Genuine Fraud by E.Lockhart

genuine fraudThere are definitely comparisons to be drawn to The Talented Mr Ripley, just with main characters of the opposite gender.

I think at one point I lost the plot and wasn’t sure who was pretending to be whom. It was a wee bit confusing at times, which is probably what made this a less enjoyable read. Too disjointed, and not enough clarification.

We begin at the end and return to the beginning to understand how Jules and Imogen get to know each other, and how the two of them end up the way they do. The longing for a connection and a friendship leaves one of them dead and the other hiding.

It’s a story of lies, delusions and about the social status of each girl. How the desire to belong and be friends becomes an obsession, which culminates in an uncontrollable internal anger.

Personally I think the story was flighty and underdeveloped. It lacked clarity, and the characters were weak versions of what they should have been. It could have been so much more, despite the similarities to the aforementioned book.

Buy Genuine Fraud at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Follow @elockhart  @BonnierZaffre

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The Death File by J.A. Kerley

the death fileI’m not sure whether the author intended to make a very specific character so annoying that he would be unforgettable, but it made the reading experience almost painful.

The other theory is, and I hope this isn’t true, that it was an attempt to make the character appear more hip and like the youth of today.

No one walks around saying ‘hashtag’ this and ‘hashtag’ that every ten seconds, especially not the young people of today. I felt it was detrimental to the story and the reading experience in general.

Unfortunately Carson’s brother doesn’t make an appearance in this book, which is a shame because their dynamic is an interesting element of this series.

The killer is apparent quite early on, so the thrill isn’t about finding the killer, it is more about chasing him while he is always ten steps ahead.

Whilst the characters of Carson, Harry and Tasha are memorable and have an interesting dynamic, the tone of the premise is brought down by the dialogue between the killer and everyone else.

Buy The Death File at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for nay other retailer.

Follow @jackkerley

Visit jackkerley.com

#BlogTour It’s Always the Husband by Michele Campbell

 

If you haven’t heard any whispers about this book or come across it somewhere then it is my pleasure to introduce you to It’s Always the Husband by Michele Campbell. I am also thrilled to host a brilliant Q&A with Michele Campbell today. Enjoy!

About the Author

Michele Campbell is a graduate of Harvard College and Stanford Law School and a former federal prosecutor in New York City who specialized in international narcotics and gang cases.

A while back, she said goodbye to her big-city legal career and moved with her husband and two children to an idyllic New England college town a lot like Belle River in IT’S ALWAYS THE HUSBAND. Since then, she has spent her time teaching criminal and constitutional law and writing novels.

She’s had many close female friends, a few frenemies, and only one husband, who – to the best of her knowledge – has never tried to kill her.

Follow @MCampbellBooks @HQStories Visit michelecampbellbooks.com

Buy It’s Always the Husband

About the book

Kate, Aubrey, and Jenny. They first met as college roommates and soon became inseparable, even though they are as different as three women can be. Twenty years later, one of them is standing at the edge of a bridge . . and someone else is urging her to jump. How did things come to this?

As the novel cuts back and forth between their college years and their adult years, you see the exact reasons why these women love and hate each other—but can feelings that strong lead to murder? Or will everyone assume, as is often the case, that it’s always the husband?

Q&A

The last book you read? (Inquisitive bookworms would like to know). I’ll answer with the book I’m currently reading, because it’s SO good that I can’t think of anything else at the moment.  The Nightingale, by Kristin Hannah, which is the story of two sisters in occupied France, and so vivid that I feel I’m living it. I am toying with the idea of writing historical fiction. It’s inspiring to see an author make the past come alive so completely.

Books or authors who have inspired you to put pen to paper? The best way to learn to write is to read, so why not read the greats? I have always drawn inspiration from the classic authors I studied in high school and college, authors like Edith Wharton, Scott Fitzgerald, George Eliot, Jane Austen, and Henry James. Not because they wrote great “literature”, but because their stories were compelling and accessible and always featured the best, most nuanced characters.  Their work thrills, inspires, elevates, educates — but also can’t be put down. In more recent times, you see this in the writing of authors like Margaret Atwood, J.K. Rowling, Stephen King, and many more.  I’m not by any means trying to compare my writing to theirs, but you asked who inspired me, so….

The last book you read which you felt left a mark (in your heart, soul, wallet…you name it)? Lol, wallet-wise, it’s definitely the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon.  I love a rollicking time-travel romance — who doesn’t?  I read all the books, then when I heard the tv series was coming I had to subscribe to the cable network that was showing it just to watch that one show.  A pretty penny, but worth it.

Are you more of a movie night or series-binger kind of person?  A series-binger, utterly.  When there’s a great film out there I will make an effort to get out and see it, but in recent times I feel that the most interesting, suspenseful, character-driven stories, and the ones that most speak to me as a female reader, are to be found on television.  Film has become very focused on super-heroes, hardware and special effects. In the past year I have devoured quite a few wonderful series from tv, including Big Little Lies, The Crown, Stranger Things, Outlander (a favorite book series of mine as well), Game of Thrones and others.

Which famous person (dead, alive, barely kicking) would you most like to meet ?Henry the VIII or any of his wives, so I can pick up plot tips for a sequel to It’s Always the Husband. 😉

You explore the depth of friendship and loyalty in your story. A topic, which I think will resonate with many readers.

In relation to that and the events in the book I think the most obvious question is whether Kate, Aubrey and Jenny really are friends or are they just acquaintances of convenience? Both.  They came together at a very intense and vulnerable moment in their lives, when they’d just started at university.  Each girl has her own issues and problems that come to the forefront in the first year.  Because of this, they bonded in a way they never would at any other time.  That friendship, and co-dependency (your term, but a very accurate one), was real.  They turned to each other, and there were moments when they genuinely loved one another.  But the glue that comes from shared values and experiences was lacking.  They were always susceptible to turn on one another in a pinch, and, well, you see the results.

I am really interested in the inspiration for this story. Is it based on personal experiences, life in general or just a fictional war of friendships and betrayal? I took inspiration from my own college days, and also from the fact that I was living in a college town at the time I began writing the book.  I knew I wanted to write about female friendship gone very, very wrong.  I needed a setting that would explain why three extremely different women, who have little in common and are clearly bad influences on one another, might form an intense friendship.  I found the answer in memories of my own freshman year of college.  You leave home for the first time and are suddenly surrounded by kids your own age, who may be smarter, prettier, richer, and, yes, nastier than you. That moment is incredibly intense, fraught with drama and peril as well as learning and growth.  I think it makes for a very compelling read!

Would you agree that there is an element of co-dependency between Aubrey and Kate? Absolutely, and with Jenny, too.  Aubrey and Kate are both damaged by their childhoods.  Kate has lost her mother at an early age, and had difficult relationships with her father and — as she tells it — a succession of wicked step-mothers.  She has the means to indulge her sorrows in bad behavior without ever paying the price.  But she needs acolytes, as well as loyal retainers to clean up after her.  Aubrey adores and worships her, and Jenny keeps order.  Kate needs them, but they both need something from her.  Maybe it’s access to her glittering social world, or the stamp of approval that comes from her great name.  Aubrey is extremely intelligent but simply not equipped emotionally to navigate the world of Carlisle College.  She grabs onto Kate like a life preserver, much to her disadvantage.  And over and over again, Jenny cleans up the mess.  Why? Jenny is worth paying attention to.  She’s not the splashiest of the three main characters, but she’s perhaps the cleverest, and always has an ulterior motive.

Is it always the husband, unless it’s the best friend. The two people, aside from family, who tend to be closest to a person. Was exploring the aspect of betrayal being so close to loyalty and love being so close to hatred, intentional on your part?Yes, completely intentional.  Suspense and psychological thrillers by nature explore the dark impulses that exist in the hearts of normal people. Those impulses are most likely to be awakened when our most intimate relationships go wrong.  I’m much more interested in that dynamic than I am in the motives of psychopaths or serial killers.  There are two unnatural deaths in this book, either or both of which could be called a murder.  Both deaths are the result of slow-burn emotions by people who would never think of themselves as criminals.  My goal is to get the reader sufficiently inside the heads of these “killers” to understand and even empathize with their actions.  Maybe we’re all capable of murder, given the right circumstances.  That’s what scares me.

Throughout the book Kate makes decisions which make it appear as if her intent is to harm or upset the apple cart. Are these the actions of a traumatised young girl/woman or is she a narcissist? Great question.  To me, the answer is, both.  But the reason I’ve given each of the three main characters her own chapters is to allow the reader to get inside her head. Each reader can then answer this question for herself.

Thank you for answering all of my questions, especially the odd ones. Thank you for the fantastic questions.  They are all so interesting, and really made me think.  A very enjoyable interview.

Review

Loyalty and friendship play a major role in this story, especially the friendships between women. The friendship between Kate, Aubrey, and Jenny is forged during their college years. The three of them are from different walks of life and are thrown together when they become roommates, which is the beginning of this tale of betrayal and secrets.

Kate returns to the roost, and her friends, after many years of hiding from the truth. Well that isn’t really true, Kate is only interested in the here and now, and herself. So nothing has really changed except maybe that her friends are now no longer as willing to put up with her narcissistic ways. Friends can become enemies in a heartbeat.

Campbell examines the boundaries of the friendship between the women. How would you define loyalty between your best friend and yourself? Is there really any such thing as complete and utter loyalty or true friendship? Personally I think you have to go through your absolute worst times to find out just how tight your friendships are.  Count the people still stood there after the walls have come tumbling down around you, and the majority of your so-called friends have suddenly forgotten you exist, there is no better eye-opener.

The other element of the story the author explores is whether or not we are all killers at heart. In some of us the urge just sleeps more deeply than in others. Also whether the still developing brain of a young person makes them as culpable as an adult committing the same crime. A rash decision, a gut reaction with fatal consequences. It could happen to anyone, unless of course it isn’t an accident at all.

Kudos to Campbell for the ending, it’s sneaky and done in an almost nonchalant way. You sort of think it’s that person, then get diverted by a few red herrings, and end up being surprised.

It’s Always the Husband is an in depth look at our closest relationships and if they can weather the darkest of secrets. It also examines the thin line between love and hate in friendships. Is there really any such thing as loyalty when your own survival is at stake?

Buy It’s Always the Husband at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

#BlogTour Hydra by Matt Wesolowski

hydralast

Matt Wesolowski is back with another venture into his extraordinary premise and story format Six Stories. Hydra lives up to its name with its many heads and threads, as the author lops them off one by one only to be confronted by yet another unanswered question. I am thrilled to be participating in the BlogTour for Hydra and hope you enjoy hearing about it as much as I enjoyed reading it.

About the Author

Matt Wesolowski is from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in the UK. He is an English tutor for young people in care. Matt started his writing career in horror, and his short horror fiction has been published in numerous UK- and US-based anthologies such as Midnight Movie Creature Feature, Selfies from the End of the World, Cold Iron and many more. His novella, The Black Land, a horror set on the Northumberland coast, was published in 2013. Matt was a winner of the Pitch Perfect competition at Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival in 2015. His debut thriller, Six Stories, was an Amazon bestseller in the USA, Canada, the UK and Australia, and a WHSmith Fresh Talent pick, and film rights were sold to a major Hollywood studio..

Follow @ConcreteKraken or @Orendabooks on Matt-Wesolowski on Facebook or visit him at mjwesolowskiauthor.wordpress.com

Buy Hydra (Six Stories 2) here

About the book

A family massacre. A deluded murderess. Five witnesses. Six Stories. Which one is true?

One cold November night in 2014, in a small town in the northwest of England, 21-year-old Arla Macleod bludgeoned her mother, stepfather and younger sister to death with a hammer, in an unprovoked attack known as the Macleod Massacre. Now incarcerated at a medium-security mental-health institution, Arla will speak to no one but Scott King, an investigative journalist, whose Six Stories podcasts have become an internet sensation.

King finds himself immersed in an increasingly complex case, interviewing five key witnesses and Arla herself, as he questions whether Arla’s responsibility for the massacre was as diminished as her legal team made out.

As he unpicks the stories, he finds himself thrust into a world of deadly forbidden ‘games’, online trolls, and the mysterious black-eyed kids, whose presence seems to extend far beyond the delusions of a murderess… Dark, chilling and gripping, Hydra is both a classic murder mystery and an up-to-the-minute, startling thriller that shines light in places you may never, ever want to see again.

Review

When I read Six Stories I thought it was a refreshing premise. I think it is ingenious that Wesowloski has chosen to use the same format again, indeed now he has done it again a series wouldn’t go amiss.

We are back with our investigative journalist Scott King, who uses podcasts to engage with his audience. Hydra is a set of interviews by Scott with the killer and people who have something to add to the case. Friends, acquaintances and anyone who can give insight into why this young woman would decide to just annihilate her entire family one day.

This time he is re-examining the Macleod Massacre. A young girl called Arla has been convicted of bludgeoning her parents and sister to death with a hammer. She is serving her sentence at a medium security mental institution, because the court found there was enough evidence to suggest diminished capacity at the time of the event.

There doesn’t seem to be any reason why, and yet as Scott talks with one person after the other a picture emerges of abuse, stolen innocence and of betrayal on a massive scale. In a way it is a snapshot of how society fails so many vulnerable children, and how we are too willing to ignore signs of distress and calls for help.

What appears to be a tragic and yet simple case of girl gone psycho slowly develops, under the watchful and inquisitive eye of Scott, into a series of events that in the end cause an avalanche of violence.

Wesolowski pokes the bear and angers the hive with this poignant and introspective story. Embedded in this tale of assault is the power hungry drive of a specific breed of social media user, who thrive on the fear and pain of others. Anonymity allows them to leave any semblance of societal rule and order behind, and they use their online power to spread hate and cause havoc.

It’s time the troll living under the bridge was taught that the darkness of the web isn’t impenetrable. There needs to be accountability for both words and actions, and most importantly they need to acknowledge the hypocrisy of threatening others with exposure while they themselves sit behind a shrouded cloud of anonymity.

Once again Wesolowski delivers an engrossing read with a 21st century feel, and in the midst of this intriguing thriller, he takes a well-aimed shot at the more nefarious side of the world wide web. Hopefully this won’t be the last time he rolls out Scott King the investigative journalist, podcaster extraordinaire.

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

If I Die Before I Wake by Emily Koch

if i dieWhat’s interesting about the way the author has planned the story out is the way the intent is within reach, however it doesn’t become really clear until closer to the end.

Alex likes the thrill of climbing and is perhaps guilty of becoming complacent with his safety, which is probably how he ends up in a coma after a serious fall. His head injury leaves him in a terrifying situation. Alex can hear and feel everything around him, but is unable to respond to anyone or anything. A nightmare scenario.

The medical condition is based on a pseudocoma also known as Locked-in syndrome, minus the blinking and vertical eye movements, although Alex is often able to see through the slits of his slightly opened eyes. Koch has clearly done a lot of research on the subject, which is reflected in the story.

The story is narrated by Alex himself via his inner dialogue and thought processes, and the one-sided conversations he has with his family, friends and the medical staff.

He has no memory of how he fell, and as the story progresses questions arise about the details of the accident. Was it more than just a careless incident? Did someone help Alex fall, and why?

The perspective of the possible victim is what gives this story a high level of suspense. The reader knows that Alex can’t help himself in any way, regardless of what he remembers or discovers about his accident.

Kudos to Koch for the ending, and for not feeling the need to bow down to the candy floss brigade of happy endings. It’s poetic injustice in a screwed up fictional kind of way.

Buy If I Die Before I Wake at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Follow @EmilyKoch @vintagebooks @harvillsecker

Visit emilykoch.co.uk

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.

Follow @GillianMAuthor

Visit gillianmcallister.com

Read Everything but the Truth by Gillian McAllister

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.