#BookReview : Don’t Turn Around by Jessica Barry #BlogTour #DontTurnAround #Thriller @vintagebooks @jazminamarsh @jessbarryauthor

Don’t Turn Around by Jessica Barry
Expected publication Date : July 30th 2020
Publisher : Vintage Publishing, Random House UK
Genre : Thriller
Pages : 320

Rating: 4 out of 5.
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The riveting follow up to Jessica Barry’s debut Freefall—a controversial, of-the-moment thriller about two women fighting for their right to live.

322 miles of road. 6 hours. 2 strangers. 1 killer. Too many secrets.


Midnight. Cait Monaghan and Rebecca McRae are on a desolate road that slices through the New Mexican desert. They’ve never met before tonight. Both have secrets to protect. Both of their lives are in danger.

When a truck pulls up fast behind them, they assume it’s punk teenagers or run-of-the-mill road rage, but it soon becomes clear that whoever is driving the truck is hunting them for sport—and they are out to draw blood.

As the miles unspool and the dangers mount, the pasts they’ve worked so hard to keep buried have come back to haunt them. Someone wants one of them dead. But which one? And given the lives the two women have been leading, that someone could be almost anyone.

If Cait and Rebecca are going to survive, they’ll have to learn to trust one another—and themselves. But trust is a costly business, and they’ve both paid the price before. . . . 


*** Note: I received e-copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to Jasmine @ Vintage, PRH UK for tour invite and review copy. ***

Don’t Turn Around was intriguing, fast paced thriller that revolved around Cait and Rebecca’s 322 miles journey from Lubbock to Albuquerque. It was about social media abuse and trolling, suffocating relationship, abortions and women’s feeling about, patriarchy and people’s judgement.

Don’t Turn Around was written in third person narrative from Cait and Rebecca’s alternative POV with past and present and chapters counting down the miles from Lubbock to Albuquerque. Writing was compelling, tense, and atmospheric with dangers on the road and past that was going to catch up these women.

Plot was most interesting. I haven’t read a thriller that took place on road and in car. It started with Cait picking up Rebecca from her house in the middle of night who was supposed to take her to Albuquerque at the centre of Sisters of Service. At first I wasn’t sure what this service was about and why they took so much precaution and swore the confidentiality but as the book progress and we read the past stories of characters we know what was going on.

First few chapters were all about character building and telling readers what was going on in their life, what happened to them in past and how they came to be in present situation. We don’t see much conversation between characters until the truck hit their jeep and tried to take them off the road. After that hit things started to reveal one by one, we see what Cait was hiding and why Rebecca needed to take Sister of Service’s help.

I was curious to find out who was driving the truck. There were intermittent chapters from other characters of the book created tension and made me think who from these characters was after these women. Past chapters gave the clear idea on why and yet there were enough surprises that I couldn’t guess.

Characters and mystery were intriguing. Both Cait and Rebecca were flawed, scared with what was happening to them and yet they were stronger than they thought. I felt for Cait who was victim of abuse. She wrote an article about it that took her life downhill. I did feel she was making mistake as soon as she went after that musician. She was being honest in article, admitted she went willingly and wrote how she felt violated and yet people were trolling her telling she deserved it and should die! I was shocked at people’s reaction to it. Right or wrong nobody deserve this. The level of threat scared me and made me anxious for Cait and yet she was brave to carry on with her life until everything got worst. I admired her for being conscientious even though she felt rage and vengeance and doing right thing and sticking with Rebecca after knowing her story. She kept feeling guilty for writing that article but it’s those people trolling her should feel guilty.

Rebecca was most relatable character and I really felt bad for her. She was nice and lovely wife who loved her job as teacher in school, her hometown California and her father but she left it all for her single-minded husband, Patrick, who wanted to make career in politics from his hometown Texas. Once they moved there and things started to go left for Rebecca. It was clear she wasn’t happy with this change in life and in Patrick and I was surprised that idiot husband ignored that. Life of politician’s wife was not for her and I felt bad how both Patrick and his manager belittle her and made her feel bad for not doing it right. I wanted to shake her tell her just leave him, you don’t have to do this for him. And then there were many miscarriages and present condition. She was timid, too yielding for my liking. She was sensitive with world’s reality and death of her parents and yet it was amazing to see how a child can make a woman strong beyond her limits. I loved her for sticking with Cait and helping her even after knowing her secret and I admired her for what she did in climax and at the end.

Men in this book were written to hate. Every single men this book thought what they do and think is above everyone, especially women. I hated Ken for passing judgement on what Cait did and about women going to abortion clinic. Mike for driving his anger of injustice and losing love to totally wrong direction, Patrick for thinking he had right over deciding what Rebecca should do about her body and over baby, and that bastard manager who thought he was most clever of all. I hated those pro-life protestors who didn’t even want to see in what condition women went to abortion centre, what it felt to be violated, how it is for women to carry a child of abuse or even worst a child that is going die or born with condition that make child and mother suffer for whole life. It was outrageous to read their thoughts.

Mystery was cleverly written. There were lots of red herrings. It turned out different than what I expected but in good way. I couldn’t guess who was driving the truck until climax. And goodness that villain was clearly maniac and delusional. Last 25% of the book was full of action and chase. I enjoyed reading this adrenaline inducing part. When they came out of it there was another shock. I knew Rebecca’s husband planned something and other men in book but what happened was unexpected. End was perfect.

Why 4 Stars-

My only complaint is he way women fought even after accident was a bit implausible. I mean you can’t just get up and drive after you are beaten badly in such condition.

Overall,

Don’t Turn Around was riveting and fast paced thrill ride with amazing characters and thought-provoking theme. I definitely recommend this.

About author:

Jessica Barry is a pseudonym for an American author who has lived and worked in London for the past fifteen years. Look for Me (previously published as Freefall), her debut thriller, has sold in more than twenty-two territories around the world and has also secured a major Hollywood film deal.

Book Links:

Goodreads | Pre-order | Amazon.UK | Amazon.com | Amazon.in
Affiliate Link : Book Depository


I hope you enjoyed this post. Let me know in comments what do you think about this book and my reviewhave you read this book already or going to add it to TBR. Have you read a Road Trip Thriller?

Happy Reading!

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Dark Waters (Monica Kennedy #2) by G.R. Halliday #DarkWatersBook @HarvillSecker @GR_Halliday

Dark Waters (Monica Kennedy #2) by G.R. Halliday
Publication Date : July 16th 2020
Publisher : Harvill Secker
Genre : Scottish Noir / crime fiction
Pages : 384

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

The haunting new novel from G. R. Halliday, author of FROM THE SHADOWS, shortlisted for THE MCILVANNEY DEBUT PRIZE

THREE MISTAKES. TWO MURDERS. ONE MORE VICTIM TO GO . . .

Annabelle loves to drive. It helps her escape her world, her past. Speeding on a mountain road in the Scottish Highlands, she sees a little girl step out in front of her. She swerves to avoid her. The next thing Annabelle remembers is waking up in a dark, damp room. A voice from the corner of the room says ‘The Doctor will see you now’.

Scott is camping in the woodlands in the Scottish Highlands – but in the middle of the night, he hears something outside his tent. When he goes out to have a look, a little girl is standing among the trees, staring right at him. Scott is never seen again.

When a dismembered body is discovered, DI Monica Kennedy gets called to the scene immediately. After six months away from the Serious Crimes team, they need her back on board.

As Monica searches for the murderer, another body is found. Monica knows the signs . . . She’s on the hunt for a serial killer.

Perfect for fans of James Oswald, Ann Cleeves and Val McDermid.

*** Note: I received e-copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to Mia @vintagebooks for tour invite and providing review copy. ***

Dark Waters was dark and disturbing crime thriller, second novel in Monica Kennedy series that revolved around another serial killer case. It was about juggling work and family life, haunting and unsettled past and history, unsolved and mysterious murders, and real demons of the world-humans.

This first line was chilling and it should have prepared for what’s going to come in the book- “When she still had all arms and legs, Anabelle liked to drive.”

Writing like previous book was engaging and vivid that took me to dark mountains and of Highlands that were both beautiful and menacing. I’m really glad to read in author’s note Glen Turrit and Little Arklow doesn’t exist outside this book but place were based on Glen Strathfarrar and it doesn’t look as dreadful from pictures as it sound in book. This book was even darker than first one. This is not for squeamish readers or those who feel claustrophobic by reading tunnels and caves under mountains. Let me give a little warning, there’s cannibalism. Plot was brilliant. It was told in third person narrative from Annabelle and Monica’s perspective and occasionally we also see other victim’s perspective.

Annabelle travelled from London to Highlands for thrill ride on single track road- beautiful but secluded- from one gate of Glen Turrit across the hydro dam to another gate near Strathcarron. But on this route, where she wasn’t expecting anyone, she saw a girl that made her swerved the car that collided to a tree. When she opened her eyes, she found herself in damp and dark room, injured and kidnapped! Just within few chapters Scott, Canadian traveler was abducted after seeing a girl. Simultaneously, we see what was going on in Monica’s life after previous case that ended horribly, working in traffic department, and giving Lucy lot of time. But then she got call from her boss Hately who needed her in new case. They found dismembered body near dam, at bank of river Beauly. Within 2 days another body, same condition, close to another hydro power station. I was curious to find out who was the killer, whose bodies they found, was it Scott or someone else, who was that girl and why she was working with a killer, if Monica could find killer before he kills Scott or Anabelle, or if Anabelle can find a way to escape.

Monica was once again was great. I liked the way mother’s concerns and guilt were portrayed through her and Lucy’s relationship. Monica’s strength and vulnerability, how stress of new changes in Lucy and her nightmares were affecting her and the case, was realistic to read. Her intuitions related to case was brilliant. What I liked most was a glimpse in her past that showed her relationship with her father. I feel there is more about her to be revealed in next books. I had complain about her too frequent height reference in previous book but in this one it was better, not too often and didn’t appear unexpectedly.

I like Crawford in this book. We don’t know his full story yet but that was balanced by Fisher’s story. We know a bit about Fisher and his real life. It was surprising to know how that connected him to this murder case. Annabelle was caring and clever. She had parents issue and it was sad to see how her parents behaved and treated her and how deeply it affected her. Even after what she was enduring in killer’s den, she felt empathy towards Marcus and even in worst condition she was selfless. She didn’t deserve what happened to her. Villain was worst nightmare imaginable. The story he shared and what was revealed everything related to him was terrifying.

I enjoyed description of all Highland locations, a bit about hydro dam, its history and stories related to it, intermittent chapters’ from victims that cleared the mystery behind what exactly happened to them and why, and lastly that maze of underground tunnels and those chapters about it and Annabelle’s experience in there. Author did amazing job with tension, suspense, and twist and turns. Suspects were few but yet I couldn’t guess who the killer was until around 40% of the book and yet I couldn’t connect the dots and figure out why these particular victims until Monica’s last interview with suspect.

Climax was tense, blood chilling and adrenaline inducing. I was literally yelling at characters at this point thinking why it was taking so much time. I almost lost hope for Anabelle and it was not clear if she will live or not till the end. It felt so unfair what happened at the end but at the same time it felt realistic.

Why 4.5-

There are still more to characters and not all their stories were told in this book but I hope to read that in  next books in series.

Overall,

Dark Waters was clever, horrifying, fast paced and well written sequel with vivid and gruesome description and beautiful yet dangerous setting.

Books Links:

Goodreads | Pre-order | AmazonUK | Waterstones

Affiliate Link : Book Depository


I hope you enjoyed this review. Let me know what do you think about the book, if you have read this already or previous book in series, and Which is your favorite book set in Scotland.

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#BookReview : From the Shadows (Monica Kennedy #1) by G.R. Halliday @HarvillSecker @GR_Halliday #FromTheShadowsBook

From the Shadows (Monica Kennedy #1) by G.R. Halliday
Publication Date : April 18th 2019
Publisher : Harvill Secker
Genre : Scottish Noir / crime fiction
Pages : 432

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A stunning, atmospheric police procedural set against the grit of Inverness and the raw beauty of the Scottish Highlands, this is the first book in the DI Monica Kennedy series.

Sixteen-year-old Robert arrives home late. Without a word to his dad, he goes up to his bedroom. Robert is never seen alive again.

A body is soon found on the coast of the Scottish Highlands. Detective Inspector Monica Kennedy stands by the victim in this starkly beautiful and remote landscape. Instinct tells her the case won’t begin and end with this one death.

Meanwhile, Inverness-based social worker Michael Bach is worried about one of his clients whose last correspondence was a single ambiguous text message; Nichol Morgan has been missing for seven days.

As Monica is faced with catching a murderer who has been meticulously watching and waiting, Michael keeps searching for Nichol, desperate to find him before the killer claims another victim.

From the Shadows introduces DI Monica Kennedy, an unforgettable new series lead, perfect for fans of Ann Cleeves’ Vera, Susie Steiner and Peter May.

*** Note: I received e-copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to Mia @vintagebooks for tour invite and providing review copy. ***

From the Shadows was intriguing crime fiction that revolved around Monica trying to solve murder and a social worker trying to find his missing client.  It was about work-life balance, trying to find peace with traumatic past, and race between killer and detective.

From the Shadows was written in third person narrative mainly from Monica and Michael’s POV and occasional killer’s perspective under title ‘watcher’. Atmospheric setting of Scottish Highlands and Inverness beautiful yet remote with its weather and history of missing people added more darkness to story of murders by a delusional psycho killer.

Story took place in one week that started with, as synopsis said, Robert arriving late at home who was found murdered next day. D.I. Monica could tell this wasn’t killer’s first murder and it won’t be last. At the same time, a social worker, Michael, was trying to find his client who was missing for a week. A gruesome murder, marks on body, and mysterious stone that Michael saw with Nicol made him fear the worst. And then another body was found. It made me curious to find out where was Nicol, did he knew these dead boys, how he had that stone that were found in dead boys’ body, had killer kidnapped him or was he next, how would Monica find killer and how Michael find Nicol. With killer observing their all moves and staying two steps ahead of them made the story thrilling and intriguing.

All characters were interesting. They had traumatic past. Their flaws and vulnerability made them realistic. Monica was clever, observant, and strong but she had her issues. Her past made people gossip about her. Her height references and her uncomfortability related to her height and shoe size was a bit too much but her doubts as a mother, trying find work-family life balance was genuine. I liked her intuitions and logic in this case, she was right most of the time. Her mistakes and ‘not-so-perfect’ character made her more realistic. The only complain I had about her was her decision in climax. It was actually stupid, looking at her concerned motherly nature.

Michael was great character. Lonely, affected by past and tragedy in life, still couldn’t find closure and messed up many things in life. He was different from his colleagues. He cared too much and was empathetic but also reckless social worker. He had many flaws but it was admirable how much risks he took in finding a boy who probably didn’t want to be found.

Michael and Monica, made story interesting. They had their differences but at the end they started supporting each other. Monica’s colleagues D.C. Connor Crawford and D.C. Ben Fisher were also different from each other. There was competitive tension between these two, one didn’t care about appearance and showing superiority while other was orderly, prim and proper, doing everything by book. They made unusual team but I liked how they all worked in the case. There wasn’t much story about them so it was hard to connect with them but I hope I can know them more in next book.

Description of murders was gruesome but not unbearable or overly graphic. Suspense was solid. I couldn’t identify killer till climax. There were not many suspects and we can rule out if they were really culprit or not from killer’s narration which made it more difficult to figure out who he was. Climax was tense and surprising. I didn’t like Monica’s decision but it made me fear for her and her daughter for the first time. I liked surprise at the end. I wish I could see Lee’s (criminal psychologist, who was made to dislike) reaction for being wrong about everything. That would have been satisfactory.

Why 4 stars-

That height references were too much. It made Monica look like some freak woman. And also reference popped at really unexpected time, like when they were visiting Robert’s father to hear his side of story and to let him know his missing son is dead. Monica’s decision near climax was biggest complain. She was smart capable of making better decision but this made me rethink that because no parent would do that.

Overall,

#FromtheShadows was compelling, dark and interesting #ScottishNoir with many twist and turns. It was commendable debut novel and definitely recommend it.

Book Links:

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Affiliate Links: Amazon.(IN) | Amazon (US) | Amazon (UK) | Book Depository


I hope you enjoyed this post and review. Let me know what do you think about the book or if you have read this already and what are your thought on this book, which is your favorite Noir Fiction?

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#BlogTour #Review : Safe House by Jo Jackman #SafeHouse @HarvillSecker @JoJakemanWrites @mia_qs

Hello readers! Today is my stop during the blog tour for Safe House by Jo Jackman. Many thanks to Mia for the tour invite and providing the copy for review. Check out the book details and review in this post.

Safe House by Jo Jackman
Publication Date: October 31st 2019
Publisher: Vintage
Genre: Thriller / Psychological Thriller / Suspense
Pages: 352
Stars: ★★★★★

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THE NEW NOVEL FROM THE ACCLAIMED AUTHOR OF STICKS AND STONES A REFRESHING THRILLER WITH A FEMINIST TWIST PERFECT FOR FANS OF CLARE MACKINTOSH, FIONA BARTON, LISA JEWELL, EVA DOLAN & LAURA MARSHALL

Charlie just wants to be forgotten but everyone else wants to know her story…

The morning after a terrible storm, a woman turns up in a remote Cornish village. She has bought the crumbling cottage that has lain empty for over a decade, and she’s going to make it her home. She calls herself Charlie, but it’s a name she’s only had for a few days. She keeps herself to herself, reluctant to integrate with the locals. Because Charlie has a secret.

Charlie was in prison for providing a false alibi for a murderer. But Lee Fisher wasn’t a murderer to her; he was the man she loved. Convinced of his innocence, Charlie said she was with him the night a young woman was killed. That lie cost her everything.

And now she has the chance to start again. But someone is watching her, waiting for her, wondering if she’s really payed the price for what she did.

*** Note: I received e-copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to Mia and publisher. ***

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Safe House was intriguing psychological thriller that revolved around Charlie, desperate to put behind her past, murderer ex and hate-filled judgmental people of the town. The book was about seeing the signs and heed to warning bells before it’s too late, misreading and misjudging a person, guilt, betrayal, manipulation, lies, deceit, blind love, unhealthy relationship, and facing past to give it closure.

I have just one word to describe this book- wow! The writing was easy and gripping, plot was suspenseful and intriguing, characters were interesting and setting was atmospheric. Short chapters made me flip the pages quicker.

It started with Charlie starting her new life with a new name in new place- a remote coastal village- after serving her 10 months sentence for giving false alibi. It was hard for her to move on. She felt paranoid someone might find out who and where she was and would try to harm her. She was restless and desperate to get over what she had gone through and so she tried to be part of the close-knit community letting her guards down. But the sense of someone was watching over her never left. Who was it? Can she really run from her past? Will friends she made stay friends when they will know about her sectret? Can she save them from the person who was trying to harm her?

Story was first person narrative told in dual timeline- past and present. Present told about Charlie’s efforts to stay safe and cautious, start new life, becoming a person she couldn’t because of her controlling father and then manipulative ex-boyfriend. Past was about what happened to her and how her life took unexpected turn, how she was sentenced for false alibi, how she discovered her boyfriend’s deceit. There were snippet of news articles telling what world thought about her, how people blamed her and how difficult it made her life before and after her sentence; interview with officers working on murder case told about what they thought about Steffi and her statements; and then there was Ben and unknown narrator who were out to get her, bring her to justice. Basically you get the wide perspective of the story- from victim, victim’s relatives, culprit, police, media and people who believed what was served on papers.

Charlie’s past life was most interesting to read. I was shocked at first to see she didn’t see through Lee’s lie and deceit, how could she not recognize manipulation? The way he treated her, detached her from her family and friends, not letting her enjoy her hobbies, weren’t those enough signs of unhealthy relationship? Oh but she was so naïve, stupid and blindly in love. As I knew more about her I could see why she was like this, less confident, eager to please and fearful to upset others, putting other before her, easily influenced.

Charlie’s voice was believable. I could empathize with her. Her thoughts and emotions were impactful. It made me think would I have done the same. Surely it’s not easy to believe the person you love is murderer, when they didn’t give away anything. It also made me think how her life would have been different only if her father was loving and supportive. The more I heard her thoughts the more I believed she deserved second chance. Author did amazing job in representing how a person feel after being manipulated, judged by people and serving sentence in prison.

I loved how she morphed into new Charlie. Confident, helping and seeing good in people but cautious, working on her skills and hobbies, turning the house into home, being helpful and trying to be part of community, trying to do right the thing, faced the past with calm and steady mind. It was great to see development in her.

All side characters were interesting. They made an impression, surely not easily forgettable. I liked Aubrey the most. Charlie’s conversation with him served as breather in this gloomy suspense. Cop duo was also good. I wish I could know them more. I loved the community and people who helped Charlie.

Author did amazing job with suspense. I couldn’t guess who that unknown narrator was, why Ben was after Charlie and what his motive was until climax. Climax was tense, kept me on the edge, flip the pages like maniac. There were many revelations from climax to end. End was unpredictable but satisfactory.

Overall, it was steady paced, intriguing, suspenseful thriller with interesting characters and strong plot. I definitely recommend this book.

Purchase Link:

The ebook will be 99p throughout November

Affiliate Link: Book Depository

About Author:

JO JAKEMAN was the winner of the Friday Night Live 2016 competition at the York Festival of Writing. Born in Cyprus, she worked for many years in the City of London before moving to Derbyshire with her husband and twin boys. Safe House is her second novel and Sticks and Stones was her debut thriller.

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What do you think about the book and review? Have you read this book or any book by the same author? Which is your most favorite thriller? Share your thoughts in the comment-box below.

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