process, but they only strengthen his resolve to dig deeper.

Chance encounters with shady government organisations, the daughter of a whistleblower, a retired Ibiza DJ living on a distant Scottish island and beings from another world take Colin deeper down the rabbit hole. Just as you think things could not possibly get any stranger than they already are, a new revelation adds to the mind-bending situation. As things come to their conclusion the author leaves us hanging on to the seed of events that will change the course of humankind forever.

This was the ideal book for me at the moment. Something that falls into the bracket of easy reading, a sci-fi novel with a slight feel of the classics without being cheesy or overboard. I found it an entertaining, fun read that did not disappoint.

My rating:
goodread

Saint Death by Marcus Sedgwick

Saint Death by Marcus Sedgwick

A potent, powerful and timely thriller about migrants, drug lords and gang warfare set on the US/Mexican border by prize-winning novelist, Marcus Sedgwick.

Anapra is one of the poorest neighbourhoods in the Mexican city of Juarez – twenty metres outside town lies a fence – and beyond it – America – the dangerous goal of many a migrant. Faustino is one such trying to escape from the gang he’s been working for. He’s dipped into a pile of dollars he was supposed to be hiding and now he’s on the run. He and his friend, Arturo, have only 36 hours to replace the missing money, or they’re as good as dead. Watching over them is Saint Death. Saint Death (or Santissima Muerte) – she of pure bone and charcoal-black eye, she of absolute loyalty and neutral morality, holy patron to rich and poor, to prostitute and narco-lord, criminal and police-chief. A folk saint, a rebel angel, a sinister guardian.

I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the publisher.

Timely though this may be, especially given the current situation in Mexico and the US and the border regions, I have to say I would be hard pressed to call Saint Death a thriller. The concept was fascinating – the down and dirty of life with narcos, gangs, corrupt police and a desperation to do anything to cross the border in search of a new life. Unfortunately, I felt it just didn’t live up to what it could have been.
30177266Saint Death certainly portrayed the stark, dangerous life of the most desperate people trying to scrape a living on the fringes of society in the border towns of Mexico. There is a constant feeling of threat and poverty, of desperation and a willingness to do whatever they have to to reach America. The atmosphere in the book is heavy and the mood throughout is heavy.

Unfortunately, I just felt this heaviness bogged the story down. It was slow moving, and for a book described as something of a thriller it was most definitely hard going. It most definitely offered promise but just didn’t deliver for me – what could have been gritty and breathless ended up being sluggish and predictable.

My rating:
notforme