Anything You Do Say by Gillian McAllister

anything you do sayFair warning *Possible Spoilers*

This is the kind of story which evokes a lot of emotions, controversy and discussion. So it probably isn’t any surprise that I want to have a really good chin-wag about it.

There are so many elements of this story that are hot topics at the moment. The systemic abuse of women, cross-race effect, the morality of her actions, why self-defence is negated in cases of severe force and the whole decision whether or not to act or help.

The behaviour Joanna encounters in the bar is fairly atypical unfortunately. The fact it happens so frequently probably explains her lack of response, which is in no way meant to sound like victim-blaming. Women have become so used to the systemic abuse that they tend to brush it off or ignore it, because making a big deal or speaking up can lead to escalations.

Joanna is on edge when she leaves the bar and almost expects Sadiq to follow her home, and of course this assumption of bad intentions is part of the problem. Then there is the issue of cross-race effect, ergo being able to recognise faces of ones own race easier and finding it more difficult to differentiate the faces of different races. This phenomenon causes a lot of misidentification when it comes to crimes.

Then there is the issue of self-defence, and I can guarantee the majority of people will think they have the right to defend themselves with any force necessary, however the truth is the legal situation isn’t as simple as it may seem. Reasonable force is the important factor and whether or not the victim believes they are in imminent danger, but it must be proportionate to the supposed danger. If the response causes injury or death it can be ruled as excessive force, ergo the victim then becomes the perpetrator.

The story follows Joanna in two scenarios simultaneously, the Joanna who reports the incident and the Joanna who tries to cover it up. Put yourself in her shoes for a minute, ask yourself what you would do in the same set of circumstances. Would you leave, watch him die, call for help or pretend it never happened at all?

This book is an excellent read because it challenges our perception of this event and possible scenarios we might encounter. I think the foremost question on my mind, whilst reading this story, was what I would do in the same situation. The answer to that particular question will be different for every single one of us and based on our own frame of references.

McAllister likes to present readers with complex characters and the kind of situations that are neither black or white. The grey areas become murky and distorted, which is what makes her stories so compelling.

Buy Anything You Do Say at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

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Visit gillianmcallister.com

Read Everything but the Truth by Gillian McAllister

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The Binding Song by Elodie Harper

the binding songJanet has her work cut out for her at HMP Halvergate. A series of suicides has rocked the prison and it doesn’t seem as if they are going to stop any time soon.

Not only does she have to deal with the insidious nature of her clients crimes and their questionable characters, she also has to cope with staff members with ulterior motives. Inmates seem convinced that a ghost, a spirit or perhaps even a demon is killing fellow inmates.

The real question is whether the evil spirit is real or is it just mass hysteria. Mass hysteria spreading through the prison from inmate to inmate and also to the staff. The power of suggestion is strong, especially in a somewhat solitary environment.

At the same time Janet is trying to deal with the disintegration of her relationship. It seems impossible to fit two ambitious careers under one roof.

I have to be honest Arun was a bit of a toad and Janet should have used some of that tough guy attitude on him. Take no mercy, instead of being a simpering weakling afraid of being alone. There are plenty more fish in the sea.

What Harper does quite well is to portray the prisoners as vulnerable men, and in the same breath she reminds the reader that they are criminals and some of them are sexual deviants. The type of men who wouldn’t think twice about committing an act of brutality upon an innocent person, and yet still want the support, comfort and safety they secretly crave.

Personally I do think Janet should have been more diligent about her own safety, which was put at risk quite a few times. A prison isn’t a playground for the pseudo intellectual to practice their theoretical knowledge in.

The story has a gothic feel to it, which is mixed with a plain old crime scenario. The creepier element could have been drawn out more and given more depth. Harper brings the crime and the ghostly together to create a tense and often worrying read.

Buy The Binding Song at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Blog-Tour: Every Last Lie by Mary Kubica

I am delighted to be taking part in the Blog-Tour for Every Last Lie by Mary Kubica. I am partial to a wee bit of Kubica, because she writes the kind of story that messes with your head. There is no definitive line between good or bad guy. Kubica explores the grey areas no person wants to acknowledge. The wasteland between black and white, and the darkest depths of human nature. In Every Last Lie she turns a spotlight on despair, grief and the emotional quagmire of an unexpected tragedy.

About Mary Kubica

Mary Kubica holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in History and American Literature from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. She lives near Chicago with her husband and two children.

Mary Kubica’s first book, The Good Girl, was one of the first psychological thrillers to the market. It has been optioned for TV by Anonymous Content, the production company behind the TV series True Detective and films Winter’s Bone, Babel and Being John Malkovich.

Follow @MaryKubica @HQStories @HarperCollinsUk

Visit Mary online at www.marykubica.com, on Facebook at MaryKubica

Buy Every Last Lie

About the book

She always trusted her husband…Until he died.

Clara Solberg’s world shatters when her husband and four-year-old daughter are in a car crash, killing Nick while Maisie is remarkably unharmed.

But when Maisie starts having nightmares, Clara becomes obsessed that Nick’s death was far more than just an accident.

Who wanted Nick dead? And, more importantly, why? Clara will stop at nothing to find out the truth – even if it makes her question whether her entire marriage has been a lie…

Review

Kubica likes to twist the truth and stretch the lies to create the kind of read that makes you doubt and wonder whether everything is as it seems. Her characters are always balancing precariously on the boundary between good and evil. Grey areas are her forte instead of the usual black or white ones.

Clara is in the stressful and tiring months of taking care of a new baby. She has a picture perfect family, even if she is a wee bit too tired to notice at the moment. So exhausted that she doesn’t notice her husband and young daughter haven’t returned home. She is completely overwhelmed by the news of their accident and unable to process that she will never see Nick again.

Her grief is overridden by the suspicion that Nick was murdered and she is determined to prove it. The niggling doubt in her mind or rather her refusal to accept the official truth makes her seem unreliable and possibly unstable. All the doubts and disbelief are compounded by the nightmares Maisie starts having, and the things she has to say about the night of the accident.

What I liked the most about this particular Kubica story was the obsession. Clara is completely consumed by the thought that her husband was killed, as opposed to the accident just being a careless quirk of fate. She doesn’t care about the facts, the possible scenarios or plain old common sense.

It is an incredible mixture of emotional turmoil. Kubica has combined the various stages of grief with the constructed frame of a psychological thriller, and the result is an unexpected pleasure. Clara is like us, faced with the normal banality and difficulties of life. A hungry baby and a distressed young daughter, an empty bank account and the responsibility of taking care of her elderly relatives.

It could happen to any of us, which is why this read will probably resonate with a lot of readers. It combines the fears we have and perhaps even the realities we have had to endure. When a tragedy occurs it sends most people into a tailspin, some never completely recover from them. It only takes one moment of distraction or recklessness to change many lives, and I suspect that thought is the one which will remain with most readers after reading Every Last Lie.

Buy Every Last Lie at AmazonUK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Read Pretty Baby, Don’t You Cry and The Good Girl by Mary Kubica.

Girl Zero by A. A. Dhand

girl zeroGirl Zero is an echo of the recent Rotherham child sex ring scandal with the added complication of a family swept up in the controversy of opposing religions. It is the second novel featuring Harry Virdee, who finds himself torn in multiple directions on both a personal and professional level.

His family, devout Sikhs, are unwilling to acknowledge or accept his wife, a devout Muslim. His wife finds herself in the same position, which means the two of them and their young son have no immediate family to support them or be part of their lives.

The message society should be receiving loud and clear is the number of vulnerable children who are falling prey to gangs of pedophiles and ephebophiles without anyone noticing or as we saw in Rotherham, they would rather deny than accept the reality that this type of crime is on the rise. There are scores of children falling through the cracks in the system, and becoming easy targets for child trafficking rings. The truth is so uncomfortable that the majority would rather look the other way than be confronted with the facts.

Harry finds himself balancing precariously on the boundaries of crime and the rule of law when his latest case turns out to be the corpse of someone who is really close to him. He has to make sure his brother doesn’t break the rules he imposed on him, and juggle the hatred he receives from his family.

It’s really great to read a story with a set of characters that doesn’t fit into the usual and expected format. It makes for a more diverse and different set of problems or scenarios, which in turn allows readers to experience a little less white toasted bread with a bit of butter on it.

It’s a fast-paced thriller with a lot of action, well let’s say brutal beatdowns and characters with a serious lack of control instead.

Buy Girl Zero at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Follow @aadhand

The Good Daughter by Karin Slaughter

the good daughterReading this book was somewhere between watching an intense tennis game with your head whipping back and forth, and being repeatedly slapped round the head with a crowbar. It starts with violence and ends the same way.

Rusty defends the indefensible. He represents the scum of the earth, the killers, the rapists and in general any kind of criminal.

Obviously even criminals have a right to a defence, it is a part of democracy and an important part of western society. They have rights just like every other person, however a lot of people disagree with that, especially when some criminals commit the most heinous of crimes. Unfortunately you can’t kill every murderer or lock away rapists and throw away the key.

Charlotte, Samantha and Gamma become the victims of an act of vengeance when one of his clients decides to make Rusty pay. The evening ends with blood, gore and death. The girls witness the death of their mother and subsequently have to fight for survival, and one of them ends up in a shallow grave.

The story is trauma driven, and takes a close look at the legal system and the issue of morality. Someone has to defend the criminals, regardless of what the majority thinks it is part and parcel of the way democracy works. The question is whether those who defend them should have to risk life and limb to do so. Should they be vilified for simply following the rule of law.

The intensity keeps you on your toes, and the brutality may make you wince, but most of all the emotional turmoil makes this an invigorating read.

Buy The Good Daughter at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Follow @SlaughterKarin

Blog-Tour: The Other Twin by L. V. Hay

LVhay

Today is my stop on the Blog-Tour for The Other Twin by Lucy V. Hay. I’ve tried really hard to not let any major spoilers slip into my review of The Other Twin, mainly because it would give the whole damn plot away. However I would like to say kudos to the author for the Jenny storyline. It was done in a sensitive and yet very realistic way.

About the Author

Lucy V. Hay is a novelist, script editor and blogger who helps writers via her Bang2write consultancy. She is the associate producer of Brit Thrillers Deviation (2012) and Assassin (2015), both starring Danny Dyer. Lucy is also head reader for the London Screenwriters’ Festival and has written two non-fiction books, Writing & Selling Thriller Screenplays, plus its follow-up Drama Screenplays. She lives in Devon with her husband, three children, six cats and five African Land Snails.

Follow @LucyVHayAuthor  and @Orendabooks

Visit lucyvhayauthor.com

Buy The Other Twin

About the book

When India falls to her death from a bridge over a railway, her sister Poppy returns home to Brighton for the first time in years. Unconvinced by official explanations, Poppy begins her own investigation into India’s death. But the deeper she digs, the closer she comes to uncovering deeply buried secrets. Could Matthew Temple, the boyfriend she abandoned, be involved? And what of his powerful and wealthy parents, and his twin sister, Ana?

Enter the mysterious and ethereal Jenny: the girl Poppy discovers after hacking into India’s laptop. What exactly is she hiding, and what did India find out about her?

Taking the reader on a breathless ride through the winding lanes of Brighton, into its vibrant party scene and inside the homes of its well-heeled families, The Other Twin is a startling and up-to-the-minute thriller about the social-media world, where resentments and accusations are played out online, where identities are made and remade, and where there is no such thing as the truth…

Review

The Other Twin is a psychological thriller meets sensuous mystery combined with important social constructs of our era. Hay invites the reader along on a breadcrumb trail of clues and red herrings. Nothing is what it seems and everyone is hiding their own version of the truth.

Poppy returns home after the death of her sister India. Everyone says it was a suicide but Poppy knows that something isn’t quite right. She starts digging into the details of her sister’s death and starts uncovering quite a few things she wasn’t expecting.

Her return isn’t without complications though, she is plagued by feelings of guilt because she chose to walk away from her lover and her family. A lot of people haven’t forgiven Poppy for walking away away from her boyfriend Matthew.

I think the discovery of who Jenny really is and her connection to Poppy is one of the more subtle and yet poignant sub-plots in this story. Her identity wasn’t a surprise, however the storyline woven around the topic was. I really enjoyed the way Hay approached the difficulty and controversy of it without letting it overpower the crime element of the story.

The Other Twin is a whirlwind of secrets and emotional turmoil. Hay takes the reader on a ‘Behind the Keyhole’ tour of picture perfect families and a lifetime of lies. Of course even picture perfect families have dark secrets, abusive family members and closets full of skeletons.

It’s an invigorating read and one with plenty of surprises lurking in the shadows.

Buy The Other Twin at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Follow @LucyVHayAuthor  and @Orendabooks

The Lying Game by Ruth Ware

lyinggameIsa, Kate, Thea and Fatima share an unusual bond. A friendship forged through the common denominator of being shoved off to boarding school. During their time at school the four of them keep themselves amused with what they call the Lying Game. Nothing is too outrageous or cruel, which is probably why decades later their fellow school chums still believe a lot of lies or are still hurt by them.

When one of them calls for help the others come running straight away, like anyone in a really close friendship would…right? Hello, this is the real world. Dropping anything at the drop of a hat only happens in the movies or when there is a completely different reason. They share the kind of secret that destroys lives. That is the real reason.

The story wanders from past to present, giving the reader a glimpse of the girls as teens and in the present as women. They have families, careers and responsibilities. There is not much left of the foolish and carefree youngsters, who bathed in the warmth of the sun and skinny-dipped in the cool water near Kate’s house.

The truth is buried beneath the subconscious desires, the careless youth and lack of boundaries they all shared.

Ware always manages to capture the intimate emotional depths of each character without making them appear what they are, which is a figment of her imagination. It is what draws the reader in and keeps them wanting more. This is especially evident with Isa and Freya. The moments between the two of them are spot on, as are the descriptions of Isa and her bond with Freya, and her constant doubts.

Running simultaneously alongside the mystery is a breakdown and analysis of Isa’s romantic relationship and the way it has changed since Freya appeared on the scene. Although the sub-plot was only a catalyst or platform for certain other scenes in connection with the main plot I felt the last chapter, indeed the last sentences, spoke the loudest and most poignant words about relationships in general.

Buy The Lying Game at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Visit ruthware.com Follow @RuthWareWriter

Read The Woman in Cabin 10