#BookReview: The Trial by S.R. Masters @0neMoreChapter_ #TheTrial #damppebbles #20booksofsummer22

“Would you sign up to a medical trial if you didn’t know the possible side effects?

18-40? PAID CLINICAL TRIAL IN THE CANARY ISLANDS – UP TO £20,000 TAX FREE

It seems like the opportunity of a lifetime. An all-inclusive luxury trip abroad, all you need to do is take a pill every day and keep a diary.

Except you don’t know anything about the drug or what its side effects might be.

The headaches start, a dull ache at first. Every day worse than the last.

Then a body is found.

Everyone is a suspect. Anyone could be a killer. Even you . . .

2022’s biggest summer thriller, for fans of Alex Michaelides, T. M. Logan and JP Delaney”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to share my review of The Trial by S.R. Masters. The Trial was published by One More Chapter last week (that’s Thursday 7th July 2022) and is available in paperback, audio and digital formats. I chose to read and review a free eARC of The Trial but that has in no way influenced my review.

So the question is, would you? Would you sign up for a clinical trial without knowing what the drug you were going to be ingesting was? Or the possible side effects? No, nor me. But oh my goodness, that blurb had my attention immediately! The blurb combined with the striking cover, the fact that I read and enjoyed the author’s debut and once again, THAT BLURB ensured that I couldn’t let The Trial pass me by. I had to read this book and I’m so glad I did!

Elle really needs a holiday! Following a frightening experience at work she decides to book a well-deserved break. But her plans fall through when her holiday money is needed elsewhere. So whilst in a bad mood one evening, most of the way down a bottle of wine, Elle sees a Facebook advert for a clinical trial. The ad promises four relaxing weeks at a luxurious resort in the Canary Islands, plus £20,000 tax free on completion of the trial. Elle can’t see the harm in signing up. She knows they’re bound to be inundated with applications so it’s unlikely she’ll be chosen. So when a confirmation email arrives, Elle can’t believe her luck. As she boards the private plane she begins to wonder what she’s let herself in for. What drug are they being given? What are the side effects? And will all twelve subjects make it out alive…?

The Trial is an intriguing thriller with a different yet highly compelling edge to it which kept me turning the pages late into the night. The author has expertly created a cast of mostly unlikeable characters who the reader can’t help but doubt the integrity of. This is particularly so after the discovery of a body. Elle is clearly out of her depth and the only member of the group who seems to realise that things in paradise aren’t as perfect as they were made out to be. As the situation worsens and things really start to spiral out of control, she and Benji (who is employed by the trial organisers to oversee the health and well-being of the participants 24/7) realise that they very much need to watch their own backs.

The plot is well-written throughout and introduces the reader to the many different personalities on the island. The first two thirds of the book are a slow build setting the scene, allowing the reader to see what makes each trial participant tick, along with finding out a little more about the support staff. The last third of the story is where the author really ramps the tension up and I found myself holding my breath on several occasions. I have to confess that this book was one of my holiday reads – we went to Gran Canaria in the Canary Islands (the location of the book although not the same island!) for a week – and at times I perhaps did regret choosing it. I won’t say anymore for fear of spoilers but events were maybe a little too close to home.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. The Trial is a well-written, intriguing story which I enjoyed. I do wish I hadn’t read it on holiday but that’s my fault, no one else’s. I was able to predict what the drug they were testing was for but there were still several twists and turns along the way I didn’t see coming. I would happily read another book by this author and look forward to seeing what Masters delivers next. Recommended.

I chose to read and review a free eARC of The Trial. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

The Trial by S.R. Masters was published in the UK by One More Chapter on 7th July 2022 and is available in 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.ukWaterstonesFoylesBook Depositorybookshop.orgGoodreadsdamppebbles bookshop.org shop |

S R Masters grew up around Birmingham in the UK. After studying Philosophy at Cambridge University, he worked in public health. He currently lives in Oxford with his wife and children.

His short fiction and novels have been published internationally. Labelled as “a writer to watch” by Publishers Weekly, his books include THE KILLER YOU KNOW (Sphere) and the forthcoming THE TRIAL (HarperCollins).

#BookReview: The Killer You Know by S.R. Masters @BooksSphere #TheKillerYouKnow #20booksofsummer20 #damppebbles

the killer you know“I’ll murder three people. And you’ll know it was me . . .

Summer 1997. When Will jokes about becoming a serial killer, his friends just laugh it off. But Adeline can’t help but feel there’s something darker lurking behind his words.

Winter 2015: Years later, Adeline returns to Blythe for a reunion of the old gang – except Will doesn’t show up. Reminiscing about old times, they look up the details of his supposed murder spree. But the mood soon changes when they discover two recent deaths that match.

As the group attempts to track Will down, they realise that he is playing a sinister game that harks back to one they used to play as kids. Only this time there are lives at stake . . .”

Hello and a very warm welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be sharing my eighteenth 20 Books of Summer review with you, which is for The Killer You Know by S.R. Masters. The Killer You Know was published by Sphere Books on 2nd May 2019 and is available in paperback, audio and digital formats. I chose to read and review a free eARC of The Killer You Know but that has in no way influenced my review.

I absolutely love the concept of this book. A group of teenage friends gather one night as the end of Summer approaches. One of them, Will, is considered to be the odd kid in the group. So when he makes an off-the-cuff comment about being a serial killer when he’s older, the others are shocked and a little unnerved by his bold statement. When Will fails to turn up to a group reunion many years later, it leaves his friends wondering, could he have carried out the unthinkable? When the friends check the very precise details he gave about the killings, they find reports of a suicide that matches…and then a second death. One report could be classed as a coincidence, but two deaths…? No, there’s no question about it, there’s something suspicious going on. Now all they have to do is find Will, and see for themselves. Particularly as Will threatened a third death, much closer to home…

Set in the late 90s and the present day, this book delivered shedloads of fantastic nostalgia. Now, I admit, I’m a little older than the characters in this book but the 90s were my decade. I loved the trips back in time where the bands of the day were discussed alongside the group’s obsession with movies. Wonderful stuff!

The characters all stood tall each adding something to the story. Their personalities were all very different but when you live in a small village, you’re thrown together with people you perhaps wouldn’t necessarily choose as friends yourself. That added a very interesting group dynamic to the book. They all had their own very defined roles which weren’t necessarily accepted by some members but rather pushed upon them – expected maybe. Leading to tension, rivalry and an undercurrent of bad feeling. It was interesting to watch a group of teenagers who, like many teenagers, think they’re wise beyond their years, deal with some very adult emotions.

Despite my appreciation of the 90s vibe in The Killer You Know, I did prefer the sections set in the present day when the group are trying to track Will down. The mystery of Will’s disappearance, the bubbling undercurrent of not really knowing who to trust anymore and the sense of foreboding made parts of the book a fairly tense read. The author takes time to set the scene, taking the reader back to 1997 and painting a very vivid, thorough picture.

Would I recommend this book? If you’re a fan of slow-burn, suspenseful mysteries then you may enjoy The Killer You Know. I felt it could have been a little shorter as I found my attention drifting at times and I wanted something to hook me back in. I was able to guess where the story was going to go, which may not have helped my meandering attention. I also struggled a little with the writing style and had to re-read large sections to grasp what was happening and check I hadn’t missed a key plot point – but that could have just been me having a bad day. A really interesting concept and I would happily read more by this author.

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

The Killer You Know by S.R. Masters was published in the UK by Sphere Books on 2nd May 2019 and is available in 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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about-the-author3

S R Masters studied Philosophy at Girton College, Cambridge. He is a regular contributor to UK short fiction anthology series The Fiction Desk, having won their Writer’s Award for his short story Just Kids. His story Desert Walk was included in Penguin Random House USA’s Press Start to Play collection, published last year, and he continues to have short fiction published in a variety of magazines.

When not writing, Simon works in public health in Oxford, where he lives with his wife, Helen.

The Killer You Know is his first novel.

The Killer You Know with S.R. Masters: Day Five (@SRMastersAuthor) @TheCrimeVault

35483257.jpg“I’ll murder three strangers. And you’ll know it was me. That way we’ll all be connected. Always.

When Will jokes about becoming a serial killer, his friends just laugh it off. But Adeline can’t help but feel there’s something more sinister lurking behind his words.

Fifteen years later, Adeline returns to Blythe for a reunion of the old gang – except Will doesn’t show up. Reminiscing about old times, they look up the details of his supposed murder spree. But the mood soon changes when they discover two recent deaths that match.

As the group attempt to track Will down, they realise that he is playing a sinister game that harks back to one they used to play as kids. Only this time there are lives at stake…

I am absolutely delighted to be the fifth and final stop on the hunt for The Killer You Know this week.  If you’ve been following proceedings since Monday you will know that today is the day to make your deductions and choose your killer friend.  Make sure you tweet the name of your suspect and your reasons for choosing them using the hashtag #TheKillerYouKnow to be in with a chance of winning a copy of the book!

Four possible killers have been paraded before you and today I offer the fifth.  Before I introduce Will, here’s a recap of this week’s posts:

Monday – Dave at espresso coco
Tuesday – Liz at Liz Loves Books
Wednesday – Gordon at Grab This Book
Thursday – Steph at Steph’s Book Blog

Personally, I haven’t the foggiest who the killer friend is which is why I’m leaving the sleuthing to you!

Let’s add our fifth and final friend to the mix and find out more about Will….

Sure, the last time the gang all saw Will he told them all he’d be a serial killer when he was older. But that was just classic Will. He was always saying funny stuff like that. Funny stuff that was often more just, well, creepy than funny—but always weird. But then Will comes from a funny family, one that’s seen its own share of tragedies down the years. So yeah, maybe he was misunderstood. And maybe always being seen as the weirdo actually made him that way? And perhaps his resentment about that is why he hasn’t shown up to the reunion. Why he’s vanished from social media entirely and left no trace of himself. And yet, why does it still feel like Will has come? Even though he’s not there bodily, why does it feel so much like… he’s watching them all.

Oooh, I actually like the sound of creepy Will.  Sounds like my kinda guy!  What do you think, is Will the killer?

Get tweeting folks.  Remember to include your suspect’s name, your reasons for choosing them and the hashtag #TheKillerYouKnow.  Good luck. (I’m still totally clueless, by the way…)

The Killer You Know by S.R. Masters was published in the UK by Sphere on 30th August 2018 and is available in eBook format | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Goodreads |

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