30 Days of Horror #6: The Crow Girl #HO17 #30daysofhorror

30daysofhorror

Join me for 30 Days of Horror in which we spotlight one horror book for each day until we reach Halloween!

Day six and I’m choosing an epic Swedish thriller that is dark. I mean, like really, really dark and messed up. Originally published as a trilogy but now in one volume, it’s not a small book, but it certainly packs a punch. It was released in paperback just last year.

I’m not a fan of the latest cover (right) – it doesn’t really reflect the contents like the other two, but I guess that’s mass marketing for you.

Available in all formats
786 pages
Published April 14th 2016 by Harvill Secker

It starts with just one body – tortured, mummified and then discarded.

Its discovery reveals a nightmare world of hidden lives. Of lost identities, secret rituals and brutal exploitation, where nobody can be trusted.

This is the darkest, most complex case the police have ever seen.

This is the world of the Crow Girl.

Goodreads // My Review

bookdepo

Have you read this? What did you think?

Up Next on Horror October:

The Flash Fiction Battle Prompt Result!

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Reading Round-up: February 2017 #BookReviews #NewReleases #MiniReviews

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Welcome to my new post where I discuss any books that I read in the month which for one reason or another didn’t warrant a full review. This is a way for me to keep track of what I’ve read but without the pressure of having to write comprehensive reviews for them all. 

I was much better this month and the only book I read and didn’t feel like reviewing in full was this:

 

thechalkpit

The Chalk Pit (Ruth Galloway #9) ~ Elly Griffiths

This was the first Ruth Galloway book I’d read and at first it didn’t seem to make a difference that I hadn’t read the previous ones, but I think as the story went on it became evident that I would have enjoyed it more if I had. It’s for that reason that when I say I was little disappointed with this novel I don’t particularly think I can blame the book itself. It was a perfectly good crime thriller but I personally felt like the plot unfolded a little too slowly. Griffiths’ writing style was nice and effortless though, and I’d like to give the first book a go in the future.

unicorn rating 3

Other Reviews

Cut to the Bone by Alex Caan #BookReview #Thriller

cuttotheboneTitle: Cut to the Bone
Author: Alex Caan
Series: N/a
Format: Digital ARC, 320 pages
Publication Details: November 3rd 2016 by Bonnier Publishing
Genre(s): Thriller; Crime Fiction
Disclosure? Yep, I received a free copy in exchange for an HONEST review. 

Goodreads 

bookdepo

One Missing Girl. Two Million Suspects.

Ruby is a vlogger, a rising star of YouTube and a heroine to millions of teenage girls.

And she’s missing . . .

But she’s an adult – nothing to worry about, surely?

Until the video’s uploaded . . .

Ruby, in the dirt, pleading for her life.

Enter Detective Inspector Kate Riley; the Met’s rising star and the head of a new team of investigators with the best resources money can buy. Among them, Detective Sergeant Zain Harris, the poster boy for multiracial policing. But can Kate wholly trust him – and more importantly, can she trust herself around him?

As hysteria builds amongst the press and Ruby’s millions of fans, Kate and her team are under pressure to get results, and fast, but as they soon discover, the world of YouTube vloggers and social media is much darker than anyone could have imagined.

And the videos keep coming…

Review

I was in the mood for a dark, crime thriller so I picked this book up slightly ahead of schedule and I enjoyed it a lot.

Cut to the Bone opens with a girl being kidnapped. I instantly found the writing-style exciting and intriguing. It’s sharp and very matter-of-fact which I’m sure some people with have an issue with but I lapped it up. 

We soon discover that the girl being kidnapped was Ruby, a YouTube star. Ruby does beauty tutorials and talks about her life, depression and other things on her Vlog, to a huge teen audience. She’s a good role model, she tries to use her experiences to help others. So when she goes missing there’s instant interest in it. But it doesn’t explain why commissioner Justin Hope seems to know about it before she’s even classified as a missing person- only hours after her disappearance. 

Like all good crime thrillers, Cut to the Bone is complex, with many strands weaving through it at once. There’s the unreliable cops, the exploitative media agents, ex-boyfriends, stalker-fans and a strange family, (amongst others) all thrown into the mix. Any one of them could be the culprit. 

Caan does a good job of throwing in some red herrings and keeping you guessing, and I couldn’t stop digitally turning those pages, although to be fair, I was never that invested it finding out who the killer is, because we don’t actually know if she’s dead.

I feel like I can’t really give Cut to the Bone more than 3/5, mainly because it wasn’t anything special. I enjoyed it and all, but it didn’t blow me away. It hasn’t stayed with me, you know!? Maybe I’m just in a harsh mood…

I also got pretty bored with all the drawn-out explanations about what Vloggers do and how they make money. I’m sure it’s just a case of timing, and that probably when the story was actually written Vloggers weren’t very well known, but it felt quite dated and well, out of touch. Like it was written by someone who has only just discovered the internet or something.

Anyhoo, for a debut novel, Cut to the Bone is a winner. The writing is quite different than your run-of-the-mill thrillers and that’s what really impressed me. 

Definitely worth a read – and I’ll be looking out for more from Caan in the future. 

unicorn rating 3

Cut to the Bone is out now on Kindle, but not due in paperback until November 2016

Murder at the 42nd Street Library by Con Lehane #BookReview #Mystery

murderat42Title: Murder at the 42nd Street Library
Author: Con Lehane
Series: n/a
Format: Digital ARC, 320 pages
Publication Details: April 26th 2016 by Minotaur Books
Genre(s): Mystery
Disclosure? Yep! I received a free copy in exchange for an HONEST review. 

Goodreads 

bookdepo

Murder at the 42nd Street Library opens with a murder in a second floor office of the iconic, beaux-arts flagship of the New York Public Library. Ray Ambler, the curator of the library’s crime fiction collection, joins forces with NYPD homicide detective Mike Cosgrove in hopes of bringing a murderer to justice.

In his search for the reasons behind the murder, Ambler uncovers hidden–and profoundly disturbing–relationships between visitors to the library. These include a celebrated mystery writer who has donated his papers to the library’s crime fiction collection, that writer’s missing daughter, a New York society woman with a hidden past, and one of Ambler’s colleagues at the world-famous library. Those shocking revelations lead inexorably to the tragic and violent events that follow.

Review

A grand library. A mysterious murder. A librarian turned sleuth… in theory this book ticked all the boxes for me and I was looking forward to it a lot.

Ray Ambler is the librarian in charge of the (fictitious) crime fiction collection at the world famous New York Public Library. When a Dr. James Donnelly is murdered in the library, Ambler takes it upon himself to investigate. His boss Harry witnessed the murder, yet fails to identify the culprit, and in time Ambler discovers that the murder is linked to recently acquired documents from renowned crime writer Nelson Yates.

With a large pool of suspects and a growing concern that the crime fiction collection is to be expunged, Ray Ambler has got his work cut out for him and his amateur detective skills. 

I really wanted to love this book but I was left feeling pretty meh about it. At first I liked that it felt like an old fashioned mystery but in the end I just found it a bit dull. I never really got invested in the characters – or the murder – and so I didn’t feel compelled to turn the pages. I also thought there were too many characters and I was often confused about what was going on.

Still, I found it to be a relatively quick read and I loved the library setting. I’ve never been to the NYPL but I can certainly picture it after reading this book; the descriptions were lovely. I enjoyed it enough, but I guess I was hoping for more. Worth giving it a go though!

unicorn rating 3

Murder at the 42nd Street Library is out now!

The Crow Girl by Erik Axl Sund (out today) #BookReview #CrimeFic #DisturbingReads

crowgirlTitle: The Crow Girl
Author: Erik Axl Sund
Series: N/A
Format: Digital ARC, 784 pages
Publication Details: April 7th 2016 by Harvill Secker
Genre(s): Crime Fiction; Thriller
Disclosure? Yep! I received a free copy in exchange for an HONEST review. 

Goodreads 

bookdepo

It starts with just one body – tortured, mummified and then discarded.

Its discovery reveals a nightmare world of hidden lives. Of lost identities, secret rituals and brutal exploitation, where nobody can be trusted.

This is the darkest, most complex case the police have ever seen.

This is the world of the Crow Girl.

Review

Everything about this book drew me in until I realised that it’s almost 800 pages long! I probably would have been put off if I’d realised that before I requested a copy (because as a ‘in spare-time blogger’, I aint got time for that), but I’m so glad I started reading first. It was totally worth the investment of time. 

The Crow Girl is one of the darkest, twisted, deviously woven crime books I’ve ever read. As the synopsis suggests it starts with one dead body, and mannnn does it escalate from there. 

We follow protagonist Jeanette Kihlberg, a respected detective who is assigned the case when a mummified boy is discovered. Jeanette is a strong protagonist. She’s clearly dedicated to her work but is also consumed by it, which takes its toll on her private life. As more bodies show up, and the search for a killer intensifies, Jeanette’s life starts to unfurl. 

The Crow Girl isn’t a simple whodunnit tale. It’s a complex saga of child abuse, paedophile circles, corrupt officials, false identities, human trafficking and psychological battles. It took me a few chapters to get hooked and adapt to the dark and twisted tone of the story but once I did, it was impossible to not get completely invested the story.

Originally written as a trilogy, and published here as one volume, The Crow Girl has been painstakingly translated from Swedish. Despite the length, I’m really glad I read this all in one go as I think it would have been too confusing in three separate books and I’m not sure I would have appreciated the first part enough to read the second; it’s all about the bigger picture and the pay off at the end! I was also extremely thankful for the short chapters – they really helped in making the book less of a chore. 

This is one of those books where I don’t want to give away too much of the plot, but what I will say is that The Crow Road is a book that sheds light on child abuse and the damage it can cause. The effects of which ripple throughout all 700+ pages of this disturbing Swedish triumph.

It actually reminded me a lot of the Hannibal TV show with similarities in both content and style/tone, so if you enjoyed that I’d highly recommend giving this one a try.

unicorn rating 4

All Things Cease to Appear by Elizabeth Brundage (#DNF #review) #OutToday

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Title: All Things Cease to Appear
Author: Elizabeth Brundage
Series: N/A
Format: Digital ARC, 384 pages
Publication Details: March 8th 2016 by Knopf
Genre(s): Thriller; Mystery
Disclosure? Yep! I received an advanced copy in exchange for an HONEST review

Goodreads // Waterstones

bookdepo

 

Late one winter afternoon in upstate New York, George Clare comes home to find his wife murdered and their three-year-old daughter alone–for how many hours?–in her room down the hall.

He had recently, begrudgingly, taken a position at the private college nearby teaching art history, and moved his family into this tight-knit, impoverished town. And he is the immediate suspect–the question of his guilt echoing in a story shot through with secrets both personal and professional.

While his parents rescue him from suspicion, a persistent cop is stymied at every turn in proving Clare a heartless murderer. The pall of death is ongoing, and relentless; behind one crime are others, and more than twenty years will pass before a hard kind of justice is finally served.

At once a classic “who-dun-it” that morphs into a “why-and-how-dun-it,” this is also a rich and complex portrait of a psychopath and a marriage, and an astute study of the various taints that can scar very different families, and even an entire community.

Review

What came first…the book, or the book slump? Now there’s a question! I stopped reading this book at around the 35% mark, which I really try not to do for ARCs as I like to fulfil my end of the bargain as much as possible, but I just couldn’t. 

I’m not sure why, as it wasn’t badly written, or even overly dull, I just couldn’t muster the motivation to keep going. It may be nothing to do with the book, and everything to do with the fact that I read two really amazing books in a row and was a bit burnt out…who knows!?

All Things Cease to Appear has the makings of a really great mystery/thriller. George comes home to find his wife dead, brutally-murdered-dead, and his little girl alone and scared. George is instantly the prime suspect and his reaction to his wife’s death is quite strange, so he is always a suspect in the reader’s mind too. 

I think the main reason I couldn’t get into this book was because I didn’t like any of the characters in it. George is aloof and strange, even his parents are a bit – bland. Yes, bland is how I would describe most of the characters. 

I do think that if I was in the mood for this book it could have gone differently. I’m sure it would become clear why the characters were dubious, but I just wasn’t in the mood to get to the endgame. 

ATCTA may not have worked for me, but it might for you. I thought the lack of quotation marks for dialogue was interesting, and it actually didn’t bother me at all, I think it was just a mixture of bad timing and ambiguous characters that turned me off. 

I DNF at 35% and therefore won’t be giving it a rating.  

Lazy Saturday Review: Behind Closed Doors by Elizabeth Haynes #BookReview

behindclosedTitle: Behind Closed Doors
Author: Elizabeth Haynes
Series: DCI Louisa Smith #2
Format: Digital, 416 pages
Publication Details: January 29th 2015 by Sphere
Genre(s): Crime; Thriller
Disclosure? Yep! I received a free copy in exchange for an HONEST review.

Goodreads // Purchase

‘To begin with, nothing was certain except her own terror . . .’

Ten years ago, fourteen-year-old Scarlett Rainsford vanished without a trace during a family holiday to Greece. Not being able to find Scarlett was one of the biggest regrets of DCI Louisa Smith’s career and when Scarlett is discovered back in her home town after all this time, Lou is determined to find out what happened to her and why she remained hidden for so long. Was she abducted or did she run away?

As Lou and her team delve deeper into Scarlett’s past, their investigation throws up more questions than it answers. But as they edge closer to the truth about what really went on behind closed doors, it is more sinister and disturbing than they had ever imagined.

Review

Behind Closed Doors is another compelling, page-turning read from Police Analyst Elizabeth Haynes.

This is the third book I’ve read by Haynes and I’ve found them all to be edge-of-your-seat thrilling and interesting in the most excellent dark and gritty way. Behind Closed Doors was no exception.

Haynes is masterful at navigating the multi-layer plot about a girl who was abducted on a family holiday and has returned after 10 years, posing more questions than there are answers.

Obviously, I felt for Scarlett and all the horrible things she went through, but she was frustrating too in the way that she refused to tell her story. Of course, this is what made it such a page-turner and I couldn’t wait to find out who was behind the whole thing.

No one in this book is a sure thing. Scarlett’s family were weird to the point of being suspects, and even Scarlett herself can’t be trusted.

Haynes’ experience as a Police Analyst brings an obvious insider knowledge to her thrillers, but they never feel clinical. They have heart, and I liked that this story in particular shows how different people act differently in extreme situations, making it impossible to judge anyone’s intentions.

You never know who to trust…

unicorn rating

Guest Post: My Love of Murder and Mayhem by Cleo Bannister #HorrorOctober

I discovered Cleo’s blog, Cleopatra Loves Books relatively early on in my blogging life, and have been an avid reader ever since. I really enjoy crime fiction, especially a good, gritty, psychological thriller, but I still find myself only reading them sporadically.

Cleo however, has a seemingly insatiable appetite for all that involves death and murder, something we have joked about before in comments and such. As Horror October approached I thought it would be a great opportunity to find out more about Cleo, her blog, and where her love of crime fiction came from.

Huge thanks to Cleo for agreeing and sending over this great guest post. If you don’t follow her, head over there ASAP (she also covers more than just crime fic btw).

HorrorOct2015

My Love of Murder and Mayhem

by Cleo Bannister, Cleopatra Loves Books

I came to murder fairly late in life, although on reflection the seeds were sown earlier, but up until relatively recently you were more likely to find chick-lit or historical women’s fiction decking the shelves of my bookcase. These days they are dominated by black spines adorned with words such as death, murder or the darkly mysterious single word title!

My earliest introduction to murder stories came in the form of true-crime, more specifically the very trashy looking True Crime magazines with which I scared myself half to death before passing them onto my younger brother (something my more responsible adult self would say is probably not to be recommended).

Buying these magazines was a feat in itself, we lived in a rural town where everyone knew my mother, who certainly wouldn’t have approved, and they were kept on the top shelf. I’m not exactly tall now, and in those days top-shelves weren’t meant to be reached by under-sized teenagers so it was only on trips to the nearby city, Gloucester, that I was occasionally brave enough to get someone taller to pass me a copy.

Our local library didn’t stock YA fiction, it hadn’t been invented back in the 80s, and so once I’d finished the children’s section it was straight round the corner to adult fiction where I continued to read the classics fairly indiscriminately interspersed with the occasional bonk-buster as was required reading for every girl my age! Now either my library didn’t stock much in the way of crime fiction or I simply never really came across it, remember these were pre-internet days, you read what was available and unless you had a title and an author it really was pot-luck when pulling books out of the shelves.

Murder on the Orient ExpressI do remember one holiday home we stayed in, I want to say it was Wales but maybe that is my adult self, superimposing the stereotypical rainy weather on an entirely innocent region, which contained a huge stack of readers digest magazines and a good stock of Agatha Christie books which I devoured with relish and then I returned home and they became the one highlight in a very wet, windy and quite frankly miserable holiday.

In no time at all I left home, joined a library in every place that I called home still without any real structure to my reading, except for an overwhelming need to have a constant supply of books and it was only when I moved to Jersey that I became reacquainted with Agatha Christie with Poirot being played by the marvellous David Suchet which was required Sunday evening viewing for an entire winter, as well as settling down more than happily to watch Inspector Wexford do his stuff in a gentler contrast to Poirot’s more flamboyant manner. I sought out Ruth Rendell’s books featuring the detective and fortunately not only was Jersey library better stocked, it was better structured, books were shelved traditionally but some shelves were designated genres, paperbacks or recently published books, although I found my best bet of getting the choicest picks was to peruse the trolley which had the recently returned books on it. There I picked up a book by Barbara Vine, A Fatal Inversion, and having worked out this was Ruth Rendell whose Inspector Wexford books had filled my need for police procedurals, who used the pen name Barbara Vine when she wrote about crime from a psychological view-point.

Happy Like Murderers - Fred and Rose WestIn 1994 Fred West, an odd-job man in Gloucester had his garden dug up and the bones of his daughter who had been missing for eight years were located, I was in hospital giving birth to my son when the news came through that more bodies had been found, twelve in total. When Fred’s wife Rose was arrested, and later found guilty, I wanted to understand how such a large number of murders could take place under the noses of the residents in Cromwell Street, a road that I had walked along the end of many times while living in Gloucester.

I also wanted to understand why? Particularly in the case of Rose; what sort of woman kills for pleasure? In short this case reawakened my interest in true crime, although I now accept that the answers to the why part of my question will probably never be clear since Rose has refused to say anything at all in the intervening years.

Jersey library had a fairly good stock of the books that spring up after a particularly sensational crime so for a while my days were filled with caring for my young children while my nights were spent looking into some of the most depraved minds to grace the earth. It will relieve all those close to me that I wasn’t particularly interested in the methods used, I was interested in the make-up of these men and women.

The Scolds BridleAt about the same time I came across Minette Waters who wrote in a new style, one which combined my interest in the psychological but felt far more modern than Barbara Vine, whose novels were often, but not always, set in a bygone era. Minette Waters used transcripts and newspaper articles as part of her stories, which were without exception incredibly powerful. In The Scold’s Bridle, Mathilda Gillespie is found dead in her bath, flowers in her hair and wearing just us to a medieval torture implement, the scold’s bridle – absolute genius, no crazed serial killer needed just a deeply disturbing (and it still disturbs me now twenty years later) image.

In many ways my crime fiction reading continued with those books picked up for TV serialisation so I came across the marvellous Dalziel and Pascoe, Inspector Frost and of course the wonderful Morse and true to form proceeded to read the entire series of each – people the books are so much better than the TV series! There is far more to these books than cosy Sunday night viewing, the depth in the Dalziel and Pascoe books whilst brilliantly portrayed on screen, is lost when reduced to a two hour show.

As the years rolled by although I picked up any new books by these now much loved authors, plus a few more favourites found along the way, most notably Gillian White who wrote brilliant psychological thrillers with P.D. James, Peter James and Gill McGown for the more classic police procedurals, my reading was more concentrated on the books of the moment, I loved Bridget Jones, Dorothy Koomson, Lisa Jewell and Jodi Picoult. At the same time I love history and have a particular weakness for dual time-line stories so Kate Morton, Rachel Hore and Lucinda Riley also have book that still grace my shelves today.

In 2010, with far more time on my hands, I decided to start reviewing the books I was reading on Amazon, and was lucky enough to be invited onto their Amazon Vine program which offered me free books in return for a review. I was in heaven and here was an opportunity to read books not only before publication but to check out those that I probably wouldn’t pick up in a bookstore.

The books I chose became increasingly dominated by murder and mayhem so that in 2015 out of the 111 books read and reviewed so far 67 are shelved under crime fiction or psychological thriller with a high percentage of non-fiction category also being books about murderous intent. My love of history, and particularly women’s history hasn’t dimmed, but now I enjoy books about Victorian Murderesses, women committed to lunatic asylums and suffragettes instead of love stories.

In 2013 Cleopatra Loves Books was launched primarily so that I had control of the books I’d reviewed and since then, the list of books I’ve found and been recommended that fit into this preferred genre has grown totally out of control. I thank you fellow bloggers for some absolute cracking reviews that has widened my reading to include such a variety of murderers from the domestic to the sadistic serial killer, I simply can’t get enough!

As you can probably tell, I have read loads of books about murder and mayhem so far so I’ll just leave you with a few suggestions from my bookshelves but if you want more detailed advice you can always contact me on my blog – I don’t even bite!

Police Procedural Series
Police Procedural

Roy Grace Series – Peter James
Lewis Trilogy – Peter May
Dalziel and Pascoe – Reginald Hill

Psychological Thriller
Psychological
Just What Kind of Mother Are You? – Paula Daly
Disclaimer – Renee Knight
Copycat – Gillian White

Historical Crime Fiction
Historical Crime

The Anatomy of Death – Felicity Young
Out of the Silence – Wendy James
Caversham Lock – Peter Conway

Non-Fiction
Non Fiction
A Very British Murder – Lucy Worsley
The Magnificent Spilsbury and the Case of the Brides in the Bath – Jane Robbins
The Suspicions of Mr Whicher – Kate Summerscale

Thanks again to Cleo! I hope this post has inspired you to pick up a murder mystery or two this Autumn, it certainly has for me! 🙂

Out Now: Binds That Tie by Kate Moretti

binds
Title: Binds That Tie
Author: Kate Moretti
Series: N/A
Genre(s): Crime; Thriller
Format(s): Paperback; Kindle
Pages: 340
Published: March 2014 by Red Adept Publishing

Links:
Goodreads
Read an Excerpt
Purchase:
Amazon

Synopsis

Love ties. Murder binds.

Maggie never felt as though she belonged until Chris Stevens showed her what true happiness meant. Ten years into their marriage, miscarriages and infidelities have scarred them both. Despite their perfect-couple image, Maggie can’t look at Chris with anything but resentment. When a charismatic stranger offers the opportunity for a little harmless flirtation, she jumps into the game.

But charm soon turns to malice, and a deadly split-second decision forces Maggie and Chris onto a dangerous path fraught with secrets, lies, and guilt. With no one else to turn to—no one she dares trust—Maggie will ultimately learn just how binding marital ties can be.

Meet the Author

katieKate Moretti is the New York Times Bestselling author of the women’s fiction novel, Thought I Knew You. Her second novel Binds That Tie was released in March 2014. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, two kids, and a dog. She’s worked in the pharmaceutical industry for ten years as a scientist, and has been an avid fiction reader her entire life.

She enjoys traveling and cooking, although with two kids, a day job, and writing, she doesn’t get to do those things as much as she’d like.

Her lifelong dream is to buy an old house with a secret passageway. (ME TOO!)

Website
Facebook
Twitter

Say Whaaaaaat?

“It was almost impossible to put this book down. The suspense was intense. The storyline powerful.” – Meghan, Goodreads

Binds That Tie is a page-turning, plot-twisting, gripping crime novel that will suck you in from the very first word and make your jaw drop at the end.”

-Sarah DiCello, Amazon

“I was hooked from the beginning….. Binds That Tie is a real page turner, full of sympathetic and flawed characters struggling to make their relationships work, but who end up being their own worst enemies.” -W.S Haggard, Goodreads