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Who Took Eden Mulligan? By Sharon Dempsey

Who Took Eden Mulligan‘Who Took Eden Mulligan?’ is the latest book by Northern Ireland author, Sharon Dempsey.

‘They’re dead. They’re all dead. It’s my fault. I killed them.’ Those are the words of Iona Gardener, who stands bloodied and staring as she confesses to the murder of four people in a run-down cottage outside of Belfast. Outside the cottage, five old dolls are hanging from a tree. Inside the cottage, the words “WHO TOOK EDEN MULLIGAN?” are graffitied on the wall, connecting the murder scene with the famous cold case of Eden Mulligan, a mother-of-five who went missing during The Troubles. But this case is different. Right from the start. Because no one in the community is willing to tell the truth, and the only thing DI Danny Stowe and forensic psychologist Rose Lainey can be certain of is that Iona Gardener’s confession is false.

This is the first book that I’ve read by Sharon Dempsey and it will definitely not be the last.

The story is primarily seen through the perspective of old university friends Rose and Danny. Rose has returned to Belfast for her mother’s funeral, her first time back in years having not gotten on with her mother or her beliefs and Danny has just been given a massive new case. A young woman has claimed responsibility for the murder of 3 friends and attempted murder of another and the murder scene is referencing an old disappeared case when a young mum called Eden Mulligan disappeared one night. Detective Danny has asked psychologist Rose to help make sense of the case and solve it.

As a child growing up during ‘The Troubles’, I was well accustomed to the shootings, bombings and most famously the disappeared. The people who disappeared without a trace leaving their family in bewilderment hoping that the smallest bit of information will finally give them peace.

For me, Sharon Dempsey has written a relatable crime novel that I easily sank into. As a native of Northern Ireland, I loved the familiarity of the locations and the dialogue between the characters. She paints a picture perfectly of how bleak the city of Belfast once was during the Troubles and now thrives with new bars, shops and a new culture and no longer filled with bitterness, bullets and police Saracens vans filling the streets.

I loved in this book, there are 3 stories, the recent murder case, the Eden Mulligan as well as the relationship between Rose and Danny and how seamlessly they flowed from each story. Both Danny and Rose, have reached pinnacle points in their lives, Rose returning to Belfast to address old ghosts and Danny at the start of a divorce process. Being back with each other helps remind them of their youth, before complicated lives and are able to work together with ideas and theories.

The story flows at a good pace and is a really well researched book giving the reader an overview of the Troubles as well as an in-depth police procedural book. It does make for heavy reading in parts though, as the Mulligan family struggle to get justice for their mother, so many years after her disappearance and to know that these type of events happened on my doorstep does strike a chord.

A well crafted and documented story about broken families, grieving children and how the past is still prevalent now. ‘Who Took Eden Mulligan?’ is a fascinating insight into Northern Ireland and how it’s past can never be forgotten.

If this sounds like your type of book, it will be available from the Kindle Store from 18th February 2021 and will be available to buy from good bookshops from 19th August 2021.

The Split By Laura Kay

The Split‘The Split’ is the latest book by Laura Kay.

Brutally dumped by her girlfriend, Ally is homeless, friendless and jobless… but at least she has Malcolm. Wounded and betrayed, Ally has made off with the one thing she thinks might soothe the pain: Emily’s cat. After a long train journey she arrives home to her dad in Sheffield, ready to fold herself up in her duvet and remain on the sofa for the foreseeable. Her dad has other ideas. A phone call later, and Ally is reunited with her first ever beard and friend of old, Jeremy. He too is broken-hearted and living at home again.

I started this book last night and I reluctantly had to put when I had to go to bed.

This debut even though it’s about heartbreak is fun, uplifting and incredibly warm-hearted.

The story is seen solely through the narrative of Al and begins at the moment that her girlfriend Emily breaks up with her. Heartbroken, Al returns home to Sheffield with Malcolm the cat for company, even though he’s technically Emily’s cat.

Back under her dad’s roof, Al is at a loss at what to do next with her life, disinterested in a career, her passion is for baking and is delighted when an opportunity to work in a bakery arises. Her childhood friend Jeremy is also recovering from heartbreak after his boyfriend broke up with him. Together, they find solace in each others pain and decide the best way to get over heartbreak is to do a 13 mile marathon even though they’ve never ran a day in their lives. It’s through running that Al, meets Jo and thinks that she might help with the heartbreak and distract her from emailing Emily.

I adored this book with all my heart, it’s a genuine love story and life affirming book all rolled into one. I loved Al, she’s kind, witty and has a lovely nature. I loved her interaction with Jeremy, their banter and support for each other when things got tough. I enjoyed their nostalgia journeys as they reminisced their school years and struggling with their sexuality.

Laura has written a wonderful story, flowing at a lovely pace with relatable characters and scenarios and eager dogs and moody cats. I loved this book from start to finish, wonderfully written ‘The Split’ is a fantastic debut about recovering from heartbreak and finding yourself along the way. I thoroughly recommend this book and fully understand why it’s one of Quercus’ lead debuts of 2021.

You can pre-order ‘The Split’ from Amazon and will be available to buy from good bookshops from 18th March 2021.

Alter Ego By K.A. Masson

Alter Ego‘Alter Ego’ is the latest book by K.A. Masson.

Alex Kendrew is juggling single parenthood, work and dating; with a wild, impetuous streak that’s hard to keep in check, she struggles to find a balance and feels perpetually guilty for the choices she makes. Alex begins a passionate affair when an old flame gets in touch. But one morning, the police arrest her for his attempted murder. Someone is framing her; can she prove her innocence as the evidence mounts against her?

Firstly, I’d like to apologise for not writing this review sooner, I had forgotten to add it to my calendar, so I spent my head absorbed in this story, only moving to get fresh tea.

The story is seen through the narrative of freelance photographer Alex and is set in the present when she is arrested for the attempted murder of her boyfriend called Mal.

The story then flows back to past times, leading up to the couples first interaction. After her relationship broke down with her son’s father, Alex decides to try online dating and one day meets Mal, who seems perfect for her until he breaks it all off as he wants to give an old relationship another chance. Heartbroken, Alex throws herself into online dating meeting men for sex until she meets an old friend from university called Adrian and they become a couple. Adrian seems like the perfect charming man but once he gets Alex and her son under his roof, he turns into a controlling, egotistical monster and when Mal reappears in Alex’s saving her from the unhappy relationship. But just as Alex is about to get her happy ever after with Mal, Mal is stabbed and Alex is the prime suspect.

This book is an extremely cleverly crafted thriller packed with dislikable characters, that made them all suspects in this whodunnit thriller. Alex is great character, she’s strong and independent and determined to prove her innocence and love for Mal. Adrian is an absolutely horrible man, gaslighting at any opportunity, he was cruel and cold and many of the scenes with him made for unsettling reading.

I really liked the flow of the story, moving from the past to present tenses and I really thought that helped build up the suspense and drama to the thriller.

A chilling psychological thriller that really gets under your skin, ‘Alter Ego’ is a fantastic debut about one woman’s quest looking for love only to have to prove her innocence.

You can buy ‘Alter Ego’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Safe And Sound By Philippa East

Safe And Sound‘Safe And Sound’ is the latest book by Philippa East.

In a small London bedsit, a radio is playing. A small dining table is set for three, and curled up on the sofa is a body. Jenn is the one who discovers the woman, along with the bailiffs. All indications suggest that the tenant – Sarah Jones – was pretty, charismatic and full of life. So how is it possible that her body has lain undiscovered for ten whole months?

This is a creepy novel that really pulled me in from the first unsettling page. The story is primarily seen through the narrative Jenn, who’s job is in charge of tenant management. When one of the tenant hasn’t paid their rent for 3 months, it’s her job to investigate what is happening. But Jenn gets the shock of her life when she discovers that the tenant has been dead for a number of months. And sadly Jenn can’t get the image of the dead woman sitting on the sofa with a place setting for 2 other people knowing no one place turned up and wondered if she was ok.

The woman is known as Sarah Jones but no one comes forward as her next of kin. Jenn develops an obsession with Sarah, wanting to know all about her and how one person can have no one, particularly as Jenn knew Sarah briefly and she was a warm and kind personality.

As the story develops, we join Jenn as she slowly unravels, dealing with anxiety, fear and uncertainty as her job is in jeopardy and her fear for her little boy’s health is constantly on her mind. Even though Charlie is a healthy little boy, she monitors him religiously looking for any sign of sickness.

The story is not only seen from Jenn’s perspective but there’s also an additional narrative from a little girl called Prin who’s used to having her parents and toys to herself but has to adjust to a new way of living when her cousin Jane comes to stay. Where Prin is spoilt and boisterous, Jane is meek and quiet and hiding from something.

The story is actually based on a true of a young woman, who died in 2003 but her body wasn’t discovered until 2006 and it does make for genuinely sad reading that these women weren’t discovered nor was anyone looking for them. Right from the offset, this book is a suspenseful story, Jenn is an anxious character and sometimes it’s hard to decipher what is real and what is fake and this really does keep the reader on their toes.

An atmospheric and taunt thriller from the very start, ‘Safe And Sound’ is a claustrophobic story focusing on isolation and the fragility of mental health with plenty of twists and shocks that keeps the reader engaged.

You can buy ‘Safe And Sound’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

The Jigsaw Man By Nadine Matheson

The Jigsaw Man‘The Jigsaw Man’ is the debut novel by Nadine Matheson.

When bodies start washing up along the banks of the River Thames, DI Henley fears it is the work of Peter Olivier, the notorious Jigsaw Killer. But it can’t be him; Olivier is already behind bars, and Henley was the one who put him there. She’d hoped she’d never have to see his face again, but Henley knows Olivier might be the best chance they have at stopping the copycat killer. But when Olivier learns of the new murders, helping Henley is the last thing on his mind. Now all bets are off, and the race is on to catch the killer before the body count rises. But who will get there first – Henley, or the Jigsaw Killer?

If you’re a fan of grisly murders and plenty of gore then this book is packed with it.

The story is primarily seen through the perspective of SDI Henley, who is having to relive a nightmare when a series of murders happen across London all baring resemblance to a serial killer that nearly killed her two years ago. Limbs are being found all the over place and no one can find rhyme nor reason why someone is copycating the ‘Jigsaw Man’ who’s behind bars.

The story flows at a fast pace as Henley tries to catch the killer along with her new trainee detective called Ramouter, who’s first case is attracting a media frenzy as the limbs count up. As Henley tries to catch the serial killer, the only way to do that is by confronting her fears and visiting the famous ‘Jigsaw Man’ aka Peter Olivier, the man who nearly killed her and is costing her marriage.

I loved this story, but be warned it’s not for the faint hearted. Congratulations to Nadine, who’s managed to create a fantastic serial killer who’s not only charismatic but chilling who really gets underneath the readers skins with his creepiness. Whilst Henley is trying to maintain her sanity and professionalism with the case but it’s difficult with so many similarities triggering unsettling memories for the detective. She’s a great character, a strong willed woman who refuses to be judged on her gender or race and takes no crap from anyone.

Although this book is a debut, it reads like a series and I’d love a prequel to the book, when we initially meet the famous ‘Jigsaw Man’.

Creepy, intense and filled with action that will literally fill you with fear, ‘The Jigsaw Man’ is a thrilling debut that is gruesomely great.

You can pre-order ‘The Jigsaw Man’ from Amazon and will be available to buy from good bookshops from 18th February 2021.