crime · police procedural · series

Book Review – Broken Girls

Brambles catch her dress, scratch her legs, pierce her feet. To escape, she’d had no option but to go barefoot. They’d been laughing together a few minutes before, but things can change in the blink of an eye…

The woman is dark-haired and young, judging by the short red dress. Any other signs of her identity have been erased during her long wait to be found, but it’s clear she was strangled: this was a passionate and personal murder.

D.I. Bernadette Noel knows that every second counts if she is to catch this killer, but she has no leads – until the discovery that the dead woman’s rings match a stolen property report, and the rings’ owner mentions Rosa, her missing nanny.

Just when Bernie and her team think they’re getting somewhere, a shocking discovery about Rosa – and the news that another young girl has been abducted – changes everything the team thought they knew about the case.

Laura is only twelve, and her parents are beside themselves with worry – but Bernie has an additional fear. Laura’s home is right next to the woods where their murder victim was found: are the cases connected?

When Bernie notices similarities between descriptions of the man last seen with Rosa and someone Laura was messaging online, these fears grow stronger. But they still have no clear leads as to the identity of the culprit.

With few options left, and time running out, she makes a desperate plan to trap the predator. But any mistakes will mean another innocent life lost…

A gripping crime thriller with a nail-biting climax. If you like Angela Marsons, Val McDermid or Cara Hunter, you’ll love Joy Kluver.

Readers can’t get enough of Joy Kluver:

Wow!! Just wow!!… This book is brilliant! More than brilliant, amazing!!!… Absolutely gripping, addictive and captivating… I was absolutely hooked from the first page to the last. I had a complete shock at the twists… Love, love, loved all the characters!!!… I would love to see this made into a movie.’ Bookworm86 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

I read it in a few greedy gulps…It gets a very easy five stars from me… gave me goosebumps as I was reading it… If you haven’t yet started this series, then you really need toTop stuff!’ Hooked From Page One ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

More red herrings than an Agatha Christie will have you burning the midnight oil… When the killer was identified my jaw hit the floor. I couldn’t have been more shocked if the perpetrator had been Bernie herself.’ Goodreads reviewer ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

That ending! Talk about a twist you won’t see coming!… This is such an addictive series… I don’t know how I’m going to make it until the next one comes out!’ Goodreads reviewer ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Impossible to put down. I downloaded it this Monday morning, and by evening, I had finished. The rollercoaster was intense, the twists and turns unexpected, and the element of surprise insane… gripping read.’ Goodreads reviewer ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Twisted, intense and heartbreaking… Once you start this book you just can’t put it down! Out of all the books that I have read this year none of them shocked me as much. There was one twist that I literally was yelling and screaming at the character!!!’ Heidi Lynn’s Book Reviews ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

‘I am blown away by this book, the twists and turns are mind-boggling!… BRILLIANT… If I could I would give it more than 5 stars.’ Goodreads reviewer ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Brilliant… had me eagerly turning the pages as I not only wanted to know more about the crime but also about the investigating team… I adored this… A story that takes a dark turn, has several surprises and kept me on my toes.’ Vonnibee ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Purchase link

My Review

The author’s first book, Last Seen, left me with great expectations for book 2, and boy did she exceed them. I read this in two sessions, not wanting to put it down. Doesn’t happen often!

Broken Girls is one of those police procedurals in which you get a in-depth, behind-the-scenes look at the investigation team, and Bernie Noel’s team is one you can have absolute faith that they’ll solve the crime in spite of all the obstacles thrown at them. They have tenacity as well as personality.

Broken Girls begins with the gruesome finding of a young woman’s body, her face unidentifiable and extracting DNA impossible. Even when they finally get a whiff of her identify, things go all kinds of crazy leaving them virtually back at square one. But Bernie is nothing if not determined; she will get justice for the victim. Once again she is aided again by her fabulous team, including the very welcome return of DS Doug Anderson and they turn over ever stone despite the intrusion of her boss DCI Worth, aptly nicknamed Worthless – a selfish, petty man who feigns interest if only to protect himself and his forthcoming retirement.

Out of work, Bernie’s private life has its ups and downs and the atmosphere between her and Doug Anderson brings its own extra zing to their working relationship. The book’s ending – once the case is closed – is sure to stir things up deliciously for book 3.

Joy Kluver is an author I’ll be following from now on, and if you enjoy excellent crime dramas, then be sure to get this series.

As always,


book review · crime · series · thriller

Book Review – Little Girl Taken

Little Girl Taken – Wendy Dranfield

Rain rattles through the trees as she leans into the car, careful not to touch anything. Two pretty blue eyes stare back through the dark, wide with relief, or maybe fear. A baby girl, wrapped up in a pink snowsuit, reaches out a tiny hand. Her mother is nowhere to be found…

An abandoned baby is the last thing Detective Madison Harper expects to find as she drives to her first day back at work since the case that ripped her life apart. But as she cradles the shivering child close, all her instincts tell her there’s something more sinister at play. Then she finds a lone sneaker down a muddy trail nearby, the laces spattered with blood…

In a town as small as Lost Creek, Colorado, the baby and the shoe are quickly identified as belonging to Kacie Larson, a waitress at the local diner who quietly stashed away her tips to make a better life for her daughter. A mother herself, Madison can’t believe that Kacie would just abandon her child, but she also can’t convince her new team. Not for the first time, Madison feels she must go it alone to get the job done.

But when a body is pulled from a nearby lake, and it’s not Kacie, the case takes an agonizing turn. Is this missing mother really who she says she is? Is there a chance she’s still alive? Madison barely has time to think before the sweet little girl she rescued is snatched on a crowded street. Gone, in the blink of an eye.

To break this case and earn her place back on the force, Madison must learn to trust her team, and herself again—and fast. If she doesn’t find this twisted individual in time, a little girl could die…

A pulse-pounding, absolutely gripping and totally addictive page-turner that will have you racing through the pages and reeling at the twists. Perfect for fans of Melinda Leigh, Lisa Regan and Kendra Elliot, you’ll be sleeping with the lights on!

Add to Goodreads

My Review

From the first book in the Detective Madison Harper series, I was hooked on both the original backstory of the main characters and the obstacles they faced in getting some degree of normality back into their lives. Last we met, Madison had found out who was behind her wrongful incarceration which saw her spend six years in prison, six years away from the job she loved and six long years away from her beloved son, Owen. In Little Girl Taken, Madison is about to start her first day back at Lost Creek Police Department as a detective. She’s nervous and excited, knowing it won’t be easy for her to trust her fellow officers immediately and expecting some backlash from the community. Luckily for her (if I can call it lucky) she doesn’t have time to let those thoughts fester as she finds a car in a ditch, inside which a baby girl lies, alone and crying.

So begins the case to find out who the child is and where the driver of the vehicle is, assuming said driver is the child’s mother. Reports of a missing waitress lead her to believe the missing woman is a waitress at a local diner.

Meanwhile, Nate, the other main character, returns from visiting his good friend, Rex, not really knowing why he has gone back to Lost Creek now that Madison has her life sorted, her son is back with her and she has her job to keep her busy. Nate, however, knows he cannot settle until Father Connor has been caught, and disturbing messages from the priest who set him up for the murder of his fiancée, torment him regularly. Progress has been made in that he’s stopped his drug use since visiting Rex, but the temptation is still there to drag him down into that dark spiral of depression.

Madison has her hands full: she and Owen are struggling to communicate well, he’s not the young boy she was forced to leave behind anymore; also, at the police department, she has been partnered with the very officer who put her away. Now that he is struggling himself, she finds herself bearing the brunt of their work and the two of them still have both different approaches to the job and very different views on getting the job done. She’s also worried about Nate. She wants to help him, but is so busy, and she’s concerned he might leave Lost Creek and hunt for Father Connor by himself.

Little Girl Taken sees Madison take on her first major case with gusto and empathy, digging deep in the the missing mother’s life to reveal a tragic and heartbreaking tale of untreated trauma. The path Madison takes to learn these facts is deliciously convoluted as the author drops clues like confetti. The way the story twists and turns makes it an absolute page-turner. Added to Madison’s complicated life, poor Nate isn’t having a great time either when yet more tragedy befalls him, putting him back on the police’s radar for another murder. He knows Father Connor is behind matters, and can delay no longer in hunting him down. It’s dramatic, tense and excrutiatingly difficult to watch Nate break down. He will need to rely on Madison to get him through this latest episode.

This is a very clever crime thriller that had me second guessing everyone in Lost Creek at some point. Brody, the K9-trained dog is a star, as always, his training as a cadaver dog being used widely throughout the investigation. A new character – Vince Rader – is established as one to watch. He’s runs a crime podcast and is keen to interview Madison and Nate, but he also employed the missing woman. On top of that, he is grieving the loss of his wife and grandson and trying to ignore the aspersions cast his way that he was responsible in some way. He manages to appear to be both a bad guy and a good guy at times before his true self is laid bare, and he really is as genuine as he makes out. Hopefully, he’ll be part of Nate’s decision as to whether his future is in Lost Creek or not. I’m pretty convinced Madison and Owen want him to stick around.

I’ll be keeping an eye for the next instalment; Wendy Dranfield has becomes one of of must-read authors. Thanks go to Netgalley, Wendy and the publishers for my copy of this book which I’ve reviewed voluntarily and with the greatest of pleasure. My only query is regarding the book cover which didn’t seem to relate to the story at all, although it does match the style of others in the series and also the market for crime thrillers. Does it matter that it doesn’t go with the story, IMHO? Probably not, but if we’re led to believe that covers sell books, then this wouldn’t have done so for me. Luckily, the author’s name alone is enough for me to choose this one.

As always,

blog blitz · crime · police procedural · thriller

Mini Blog Blitz ‘n’ Guest Post – Coldharbour

Coldharbour

The Met Police’s Major Investigation Team East has its hands full: a rash of tit for tat gang related stabbings, a strangled housewife, the decomposed remains of a woman found in a ditch and more to come. Adding to their woes is their boss, Chief Inspector Matthew Merry, being distracted by his problems at home.

For Matthew’s wife, Kathy, her only concern is dealing with the aftermath of being drugged and raped by a co-worker. Will the trial of the man responsible be enough to give her the justice she demands. Or, as her therapist states, is it revenge she really desires. She doesn’t know. As her emotions see-saw from elation to depression, her only certainty is that her husband seems more concerned about his work than her.

And Matthew is only too aware of his failings both at home and work. But the police machine grinds on, seeking information and sifting evidence — justice is not their concern.

Purchase Links

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Coldharbour-John-Mead-ebook/dp/B08NF7VK8N

US – https://www.amazon.com/Coldharbour-John-Mead-ebook/dp/B08NF7VK8N

Author bio

John Mead

John was born in the mid-fifties in Dagenham, London, on part of the largest council estate ever built, and was the first pupil from his local secondary modern school to attend university. He has now taken early retirement to write, having spent the first part of his life working in education and the public sector. He was the director of a college, a senior school inspector for a local authority, and was head of a unit for young people with physical and mental health needs. When he is not travelling, going to the theatre or the pub, he writes.

John is currently working on a seies of novels set in modern day London. These police procedurals examine the darker side of modern life in the East End of the city

Amazon author profile: https://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B07B8SQ2ZH

Goodreads profile: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17891273.John_Mead

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JohnMeadAuthor

Guest Post

Why do I write?

I can honestly say it isn’t for the money, nor the accolades, not even the celebrity lifestyle. If it were I’d be greatly unhappy because I have achieved none of the above. So, is it about the creative process? Weeelll… perhaps, if you consider the creative process to be about the technicalities of writing. In the same way you would expect a painter to be interested in brushes, paint and canvases, so I have an interest in things like grammar and punctuation. No, I couldn’t care less where you stick a comma but I do care about where I place it, usually after considerable thought.

The simple fact is I write because I enjoy it, I always have. As I learned to read as a child, so I learned to write, the two things seemed linked and I naturally fell into the habit of writing out the stories that formed in my head. Things were easy, at first, but as I became older I began to realise that I had a problem. Whatever I wrote, whether it was an essay or a short story, those who read it seemed to have problems understanding it. Perhaps it was a lack of understanding about the process, the technical side of writing – grammar, punctuation and spelling – or could it be dyslexia? I don’t honestly know because dyslexia did not exist when I was young, you were just “thick”.

I could memorise long lists of spellings and, therefore, do well in tests. I would quickly pick up on how each teacher used grammar and punctuation, and given that no two teachers seemed to follow the same rules, I could happily get an “A” without any real understanding about how those rules worked. In fact I spent the first half of my life being thought of as a “good writer” by keeping things simple and applying a few cheats that I had learned to cover up any deficiency. Which was fine for professional reports, and as I had a busy career I didn’t have time to write stories, so that aspect went by the wayside.

Of course there was the odd mishap, such as the embarrassing occasion when I had put something out using the word “roll” instead of “role”. People, jokingly pointed out the typo, I laughed and went along with it, and eventually got “roll” changed to “role”. The problem was I couldn’t, at the time, actually see the difference. I knew the different meanings and how to use them, I just couldn’t see the actual difference between R O L L and R O L E. Try telling someone who is colour blind that the light is red, not green. And, just don’t start me on words like affect and effect. Have you seen the definitions in some dictionaries?

Deciding that avoidance was not an answer to the problem is what got me back to writing stories again. I wanted to be able to write what I saw in my mind, to paint a written picture that others could also see and, hopefully, enjoy. As spellcheckers developed that helped, though auto-correct is a pain, but learning to proofread has made the most difference. Reading and re-reading is a must. Reading a book in reverse, from the end to the start, or reading chapters in a random order, tends to take the focus off of characters and plot lines and puts it onto meanings and the language used. And, of course, an absolute must for all authors is to have a good copy editor — they are your second pair of eyes and best friend rolled into one.

John Mead

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blog tour · book review · crime · police procedural · series

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – Preacher Boy

First in the Dr Harrison Lane series

Preacher Boy

IT’S TIME FOR A NEW CRIME MYSTERY HERO

Dr Harrison Lane is everything you wouldn’t expect from a man with a psychology doctorate. For victims, he’s everything they need.

They look, but they don’t see…

As Head of the Metropolitan Police’s Ritualistic Behavioural Crimes Unit, Dr Harrison Lane knows his Voodoo from his Aum Shinrikyo and a Satanist from a Shaman.

Harrison had an unusual childhood, raised by a bohemian mother and one of the native American Shadow Wolves – the elite tracking squad that works with US Drug enforcers. After his mother’s murder, he dedicated his life to tracking down those who hide behind spiritualism and religion to do evil.

Following the discovery of a missing boy’s body in what looks like a Satanic killing, Harrison is called in to help detectives. When a second boy is snatched, it becomes a race against time to save him, and sees Harrison come face-to-face with some dark secrets from his own childhood.

Preacher Boy is the first book in a gripping new crime mystery series from Amazon Top 20 bestselling author, Gwyn GB. Perfect for fans of LJ Ross, JD Kirk, J.R. Ellis, J M Dalgliesh, Rachel Abbott, Joy Ellis and David Blake.

Purchase Links

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Preacher-Boy-Harrison-mystery-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B08YYS3Q7L

US – https://www.amazon.com/Preacher-Boy-Harrison-mystery-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B08YYS3Q7L

Author Bio

Gwyn is an Amazon Top 20 bestselling author. She’s a former UK national TV newscaster and presenter, and journalist for national newspapers and magazines. Gwyn became a journalist because all she wanted to do was write and has finally realised her dream of being a full-time fiction author. Born in the UK, Gwyn now lives in the Channel Islands with her family, including a rescue dog and 17-year-old goldfish.

Gwyn launched her debut novel, Islands as Gwyn Garfield-Bennett in 2016, the romantic suspense book rose quickly into the Amazon top 20. Her first crime mystery series, featuring DI Falle, launched with Lonely Hearts in 2017.

You can find out more about Gwyn at www.gwyngb.com

Or on social media:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GwynGBwriter

Twitter: https://twitter.com/GwynGB

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/gwyngb/

My Review

Dr Harrison Lane is about to become one of my new favourite crime-solving heroes. As an avid viewer of Criminal Minds and the Behavior Analysis Unit of the FBI, it was a no-brainer that I wanted to read this book. And while the BAU team includes many a fabulous character, there’s no-one quite like Dr Lane. He is an enigma to his colleagues with his unusual skills (as learnt whilst growing up among the Shadow Wolves, a group of Native American trackers who work to prevent smuggling along the Mexico-USA border in Arizona.) Not to mention, he has a mystery of his own to solve (that of his mother’s killer). Combined, he stands out as different. But if your loved one has been the victim of a murder, then he’s the one you’d want to hunt down the murderer.

The story features a number of great characters, many with their own personal issues that affect how they handle their job. The plot is clever and interesting as it evolves from a single murder to a serial killer case, requiring the police team to trust Lane’s judgement regardless of whether they understand or even agree with it.

I found the writing to be unusual, varying from most books I read these days in that it was more omniscient in style than viewpoint-driven, often in more than one character’s head in a scene. When even a nameless woman “with pulled back hair” got to have “thoughts” about the situation unravelling at the police station, it threw me out a little. But despite being that little bit different in storytelling style, the strength of the story and the cast of characters more than kept me engaged. I’ll be checking out the next book in the series for sure.

Preacher Boy is an intriguing mystery, not least for its leading man, but also as a result of the dynamics between the characters which drive the story forward at a good pace, while still thrilling the reader with its originality.

Highly recommended.

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Blog Tour Participants

As always,

Amazon Reviewer Name
Reviews on Amazon UK as MeandtheMutts
blog tour · book review · crime · police procedural · series

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – A Knot of Sparrows

A Knot Of Sparrows

Welsh detective Winter Meadows takes on a new murder case

There were a lot of things you could call Stacey Evans. And many of them would be true. And unprintable. But did she deserve to be murdered?

DI Winter Meadows has no doubt of the answer when he takes on the case. The crime was violent. The victim helpless. But the motives are many, and the only clue is a strange word left on Stacey’s body.

DI Meadows struggles to pierce the secrecy surrounding the teenager’s busy love life. Was the killer one of her pursuers acting out of jealousy? Maybe someone’s wife seeking revenge?

But as each suspect is excluded from the enquiry, and other markings turn up, Meadows is convinced that something more sinister is afoot.

When another body is found, a veil of silence descends like a fog upon Gaer Fawr. What more will it take for the village to give up its secrets?

A KNOT OF SPARROWS is the fourth standalone title in a series of murder mysteries by best-selling author Cheryl Rees-Price. It will appeal to fans of David Pearson, L J Ross, John Dean, Joy Ellis, and Pippa McCathie.

The full list of books is as follows:

1. THE SILENT QUARRY

2. FROZEN MINDS

3. SUFFER THE CHILDREN

4. A KNOT OF SPARROWS

Cheryl Rees-Price is also the author of the standalone thriller BLUE HOLLOW.

All of these books are FREE with Kindle Unlimited and available in paperback from Amazon.

Purchase Links

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B08XQS6219/

US – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08XQS6219/

Author Bio

Cheryl Rees-Price was born in Cardiff and moved as a young child to a small ex-mining village on the edge of the Black Mountain range, South Wales, where she still lives with her husband, daughters and cats. After leaving school she worked as a legal clerk for several years before leaving to raise her two daughters.
Cheryl returned to education, studying philosophy, sociology, and accountancy whilst working as a part time book keeper. She now works as a finance director for a company that delivers project management and accounting services.
In her spare time Cheryl indulges in her passion for writing, the success of writing plays for local performances gave her the confidence to write her first novel. Her other hobbies include walking and gardening which free her mind to develop plots and create colourful characters.

Social Media Links

The Book Folks | Facebook

Cheryl Rees-Price | Facebook

https://twitter.com/CherylreesPrice

My Review

After finishing this I was kicking myself for coming late to the party with this author but, on the plus side, there are three more books for me still to discover!

Teenager Stacey Evans is found murdered, having recently split with her boyfriend amid rumours of her involvement with other men in the village. It comes to light that she bullied a girl at school who later went on to kill herself. For DI Meadows, the case suggests there are many with a motive to kill her. Was it really a random killing as many seem to say or is something more sinister afoot. The killer’s calling card in the form of REV17 written on her body infers it’s not as straightforward as some might think. And when more incidents occur with similar messages left behind, the connection points to biblical references.

Whenever Meadows and his team sense a breakthrough, the suspects seem to have firm alibis as the community bandies around to vouch for each other. Things do not add up, but Meadows is not one for giving up easily. I enjoyed how his team worked together, he and Edris have a great rapport (on a side note, I’d go to their Halloween party 😉 for sure) and a dogged determination to solve the case(s)

The villagers, on the other hand, possess a loyalty that unites them in grief, no matter how misplaced said loyalty is, and the lengths to which they would go to keep a secret says a lot for their sense of community and justice … or should I say revenge?

An original ending too, that goes to show that not every story ends as you might expect it to.

For more news and reviews,

As always,

Amazon Reviewer Name
Reviewed on Amazon UK as Meandthemutts
blog tour · book review · crime · police procedural · series · social media

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – The Hashtag Killer

The Hashtag Killer

Catch a killer or save a child. What would you do?

DI Jen Flowers thought she’d seen it all after fifteen years on the force, but when a vigilante serial killer hits the city and uses social media to gather supporters, she must fight the public and her doubts to catch a murderer and save her daughter.

Suffering from blackouts and abandoned as a child by her father, Ruby Vasquez has been chasing that one scoop to make her an internet star. Living with an alcoholic mother who hates her, Ruby discovers a secret about the vigilante’s first victim, which puts her in the killer and DI Flowers’ sights.

Jen and Ruby have to overcome the secrets in their past while battling each other to discover the Hashtag Killer’s identity. Jen will have to choose between keeping her daughter safe or finding a killer, while Ruby will need to decide if becoming famous is more important than doing the right thing.

Purchase Link

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B08SPBY6QZ

US – https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08SPBY6QZ

Author Bio

Andrew French is a man of no wealth and little taste.

He lives amongst faded seaside glamour on the North East coast of England.

He likes gin and cats but not together, new music and old movies, curry and ice cream.

Slow bike rides and long walks to the pub are his usual exercise, as well as flicking through the pages of good books and the memoirs of bad people.

Social Media Links – Website, Twitter, Instagram, FB page

My Review

An original and timely police procedural with an abundance of twists along the way. The Hashtag Killer, as you might expect, uses the power of social media to bring the killings to the public’s attention, and wannabe influencer Ruby Vasquez cannot resist keeping the story alive with her blog posts.

From the moment Ruby realised she was first on the scene, she was in “detective” mode on the dark web, finding information that a regular internet user would not see about the victim. Her reporting of that info played a massive role in managing the public’s opinion of the victim, and rather than call out for the killer’s arrest, there was instead a sense of justice having been done in ridding society of a rapist. Suddenly, the killer became a vigilante whose actions were appreciated – definitely not the ideal scenario for the police’s investigation.

The story was told from various points of view – DI Jen Flowers, blogger-journo Ruby and the killer him/herself (no spoilers here!) Such an approach allowed the readers great insight into the lives of Jen and Ruby, and how the story impacted their lives. For me, the killer’s chapters were overwritten and full of excessive details that had me skimming ahead. It soon became clear that the person who “claimed” to be the killer couldn’t possibly be, and that aspect made the killer’s chapters a struggle for me to get through.

Things picked up considerably when looking at the investigation from DI Flower’s perspective, and with Ruby’s efforts to remain relevant in the cut-and-thrust world of social media. The friction between the police and the news reporting made for great tension and kept the story moving at a good pace, adding another layer of drama and anxiety to the police’s need to stay ahead of the game if they were to ever catch the killer.

An interesting and original take on a crime investigation, highlighting the difficult job the police have when public opinion is swayed by the force that is social media.

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blog tour · crime · excerpt · Female sleuths · kidnapping

Blog Tour – A Chance Encounter (including an excerpt)

A Chance Encounter

Julianna Baptiste, a feisty bodyguard, finds her new job tedious, that is until her boss, the evasive Jackson Haynes, spikes her curiosity. Who is behind the vicious threats to his beautiful wife and why is he interested in two estranged siblings?

Mark works for Haynes’s vast company. He’s hiding from ruthless money launderers.

His teenage sister Ellen has an online friend whom she has never met. Ellen guards a terrible secret.

For eight years their duplicitous father has languished in prison, claiming he is innocent of murder. The evidence against him is overwhelming, so why does Mark persist with an appeal?

Keen to prove her potential as an investigator, Julianna forces Mark to confront his mistakes. The consequences will put all their lives in danger.

Pre-order Link

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B08X1PN4VH #kidnapping

US – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08X1PN4VH

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/57237006-a-chance-encounter

Trailer – https://youtu.be/g2U11opEcqs

Author Bio

Rae Shaw is a pen name for the author Rachel Walkley.

Rachel is based in the North West of England. She read her first grown-up detective novel at the age of eleven, which proved to be a catalyst for filling many shelves with crime books, which still occupy her home and grow in number whenever she visits a book shop.

As well as crime, Rachel likes to unplug from the real world and writes mysteries that have a touch of magic woven into family secrets.

Social Media Links

https://raeshawauthor.com/

https://twitter.com/RaeShawauthor

Rae Shaw Facebook page

Rachel Walkley

Extract

Reluctant bodyguard, Julianna, is keeping a watch on her charge, Hettie, at an important fundraiser for a charity. Also there is Mark, a man she is covertly spying on for reasons she’s not entirely sure about. Mark has no clue that he’s also being watched, and his curiosity draws him to chat to Julianna.

‘Hi, Mark.’ Her attempt at nonchalance failed. She fidgeted with her earpiece.

‘Julianna. Haven’t seen you for a couple of weeks. What have you been up to?’

‘Oh, this and that. Keep doing weekend work for extra money. Tonight being an example.’

She was avoiding eye contact now, so overtly, he nearly laughed out loud. For an expert in blending into her environment, she wasn’t trying very hard. He shouldn’t mock. Julianna had a challenging job marking the Haynes family wherever they went. Hettie in particular wasn’t keen on the extra layers of protection. She had griped to Mark when he queried the cost of CCTV cameras in the gallery. Not for the art, she had glowered, for me. Jackson prized his wife beyond any artwork.

‘Where is she?’ he asked.

‘Over there. Chris is back by the door.’

She gestured and he spotted her. Hettie Haynes had bounced back from pregnancy brilliantly. Her dress, a turquoise number with silver slithers, was moulded around her hourglass hips and bountiful breasts. She shook hands, moved, spoke and shook hands again. The perfect hostess.

‘She doesn’t look as tired as last time I saw her,’ he said absent-mindedly.

‘She weaned the kid on to solids and since then the kid’s been sleeping like a baby should. Sleeping.’

Mark raised an eyebrow at Julianna’s knowledge of Hettie’s breast-feeding status.

‘Drove her last week and she made a point of saying how much better things were now that she has several successive hours sleep a night.’ She turned her face fractionally to Mark’s. ‘I don’t ask, she just spews this stuff out.’

‘You’re not keen on babies then.’ Mark couldn’t imagine Julianna spewing anything. Babies were different.

It wasn’t intended as a question, but Julianna pursed her lips, then smirked. ‘Not other people’s; I can’t help it.’

He tapped his nose a few times. ‘I’ll not tell her. Diplomacy suits you.’

‘Comes with the job. One mustn’t get too attached to the client.’

‘He wasn’t in the car then?’

She laughed. ‘Oh no. Definitely a different atmosphere when he’s in the car.’

Jackson would monopolise any conversation and make it his own. It explained her snark.

‘She’s on the move. I’ll have to change location. Wouldn’t do to lose her; that would be a serious black mark.’ Julianna toyed with the piece of wire around her neck.

‘String you up by the balls?’ Mark chortled, then abruptly cringed.

A smiley-faced Julianna rescued him. ‘Well, more likely my nipples, don’t you think?’ she said slyly and with a pronounced wink. She walked, purposely and carefully, to the other side of the room.

Mark raked his fingers through his hair. What a tease she had become since their first meeting. Was it a genuine attempt at provoking him into action? He needed more evidence. He rolled back the conversation to what she had said about Hettie. Each time he met somebody familiar with Jackson and Hettie Haynes he wondered how well they knew the couple. Julianna undoubtedly had insider information and was bound to secrecy about it.

A familiar voice spoke by his ear. ‘Mark, enjoying the evening?’

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blog tour · book review · crime · police procedural · series

Book Review – Last Seen

I can see her, shouting with laughter as she swings as high as she can, her beautiful blonde curls flying out behind her. I can feel her tiny hot hand in mine, and my heart aches. My little girl. If only I’d listened to my gut. Then maybe she’d be safe here with me…

When five-year-old Molly Reynolds is snatched from the park in the small village of Otterfield, Detective Bernadette ‘Bernie’ Noel throws herself into the search, sick with worry for the quiet, sensitive little girl and her distraught mother.

Wasting no time, Bernie finds a small green cardigan under a bush in the park. It still has the smiley face sticker Molly won that week at school. It’s the first in a chain of clues – and Bernie can’t shake the feeling that it was left deliberately, as a message.

But Bernie encounters a wall of silence. Otterfield is a close-knit community, yet no one in the village seems to care that Molly is missing at all. Why?

And then Bernie makes a chilling discovery: twenty-five years ago, another little girl went missing from the area. Her name was Sophie, and all they ever found of her was her teddy bear, hidden under a bush. Now Bernie knows she’s in a race against time to save Molly’s life.

Bernie’s team work round the clock to find a connection between the two girls, and just when they think they’re making progress a devastating tragedy strikes at the heart of the case. Molly’s family have been hiding a secret, and now their little girl is in greater danger than ever.

Can Bernie outwit the most warped criminal she has ever faced and bring Molly home safe, or will another innocent life be lost?

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My Review

I’m always delighted to get in on the first book in a new police procedural series. Last Seen has set the bar very high and I’ll be looking out for Joy Kluver’s next book for sure.

Detective Bernadette (Bernie) Noel is a former Met Police officer and, at first, it’s not clear why she has transferred out of London to a Wiltshire town where the pace of life is decidedly slower. Nonetheless, she soon faces a major investigation when a five-year-old girl, Molly, goes missing from a local park.

Keen to get search parties organised, she is quick to start door-to-door enquiries with locals in the area, only to find them unwilling to get involved in the search. Mystified as to why none of them are interested in a child’s life, she pushes on. When they find a child’s fleece and a pushchair in the bushes with no prints or DNA other than the child’s, it becomes obvious that this was no random abduction.

Whilst this is going on, we learn a little more about Bernie’s past. Having just returned from a family funeral, she seems concerned that her whereabouts as the lead investigator will have revealed her identity. But to whom? On top of that, she fears a hand-delivered note may mean that they have already found her? But who is looking for her and why?

Struggling to move the case forward, Bernie soon finds her position leading the case is at risk. This only fuels her determination to find Molly, with or without the villagers’ help. Aided by a strong team who have the same goals, Bernie is able to double-down and slowly but surely the pieces begin to fit together. But can she find Molly before she is made to step aside?

The investigation soon raises questions about Molly’s family which seems to link her disappearance with another case many years before. As the secrets are revealed, the reason behind the villagers’ reluctance to help becomes known – and it’s a cunning and clever twist, though not one that sits comfortably with Bernie and her team. How can people leave a child’s life in danger as some sort of payback for past events? It is most curious and fascinating.

This story has a compelling mystery at its core but it is the strong cast of characters who carry it through to its conclusion along with family drama, intriguing backstory, and great teamwork and dedication from Bernie’s colleagues.

An excellent start to a new series. I’ll be back for more.

My thanks go to the author, Bookouture and Netgalley for my advanced copy which I have reviewed voluntarily and with pleasure.

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book review · crime · series · thriller

Book Review – Cry for Help

Shivering in the early morning chill, the caretaker flips the switch on the Ferris wheel and stumbles back in shock. The teenage girl’s body is slumped in a halo of pretty colored lights, long red hair spilling over her tear-stained cheeks, her eyes fixed forever on her dangling feet.

When teenager Nikki Jackson’s body is found at an amusement park, just hours after Fourth of July fireworks lit up the night sky, the Lost Creek police rule her death as suicide––a devastating final act from a girl who had lost all hope. But the absence of the knife used to make the wounds on her delicate wrists makes Detective Madison Harper think otherwise. And the partial fingerprint found on the girl’s face proves her right. Someone else was with Nikki in her final moments…

Back home in Colorado for the first time in seven years to investigate the murder of a woman with ties to the son she lost to the care system, the pressure is on for Madison to work both cases at once. Fearing the team has missed a vital clue, Madison searches the crime scene alone and finds the last thing she ever expected: a note proving the victims knew each other, and that the cases are linked. Is this a coincidence, proof a dangerous murderer is on the loose, or a trap set to lead Madison off the trail?

It’s only when Madison finally finds the knife used to harm Nikki, tucked in an almost impossible to find hiding place, that she knows she is closing in on a twisted killer. But the last person she expects to see dragged into the department in handcuffs is her own missing son…

An absolutely unputdownable crime thriller that will have you sleeping with the lights on. Addictive reading for anyone who loves Lisa Regan, Robert Dugoni and Melinda Leigh.

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My Review

Cry for Help picks up the story where Shadow Falls ended, with Madison and Nate heading back to Lost Creek after hearing the news that Madison’s ex-girlfriend has been killed.

Having already agreed to help Madison find her son, Owen, Nate understands the new urgency and is 100% willing to get justice for Madison’s wrongful conviction and to find the corrupt cops who framed her. His hatred for the police has only intensified since meeting Madison, and since he has no new information on Father O’Connor who set him up for his fiancée’s murder, he is more than happy to expose police corruption while he waits.

As the two of them, along with former K9 dog, Brody, make their way there, local police are dealing with the death of a teenage girl at the amusement park – first indications suggest suicide but a link between this case and the murder of Madison ex-girlfriend can’t be ignored. After all, two suspicious deaths in a small town like Lost Creek is more than a coincidence.

Once again, the author has created a story with characters you can’t help but care about. Putting aside Nate and Madison (whose history and relationship develop beautifully throughout), the story of the teenage girl – Nikki Jackson – is heartbreakingly sad and written with great compassion and empathy.

That said, the villains are appallingly vile too. As the truth about her ex’s murder becomes known, Madison is forced to face the cruel reality of her relationship with her own sister as well as with some of her former colleagues in the police force.

Clearing her name, finding her girlfriend’s killer and tracking down Owen all combine into one monumental challenge, and the author doesn’t give in to Madison’s demands easily. She really makes her and Nate work for the truth. All of which makes it compelling reading.

A certain scene with flies buzzing around a dead animal had me worried. Surely no one would hurt Brody? Was I more concerned about the dog than catching the killers? Probably 😉 Nonetheless, this made it even more of a page turner.

Another excellent story that ticks so many genre boxes – drama, crime, thriller and suspense – yet holds together as a cohesive whole. And, I’m even more delighted to hear that book three is not far off and Nate’s own story will be further explored and hopefully concluded.

Thanks to the author, Netgalley and Bookouture for my e-copy which I am delighted to review. Congrats!

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blog tour · conspiracies · crime · promo · thriller

Blog Tour & Book Promo – Miniskirts are Murder

Miniskirts are Murder

Porter Norton, his friends and his sarcastic spirit guide, The Gliss, are on the trail of a young actress who went missing in Soho, London, in the Swinging Sixties. Still recovering from their last adventure in the battlefields of WW1, the gang are confronted by a transatlantic conspiracy.

Purchase Links

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Miniskirts-are-Murder-investigation-Investigations-ebook/dp/B08THXTBGB

US – https://www.amazon.com/Miniskirts-are-Murder-investigation-Investigations-ebook/dp/B08THXTBGB

Author Bio – Des, 52, is a former Times journalist/BBC TV producer. Miniskirts are Murder is the second in the Porter and The Gliss Investigations series, following Dead & Talking in 2019.
Des likes to live out as much of the stories as possible and spent 3 months in the US researching this novel. He runs a film school in London and has just been commissioned to write a limited season TV series intended for Netflix. He is also a keen musician and through work has jammed with people like Paul McCartney, Brian Wilson and Jeff Lynne. He is married with 1 daughter.

Social Media Links –

www.desburkinshaw.com

twitter.com/DesBurkinshaw,

facebook as Des Burkinshaw

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