#BookReview: Written in Bones by James Oswald @PenguinUKBooks #WritteninBones #20booksofsummer20 #damppebbles

written in bonesInspector McLean returns in the seventh instalment of James Oswald’s gritty, compelling crime series, for his most mysterious murder investigation yet . . .

The roots of murder run deep . . .

When a body is found in a tree in The Meadows, Edinburgh’s scenic parkland, the forensics suggest the corpse has fallen from a great height.

Detective Inspector Tony McLean wonders whether it was an accident, or a murder designed to send a chilling message?

The dead man had led quite a life: a disgraced ex-cop turned criminal kingpin who reinvented himself as a celebrated philanthropist.

As McLean traces the victim’s journey, it takes him back to Edinburgh’s past, and through its underworld – crossing paths with some of its most dangerous and most vulnerable people.

And waiting at the end of it all, is the truth behind a crime that cuts to the very heart of the city…”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be sharing my third 20 Books of Summer review with you, which is for Written in Bones by James Oswald. Written in Bones was published by Penguin Books on 29th June 2017 and is available in all formats. I chose to read and review an eARC of Written in Bones but that has in no way influenced my review.

Oh the perils of NetGalley. Imagine the scene. Wherever you look, crime fiction readers are raving about an author and your FOMO seriously kicks in. Everywhere I looked on social media, the name James Oswald was being mentioned. The need to read a book by Oswald went from being ‘vaguely intrigued’ to ‘epically strong’, so I toddled off to NG and requested Written in Bones. Only to discover that it’s the seventh book in the DI Tony McLean series ūü§¶. Book seven. Now, I don’t mind going into a series partway through, but knowing I had missed out on six earlier books had me worried. I thoroughly enjoyed the time I spent with DI McLean and team, but I did feel a little lost at times. If you’re coming to this series for the first time, then I would strongly suggest that you start at the beginning as I felt I struggled a little not knowing the history of these characters.

McLean is called to a crime scene in The Meadows and what he finds is like nothing he’s seen before. An ex-police officer with a notorious past is found dead in a tree. By the looks of things, Bill Chalmers was dropped from a great height. The 10-year-old boy who discovered the body tells of hearing a dragon whilst out walking his dog. But surely that can’t be the case, can it…? McLean is at a loss. Taking a microscope to Chalmers’ colourful life, they struggle to find why anyone would want him dead and in such an elaborate fashion to boot! Staff shortages, the sudden retreat of many of the senior officers and an eye witness account of a mythical beast, all muddy the waters. How far does McLean have to dig into the past to discover what really happened to Bill Chalmers and more importantly, why…?

I really liked DI Tony McLean. I read a lot of crime fiction, particularly police procedurals, and I enjoy it when an author gives their lead detective a different spin. McLean’s wealth and his determination to get the job done at any cost made him a memorable character. He doesn’t need to keep the bosses onside, and does whatever it takes and upsets whoever he needs to, to get the job done. I can see why this is such a popular series and why Oswald is a much-admired writer. I absolutely loved the cold, snowy setting of Edinburgh and could easily picture the scene as McLean drove through the streets in his vintage Alfa. I liked the way the treacherous weather hampered the investigation. It was almost a character in itself!

I found the plot a little confusing but I think that’s because there are quite a few key characters at play and I was meeting them for the first time. Had I had some experience or knowledge of the cast, then perhaps I would have been able to get to grips with the plot a little quicker. Rather than having to refer to my notes a lot of the time to remind myself who was who and what I knew about them up until that point.

Would I recommend this book? Sort of. I would recommend that you start at the beginning of the series with Natural Causes and work your way up to Written in Bones. There’s a lot of pressure on authors to make sure each of their books ‘stand alone’ but I feel there’s been too much water under the bridge for that to be the case with this book. I came into Written in Bones expecting to not fully understand all of the references to previous cases and to not be familiar with the characters. That’s what you get when you start a series partway through. But I felt I had been left out of the cool group at school, a little on the periphery and watching the action from afar. Not really understanding exactly what was going on. I loved Oswald’s writing, his characters and his bitterly cold Edinburgh, and would happily (gladly!) read more. Just in the right order this time.

I chose to read and review an eARC of Written in Bones. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

Written in Bones by James Oswald was published in the UK by Penguin Books on 29th June 2017 and is available in hardcover, paperback, audio and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | Goodreads |

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James OswaldJames Oswald is the author of the Sunday Times bestselling Inspector McLean series of detective mysteries. The first two of these, Natural Causes and The Book of Souls were both short-listed for the prestigious CWA Debut Dagger Award. Set in an Edinburgh not so different to the one we all know, Detective Inspector Tony McLean is the unlucky policeman who can see beneath the surface of ordinary criminal life to the dark, menacing evil that lurks beneath.

He has also introduced the world to Detective Constable Constance ‘Con’ Fairchild, whose first outing was in the acclaimed No Time To Cry.

As J D Oswald, James has also written a classic fantasy series, The Ballad of Sir Benfro. Inspired by the language and folklore of Wales, it follows the adventures of a young dragon, Sir Benfro, in a land where his kind have been hunted near to extinction by men. The whole series is now available in print, ebook and audio formats.

James has pursued a varied career – from Wine Merchant to International Carriage Driving Course Builder via Call Centre Operative and professional Sheep Shit Sampler (true). He moved out of the caravan when Storm Gertrude blew the Dutch barn down on top of it, and now lives in a proper house with three dogs, two cats and a long-suffering partner. He farms Highland cows and Romney sheep by day, writes disturbing fiction by night.

#BookReview: The Betrayals by Fiona Neill @PenguinUKBooks #TheBetrayals #20booksofsummer20 #damppebbles

the betrayals“None of them would forget that week on the wild Norfolk coast.

Best friends Rosie and Lisa’s families had always been inseparable.

But that summer, Lisa had an affair with Rosie’s husband Nick.

And now, after years of silence, she sends Rosie a letter begging for help. A letter which exposes dark secrets.

Daughter Daisy’s fragile hold on reality begins to unravel.

Teenage son Max blames himself for everything that happened that long hot summer.

And Nick must confront his own version of events.

There are four sides to this story. Who will you believe?”

Hello and welcome to a new day on damppebbles. I am delighted to be sharing my second 20 Books of Summer review with you today and it’s for The Betrayals by Fiona Neill. The Betrayals was published by Penguin on 10th August 2017 and is available in all formats. I chose to read and review an eARC of The Betrayals but that has in no way influenced my review.

I’m not entirely sure how I ended up with The Betrayals on my NetGalley shelf. It’s so different to what I normally read. If you’re a regular visitor to the blog then you may know that crime fiction is my ‘thing’, liberally sprinkled with lots of death and destruction. The Betrayals I would describe more as a family drama….and I LOVED IT! Honestly, I think I may be mellowing in my old age because I couldn’t put this book down and it really wormed its way under my skin.

Lisa committed one of the worst crimes a best friend could, when she had an affair with Rosie’s husband, Nick. The affair ended what Rosie thought was a strong and stable marriage, leaving her and her two children, Daisy and Max, alone. Now, after eight years of silence, Lisa wants to talk. She has something she has to share with Rosie and time is running out. But the threat of Lisa being back in their lives puts untold pressure on an already fragile Daisy whose compulsive behaviour is spiralling out of control. Will Rosie confront the past, come face to face with her ex-best friend and discover what Lisa wants to share? Four points of view, four very different memories of a week on the Norfolk coast which changed the lives of the Rankin family forever…

This is a wonderful, character-driven, slow burn of a novel and I devoured it. When I wasn’t reading it, I was thinking about it. When I was doing other things (cooking, watching TV) I wanted to get back to the book. There’s nothing I love more than a character-driven novel and that’s what The Betrayals delivers in spades. The Rankin family, made up of mum – breast cancer consultant – Rosie, estranged Dad, Nick – who works in the study of memory – student daughter, Daisy, and medical student son, Max, were such a fascinating bunch of characters that I was pulled into their world from the very start of the book to the very end. Four different points of view, but for me, it was all about Max and Daisy. The Betrayals is their story.

Each chapter is told from the perspective of one of the four family members in the present day. The reader is then whisked to the blowy Norfolk coast and back to that fateful week eight years ago, and that’s when things start slotting into place for the reader. Divided loyalties, teenage insecurities and the beginning of the end for not one, but two marriages. The start of something unwelcome – or perhaps the catalyst for it to begin to dig its spiky nails in further. There was no turning back after the holiday in Norfolk where lives changed forever. I must mention how utterly adorable Max is at the age of 10 years old. He’s so very wise beyond his years, so observant and astute.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes but be prepared for a wonderful slow burn of a novel with very few twists and turns and a somewhat over-egged big reveal courtesy of Lisa. This is the story of the Rankins and I savoured every moment I spent with them. I would normally shy away from a book like this as it’s not my usual choice of genre but I’m so glad I read it. The Betrayals puts family dynamics under the microscope and I heartily recommend it.

I chose to read and review an eARC of The Betrayals. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

The Betrayals by Fiona Neill was published in the UK by Penguin on 10th August 2017 and is available in digital format (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | Goodreads |

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Fiona Neill_c_Guy Hills USEFiona Neill is a novelist and journalist. She was born in 1966. Her first novel The Secret Life of a Slummy Mummy, based on her column in The Times Magazine every Saturday, was published in 2007. It was widely acclaimed and went on to become a Sunday Times bestseller that sold in twenty-five countries.

Brought up in Norfolk, she now lives in London with her husband and three children.

#BookReview: The Innocent Wife by Amy Lloyd @PenguinUKBooks #TheInnocentWife #damppebbles

the innocent wife.jpg“You’re in love with a man on Death Row in Florida, convicted of a brutal murder twenty years ago.

You’re convinced he didn‚Äôt do it, and you’re determined to prove it. You’re part of a mass online campaign that picks holes in the case, uncovers evidence of police incompetence, and agitates for this miscarriage of justice to be overturned.

Now you’re married to him, and he‚Äôs a free man, his conviction thrown out. You have the rest of your lives to spend together.

You’re overjoyed. After all, he’s innocent.

Isn‚Äôt he?”

I am delighted to welcome you to the blog today and to my review of¬†The Innocent Wife by Amy Lloyd.¬† This book had a real buzz about it when it was first published in December 2017 (yes it has been on my NetGalley shelf for a while, yes I am a terrible book blogger who reads at a snail’s pace!).¬† I received a free eARC copy of¬†The Innocent Wife which has in no way influenced my review.

I keep seeing mixed reviews for this book and I just don’t get it.¬† I know, I know, you don’t have to tell me – reading is subjective.¬† I totally get that.¬† I’ll say this though, if you’re anything like me you will love this book.¬† It has everything I want in a novel.¬† I loved the small town American feel of it, I loved how the author has used the nation’s love of true crime to give it a more authentic edge, I loved the plot and I loved the characters.¬† This is turning into an epic year of reading for me; nearly every book I pick up just blows me away!¬† And that includes¬†The Innocent Wife.

Notorious convicted killer, Dennis Danson, comes to Sam’s attention when questions begin to be raised over the evidence and trial used to convict him and send him to death row.¬† An online group start petitioning for his release claiming the Red River Police got the wrong man.¬† Sam does what any normal (!) 30-something would do in this situation and starts corresponding with Dennis.¬† Before long a strong bond is formed between them and Dennis sends a visiting order.¬† Sam drops everything, packs her bags and flies off to Altoona Prison to meet Dennis in person, hoping he’s everything his letters lead her to believe he is.¬† After an awkward start, the couple relax into each others company and before long Sam has extended her visa to allow her to visit Dennis on a regular basis.¬† Then he’s released and everything changes.¬† Sam is married to a man she hardly knows.¬† And what’s more, what she was once certain of, she’s not anymore…

Character, character, character.¬† I flipping love a bunch of fascinating people!¬† I really felt for Sam.¬† I could feel her loneliness, her need to be loved and adored which emanated from the page.¬† I also found her a little frustrating at times because I wanted her to stop being so drippy and ‘woman-up’ a bit.¬† That didn’t stop me from wanting to read Sam’s story though.¬† She intrigued me.¬† I also loved the mysterious Dennis, although I doubt very much I was supposed to!¬† There was something quite dark and dangerous about him and that appealed. Other characters were great too such as the true crime documentary filmmaker, Carrie, who welcomes Sam to the US with open arms and then becomes her guardian angel.¬† She just knows Dennis is innocent and will do everything in her power to prove it.

Would I recommend this book?¬† I would, yes.¬† It’s a delicious slow burn of a read and I loved it!¬† I was absolutely fascinated to see where the story was going to go and I wasn’t at all disappointed.¬† Gripping, unnerving and it ticked so many boxes for me.¬† I would not hesitate to pick up another book by Amy Lloyd.¬† In fact, I can’t wait to read more from this author! Highly recommended.

I chose to read and review an eARC of The Innocent Wife.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

The Innocent Wife by Amy Lloyd was published in the UK by Arrow Publishing on 4th October 2018 in paperback, hardcover, audio and eBook formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | BookDepository | Goodreads |

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amy lloyd.jpgAmy Lloyd studied English and Creative Writing at Cardiff Metropolitan University. In 2016 she won the Daily Mail Bestseller Competition for her debut novel The Innocent Wife which, when it was published, became a Sunday Times top ten bestseller. Amy lives in Cardiff with her partner, who is also a published novelist.

Author Links: | Twitter | Facebook |

 

#BookReview: The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor (@cjtudor) @MichaelJBooks @PenguinUKBooks #TheChalkMan #PaperbackPublication #TopReadsof2018

the chalk man“You can feel it in the woods, in the school and in the playground; you can feel it in the houses and at the fairground. You can feel it in most places in the small town of Anderbury . . . the fear that something or someone is watching you.

It began back in 1986, at the fair, on the day of the accident. That was when twelve-year-old Eddie met Mr Halloran – the Chalk Man.

He gave Eddie the idea for the drawings: a way to leave secret messages for his friends and it was fun, until the chalk men led them to a body.

Thirty years later, Ed believes the past is far behind him, until an envelope slips through the letterbox. It contains a stick of chalk, and a drawing of a figure.

Is history going to repeat itself?

Was it ever really over?

Will this game only end in the same way?”

Today is a very special day.¬† Today is the day that the mighty, the incredible,¬†The Chalk Man is published in paperback.¬† I read this book earlier this year and it is a very strong contender for my book of 2018.¬† I couldn’t let the paperback publication day go by without doing ‘something’.¬† So, to encourage you to buy a copy of this masterpiece of crime/horror fiction, I thought I would repost my review.¬† Here’s what I thought earlier this year (brace yourself!)…

What a treat! What a prologue! What a flipping brilliant story! If you haven’t quite guessed yet then yes, I am a huge fan of The Chalk Man and something quite incredible will have to make itself known to me for it NOT to make it onto my ‘books of 2018’ list. The bar has been well and truly raised and this little beauty is currently sitting pretty at the top of the book pile. Quite extraordinary and totally mesmerising!

Regular visitors to the blog will know that I love crime fiction with a passion (unhealthy? *shrugs*¬†ūüėČūüėú). But I get particularly excited when I find a crime novel with a hint of a horror crossover included, which this is. My book of 2017 was Final Girls because it had a horror movie feel to it, crime with a large dash of spinetingling, nerve-jangling horror.¬†¬†The Chalk Man has some fantastic horror-esque¬†elements to it but it is to all intents and purposes a crime thriller novel.¬† I particularly¬†enjoyed the scenes at the fairground which I found shocking and unsettling.¬† And oh boy, that prologue!¬† However, I know that many readers switch off when the word ‘horror’ is mentioned.¬† I’m telling you now, don’t.¬† Just don’t do it!¬† Try it, what is there to lose?¬† Start with¬†The Chalk Man and I bet you fall a little bit in love with the creepiness, with the unease and bucketfuls of suspense Tudor has so expertly crafted.¬† Go on, I dare you…

The story runs a dual timeline; partly set in 1986 and partly set thirty years later in 2016.¬† In both the past and the present the reader is introduced to Eddie Adams (or Ed as he¬†becomes known, later in life).¬† Eddie is a normal kid, messing around with his mates and dreading the end of the school holidays.¬† His little gang of friends made me quite nostalgic for my bygone childhood days in the late 80s (more early 90s really!).¬† Except me and my friends didn’t have ‘cool’ nicknames like Hoppo, Fat Gav, Metal Mickey, Eddie Munster and, erm…Nicky!

I loved the adventure these kids went on.¬† I mentioned earlier how much I loved the scenes at the fair.¬† The fair plays a pivotal role in the story as this is where Eddie meets Mr Halloran for the first time.¬† Mr Halloran is nicknamed ‘The Chalk Man’ by the kids he teaches at the school.¬† He’s also the reason that Eddie and his little gang start leaving chalk man drawings as secret code for each other.¬† So when the harmless, benign drawings lead Eddie and his friends to a dead body, there is only one person in the frame for murder.

From the day of the accident, strange things start happening in the small town of Anderbury.¬† Tudor has masterfully built the tension so you never know what to expect but you’re on the edge of your seat from start to finish.¬† And this is Tudor’s debut novel!¬† I can’t wait to see what else the author has in store for us.¬† Her debut is sublime!

I fell head over heels in love with middle-aged, stuck in his ways, teacher Ed.¬† Something about this character drew me to him.¬† I was completely hooked by his story and that of his friends, past and present.¬† I want to say so much more about this incredible book but I’m on the brink of giving too much away so all I will say is that you need to get yourself a copy of¬†The Chalk Man as it is magnificent and just the sort of book I want to read again and again and again.

Would I recommend this book? Absolutely.¬† It’s so deliciously gripping, chock full of suspense, engrossingly creepy and had me on the edge of my seat from start to finish.¬† Although I managed to put this book down and walk away from it I really didn’t want to.¬† When I was doing ‘life stuff’ I was thinking about the story, thinking about Eddie and his friends.¬† Trying to see where the story would lead me.¬† I failed, by the way.¬† There was no way I saw THAT coming. WOW!¬† Absolutely brilliant, highly recommended, lots of fun and wonderfully addictive.

Five out of five stars.

So there you go.  The character of Ed will stay with me for a long time to come and he often pops into my head at odd moments during the day.  This really is a must read and if you only listen to one of my book recommendations this year then please make it this one.  I cannot wait to find out what else C.J. Tudor has in store for us readers.

The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor was published in the UK by Penguin Books on 23rd August 2018 and is available in hardcover, paperback, eBook and audio formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | BookDepository | Goodreads |

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cj tudorC. J. Tudor was born in Salisbury and grew up in Nottingham, where she still lives with her partner and young daughter. Her love of writing, especially the dark and macabre, started young. When her peers were reading Judy Blume, she was devouring Stephen King and James Herbert.

Over the years she has had a variety of jobs, including trainee reporter, waitress, radio scriptwriter, shop assistant, voiceover artist, television presenter, copywriter and now author. The Chalk Man is her first novel.

Author Links: | Twitter | Facebook |

#BookReview: The Honeymoon by Tina Seskis (@tinaseskis) @PenguinUKBooks @MichaelJBooks

the honeymoon.jpg“There’s trouble in paradise . . .

For as long as she can remember, Jemma has been planning the perfect honeymoon. A fortnight’s retreat to a five-star resort in the Maldives, complete with luxury villas, personal butlers and absolute privacy.

It should be paradise. But it’s turned into a nightmare.

Because the man Jemma married a week ago has just disappeared from the island without a trace. And now her perfect new life is vanishing just as quickly before her eyes.

After everything they’ve been through together, how can this be happening? Is there anyone on the island who Jemma can trust? And above all – where has her husband gone?”

I consider myself to be a very lucky blogger at the moment.  I have read some BRILLIANT novels over the last couple of weeks, this one included.  The Honeymoon by Tina Seskis has been eyeing me up from the bookcase for a little while now.  Occasionally it gave me the odd wink and come-hither look but I had to be strong and stick to my blog tour reads.  Not the case now, of course!  Now I can pick and choose what I read and when I read it.  And oh my gosh, I’m so glad I picked The Honeymoon.

Jemma and her husband have finally made it down the aisle and have jetted off to the exotic Maldives for their once in a lifetime honeymoon.  Except there’s a problem.  Jemma’s brand new husband has gone missing.  The blushing bride has somewhat vague memories of the last time she saw her beloved thanks to the delicious and abundant cocktails available on demand.  And oh boy, she certainly demanded!  Paradise starts to look a little more sinister, particularly when Jemma’s mother-in-law arrives to stick her venomous claws in.  What happened to her husband?  Was Jemma anything to do with his disappearance?  If only she could remember….

I loved this book.  It was so easy to read and incredibly hard to put down.  I loved the flashback sequences where the reader is given an insight into Jemma’s relationship with her then fiance.  I have to say, what a weird relationship it is!  At points I wanted Jemma to throw her hands in the air and walk away from it all.  I loved Jemma you see.  Although her neediness to get married did irk me somewhat at times.  But a lot of us have been there, eh girls and boys?  Just waiting for the other half to propose…ūüėČ

There are so many suspects, so many possibilities on the table that you can’t help but turn amateur detective.  I had a number of suspects in mind along with the thought that he may have just decided to do a runner!  What I didn’t expect was that ending.  What a shock, I had never considered THAT as an ending.  OK, maybe it’s a smidge far fetched but who cares – it was AWESOME and completely appealed to my darker side!

Would I recommend this book? Most definitely.  It’s got bucketloads of lovely suspense, a couple of rather large twists which will knock you for six and a leading lady I couldn’t help but love (I’m not sure you’re supposed to by the way but I like to break the rules!).  Seskis’s writing is very compelling and I will be making a point of reading more from this author in the future.

Five out of five stars.

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

The Honeymoon by Tina Seskis was published in the UK by Michael Joseph Books – Penguin UK on 1st June 2017 and is available in paperback and eBook format | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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tina seskis.jpgI grew up in Hampshire, England, where my father worked at Heathrow for British Airways and my mother was in sales. My parents bestowed upon me a certain degree of eccentricity: my dad amongst other things built a boat in the front garden on our commuter belt housing estate, moved us into a touring caravan when our new house wasn‚Äôt built, and took us all over the world with his free air travel and limited budget.  I think part of my story-telling is shaped by those experiences.

I studied business at the University of Bath and then worked for over twenty years in marketing, advertising and online sales, with varying degrees of success, before starting to write.

I originally wrote One Step Too Far for my mum, whilst attending a local writing class on a Thursday afternoon. I completed my second novel When We Were Friends (formerly called A Serpentine Affair) in 2011.  It took me way longer to finally get the books published, and One Step Too Far is now available in over 60 countries.

I live in North London with my husband and son, and currently write full-time(ish).

Author Links: | Twitter | Website | Facebook |

Author image and bio ¬© http://tinaseskis.com/about-tina-seskis/

 

 

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Lying in Wait by Liz Nugent (@lizzienugent) @PenguinUKBooks

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lying-in-wait-pb‘My husband did not mean to kill Annie Doyle, but the lying tramp deserved it.’

“Lydia Fitzsimons lives in the perfect house with her adoring husband and beloved son.

There is just one thing Lydia yearns for to make her perfect life complete, though the last thing she expects is that pursuing it will lead to murder.

However, needs must – because nothing can stop this mother from getting what she wants …”

I am absolutely thrilled to welcome you to my stop on Liz Nugent’s¬†Lying in Wait paperback blog tour. ¬†I was a very lucky mummy when my two very clever little people (aged 5 and 2 but with impeccable taste!) decided to buy me a copy of¬†Lying in Wait for my birthday last year. ¬†I was absolutely desperate to read this book after the storming reviews doing the rounds following it’s release in eBook format. ¬†DESPERATE! ¬†But as fellow bloggers will confirm, as a book blogger you don’t get to read your own books as often as you would like. ¬†I couldn’t believe my eyes (nor my luck) when I received an email asking me to join the paperback blog tour. ¬†It was meant to be and there was no way I could refuse!

This is¬†a fantastic, well written¬†tale of manipulation, secrets and lies. ¬†Lydia is a woman determined to maintain the status quo; living in a secluded mansion with her adoring husband at her beck and call and spending her days doting on her 17 year old¬†son, Laurence. ¬†But there’s something Lydia needs to make her life even more perfect and it’s something she can only get from Annie Doyle. ¬†How far are Lydia and her husband willing to go? ¬†Annie knows who she is dealing with, she knows Lydia’s husband is a judge and¬†she¬†knows their weaknesses. ¬†Lydia is used to getting her own way though and will do whatever is necessary to protect herself and her son…

When I first started reading this book I really liked Lydia. ¬†Yes, she came across as a bit of a snob but also as someone who cared deeply for her son (and you can’t fault someone for loving their child). ¬†My initial feelings of warmth towards her didn’t last very long. ¬†As the story starts to unfold you realise that Lydia is a very damaged, manipulative woman. Events in her childhood¬†caused deep emotional and psychological scars that can never be healed properly. ¬†By the end of the book I was aghast, full of loathing toward this one character who I had initially liked. ¬†Such superb writing from Liz Nugent. ¬†To go from one emotion to the absolute opposite in 303 pages, now that’s a skill.

Young Laurence soon becomes infatuated with Annie Doyle. ¬†Writing stories about her, keeping newspaper clippings about her disappearance and becoming generally obsessed in a rather unhealthy way. ¬†That obsession is reignited when Annie’s father turns up at Laurence’s place of work. ¬†Laurence recognises him immediately and begins to follow Mr Doyle home, helping him gain extra unemployment benefit and buying him the odd pint in the pub. ¬†And that’s when he meets Karen, Annie’s beautiful model-like sister. ¬†Karen becomes friends with Laurence’s girlfriend but Laurence only has eyes for one lady…

As Laurence blossomed from an obese awkward teenager to a dashing, hard-working young man I began to warm to him (despite the creepy stalker thing!).  The budding relationship between Laurence and Karen made me feel a little uncomfortable at times but strangely, I also wanted them to get together!  I felt he had moved on so much from his strange teenage days that he was almost like a new character, one I was prepared to forgive for his past indiscretions.  Yup, I was a muddle of emotions reading this book!

You get a sense of foreboding, a feeling of impending doom whilst reading Lying in Wait. There’s something about these characters that makes you feel uneasy and gives you a chill. ¬†You expect the very worst to happen and oh my gosh, it does…but never when you expect it to. ¬†An expertly crafted novel that keeps you wondering what will happen next. ¬†I couldn’t see where the story was going and what a shock the conclusion was. ¬†Thoroughly enjoyable¬†reading!

Would I recommend this book? ¬†I definitely would. ¬†Reading¬†Lying in Wait is an experience that I wish all readers could enjoy at least once. ¬†Brilliantly written creepy characters with twists and turns along the way that will keep you guessing. ¬†I can’t wait to read more from Liz Nugent (Unravelling Oliver is waiting for me on my Kindle!).

Four and a half stars out of five.

Lying in Wait by Liz Nugent was published in the UK on 26th December 2016 by Penguin UK and is available in paperback, eBook and audio formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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Smith & Sons (11)

liz-nugent-2-c-beta-bajgartovaBefore becoming a full-time writer Liz Nugent worked in Irish film, theatre and television. In 2014 her first novel, Unravelling Oliver, was a No.1 bestseller and won the Crime Fiction prize in the 2014 Irish Book Awards. Her second novel, Lying in Wait, went straight to No 1 in the Irish bestseller charts, remained there for nearly two months and won her a second IBA. She lives in Dublin with her husband.

Author Links: | Twitter | Website | Goodreads |