When you wake in the morning and you are still inhabiting the characters’ world you know you have read a remarkable psychological thriller. Who Killed Ruby is just such a book. Well researched and cleverly written, the intricately woven plot is so suspenseful, it leaves you screaming to know who Jack Delaney is – the man accused of the murder, the man who now, many years later, holds someone hostage. He will kill her if he doesn’t get what he wants. This we know. I hate spoilers so I won’t say what he wants or how we know he will carry out his threat, but we are left in no doubt – Jack Delaney has nothing left to lose, and Ruby’s sister, Vivienne, is in danger of losing everything. There are an array of characters within the story and each one feeds off the other beautifully, painting a believable backdrop to Vivienne and Ruby’s formative years. The conclusion is highly satisfying, if perhaps leaving you a little wistful for what might have been for Vivienne. I was totally immersed in this book, right there in the pages, thanks to the author’s skilful writing. Extraordinary storytelling. Disturbing, taut and utterly compelling, Who Killed Ruby ticks all the psych thriller boxes. Definitely a book I would highly recommend.
If you want to be smiling 2% into a story, Amazing Grace is the book for you. I was totally empathising with Grace immediately and wanted to beam myself into the kitchen when she was agonising over the dreaded invitation and give her a firm hug. As a single mum, I found Grace’s angst about her looks and her identity crisis totally relatable to. However, I think most women would, mother, married, single… whatever. Grace is real, someone you could easily imagine meeting in the supermarket. Or the swishing shop! What a brilliant idea! Grace’s story is about a woman who is full of self-doubt and needs to learn to love herself. It’s also about the loneliness of single-parenthood and the grief that never quite goes away over the loss of a mother, particularly when you might have lost her at a time when you needed her most. The letters from Grace’s mum are poignant tearjerkers. Trust me, you will go through the whole gamut of emotions reading this book, from chuckling out loud to weeping. As many would know, learning to love yourself is not so easy when your self-confidence has been corroded away by a twit of an ex who didn’t appreciate the gorgeous, loving, intelligent woman he had. And then he wants her back? Ride on, Mark. Thank God for best friends who are there with a shoulder and skills to give Grace a successful makeover. Best show them the door when they suggest the internet dating though. And then we have Vinnie, the very worthy gardener, and you so want Grace to choose him, providing he can prove himself worthy in her son Archie’s eyes. He’s a gem. You can see why any mum would pour her love into him.
Amazing Grace is a delightfully refreshing, funny, heart-warming and poignant story. The author’s voice is distinctive and honest. I loved it and would highly recommend it.
Betray Her is exquisitely written. I identified with the narrator so profoundly through her grief at one point, I literally stopped breathing. Alternating between present and past, this is a cleverly woven story, full of passion and intrigue, sexual tension and desperate longing. Two girls, poles apart in their early upbringing, are drawn together at boarding school to form an unlikely friendship that endures into adulthood. But as we examine the friendship, going back to the musty halls of the boarding school, forward into the girls’ teenage years, on to the present, it’s clear that the friendship is not all that it seems. There are secrets under the surface, secrets that shaped who the women now are. There is jealousy and manipulation, co-dependency to a degree. Their relationship is tumultuous and, with a man in the mix who is married to one friend, but has a history with the other, there is a tinderbox of emotion simply waiting for a spark to ignite it, bringing us the final explosive conclusion. I was fascinated by this book, in awe of the writing. Mesmerising storytelling. A taut, tantalising thriller and one I would highly recommend.
Told from a multi-narrative point of view, The Missing Pieces of Sophie McCarthy is a story of fate intervening to have a devastating impact on two families. Sophie has suffered life-changing injuries in a car accident caused by Aidan, a captain in the Australian army. His conscience compelling him to visit Sophie in the hospital, there is an attraction between them. What follows is a seemingly honourable man deserting his wife and child at a vulnerable time in their lives to become part of a couple with Sophie, whom he believes he has fallen in love with. Sophie is a determined, clever person who was at the top of her career. She is struggling with the constant pain she’s left in from her injuries. I sympathised, even admired her determination, but it soon became apparent that, at the core, Sophie is not a nice person. I wanted to know why, I wanted to delve in to her family dynamics, particularly the relationship between Sophie and her father, Richard, who is unable to accept that Aidan has become part of her life and wants justice for his daughter. What made Sophie the way she is? The book deals with some important issues many people will relate to: single parenthood, grief, bullying in the workplace, special needs and fertility problems. The overriding issue for me was that of obsession in a relationship. I’m not giving specifics for obvious reasons, but all of these issues were handled really well and sensitively. The characterisation is excellent. I found the children particularly relatable to. There was a moment where Aidan and his daughter, Jasmin, came together, which brought huge lump to my throat and delivered an extremely satisfying ending. If you love psychological thrillers with a healthy helping of domestic drama, I would highly recommend this book.
Want the pertinent facts about facial recognition? Insight into the life of a detective? If you are writing crime thriller, psychological thriller – anything with a crime element – BEING A DETECTIVE is an accurate guide to all things police procedural. Providing easily indexed, expert information about everything from the ABC principle through to Z-cars and zombie knives, this book, along with THE CRIME WRITER’S CASEBOOK, really is as essential as your laptop. Having completed a forensics course myself, I can honestly say that you will learn everything you need to include in your manuscript from these two books. For instance, have you ever wondered what the object used by police to force open doors is? Not a lot of point having your DI yelling for it, if he/she doesn’t know. As a crime writer, you will need to get your facts right. I cannot recommend these two excellent guides enough.
I have used one of the author’s services as a writing consultant in the past (Stuart Gibbon. You can find him at GIB Consultancy). A former Met Police detective with 30 years’ experience in crime investigation, a DCI on murder cases and also an SIO on the East Midlands Special Operations Unit, he’s definitely a leading expert in his field.