#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.

#BookReview: Little Bones by Sam Blake (@samblakebooks) @BonnierZaffre

little bones.jpg“Attending what seems to be a routine break-in, troubled Detective Garda Cathy Connolly makes a grisly discovery: an old wedding dress – and, concealed in its hem, a baby’s bones.

And then the dress’s original owner, Lavinia Grant, is found dead in a Dublin suburb.

Searching for answers, Cathy is drawn deep into a complex web of secrets and lies spun by three generations of women.

Meanwhile, a fugitive killer has already left two dead in execution style killings across the Atlantic – and now he’s in Dublin with old scores to settle. Will the team track him down before he kills again?

Struggling with her own secrets, Cathy doesn’t know how dangerous – and personal – this case is about to become…”

That blurb!  I love that blurb.  When I was offered the chance to read Little Bones there was no way I was going to say no.  I also remembered a number of influential bloggers being totally smitten with this book when it was first published last year as an eBook.  So I just had to see for myself.

And the verdict?  I thoroughly enjoyed it.  It has a good, strong story-line with believable and maybe more importantly, likeable characters.  The opening chapters with the discovery of the bones grab your attention and you’re not released from the story until the very end.  Probably muttering the words…’woah’ or ‘…seriously?…’ under your breath.

Cathy Connolly is a very likeable lead protagonist who is only made more human by the situation she finds herself in.  I instantly warmed to Cathy and was cheering her on from start to finish (for those who have read the book, particularly at the end….!).  When Cathy is called to what seems like a run-of-the-mill burglary, she is shocked to discover what appears to be small bones sewn into the hem of a wedding dress.  But it’s not the only case Cathy and her boss, DI Dawson O’Rourke are tasked with investigating.  They are also on the hunt for a cold blooded killer from overseas who has reportedly landed in County Dublin.  I really enjoyed the relationship between Cathy and O’Rourke.  There’s a deep understanding between these two characters which I found very appealing.  I’m keen to see where Sam Blake will take this particular relationship.

The author has managed to spin several seemingly unconnected threads throughout the story and I couldn’t work out how they were all going to tie together.  But they do, and the bringing together and the rounding up of the these sub-plots is done with great style.  I want more Cathy Connolly and I’m excited to see that book two in the series is due for release later in the Spring.

Would I recommend this book?  I most certainly would.  It’s a dark, chilling read and I really enjoyed it.  Cathy Connolly is instantly likeable and I can’t wait to read more from Sam Blake soon.  Definitely a debut writer to watch out for.

Four out of five stars.

Little Bones by Sam Blake was published in the UK by Twenty7 | Bonnier Zaffre on 23rd February 2017 and is available in paperback and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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Sam Blake is a pseudonym for Vanessa Fox O’Loughlin, who is originally from St. Albans in Hertfordshire but has lived at the foot of the Wicklow Mountains in Ireland for (almost) more years than she lived in the UK. Married to a retired member of An Garda Siochana she has two children, three cats and a fish, and runs the world’s only national writing resources website, as well as a publishing consultancy – she is Ireland’s leading literary scout.

Author Links:Website | Twitter | Facebook |

 

#BookReview: My Husband’s Son by Deborah O’Connor (@deboc77) @BonnierZaffre

6159lmdigml-_sx323_bo1204203200_You’d always recognise your own son. Wouldn’t you?

Heidi and Jason aren’t like other couples.

Six years ago, Heidi’s daughter was murdered. A year later, Jason’s son Barney disappeared. Their shared loss brought them together.

By chance, Heidi meets a boy she’s certain is Barney.

But Jason is equally convinced it’s not him.

Is Heidi mad? Or is Jason hiding something? And can their fragile marriage survive Heidi’s newfound quest for the truth . . “

Back in June 2016 I was thrilled to join the blog tour for this fabulous book.  At the time I was a little snowed under with reviews (erm…OK, I still am!) so featured an incredible guest post from author, Deborah O’Connor.  That guest post, to this day, is the most visited page on damppebbles.  If you would like a reminder of how brilliant it is, or if you missed it the first time round, please click here.

Heidi and Jason are a couple brought together by grief and by the loss of their children. Heidi’s daughter, Lauren was snatched from outside their holiday home and brutally murdered.  One year later, Jason’s son, Barney is taken whilst out with his mum.  Lauren’s body was discovered, Barney has never been found.  Five years later, Heidi sees a child who she is convinced is Barney.  She’s so sure that she takes Jason to the place where she saw him so he can see for himself.  But he’s not so sure.  Surely he would know his own son, get some sort of…’feeling’.  But he doesn’t.  The child is not Barney.  Heidi however is convinced, making it her mission to find out the truth.  But even with the best intentions, will she be able to cope with everything she discovers…?

I’M VERY CONCERNED THAT THE REST OF THIS REVIEW MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS SO I’M GOING TO LEAVE THIS HERE, JUST IN CASE IT DOES!

I’ve been so busy reading for blog tours over the last few months that I’m afraid this book, despite my strong desire to read it, was put to one side.  Everytime I opened my Kindle, there it was, begging me to read it.  So by the time I found a spare 10 hours (I’m a slow reader) to read My Husband’s Son my expectations were unusually high.  But I wasn’t the slightest bit disappointed.  It’s a brilliantly written, eerie psychological thriller that I thoroughly enjoyed!

Jason and Heidi have a strange relationship which made me feel a little uncomfortable.  It felt at times more of a marriage of convenience than one built on love.  A case of ‘Oh, this person understands what I’m going through, they’ll do!’.  I found it hard to warm to both characters, although I will say that I loved Heidi’s determination towards her cause.  Despite being told countless times that she was wrong there was no way she was going to stop looking for Barney.

The other predominant relationship in the book was the one between Tommy and Heidi and boy, did it made my skin crawl!  I was repulsed by Tommy and the invisible hold he seemed to have over Heidi.  I wanted her to run as far away from him as possible and his revolting lecherous ways.  Brilliant writing from Ms O’Connor, it’s not often that this level of disgust is raised within me by one character!

You may have read other reviews that mention a big twist as you approach the end of the book.  You may have also seen reviewers say that they had to go back and read the final chapters a second time.  Well, I can tell you, it’s a corker of a twist and testament once again to the incredible writing and storytelling prowess of Deborah O’Connor.  I was struggling to see how the book was going to end so the reveal knocked my socks off!

Would I recommend this book?  If you’re in the mood for an eerie, heart pounding psychological thriller then make a beeline for My Husband’s Son.  I really enjoyed it and would read more from Ms O’Connor in a heartbeat.  And can you really bear to miss out on THAT twist…?

Four out of five stars.

I chose to read and review an ARC of My Husband’s Son.

My Husband’s Son by Deborah O’Connor was published in the UK by Twenty7 on 6th October 2016 and is available in paperback and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads | Twenty7Books |

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Deborah O’Connor is a writer and TV producer. Born and bred in the North-East of England, in 2010 she completed the Faber Academy novel writing course. She lives in London with her husband and daughter.

Author Links:Twitter | Website | Goodreads | Facebook |