#BookReview: The Bad Place by M.K. Hill @HoZ_Books #TheBadPlaceBook #damppebbles

the bad place.jpg“The newspapers called it The Bad Place. A remote farm out on the Thames estuary, where six children were held captive for two weeks. Five of them got out alive.

That was twenty years ago. Now adults, they meet up annually to hold a candlelit vigil for their friend who died. The only rule is that no-one can talk about what happened the night they escaped. But at this year’s event, one of them witnesses a kidnapping. A young girl, Sammi, is bundled into a van in front of their eyes.

Is history repeating itself? Is one of them responsible? Or is someone sending them a twisted message?

DI Sasha Dawson, of Essex Police, is certain that the key to finding Sammi lies in finding out the truth about The Bad Place. But she also knows that with every second she spends trying to unlock the past, the clock ticks down for the missing girl…”

A very warm welcome to damppebbles today and to my review of The Bad Place by M.K. Hill. The Bad Place was published on 5th September 2019 and is available in hardcover and ebook formats with the audio and paperback to follow. I received a free ARC of The Bad Place but that has in no way influenced my review.

M.K. Hill also writes under his full name, Mark Hill, and is the author of the DI Ray Drake series. You can check out my review of his first two books here: His First Lie and It Was Her. I thoroughly enjoyed both of his previous books so when I heard Hill was writing a new series with a new publisher I knew I had to read it. So I was delighted to win a copy of the book at the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in July (as well as a voucher for Harrogate favourite, Betty’s Tea Rooms!).

I loved the sound of The Bad Place. It had a different feel to other ‘missing children’ novels (and I’ve read a few!). Twenty-six years ago a minibus full of teenagers was taken by a madman. Intent on doing something evil, Jerry Swann drove the kids to his remote farmhouse and locked them in the cellar. Six teenagers were thrown into a terrifying, life-changing situation. Five of the children managed to escape and run to safety. Becky Haskell didn’t. Becky was killed as the police tried to rescue her from Swann’s clutches. The farmhouse was aptly renamed from Baden Place to the Bad Place by the press. Now, every year, the group meet for dinner and remember Becky. But on her way to dinner, one of the original six, Lydia witnesses another teenage girl being kidnapped. Her immediate thought is that it is happening again, Jerry Swann has returned from the dead and is taking more children to the Bad Place. DI Sasha Dawson remembers the original case well. As a probationary WPC she made a promise to one of the girls which she was unable to keep and has lived with the guilt ever since. But this time she’ll do everything right and find the missing child. But the only way to rescue missing Sammi is to work out exactly what happened at the Bad Place all those years ago…

DI Sasha Dawson is a great character and I’m looking forward to reading more about her in future novels. She has a complicated home life (not helped by her incredibly frustrating and interfering mother), two moody teenagers and an emotionally distant, grieving husband. The couple suffered a terrible tragedy when their young son was mown down by a dangerous driver and despite Sasha having time to grieve for her son, Kev was more focussed on getting his wife through her pain. The reader watches as Kev falls apart but Sasha, who is consumed by work and other people’s problems, isn’t present enough to notice. This heartfelt sub-plot added to what is a great detective novel.

Being a detective novel I should mention the investigation. I liked the majority of the team and I’m hoping DC Power won’t be quite so arrogant and a little more cautious now he realises that he’s not immortal.  I’m looking forward to seeing if the memory of his rather savage beating lasts into the second book – or maybe he will have left to join The National Crime Agency by then…😂. The team works well together though and they look to Sasha for guidance.  I did feel they were all flailing a little at times which made me even more desperate for Karin to reveal everything (or just a little more than she was!) about the day they escaped.  Karin is the lynchpin holding the group of survivors together and the one instigating and hosting the yearly memorial dinner.  But the flashback scenes in the cellar show how utterly obsessed she was with Becky as a teenager. Even in the present day, Karin can’t let go of her friend and is convinced that she might, just might, still be alive.  It sent shivers down my spine.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. I’m excited to read the next book in the DI Sasha Dawson series.  This was a compelling, page-turner of a novel and I heartily recommend it to fans of detective fiction (and those who just enjoy a good story).

I chose to read and review an ARC of The Bad Place.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

The Bad Place by M.K. Hill was published in the UK by Head of Zeus on 5th September 2019 and is available in hardcover and ebook formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which mean I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.ukWaterstonesBook DepositoryGoodreads |


Mark_Hill-308 (1).jpgI’m MK to some, and Mark to others…

I’ve been a journalist and an award-winning music radio producer. I worked for about five minutes in PR.

But I write now, which is just as well, because I love writing. It’s my dream job.

I’m on Facebook. If you like any of my books, if you’re interested in keeping up to date with news, events and giveaways – everything Dawson and Drake, basically – then head to my author page and, you know, ‘like’ the page.

Or if Twitter’s your thing then you can find me there, too. I tweet about all sorts: writing, books, movies, games, custard, otters, all the stuff you like. So give me a follow.

Alternatively, you can laugh at my terrible photos on Instagram.

But wait, before you do any of that, make sure you buy my books.

The Bad Place, His First Lie and It Was Her are out now as in ebook and paperback —from Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, all the usual places.

© https://www.mkhill.uk/about

#BookReview: His First Lie by Mark Hill (@markhillwriter) @TheCrimeVault #HisFirstLie

his first lie.jpg“One night changed their lives

Thirty years ago, the Longacre Children’s Home stood on a London street where once-grand Victorian homes lay derelict. There its children lived in terror of Gordon Tallis, the home’s manager.

Cries in the fire and smoke

Then Connor Laird arrived: a frighteningly intense boy who quickly became Tallis’ favourite criminal helper. Soon after, destruction befell the Longacre, and the facts of that night have lain buried . . . until today.

A truth both must hide

Now, a mysterious figure, the Two O’Clock Boy, is killing all who grew up there, one by one. DI Ray Drake will do whatever it take to stop the murders – but he will go even further to cover up the truth.”

When I first heard about this book, I knew that I had to read it.  Not only is the author, Mark Hill, a brilliant book blogger (well, once upon a time before he wrote a cracking novel!) but oh my gosh, THAT blurb!  That blurb feels like it was written for me.  There was also a fabulous .gif doing the rounds, which caught my eye too (I do love a .gif).  I felt this book was destined for my TBR.

DI Ray Drake’s past is coming back to haunt him.  People he knew as a child are being horrifically killed along with their partners and children.  It can’t be something to do with Ray though, can it?  Whilst investigating the murder of ex-associate, Kenny, it comes to light that he was in the process of writing his memoirs, an exposé of his time at the ill fated Longacre children’s home.  DI Drake is only supervising the case though, newly promoted DS Flick Crowley is in charge and Ray is determined that his secret will never see the light of day.  And he’s prepared to do whatever it takes…

From the opening chapters you feel that there is something….amiss about DI Ray Drake. There is no reason to dislike this man but you can feel he has deeply buried secrets and boy, you want to know what they are!  He gets under your skin.  Then he starts to behave inappropriately for a DI and your brain goes into overdrive; ‘what is going on with this fella?’ you find yourself asking.  He is a brilliantly written character and I take my hat off to Mark Hill.  I became quite obsessed with trying to work out what was going on with Ray, what his thing was and maybe even a little obsessed with Ray, himself!

DS Flick Crowley didn’t have the same draw as DI Drake did for me.  I liked her, and I can see her being a favourite of many other readers, but I think I was so totally smitten with DI Drake that Flick wasn’t really on my radar.  I hope there is a second book as she may be one of those characters that, for me, needs time to grow and develop.  There were two other characters in His First Lie who won my heart; Elliot and Connor.  Connor is a complete enigma, the cool kid at the home who beats up the bullies but stands up and says I was wrong when the moment requires.  And the bully turned family man, Elliot.  How I absolutely loved Elliot.

The plot is very clever.  This book felt fresh to me; something different that I haven’t encountered before.  There’s not a lot else I can say about the plot without giving away spoilers but just let me say that it’s quite an intricate storyline.  I’m afraid I managed to work out who the killer was but it’s a habit of mine now to look for the killer (I really need to stop doing this and just enjoy the book!).  It didn’t spoil my enjoyment of the rest of the book and to be honest, there are much bigger twists than the reveal of the killer for the reader to concentrate on.

Would I recommend this book?  I most definitely would.  In fact, this is a book that all crime fiction fans should read as it’s quite different to other detective novels.  Not only do you have a cracking whodunit story but you also have a cast of brilliantly written characters that make reading this book a joy.  I was so captivated with what Ray’s secret could be and oh my, it’s a corker!  And to think this a debut – I can’t wait to see what else Mark Hill has in store for us.

Four and a half stars out of five.

I chose to read and review an ARC of His First Lie.

His First Lie by Mark Hill was published in the UK by Sphere on 22nd September 2016 and is available in paperback, eBook and audio formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads | Sphere Books |

Smith & Sons (11)


Mark Hill is a London-based full-time writer of novels and scripts. Formerly he was a journalist and a producer at BBC Radio 2 across a range of major daytime shows and projects. He has won two Sony Gold Awards.

Author Links: Website | Twitter | Facebook |