Category Archives: Thriller and Suspense

Book Review: ‘Cascade’ by Peter Harper

Title: Cascade

Published: 28th November 2016

Author: Peter Harper

 

Synopsis:

On hearing the news her adopted father has suffered a second heart attack, Shani Balcescu dashes from St Aquinas College in Oxford to be at his bedside in Prague. Her father asks her forgiveness, but Shani takes his words to be little more than the ramblings of a dying man. Until the following day, when she discovers the name Tuma Dangbo, a former Séroulése president gunned down in a devastating coup in the West African state thirty-six years ago. French journalist, Nicolas Dubois, helps Shani make sense of her ancestry, before introducing her to the leader of the rebels at a safe house in London. Just as Shani starts to trust and have feelings for the journalist, he sends her a bizarre text and breaks contact. Nicolas’s disappearance threatens to derail her already fragile state of mind, and with an attempted coup in Séroulé virtually underway, ‘friend or foe’ takes on a new meaning for Shani as she questions whether she is being manipulated by the rebels, and that the present despotic regime is about to be replaced by another, only with much greater and far-reaching repercussions. 

Review:

Goes down as another off my 2017 Bookworm Bingo Challenge – A book by a male author. Action, suspense and political drama all rolled into one well written riveting read.Séroulé, West Africa is where we start our journey to the past to help figure out the present and the family Shani never knew she belonged to. It seems that thirty-six years ago a military/political coup occurred to get rid of Tuma Dangbo, the President of Séroulé, and his family. Against all odds his youngest daughter Zinsa managed to evade capture and escape. Something that Kuetey, the man who orchestrated the coup so he could take over as the new President, can’t seem to let go.

This is where we come to present day to Shani Balcescu. She has just started a fellowship at St Thomas Aquinas and even though is scared knows she needs to move on to grow. She has suffered from insecurities and anxiety for a while now and after her current break up ended badly, when you find out you may want to punch him, is starting to panic a bit by being alone in a new place. After only being there for a day or so though she gets a call that changes everything. Her adopted father/grandfather Andrei has suffered from another heart attack and she is needed at his side back in Prague ASAP. Dusasna, a close family friend, keeps saying that he was asking for forgiveness from her and mentioning the name Zinsa. This means nothing to Shani and even after she gets there he keeps mentioning it. Something about a small girl and the name Zinsa. She doesn’t know at the time what it means or why he would be asking for forgiveness. It’s not until later while taking a look at his safe after a vivid dream that things start to come to the surface. It brings more questions than answers though about who her family really was, how she’s related to Zinsa and what happened to her to loose her foot. What she finds first leads her to Romania and then Paris. A reporter in Paris, Nicolas Dubois, has some information for her she might find useful. She found an article written by him about her grandfather dismissing the corruption claims. He has insight on what happened with the coup and how Zinsa got away. He also knows of a freedom fighter movement where plans are in place for another coup to get rid of Kuetey and his evil corruption. Khamadi Soglo is the man in charge and Nicolas knows how much he would want Shani to be apart of their movement. Cloak and dagger meetings are one thing but they tend to lead to danger the more you get involved.

President Kuetey is very much a twisted man with far to much power. You are longing for his downfall and just trying to figure out how and when it might happen. He’s obsessed with the blood of Tuma still being out there so as long as he’s around Shani will always be in danger. Well her and anyone she is close to, Nicolas soon gets put in the thick of it. From the moment Shani started on this mission to figure out the past, it’s the same past that’s been on its way to get her. Its lucky when Osakwe comes along in a time of need, he certainly appears good at getting you out of tricky situations – though Shani has her moments too. The wheels are turning and there’s no turning back.

Gripping story that will have you second-guessing yourself about what people’s real motives are. Secrets throughout to keep the reader hooked trying to figure them out. Shani and Nicolas have chemistry and intrigue right from the start and are clearly like-minded people to blend together so quickly. Hold on to your hats people this is going to be a wild ride exploring the greed of powerful men.

4 out of 5 stars

I received a copy of this book from the author for my honest review.

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Book Review: ‘The Girl on the Train’ by Paula Hawkins

the-girl-on-the-train

Title: The Girl on the Train

Published: 5th May 2016

Publisher: Black Swan

Author: Paula Hawkins

Facebook: www.facebook.com/PaulaHawkinsWriter

Twitter: @PaulaHWrites

Synopsis:

Rachel catches the same commuter train every morning. She knows it will wait at the same signal each time, overlooking a row of back gardens. She’s even started to feel like she knows the people who live in one of the houses. ‘Jess and Jason’, she calls them. Their life – as she sees it – is perfect. If only Rachel could be that happy.

And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough.

Now everything’s changed. Now Rachel has a chance to become a part of the lives she’s only watched from afar.

Now they’ll see; she’s much more than just the girl on the train…

Review:

Goes down as another off my 2016 Bookworm Bingo Challenge – A book that became a movie. Have to say it was the trailer for the film that got me excited about this story. When I found out it was a book first I wanted to read it before watching to see if it would make a difference which way round I did it to see which I liked more. So here goes.

One story told through the eyes of three very different women – Rachel, Megan and Anna. Only Rachel and Anna’s stories are told from the present time. Megan’s start a year before present day and slowly helps fill in the blanks while you get ever closer & closer to the last point that Rachel saw her.

Rachel has been in a downward spiral for the past few years after her divorce. Not surprising really with her ex husband marrying and having a baby with the woman he cheated on her with. This along with personal problems with not being able to get pregnant at the time she was still married caused her to turn to drink. Gin and tonic her drink of choice but anything will do really. Its when she drinks heavily though that she tends to have black outs. These black outs could help her figure a few things out from her past but it’s not just the booze making her forget. It’s more her minds way of protecting her from what she isn’t ready to face yet. As a coping mechanism for her wayward life she started to create a picture of a perfect couple from two people she saw every morning on the way into London to work. The train she gets daily slows down enough for her to look out and imagine what their life must be like. A life she longs to live and thought she had just a few doors down from where she looks. It appears she likes to torture herself with looking though because one moment she will see ‘Jess and Jason’ and the next she sees the home and life she lost through her actions – or were they? You get a feeling quite early on that everything is not as it seems. Its on one of these mornings that she sees something that distresses her enough to get off the train at the station near her old home because it shatters her idealised view of the perfect couple. Jess kissing another man; she can’t believe she has betrayed Jason so longs to confront her but fear and booze keep her away. She later wakes back at her place (well her friends place she is still currently renting a room from) having no recollection how she got home or why she would be covered in vomit, piss, blood and mud. She starts to question whether she could have done something bad or if something was done to her. When she finds out in the news the day after that ‘Jess’ real name Megan has gone missing she starts to question what might have happened. She vows to get to the bottom of it to help ‘Jason’ aka Scott as she knows he will be blamed first but the moment she goes down this rabbit hole everything starts to unravel. Secrets get revealed and nothing will be the same again.

Anna seemingly got everything that she ever wanted – a nice husband, new baby and lovely house. It’s just a shame she had to go after a married man in the first place to get it and still finds herself under the shadow of Tom’s ex Rachel with being in their old house. Which just so happens to have a train line that goes past daily, one she knows Rachel uses daily to get to work. She is constantly on edge when she hears it and lives in fear that Rachel will do something again while drunk to disrupt her ‘happy life’. She knows Rachel is a bitter drunk who will always come between her and Tom no matter what she does. She is so busy looking at the wrong person she doesn’t see what is really happening. She may want to look a little closer to home because history might soon be repeating itself.

Megan is a very lost soul. We view her life in a series of flash backs from the year before to present day. All the pieces slowly falling together to give you a heads up as to who might have killed her. Her past has some dark turns and you get the impression that she has been running from it for a while. When things start going right, seemingly mundane, she likes to destroy it. Mainly by having an affair or two. You are convinced that it’s the therapist, someone Rachel suspects too, but can’t be sure. Her mystery man is someone who likes to fantasize about a better life but seems just as stuck as she is. She wants a change and change is coming, just not what she hoped. A confrontation leads to disaster and when others find out they too become linked in a battle of wills. Who will see it through to the end? The women may seem weak and defeated to start with throughout but near the end they show their backbones – which is good thing as their lives depend on it.

Suspenseful thriller that will keep you second guessing yourself even after you are sure you know how its all going to play out. Now lets see how the film turned out

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4 out of 5 stars

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Book Review: ‘Two Graves’ by Zoe Kalo

two-graves

Title: Two Graves: A Novella (Retribution Series Book 1)

Published: 31st August 2016

Author: Zoe Kalo

Facebook: www.facebook.com/Zoe-Kalo

Twitter: @zoekalowriter

Synopsis:

(TWO GRAVES is a short novella, about 70 pages. It is volume #1 in Zoe Kalo’s psychological suspense “Retribution” series of standalone novellas centered on the theme of revenge and a famous work of literature, in this case Dante’s Inferno.)

A Dante-ish descent through a sinister world of decadent shadows and woeful souls…

Seven years ago, he shattered her life. The town eventually forgot the headlines and the nightmares. But 23-year old music student Angelica hasn’t forgotten.

For the past seven years, she’s contemplated payback with as much intensity and unwavering faith as she puts into her violin playing. Finally, all the pieces are in place. Over the course of one night, disguised for a masquerade ball, Angelica orchestrates a journey of revenge.

Review:

“Want to know my recipe for courage?” I said, barely above a whisper. “Welcome death. When you welcome death, there’s nothing to lose. When there’s nothing to lose, there’s no fear.”

Wasn’t sure what to really expect from this one but man alive from the moment I started I was gripped. A suspenseful thriller that draws you in and holds you right until the end – well for me anyway.

The story is told in two parts running alongside each other with Angelica being the key link. Present day you know she is a violinist playing at a concert, preparing to go to a masked ball after it. From the start you know she wants revenge and answers for something but are kept in the dark until near the end at a point in the book where nothing would get you to stop reading. The Maestro seems to be her focus but that doesn’t stop other characters being pulled into focus when the need arises.

The past is seven years previous where she lived with her mother and Shaun, who we later find out is her little boy. A cutie you want to wrap up to keep safe. She is focusing on an audition she has coming up to get into Julliard. If she can get that it could see her way to start a great career and be able to take care of Shaun better. Each memory we are shown shows the same day progressing. Bringing us that much closer to understanding what she needs revenge for.

At times in the present day she feels lost or at odds with what she plans to do. She has a gun and at the start of the evening has every intention of using it, but with outside forces seemingly pulling the strings is her game of revenge about to be over? Was she ever really in control? The moment she entered that mansion it was like she stepped in to the devils home. She’s falling down the rabbit hole into the abyss unless she can find a safe way out – that’s if she really wants it.

An enticing story and even though it was short it still had the ability to hold your attention. It didn’t need to be longer as the suspense was there. Characters were strong and well rounded in this dark delight – a psychological thriller at its best. Almost feel like you should listen to the music mentioned while reading to give you that extra kick of mystery and power behind the dialogue. Dante’s Inferno is mentioned a lot throughout though and as I haven’t read it in places I was a little confused. Its best to just to with the flow with this one and let it take you where it wants you to go, follow the music to lead you to the answers you seek.

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4 out of 5 stars

I received this ARC from Authors Assistant for my honest review.

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Book Review: ‘Keepers of the Forest’ by James McNally

Keepers of the Forest
Title: Keepers of the Forest

Published: 21st February 2016

Author: James McNally

Facebook: www.facebook.com/wix

Twitter: @corpseboy10

Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/author/show/4657579.James_McNally

Synopsis:

A violent cult has invaded the Adirondack Forest, and 11-year-old Chris has become the target of their affection. It will be a summer of terror, because they believe Chris is the key to opening the door to a new world order. And they will stop at nothing to bring their plans to fruition.

Review:

An intricate story with lots of twists and turns leading you down the rabbit hole. A wild world you are exploring with this one that will keep you on your toes right to the end. There are two main characters that the book revolves around – 11-year-old Chris and soon to be swimming coach Brian. The cult comes into focus more along with Chris’ storyline.

Brian has just been dumped and is looking for a change of scenery. He finds this in a job offer from friend Nancy. She tells him to go to her aunt and help out as a swimming coach for the summer. A way to find his centre again and to give himself some focus. Little did he know that taking her up on this offer would turn his world upside down in the most craziest of ways.

Chris, along with his older brother Scott, have been told that they will be spending the summer with their aunt and uncle in Tupper Lake, Adirondack while there parents go to Europe for their fathers job. Now their mother is a bit of a strange one. She doesn’t (or should I say ‘does not’) like contractions. She speaks in a very direct manor and comes off as very cold. With everything that is about to happen to those boys during the summer I doubt she will be able to give them one-ounce of comfort. It’s while on this holiday of sorts that Chris finds out he will be taking swimming lessons. This is how he first meets Brian, though not in a happy way. Due to Chris trying to save face with some other boys he makes the mistake of saying he can swim. So when asked to jump in he does, and then just as quickly sinks to the bottom of the pool. Now this is where you would think Brian would jump straight in to rescue him but he waits a few minutes due to being told beforehand that only lifeguards are meant to dive in to save people not the teachers. Glad he doesn’t listen but he almost doesn’t get him out in time and when he does he has to give him CPR. This is sort of a mirrored image of what is to come later on so you can see why it’s needed but still a dramatic way for a friendship to be formed. From this moment on Chris sees Brian as his saviour, someone to look up to and someone to keep an eye on him. Which is good as he’s about to be put in a lot of danger and will need someone to be looking for him.

Chris has been chosen by a cult, called the Keepers of the Forest, to become a vessel for a dryad to rise again. This isn’t the first time a boy has been chosen before but from the way Chris acts throughout you get the impression that they might have found who they are looking for. You have the leader of the Cult Crispus, Sherry who will be taking care of the chosen and then the muscle Mason, Ted and Vincent. Each man is a bit nastier than the one before. This is where the story takes a darker turn because the only way to get the chosen one is to take him, so his aunt, uncle and brother might become a problem in that equation. Once taken though Sherry tries and fails to explain what the Cult is about and that what they are doing is for the greater good. She really does believe in what she has been told but her thoughts slowly start to change when she finds out what the men she is working with are really capable of. Too little too late really, the wheels have already been set in motion for the big final at the end. You can slow it down but you can’t stop it.

When Chris doesn’t come back for his one on one swimming lesson with Brian he gets a feeling that foul play is afoot. More so when he recalls Chris mentioning that he felt he was being watched. So Brian along with his friend Nancy, who soon turns into something more, struggle to find proof that the boys are in trouble. All they can go on is a feeling until they have proof. With no one to listen they have to put their trust in an unlikely ally to have a chance of getting the boys back safely. It was clear coming closer to the dramatic ending though that things would start to come to ahead for the people in the cult but man does it shift the feel of the book. It’s a race against time, and the dryad, to get Chris to safety but Brian will do what ever it takes to try.

There are moments near the conclusion though where you are a bit lost as to why something is happening. Three random lads in the woods seemingly have no purpose to the story until one-mayor thing changes. This is where the story goes dark and you hope that at least a few will make it out alive.

The drama slowly builds up throughout the story to one hell of a climatic ending. So sad with it though, wish I knew what happened to everyone else aswell and that it had gone a little differently. Would have been nice to see what happened to Scott, Brian and Nancy instead of just Chris but I guess that just makes it more intense. The story hasn’t really ended its only just begun.

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4 out of 5 stars

I received this ARC from the author for my honest review.

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Book Review: ‘Fear Dreams’ by J.A. Schneider

Fear Dreams

Title: Fear Dreams

Published: 28th March 2016

Publisher: RGS Media

Author: J.A. Schneider

Facebook: www.facebook.com/JASchneiderAuthor

Twitter: @JoyceSchneider1

Synopsis:

Liddy Barron, an artist, was injured in a hit-and-run accident that left her with recurring nightmares, partial amnesia, and an increasing obsession in the disappearance of a coed named Sasha Perry. Was Sasha murdered? Insecure and nervous, Liddy’s turmoil grows as she begins seeing ghostly images. Her husband Paul tries to help but suspects it’s just her imagination…while intuitive Detective Kerri Blasco, also obsessed with young Sasha’s disappearance, senses that Liddy may have a key to solving the case, and tries to unravel the shocking truth of what really haunts her.

Review:

Goes down as another off my 2016 Bookworm Bingo Challenge – A mystery or detective novel. This one is both and so much more. Take a ride on this suspenseful journey through the lost memories of Liddy.

The story starts a few months after Liddy’s accident – one that she can’t really remember how it happened. A drunk driver hit her after she ran out into traffic. Her husband Paul says they were both really drunk, had a fight and then she ran off. With having no memory of the event she has no reason to doubt him. Even he says his memory is fuzzy due to the booze. Her road to recovery is taking an unusual turn though. Physically she is getting better but emotionally she is way off. Dreams of water, fear of loss and a mysterious girl seemingly asking for help are putting a strain on her psyche. Her shrink keeps getting her to go back to the night of the accident because as soon as she unlocks what’s been too painful to see she will remember everything. Much to the annoyance of a certain person though. The killer could be closer than you think.

Detective Kerri Blasco is a strong character that doesn’t ever want to give up on a case until she catches the person responsible. Especially with Sasha’s missing person’s case. Even though it would not usually be a case she’d deal with, her being a homicide detective, she just knows she has to do something. Her gut is telling her that there is more to it than meets the eye. This girl who had her whole life ahead of her planned out goes missing and everyone just thinks of it as a runaway case. With no new information coming in the case gets closed to a point leaving Kerri the only person taking the lead. She just needs that one clue that will open up new avenues. She just didn’t expect it to come from a drawing.

While Liddy is out at a café with her husband Paul and best friend Beth waiting to check out a new apartment she finds herself with her sketchbook in hand drawing people as they pass. One glance is all it takes to capture someone. The first drawing is good but it’s her second one that catches Beth’s eye. Liddy insists she saw her pass the street but now can’t recall. It’s not until the next day Beth remembers why the girl looked so familiar and that’s because it’s the missing girl Sasha. Unsure what to do at first with her drawing she soon makes her way to see the only detective on the case Kerri. At first she thinks she will be laughed out with her story and drawing but something about her makes Kerri insist she stay and explain more.

This picture and Liddy’s reference to water keep popping up seemingly creating clues to follow. When a friend of Sasha’s is back in town and shows some new pictures Kerri starts to get the break she has been after. She feels a connection with Liddy and gets a feeling that she is a key to unlocking what really happened to Sasha.

Soon suspicion is set at Liddy’s husband Paul’s friends’ door – Ben and Carl. The fact that Paul has a boat that they have all used at some point and that Ben was caught up with a prescription fraud case involving Sasha soon gets more pieces to fall into place. You get a certain vibe about Ben and Carl that you just know something isn’t quite right. Even to a point with Paul. He is a very cleverly thought out character who knows how to play certain ways. He can act the doting husband wanting to help Liddy out with her pain one moment but then flip into a bit of an asshole when he has had a few too many to drink, seemingly to blame her for all his troubles.

The way the story plays out you are being pushed into thinking certain people could have had something to do with it. Many start acting jumpy but it holds out on the big reveal until the end. You are just hanging on for the ride willing Liddy to let her mind open up and remember what’s been hidden. After a traumatic event memories can become hidden until you are ready to remember them. In remembering though she could be putting herself in danger, lets just hope Kerri can get there in time. But if not her then perhaps someone else who has decided to keep a watchful eye on Liddy can keep her safe.

Her shrink had it right all along. The moment she unlocks the past she can see through to a better future. Best read as a one day sitting as I think it helps build the tension more. Great read that will have you gripped throughout. Mystery, intrigue, suspense, this book has it all. So check it out now.

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5 out of 5 stars

I received this ARC from the author for my honest review.

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