Psycho: Sanitarium by Chet Williamson

51LF8-qYa5L._SX373_BO1,204,203,200_“The legendary Norman Bates returns…

The original Psycho novel by Robert Bloch was published in 1959 and became an instant hit, leading to the classic Alfred Hitchcock film a year later. Norman Bates’s terrifying story has been seared in the public consciousness ever since.

It took Bloch 23 years to write another Psycho novel, revealing that Norman had been in a mental institution the entire time. But what happened in that asylum during those two decades?

Until now, no one has known. It’s 1960. Norman Bates is in the State Hospital for the Criminally Insane and it’s up to Dr. Felix Reed to bring him out of his catatonic state. Dr. Reed must face both twisted patients and colleagues who think of the institution as a prison rather than a place of healing. And the greatest obstacle is the building itself, once a private sanitarium, rumoured to be haunted.

A delicate peace is disturbed by the arrival of Robert Newman, Norman’s twin brother, taken away at birth after a doctor pronounced him brain damaged. As Robert and Norman grow to know each other, Norman senses a darkness in Robert, perhaps even deeper than that which has lurked in Norman himself.

Psycho: Sanitarium is an intense psychological thriller of murder and deranged madness, and marks the first new appearance of Norman Bates as a main character in over 30 years.”

I saw this book and I HAD to read it.  Just so you know, I’ve never seen Alfred Hitchcock’s version of Psycho and I’ve only read the original Psycho by Robert Bloch.  Turns out there’s a second Psycho book too, I had no idea!  Anyway, enough about the past and let’s move to this new publication due for release on 12th April 2016.

This is Psycho 1.5 and covers the years of Norman’s incarceration in the State Hospital for the Criminally Insane.  I would normally give a short synopsis at this point but I’m not going to do that this time around as the blurb at the top pretty much tells you everything you need to know.  If I were to say any more it would surely give something away and I would much rather you read the book.

Whilst reading I felt a strange unnatural sense of pity for Norman Bates.  Here is one of the most iconic fictional serial killers of our time and I felt sorry for him!  He appears throughout the book as helpless and in need of some compassion.  Mother is still very much present but he’s working so hard to shut her away.  Being such a strong dominant personality she was never going to fade away without a fight.

I’ve read a couple of reviews recently where the reviewers said they could not understand why Norman Bates was used as the main character when any old well-known fictional killer would have done.  I completely disagree with this statement.  It could only have been Norman, there was no other choice.  It just wouldn’t of worked at all otherwise.

The setting is creepy, it feels like it’s set in the early 1960’s and the other characters are all individuals with their own failings.  There is a twist which I didn’t see coming until I was about three quarters of the way through the book and it hit me like a bolt of lightening!

I recently reviewed a modern northern Sherlock Holmes short story collection and said how hard it must be to take an iconic character and make them your own as a writer.  Chet Williamson has done this in abundance and I hope that, had he been alive today, Robert Bloch would be pleased with the result.

I heartily recommend this book but advise that you know the original Psycho story before reading otherwise it just won’t have the same impact or make as much sense.

Four and a half out of five stars.

Many thanks to Canelo Digital Publishing, Chet Williamson and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of Psycho: Sanitarium in exchange for an honest review.

Psycho: Sanitarium by Chet Williamson is published in the UK by Canelo Digitial Publishing on 12th April 2016 and is available in eBook format | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com

 

The Silent Twin by Caroline Mitchell

51aqw3--SXL._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_“I’m alone in the dark, please can you find me …

Nine-year-old twins Abigail and Olivia vow never to be parted. But when Abigail goes missing from Blackwater Farm, DC Jennifer Knight must find her before it’s too late.

Twin sister Olivia has been mute since Abigail’s disappearance. But when she whispers in Jennifer’s ear, Jennifer realises it is Abigail’s voice pleading to be found.

A damp and decaying house set in acres of desolate scrubland, the farm is a place of secrets, old and new – and Jennifer must unravel them all in order to find the lost girl. But could Olivia’s bond with her twin hold the key to finding Abigail? And can Jennifer break through her silence in time to save her sister’s life? “

And breathe…I finished reading The Silent Twin several minutes ago and I don’t think I’ve taken a breath yet!  I do have a confession to make though. This is the third book in the DC Jennifer Knight series and I haven’t read the first two instalments, whoops.  I don’t think that matters though.  It can be read as a standalone, but why would you want to?  I plan on downloading Don’t Turn Around and Time to Die as soon as I’ve written this review.

Twins Abigail and Olivia are wrenched apart when Abigail goes missing in the grounds of their crumbling home, Blackwater Farm.  Haven police are called in to find the young girl before the unthinkable happens.  Strange goings on are noted by the original team; light bulbs blowing, strange banging noises and furniture moving by itself.  So the case is passed to Operation Moonlight with DC Jennifer Knight as the FLO.  Can Jennifer work out what has happened to Abigail before it’s too late?  And why is the twin’s mother, Joanna, acting in such a strange way…?

I’m not normally one for reading books that have a paranormal aspect to them.  Ghosts, pah (I think I’ve said that before)!  However, this is so well written and flows so well that I didn’t feel at all uncomfortable with the spooky content.  It’s a great detective story with a fearless high-heeled heroine who fights for what’s right (and maybe a new girl crush of mine!).

A motley cast of characters are present from the attention seeking and inappropriate Joanna, to the deeply religious Bob and Wendy, to the secretive Nick.  You have the feeling that they are all up to something and know a lot more than they are letting on.

I love this book and can’t recommend it enough.  An enthralling detective story with (OK, I’m going to say it!) an interesting spooky twist.

Five out of five stars.

Many thanks to Bookouture, Caroline Mitchell and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of The Silent Twin in exchange for an honest review.

The Silent Twin by Caroline Mitchell is published by Bookouture in the UK on 14th April 2016 and is available in paperback, eBook and audio book formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones

 

 

Maladapted by Richard Kurti

51mRPf2H80L._SX321_BO1,204,203,200_“From BAFTA-nominated screenwriter Richard Kurti comes an exciting, fast-paced thriller that shows the power science has to change not just our lives, but our very selves. Cillian is the sole survivor of a devastating terrorist attack on a packed Metro train. How did he survive when everyone else was killed? Searching for answers with the mysterious Tess, Cillian discovers that his father has links to P8, a group of genetic scientists operating outside the laws of Foundation City. The shocking discoveries he and Tess make at P8’s secret hospital start to make Cillian ask not who he is, but what he is…”

I was drawn to the plot of this book.  It’s a bit different to my usual book choices but everyone likes a break from the norm now and then, right?  I’m glad I decided to read it because it’s a great story which is written in a wonderfully visual style (thanks to Richard Kurti’s work as a screenwriter).  I can see this being turned into a movie in the future.

Cillian is involved in a catastrophic terrorist attack.  Everyone else dies so how does Cillian survive?  As his father lays dying on a gurney he utters the word ‘Gilgamesh’ to Cillian; a word Cillian has never heard before, nor does he understand it’s meaning.  In his quest to discover what his father was trying to tell him he unearths P8 and comes up against Tess and the formidable Revelation.  Who is Tess?  Friend or foe?  And who or what is Cillian…?

A tight story about a futuristic world and one organisations need for perfection in human form.  Parts of the book had me totally gripped.  It’s full of action, adventure and lots of chase scenes.

I found Richard Kurti’s futuristic world fascinating; information screens which scan your retina, bots to do all the tedious work, SmartCells to keep you in touch with social networks and the ability to transfer large amounts of data with only a DigiKiss.  It all sounds so achievable, maybe not so futuristic after all…

Four out of five stars.

Many thanks to the Richard Kurti, Walker Books and THE Book Club on Facebook for providing me with a copy of Maladapted in exchange for an honest review.

Maladapted by Richard Kurti was published in the UK by Walker Books on 17th March 2016 and is available in paperback and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones

Bled by Eddie Slain

514u4-8HVdL._SX384_BO1,204,203,200_“Cassie is caught in a deadly game of cat and mouse, where the only rules are kill, or be killed…

Charleston, Illinois –
Cassie and Frank’s animalistic rutting climaxes with rage, pain, and disappointment, when he disappears, trailing burnt and bloody remains in his wake.

Rome, Italy –
A gorgeous stranger sweeps Cassie off her feet, lighting her soul with every touch, his deep, brown eyes harbouring a dark secret.

Perugia, Italy –
Cassie’s lover disappears, leaving a blood-soaked message, and the image of a familiar ghost on her phone.

…exhausted, frozen, alone, Cassie must now hunt down the killer before it’s too late.”

Have you ever judged a book by it’s cover?  I guess we all have at some point whether knowingly or not.  I think what I’m trying to convey is that this book was NOTHING like I expected it to be.

Cassie, an Illinois college student, decides to take a last minute break to Italy.  Christmas is approaching and her father has a new family to spend the festivities with, so why not?  She announces her departure to Frank (her on/off bunk up) the same night he confesses his love for her.  Frank is outraged and follows Cassie to the airport, then onto Rome.  The chase is on but will Cassie and those she cares about survive to tell the tale?

Oh how I blushed from start to finish. This book is quite naughty (very naughty!) and I don’t think you get much warning of that from the blurb (there is a small note about it being a darkly erotic psychological thriller on the cover but I’m afraid I missed that!) . I’m not really one for eroticism in my books but this one had it in spades.  I could see how some of it fitted into the story but other sections felt a little unnecessary and just there for the shock factor.

I’m afraid I found the story very predictable and was able to guess what was going to happen from quite early on.  My addiction to crime fiction could be to blame for that; always looking out for the clues!

I found parts of the story difficult to believe.  Certain scenarios just didn’t seem to ring true and it was almost like another character had suddenly appeared from nowhere.  I wanted to love it but I’m afraid I couldn’t.

Two out of five stars.

Many thanks to Booklover Catlady Publicity and Eddie Slain for providing me with a copy of Bled in exchange for an honest review.

Bled by Eddie Slain was publsihed in the UK by Lulu.com on 27th August 2015 and is available in paperback and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com

Holmes Volume 1 by Melvyn Small

51s2fHPsUGL._SX299_BO1,204,203,200_“Six short stories inspired by the works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. What if Sherlock Holmes, with his dry wit and natural predilection for data, deduction and logic, had been born on Teesside and lived in present-day Middlesbrough?

This smart-arse Boro lad hides his talents under a bushell of misdirection, self-deprecation and good old Teesside sarcasm, served up with some rather coarse language.
With the assistance of his associate, Doctor John Watson, a psychologist he met during some court-ordered counselling sessions, Holmes wends his way through a string of adventures, baffling and entertaining as he goes, with many a three-pint problem solved over his favourite libation, a pint of Engineer’s Thumb in the Twisted Lip, before he staggers back to Flat 1B, 22 Baker Street, Middlesbrough.”

This was a real treat for me.  Something quite different to the books I usually read.  I do enjoy short story collections but they tend to be individual standalone stories written by different authors and put together as a collection.  This however is a collection of six short stories about the same characters written by the same author and it was a joy!

You should know something about me before we get too far into this review.  I really don’t like Sherlock Holmes.  I’ve never read any of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s books nor do I want to.  If I have stumbled upon a Holmes short story in the past it has always left me feeling cold.  I haven’t watched any of the recent TV series or films, I’m just not interested.  That was until Holmes turned into a Boro lad.

The book contains 6 short stories but the way they are written, the way they cross over and flow seamlessly meant I didn’t feel like I was reading a collection of individual stories.

So, Sherlock Holmes, the northern bloke.  I loved him.  He’s well written and believable. Everytime he spoke, he spoke with a  Boro accent in my head.  The rest of the characters are just as well written; Dr John Watson and Martha for example.

It must be quite a challenge for a writer to take someone else’s character (especially one as well known as Sherlock Holmes) and turn them into your own.  Melvyn Small has produced a sterling effort in this anthology.  I was pleased to read that Volume 2 is on it’s way in 2016.  I, for one, will certainly be purchasing a copy.

Four out of five stars.

Many thanks to Melvyn Small for providing me with a copy of Holmes Volume 1 in exchange for an honest review.

Holmes Volume 1 by Melvyn Small was published in the UK by Sixth Element Publishing on 24th November 2015 and is available in paperback and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones

 

City of Good Death by Chris Lloyd

610MGIbNfML._SX373_BO1,204,203,200_“A serial killer is targeting hate figures in the Catalan city of Girona – a loan shark, a corrupt priest, four thugs – leaving grisly clues about his next victim. Each corpse is posed in a way whose meaning no one can fathom.

Elisenda Domènech, the solitary and haunted head of the city’s newly-formed Serious Crime Unit, is determined to do all she can to stop the attacks. She believes the attacker is drawing on the city’s legends to choose his targets, but her colleagues aren’t convinced.

Battling against the increasing sympathy towards the killer displayed by the press, the public and even some of the police, she finds herself questioning her own values. But when the attacks start to include less deserving victims, the pressure is suddenly on Elisenda to stop the killer at all costs.

The question is: how?”

I found this crime debut a thoroughly enjoyable and interesting read.  When you finish a book and feel like you’ve been on holiday, well, surely that’s a very good thing indeed.

There is a murderer on the loose in Girona.  The killer is using Girona’s rich history of myths and legends to rid the city of its most despised residents; a loan shark, a corrupt priest, a group of thugs.  Sotsinspectora Elisenda Domènech and the new Serious Crime Unit are tasked with catching the killer.  Then the killer turns their attention to less deserving victims….

You know how much I appreciate a strong-willed female detective and Elisenda is a new favourite of mine.  She’s gutsy and smart.  Seemingly the only female detective in Girona so there’s a need for that determination.  Especially as some of her male colleagues don’t think she can hack it.

There are some great twists in this book.  The reveal of the killer had my heart pounding. The big question is, did I see ‘whodunnit’?  Was my guess right?  Well…..yes, sort of and sort of not at the same time.  And that’s all I’m going to say about that!

You can tell that Chris Lloyd has spent time in Girona. His written representation of the city made me feel like I know the city having never actually visited; a real skill.  I hope there will be more to come from Sotsinspectora Domènech.

Four out of five stars.

Many thanks to Canelo and Chris Lloyd for providing me with a copy of City of Good Death in exchange for an honest review.

City of Good Death by Chris Lloyd was published in the UK by Canelo on 13th July 2015 and is available in eBook format | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com

 

No Other Darkness by Sarah Hilary

51NXy3K0SZL._SX325_BO1,204,203,200_“Two young boys.
Trapped underground in a bunker.
Unable to understand why they are there.
Desperate for someone to find them.
Slowly realising that no-one will…

Five years later, the boys’ bodies are found and the most difficult case of DI Marnie Rome’s career begins.

Her only focus is the boys. She has to find out who they are and what happened to them.

For Marnie, there is no other darkness than this…”

I have a confession to make.  I requested Sarah Hilary’s third DI Rome book Tastes Like Fear from NetGalley and was approved, hoorah!  Only then did it dawn on me that I haven’t read book 2, No Other Darkness.  Uh oh.  How could that happen?!  I really enjoyed Someone Else’s Skin so I must have been having a senile moment or something similar.  So I downloaded it immediately and oh boy, good job I did.

The bodies of two young boys are discovered in the bunker of a new build house.  Who are they?  Who could have done something like this?  Leaving two small boys to die in the cold and dark on their own?  DI Marnie Rome and her team are tasked with finding the truth but what they discover is both heartbreaking and terrifying in equal measures.

This is a chilling read with the subject matter handled incredibly well by Sarah Hilary.  I shouldn’t think this was an easy story to write.  At times, as a mum of two little people myself, I found the story distressing.  But that’s the art of a good writer; to make you feel something.  It drew me in from the very start to the very end, a very compelling read.

I can’t wait to make a start on Tastes Like Fear now.  Four out of five stars.

No Other Darkness by Sarah Hilary was published in the UK by Headline on 23rd April 2015 and is available in paperback, eBook and audio book formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com

 

 

The Evil Inside by Philip Taffs

51yRejZSCmL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_“A NEW MILLENNIUM.

On 31 December 1999, Australian advertising creative Guy Russell arrives in New York along with his fragile wife and their young son. A painful tragedy has led them to swap Melbourne for Manhattan, and seek a fresh start.

A NEW BEGINNING.

With a new job secured at a thriving midtown agency, and temporary residence obtained in the Upper West Side’s Olcott Hotel – a building with a morbid history of its own – Guy feels that now is the time to lay his troubles to rest.

A NEW NIGHTMARE.

Yet something won’t let him. And as a sinister force from Guy’s past begins to scratch its way back into his present, the behaviour of his son, Callum, also starts to become increasingly disturbing and chilling.

As Guy begins to believe that Callum is being possessed by this dark force, others fear he is gradually dispossessing himself of his own sanity. And as Guy grapples with whether the evil tormenting him is in his surroundings, his son, or his own mind, he pushes himself ever closer to the edge.”

I found this book quite shocking (in a good way…if there is a good way!).  I was so completely caught up in the story I just didn’t see the climax of the book coming and when it did…WHAM!  It knocked my socks off.  I finished reading a couple of hours ago but I feel the book is still very much with me and giving me goosebumps.  Brrrrr…

Guy and Mia are expecting their second child but the very worst happens leaving the couple heartbroken and bereft.  In an attempt to rebuild their lives Guy decides to move his family from Australia to New York.  Shortly after their arrival in The Big Apple strange things start to happen and their 3 year old son, Callum seems to be in the midst of it all.

This is quite a disturbing story.  Scrap that, this is a VERY disturbing story.  A very disturbing chilling story about a nice normal family man being pushed to the edge of his sanity.  I want to write so much more about this book but I’d be giving the plot away, which I just can’t do to you.

I found Philip Taffs writing style very easy to read so breezed through this novel in under 24 hours.  I really struggled to put it down and socialise with my (poor) family, it was that good.

It’s a great well written story which I devoured.  Four and a half stars our of five.

Many thanks to Philip Taffs for providing me with a copy of The Evil Inside in exchange for an honest review.

The Evil Inside by Philip Taffs was published in the UK on 23rd October 2014 by Quercus and is available in paperback, eBook and audio book formats |amazon.co.uk | amazon.com

Little Boy Blue by M J Arlidge

51YUfeWBcfL._SX323_BO1,204,203,200_“Detective Inspector Helen Grace is no stranger to tragedy. But when a body is found in a Southampton nightclub, the death cuts too close to the bone.

Hiding her personal connection to the victim – and a double-life which must remain secret at all costs – Helen becomes a woman possessed, working her team around the clock to chase down every lead.

As the killer strikes again, the investigation takes its toll not only on Helen but also her senior officers. Tempers flare, friendships fray and Helen faces an impossible choice.

Confess her sins and lose control of the case? Or keep living a lie, protecting her darkest secrets, and risk getting trapped in this tangled web?

But whatever she does, this killer will not stop until the truth is revealed: there are some fates worse than death . . .”

Back in January I confessed to a girl crush on a new detective.  However, I have to tell you that DI Helen Grace was my first ‘womance’ and nothing has changed!  I love the DI Grace series.  If you need someone on your side in a tricky situation then it’s got to be Helen!

I did however blush ever so slightly whilst reading this book as the killings centre around the BDSM community.  If you don’t know what that is I’m afraid I’m not going to tell you but go and google it (then delete your browsing history immediately!).

A body is discovered in ‘The Torture Rooms’, a BDSM nightclub in Southampton.  DI Grace is called to the scene but quickly discovers that she knows the victim….intimately. Normally in this situation the officer in charge would declare their connection and step down from the investigation but not our Helen, oh no.  She becomes heavily involved in the case but then more murders take place and things start to spiral out of control.

It’s an edge of your seat kind of read; M J Arlidge has done it again with another blinder of a story.  When I say things start spiralling out of control for DI Grace I REALLY mean it.  I couldn’t get over the conclusion of the book and it has left me longing for the next instalment.  Little Boy Blue is published in the UK on 10th March so go and get yourself a copy (along with the first four books).  I dare you not to love DI Grace.

Four out of five stars.

Many thanks to Penguin UK – Michael Joseph, NetGalley and the M J Arlidge for providing with an ARC in return for an honest review.

 

Hellbound: The Tally Man by David McCaffrey

51tGCKC0GpL._SX310_BO1,204,203,200_“His crimes – unforgivable. His death – inevitable. His suffering – just beginning.

Obadiah Stark aka The Tally Man, is executed at ADX Absolom, his death sentence watched by the world’s media, victim relatives and one investigative reporter, Joe O Connell. Penning an account of Stark’s personal history and subsequent crimes in the hope of determining what elements make the sociopathic mind tick, Joe discovers clues and inconsistencies which cause him to investigate Stark’s execution.

While this is happening in the real world, Obadiah Stark awakens to an afterlife where he has a wife and daughter bound to his childhood hometown. Following his natural predatory instinct, Obadiah proceeds to torment the town, committing multiple murders before being gunned down by the police. He awakens to find that everything has reset, with no one recalling his murderous spree a reality which offers no escape. As the scenes repeat, he is forced to submit to emotions he has never experienced before… and with it, a poisonous dose of morality.”

Obadiah Stark is a name which will stick in my mind for some time, I can tell you! Never have I met such an arrogant murderous character in a book (and I’ve read Silence of the Lambs).  It was brilliant!  This is a great read which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Stark is a serial killer with no remorse, even when faced with a lethal injection.  The families of those he killed want something from him, some show of regret or emotion but it just won’t come.  He knows what he’s done and he enjoyed every moment of it.

Joe O’Connell is an investigative journalist who has become slightly obsessed with Obadiah.  He plans to write a book about Stark; something new and different, something that hasn’t been done before.  In the course of his investigations he makes certain discoveries that lead him to believe that not everything is as it seems…

Obadiah made my skin crawl at points during the story.  He’s one nasty piece of work.  But I found myself sympathising with him at points (you’ll have to read the book to find out why), something I didn’t think possible so well done David McCaffrey. This book has an american feel to it but the majority of the story is set in Ireland, which I found surprising for some reason.

Heart pounding stuff.  I’m looking forward to reading the prequel and book three at some point soon.

Four out of five stars.

Many thanks to Booklover Catlady Publicity and David McCaffrey for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Hellbound: The Tally Man by David McCaffrey was published in the UK on 28th November 2014 by Britain’s Next Bestseller and is available in paperback and eBook format | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com