Night Driver Review: An Engaging Thriller the Likes of Which You Won’t Have Seen Before

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If you’re looking for something a little bit different to your average thriller, but with the grit and human drama that you’re used to, then look no further than Marcelle Perk’s latest novel. Initially established as a sort of alternative crime novel, the narrative quickly escalates as the reader becomes embroiled in a tense mystery that is both unsettling and empathetic at the same time.

Heavily pregnant Frannie is an English woman who now lives in Germany. Hoping to gain some control over her confusing life, she learns to drive; however she is so nervous that she chooses to only drive at night. During one of her nocturnal drives, she becomes entangled in a search for a missing person, and is then thrown into the path of a serial killing truck driver.

Putting a woman, and better yet a heavily pregnant one, at the centre of the mystery gives this a great dynamic, and as unlikely sleuth Frannie gets deeper into this intriguing mystery we learn more both about her and the danger she is facing. Author Marcelle Perks creates has a true imagination and an eye for detail that lends itself to this great, new take on the traditional late night thriller.

Written in the third person, the novel gives Frannie a unique agency as she explores a truly horrendous underground world of pimps, prostitutes, organ trafficking drug addicts and sadistic serial killers. It is really different to read about a heavily pregnant woman snorting cocaine and generally raising hell, but this is what you get with Night Driver.

At the end of the day, this is an unusual take on a thriller/ mystery novel, but it’s definitely one worth checking out. Being a book blogger who specialises in crime fiction, mystery and thrillers, I rarely read anything truly unique, but with this novel I was genuinely impressed.

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Grave Island Review: A Scorching Thriller to Get You Through the Heatwave

Grave Island

For anyone with time on their hands during the warm spell we’re currently experiencing, Grave Island is the latest gripping thriller to keep you hooked as you laze around and lap up the sunshine. Spy novels are all the rage right now, and as far as espionage tales go Andrew Smyth’s tale of counterfeit drugs and one man’s desperate quest to stop this vicious trade is as intense as they come.

Beginning with the disgrace of Philip Hennessey, an army intelligence officer with a troubled past, following a set-up that sees him lose his career, Grave Island, leads the reader straight into a devilish mystery. When an old friend of his former wife comes knocking to plead for help following the death of her father, Hennessey is drawn into a quest to find a consignment of counterfeit vaccinations before they wreak untold havoc.

Faced with multiple challenges, including the issue of his downfall and the planting of false evidence, Hennessey is diligent and determined as he hunts down a consignment of fake vaccines that could impact the lives of thousands.

Throughout the novel I have the sense that there is a serious understatement to it all. After all, Smyth is depicting a scandal on a global scale that could potentially affect millions, yet his protagonist is, largely, calm and collected, or certainly less panicked than anyone I can think of would be in such a situation. Nonetheless, Hennessey is a strong central character, with his supporting cast equally strong as they lie, cheat and deceive their way through this fast paced novel.

Overall, I was impressed by Grave Island. I enjoyed the pace of the storyline and the intensity of Smyth’s characters as they race against time to stop a global massacre. There is a constant tension throughout the narrative that is completely compelling, drawing the reader through to the nail-biting conclusion and leaving you wanting more.

Corrupted Review: A Slick Thriller That Will Keep You Guessing

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After reviewing and enjoying The Lighterman I was interested to check out the fourth book in the Charles Holborne thriller series, Corrupted. I compared the previous novel in the series to John le Carré’s work in my review, and as I read Corrupted I could not help but feel that my opinion was completely justified thanks to the exquisite characterisation and the exacting nature of the dogged lawyer Charles Holborne. 

In the latest instalment in this gripping series our intrepid protagonist is settling into his perfect life: he has a girlfriend, his job is going great and things are generally peachy. This is the swinging sixties, and author Simon Michael evokes a great atmosphere that crackles with tension as he catapults his character from homely bliss to underworld grime as he cavorts with gangsters and thieves in a bit to take down the notorious Kray twins.

The plot escalates quickly, and pretty soon Charles is out of happy land and into some strong shit, as he starts courting scandal and contending with threats to his life while investigating a sex ring that involves not just the Krays and the Mafia, but extends up to the very echelons of the UK’s power.

Skilfully blending history with a fast paced narrative to create a suspenseful story, Michael showcases his creative prowess with a novel that is almost instantly classic. The integration of real historical figures adds an extra dimension that keeps the reader hooked throughout. Blending snappy dialogue with strong characterisation, the novel runs away with the reader and leaves them wanting more with each jaw-dropping, suspense-filled chapter.

So if you’re looking for some old-school espionage with elegance then look no further. With strong characters, quick conversation and an exceptional plot, Corrupted is a truly awesome thriller that will leave you coming back for more.

Dead If You Don’t Review: A Realistic Police Procedural For Thrill Seekers

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Having previously reviewed- and loved- Peter James’ novel Need You Dead, I had high hopes for Dead If You Don’t, the latest in the world renowned DCI Roy Grace series.

Enjoying a football game with his recently discovered son in an attempt at father-son bonding, Grace is drawn into a horrific crime as the son of an established businessman and compulsive gambler is abducted. Racing against time, Grace and his team work to uncover both the kidnappers and their motives, exposing many of the father’s secrets in the process.

Exploring the issue of child abduction, James handles the crime sensitively, and the novel is both realistic and tense, dragging the reader along as Grace works tirelessly to uncover the truth and rescue the child before it’s too late.

As in the previous novels in the series, James’ expert research shines through, and the author’s strong understanding and knowledge of police procedure and the UK’s legal system ensures that readers get a realistic glimpse into the life of a top London detective.

One thing I don’t quite get is the names; James’ characterisation is excellent as ever, but I couldn’t stop laughing at key character named ‘Kip’, and, perhaps even better, ‘Mungo’, Kip’s son and the kidnap victim. Somehow these ridiculous names make it hard for me to take the narrative entirely seriously, particularly when Mungo is snatched.

Despite this minor drawback, I find the novel as engaging as any of James’ books. Both his standalone novels and his DCI Grace books have a sort of compelling charm and fast paced narrative that propels the reader through and has them hooked to the very end.

As I turned the final page I was utterly spellbound by James’ exquisite storytelling and exceptional characterisation. This is a great modern police procedural that keeps you hooked until the nail-biting finale.

 

Rose Gold Review: Another Chilling Dystopian Novel

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Hot on the footsteps of Blue Gold is the follow up,  Rose Gold, and as part of author David Barker’s blog tour I reviewed this latest dystopian climate change novel, which is perfectly topical given the current political landscape.

Following on from the events of Blue Gold, Barker’s latest novel depicts the later years as earth battles its biological issues, and man seeks a new solution on the moon, of all places. Focusing the action of Sim Atkins, whose life is turned upside down by revelations that threaten his family and his future, the novel explores his determination to right wrongs and stop deadly terrorism before it is too late.

With Sim’s former partner Freda called back into service in order to assist, the pair is driven into a web of secrets, lies and deceit. Skilful navigation and nerves of steel are required to ensure success, which could be vital for the future not just of them, but of the human race as a whole.

My previous criticism of Blue Gold revolved around the slightly clunky dialogue and Barker’s tendency to launch information on his readers, which is often hard for them to digest easily (also known as info-dumping). I am very pleased to say that Rose Gold alleviates both these issues, to a certain extent, although the dialogue remains a little old fashioned.

However, this appears to be Barker’s style, and whilst it isn’t to everyone’s taste he certainly has the great skill of crafting dynamic, multi-dimensional characters that will never go out of style. Combined with the author’s superb plotting, which sees Sim’s fraught backstory expertly weaved into the larger story, and you get a really intense thriller that keeps you hooked from the get-go until the final line.

As I finished Rose Gold and contemplated the novel, I was impressed by Barker’s expert creation of an unique dystopia; his books are an unflinching representation of human nature at its most base and greedy, and in today’s political and social climate, with Trump pulling out of the Paris Agreement and many pondering the future of our planet, the timing could not be better.

 

 

The Retreat Review: A Real Nail Biter With a Gripping Finale

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As part of author Mark Edwards’ book tour I review The Retreat, a haunting thriller that really stays with you.

I’ll level with you here: this isn’t the sort of book I’d usually read. From the cover, it looks like the kind of book I wouldn’t even think twice about if I saw it in Tesco’s or Waterstone’s while I was browsing the latest best sellers in search of a new favourite.

After all, heartbroken mothers and missing children have been done to death. I always hate the overly sentimental thrillers, and from my first impression of it The Retreat was exactly that. However, once you move past the age-old premise you find a riveting thriller that packs a punch and leaves you with more questions than answers.

The novel centres around Julia Marsh, a heartbroken woman who has spent the last two years grieving the tragic accident that lead to her husband drowning in front of her in a local river. Her eight-year-old daughter Lily is still missing, following the incident, and is presumed dead.

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Now living alone, Julia finds herself unable to move on, convinced that Lily is still alive. Despite this her pleas for help go unanswered by the authorities, who are convinced that Lily could not possibly be alive, and with dwindling resources Julia finds herself in a perilous position. Forced to find unconventional means of staying afloat, she gets more than she bargained for when she creates a writer’s retreat and invites complete strangers into her home and, by extension, her life.

Alternating between first and third person, past and present tense, the novel is a shock to the system, and each chapter is designed to leave you questioning everything you had previously thought.

This show-stopping novel is a tour de force that reaches its shocking climax and leaves the reader in both amazement and wonder. I found this incredibly hard to put down even once I’d finished, and had the ridiculous urge to start again just to keep the experience going. As such I would thoroughly recommend giving The Retreat a go, even if you’re not mad keen on psychological thrillers.

The Last Straw Review: Another Strong Spy Thriller

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The second in the Pigeon Blood Red series, the first of which I recently reviewed, The Last Straw is another unique novel starring the first novel’s protagonist, Rico Sanders.

The book begins with a run-of-the-mill carjacking. An inner-city kid with no priors and no experience with a gun fumbled the ball, and the driver ended up dead.

A teenage girl witnessed the whole thing, and now a target has been placed on her back. The carjacker’s father, a notorious crime boss, is willing to move heaven and earth to prevent her from testifying, even if that means hiring a hit man to kill her.

Richard Sanders, better known as Rico, as the best in the business, was his first choice for the job; however, his scruples prevent him from carrying out the hit. As a result, the crime boss reluctantly turns to someone who has no such qualms, John D’Angelo. There was bad blood between him and Rico, so knowing that Rico had passed on the job, he eagerly accepted it.

Rico and the girl’s lawyer, Paul Elliott, form an uneasy alliance to try and protect her from the hit man. As the long-simmering feud between Rico and John D’Angelo reaches boiling point, bodies start to pile up in rapid succession, and old scores will be settled as the novel races through to its climactic conclusion.

Author Ed Duncan is a former lawyer, and as such his knowledge of the legal system is impeccable, and although at times the descriptions, particularly those of characters, are a little clunky, this is a fast paced novel that lends itself to easy reading. It is not a taxing novel, and as such it is perfect for summer, when you are reclining on the beach or bored waiting in an airport lounge.

Overall a great addition to the Pigeon Blood Red series, this is an exciting thriller that takes the reader on a round the world journey through to a climactic finale.