#BookReview: Cut to the Bone by Alex Caan @ZaffreBooks #CutToTheBone #20booksofsummer20 #damppebbles

cut to the bone“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 . . .”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be sharing my ninth 20 Books of Summer review with you, which is for Cut to the Bone by Alex Caan. Cut to the Bone was published by Twenty7 on 14th July 2016 and is available in all formats. I chose to read and review a free eARC of Cut to the Bone but that has in no way influenced my review.

Oh my goodness, there is so much going on in this book which makes it a wild ride for the reader! And this is a debut, which is quite mind-blowing. Cut to the Bone didn’t have that tentative, first steps feel about it at all. Caan has obviously been perfecting his craft for some time and it really shows in this, his first novel.

Detective Inspector Kate Riley is called in the middle of the night to attend to a missing persons case. The young woman, a popular vlogger called Ruby Day, has only been missing a few hours but her parents are distraught. The call comes from Justin Hope, the Police Crime Commissioner for Westminster, and Kate can’t understand why her team who normally deal with the most heinous of crimes in London, are being involved. Then a video arrives which shows Ruby running for her life. Ruby is in terrible danger and it’s down to DI Riley and her elite team of investigators to find out where the vlogger is, before it’s too late…

The investigation into Ruby’s disappearance is great but what really made this a riveting read for me were the characters and the team dynamics. There are a number of rather repugnant, self-important people in this book who are rubbing alongside the determined, gutsy investigators. Special Operations Executive Unit Three is a no-holds-barred, money-is-no-object elite unit of investigators, headed up by slimy, career-driven, wannabe politician, Justin Hope. He made my skin crawl and I loved it! Reporting directly to Hope is Detective Inspector Kate Riley who, after leaving the US in a bid to escape a very personal threat, has her own problems at home. Initially, the reader isn’t told exactly what happened to Riley in her past to make her move to the UK, nor what her home situation is, but we’re given short, sharp glimpses which made me question what the heck was going on with her.

And then there’s DS Zain Harris who is cocky and arrogant but I couldn’t help but have a soft spot for him. Again, Harris has a traumatic past which is referred to often and given to the reader in dribs and drabs until you have the whole shocking picture. His loyalties don’t necessarily lie with DI Riley, he knowingly steps on the toes of his colleagues proving his tech far outshines theirs, but he proves himself to have a heart and will stop at nothing to solve the case. I wasn’t sure of him to start with but by the end of the book, I was a Harris fan!

The other members of the team felt a more cohesive unit but that’s not surprising because Harris is the new boy, out to prove himself. They’re a solid bunch of well fleshed out characters who each bring something interesting to the table. The plot is well thought out and takes you down numerous avenues of investigation before the team finally start to get somewhere. But that’s police work, right? Always searching for the means, motive and opportunity which will stick!

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. I really enjoyed Cut to the Bone and the time I spent with Riley and Harris. It’s a dark and edgy police procedural which shows the devastating effects of social media and obsession. Taking you places you won’t initially expect, this hard-hitting debut is one to add to the TBR if you’re a fan of crime fiction. Recommended.

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

Cut to the Bone by Alex Caan was published in the UK by Twenty7 on 14th July 2016 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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Alex Caan was born in Manchester, has spent over a decade working in information systems security for a number of government organisations, and is currently specialising in Terrorism Studies. A lifetime passion for writing was sparked by the encouraging words of an English teacher in school, and eventually led to Alex successfully completing an MA in Creative Writing and completing his first novel Cut to the Bone. The sequel, First to Die was published on 14th June 2018.

#BlogTour | #BookReview: The Pact by S.E. Lynes (@SELynesAuthor) @bookouture #ThePact

the pact.jpg“You made a promise to your sister. It could destroy your daughter.

The Daughter 
15-year-old Rosie lies in hospital fighting for her life. She’s trying to tell her mother what happened to her, and how she got there, but she can’t speak the words out loud. 

The Mother
Rosie’s mother Toni has a secret. She had a traumatic childhood, and she and her sister Bridget made each other a promise thirty years ago: that they could never speak the truth about what they went through as children, and that they would protect each other without asking for help from others, no matter what…

Rosie was Toni’s second chance to get things right: a happy, talented girl with her whole life ahead of her. Having lost her husband in a tragic accident, Toni has dedicated her life to keeping Rosie safe from harm. 

But Rosie has plans that her mother doesn’t know about. She has dreams and ambitions – of love, of a career, of a life beyond the sheltered existence that her mother has created for her. But the secrets Rosie has been keeping have now put her life in danger. 

The Pact
In order to save Rosie, Toni may have to break her lifelong promise to her sister… and open doors to her past she hoped would remain closed forever. 

The Pact is a chilling psychological thriller about the lies we will tell to save our children. Perfect for fans of Gone Girl, Apple Tree Yard and The Sister.”

It is my great pleasure to welcome you to damppebbles today and to my stop on The Pact blog tour, which I share with two fabulous bloggers; Jen over at Jen Med’s Book Reviews and Kaisha over at The Writing Garnet.  The Pact is written by one of my favourite authors, S.E. Lynes and was published today by Bookouture so I would like to take this opportunity to wish all involved a very happy publication day!  S.E. Lynes wrote one of my very favourite books of 2016, the incredible Valentina which put her well and truly on my radar as an author.  Last year Lynes signed a deal with the mighty Bookouture and published her first book with them, Mother, towards the end of 2017.  For a reminder of my review, please click HERE.

When I heard a second Bookouture release was in the pipeline from Susie Lynes I jumped at the chance to read it.  And flipping heck, I was not disappointed.  One of my favourite things about The Pact is how uneasy the reader feels from pretty much page one.  I felt very apprehensive, I could sense something wasn’t quite right with the picture Lynes was painting for me and I loved it!  If you’re a fan of suspense then this is a must-read.

We meet Toni, widowed mother of one teenage daughter, Rosie.  Rosie is a budding theatre star but lacks the confidence to push herself to the glittering heights others feel she could achieve.  Not helped by Toni, her overprotective mother.  Lending a more pragmatic and considered point of view to proceedings is Toni’s older sister, Bridget. Both Bridget and Toni have been through a lot; a traumatic childhood featuring unimaginable abuse for Toni, for Bridget the need to protect her sister from the horrors but feeling a constant failure.  That’s where the pact came in.  A promise made many years ago that no matter what, the two sisters would look after each other and not rely on the help of others.  But the pact could be the sisters undoing….

I absolutely loved Bridget.  She became a bit of a superhero for me and at times I found myself cheering her on as I read (thankfully this all happened in my head otherwise my family may have been giving me the odd strange look!).  I totally believed in Lynes’s characters; I could picture them, I could hear their dialogue in my head (more strange looks but from everyone reading this, this time haha!) and I truly felt for them.  I didn’t like Toni as much as I liked Bridget but that was due to her overbearing, smothering nature.

Lynes has cleverly used the vocabulary used by the ‘yoof’ of today along with text speak and emojis when writing Rosie’s interactions with friends.  All in all, this added to the believability factor making shy, naive young Rosie all the more real for me.  Throughout the pages of The Pact my heart broke for her in many different ways.

As usual, I was looking out for clues from the very start of the book and was able to see where a couple of storyline threads were heading.  Can I give you some advice?  Don’t do what I did.  I thoroughly enjoyed this book and found it superbly gripping from start to finish despite being able to see where things were going.  I wonder how much it would have knocked my socks off if I hadn’t been doing that.  Really, don’t do what I did.  Read it with an open mind and see where Lynes takes you.

Would I recommend this book?  I would, definitely.  Very emotional, incredibly tense and a wonderful, wonderful read focussing on modern day fears and a parent’s worst nightmare.  I wanted to hide behind my hands at points whilst reading, peeking out from behind my splayed fingers.  Lynes is a very talented writer and I look forward to reading more of her work in the future.

Five out of five stars.

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

The Pact by S.E. Lynes was published in the UK by Bookouture on 27th February 2018 and is available in paperback, eBook and audio formats (please note, the following Amazon and Waterstones links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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S E Lynes Author PhotoAfter graduating from Leeds University, S E Lynes lived in London before moving to Aberdeen to be with her husband. In Aberdeen, she worked as a producer at BBC Radio Scotland before moving with her husband and two young children to Rome. There, she began to write while her children attended nursery. After the birth of her third child and upon her return to the UK, she gained an MA in Creative Writing from Kingston University. She now combines writing with lecturing at Richmond Adult Community College and bringing up her three children. She lives in Teddington.

Author Links: | Facebook | Twitter |

Review © Emma Welton | damppebbles.com