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Her Last Holiday By CL Taylor

Her Last Holiday Today marks the release of the latest book by CL Taylor called ‘Her Last Holiday’ and it’s a book that’s disturbed my slumber for the last couple of nights.

Two years ago, Fran’s sister Jenna disappeared on a wellness retreat in Gozo that went terribly wrong. Tom Wade, the now infamous man behind Soul Shrink Retreats, has just been released from prison after serving his sentence for the deaths of two people. But he has never let on what happened to the third victim: Jenna. Determined to find out the truth, Fran books herself onto his upcoming retreat – the first since his release – and finds herself face to face with the man who might hold the key to her sister’s disappearance. The only question is, will she escape the retreat alive? Or does someone out there want Jenna’s secrets to stay hidden?

The story is written through the narrative of 3 strong and determined women, sisters Fran and Jenna and another woman called Kate. It flows in a past and present tense, with the present narrative seen through Fran and Kate’s eyes and the past through Jenna’s having disappeared after her holiday, hence the name, ‘Her Last Holiday’.

Fran is determined to find out what happened to her younger sister after disappearing from a spiritual retreat and is convinced that Tom Wade, the leader of SoulShrink, is behind it. Tom has just been released from prison after the 2 of other people who accidentally died on the same retreat but Tom has always maintained his innocence regarding Jenna. Now back in the open, his wife Kate is adamant that normal services resume and goes about creating a new retreat in the same resort. Fran is guilt ridden by elderly mother into joining the retreat and finally finding the truth.

The story flows back and forth between the narratives and different time periods really set the scene for the story. Fran and Jenna never had a close relationship due to their age gap and that really affected Jenna and her confidence which becomes very apparent whilst confiding in Tom, who she unexpectedly falls for. Fran is a brash character who’s quick to speak up and easily falls into character as she pretends to be someone else on the retreat but she finds it hard to hold her tongue, when revelations come to light and her questioning raises suspicions. Kate is a complex character who’s fuelled by money and control and won’t let anything stand in the way of her success, including her husband Tom, she’s ruthless but also occasionally admirable in her ballsiness.

This book is gripping for many reasons, the strong female leads all with complexities making for fascinating reading, their riddled with secrets and lies and within each chapter, a drama is revealed hooking the reader even further in. Their narratives are unreliable, leaving the reader unsure of who to believe and being set in a spiritual retreat where people come to cleanse themselves against the exotic backdrop of Gozo adds an element of mystery and luxury to the story.

Once again, Cally has outdid herself with her latest book, riddled with suspense, dominant characters and twists at every turn, ‘Her Last Holiday’ is a compulsive thriller that pulls the reader in to discover the truth.

You can buy ‘Her Last Holiday’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

The Witness By Terry Lynn Thomas

The Witness‘The Witness’ is the second book in the ‘Olivia Sinclair’ series.

Teenager Ebby Engstrom witnesses a murder – and then passes out. The next morning, he wakes in his bed with no memory of how he got there, and is told his mother was stabbed to death the previous night. Thirty years later, the case has gone cold, with numerous suspects but no new clues – until Ebby starts having uncontrollable flashbacks to that night. As repressed memories surface, he questions his own role in the murder, leading to a dramatic confession and Ebby’s arrest. Family friend and attorney Olivia Sinclair is convinced of Ebby’s innocence, but the only way to clear his name is to find the real killer herself. And it seems almost everyone connected to the Engstrom family had a reason to want Cynthia dead…

This is the first book that I’ve read by Terry and it was a great book, seen from multiple narratives, that really hooked the reader in.

The story is about Ebby who saw his mother being brutally murdered but a the killer was never caught. Now, over 30 years later, Ebby is beginning to relive that fateful night with panic attacks and blackouts and is convinced that he is killer. Against, his family’s wishes, he asks lawyer, Olivia Sinclair for her help and expertise as well as Olivia’s former lover and policeman Brian to help find the killer.

This book is a cleverly crafted suspenseful thriller that really pulled me in, so much so that I read it in one sitting. The narratives seen from the alleged suspect as well as police procedural really made for compelling reading. Ebby is a fascinating character, he’s never recovered from the brutal murder of his mother and even though she treated him unfairly, longs for her killer to be brought to justice and for his conscious to be cleared. Ebby’s mother was quite an unlikable character, so there are many suspects into her death and motives behind them.

The main story is about the murder of Ebby’s mother, but another story is included with Olivia and her complicated relationship with Brian, who’s now moved onto a new lover called Leanne, who Olivia has her suspicions about. This is the second book in the series, but it’s written in a way that gives the reader enough background to the series and the characters.

‘The Witness’ is a taunt and fast paced thriller, with complex characters that hooked the reader from the first page.

You can pre-order ‘The Witness’ from Amazon and will be available to buy from good bookshops from 23rd April 2021.

The Dare By Lesley Kara

The Dare‘The Dare’ is the latest book by Lesley Kara.

When teenage friends Lizzie and Alice decide to head off for a walk in the countryside, they are blissfully unaware that this will be their final day together – and that only Lizzie will come back alive. Lizzie has no memory of what happened in the moments before Alice died, she only knows that it must have been a tragic accident. But as she tries to cope with her grief, she is shocked to find herself alienated from Alice’s friends and relatives. They are convinced she somehow had a part to play in her friend’s death. Twelve years later, unpacking boxes in the new home she shares with her fiancé, Lizzie is horrified to find long-buried memories suddenly surfacing. Is the trauma of the accident finally catching up with her, or could someone be trying to threaten her new-found happiness?

‘The Dare’ is a thrilling story of lies and betrayal in this suspenseful story.

It’s primarily seen through the narrative of Lizzie in past and present tense when she was present at the death of her best friend and now as an adult when her dead best friend’s sister reenters her life bringing back bad memories.

Lizzie was present at Alice’s death and at the moment of her death when she was hit by a train, Lizzie had an elliptic seizure remembering nothing and making her a suspect in the death even though it was ruled as accidental. But Lizzie’s classmates and friends maintain that she was killed Alice and Lizzie spends the remainder of her teenage years tormented by her peers. Now, many years later Lizzie is content in her new life with her fiancée Ross and looking forward to becoming a new mum.

I loved this book and it was the perfect psychological thriller that really engaged with the reader. The different time periods really sets the tone for the story. Alice and Lizzie have a great friendship, best friends friends from children, they have a stereotypical relationship where they confide in teenage crushes and share clothes and compete for boy’s attention. Alice’s family is troubled with her mum who suffers from depression, an alcoholic father and an older sister who doesn’t like Lizzie. Because of Lizzie’s epilepsy, she’s the target of bullying especially when it comes to the school disco and they can’t put the disco light on due to the flashing lights.

The story is primarily seen through Lizzie’s narrative as she’s confronted from her past with Catherine reappearing in her life. Catherine wasn’t nice to Lizzie blaming her for Alice’s death so Lizzie finds it hard to get past the nastiness and become friends. Ross works with Catherine in the same surgery and wants both Lizzie and Ross get on together and Lizzie to move on from her past. There is also the inclusion of another narrative in the story that really keeps the reader on their toes and guessing throughout.

This story is a fast paced thriller, that is cleverly written with characters that are unreliable, so the reader is unsure if the protagonist is friend or foe. The further I delved into the story, the more gripping it became with twists and dramatic reveals. A cunningly crafted psychological story that spans decades, ‘The Dare’ is the perfect twisty story to settle into.

You can buy ‘The Dare’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

The Watcher By Kate Medina

The Watcher‘The Watcher’ is the latest book by Kate Medina.

The Fullers are the picture-perfect family, a wealthy couple with a grand home in the middle of remote woodland. But even they have something to hide – and it will prove fatal. Psychologist Dr Jessie Flynn and DI Marilyn Simmons arrive at the Fuller’s home to find a suburban nightmare. A crime scene more disturbing than anything they have ever encountered. Jessie knows that this is no random act of violence. And if she can’t unlock the motivation behind the crime and shine a light into this killer’s mind, the Fullers won’t be the only family to die.

Like anyone else, I enjoy a good crime and police procedure book, but I have to admit that I did find ‘The Watcher’ to be an extremely unsettling and somewhat sad story.

The story is primarily is seen through the perspective of Psychologist Dr Jessie Flynn, as she tries to get into the head of a killer who has killed 5 people in a disturbing and gruesome fashion, with their eyes being removed and time is off the essence to prevent them for making another killing. But every time Psychologist Dr Jessie Flynn and DI Marilyn Simmons, think that they are getting somewhere with the case, they are thrown another curveball preventing them from making an arrest. The story is also seen from the perspective of the victims of the murderer and every time a new person is introduced, I found myself tensing up preparing for their unfortunate end.

This is the fourth book in the Jessie Flynn series but it’s actually the first book for me, but the author thoughtfully included some back story to the characters, so the reader wasn’t lost. Jessie is an interesting character and has had her own experience with tackling with mental health and that’s probably, why she chose that particular career path. But it’s obvious that this case isn’t going to be an easy one to solve, especially as the murderer doesn’t leave any clues behind. But as Jessie looks into building profile of the killer, she discovers that the killer has a connection with animals particularly dogs and she ends up adopting a Huskie called Lupo who was the pet of the killers’ first victim and this quiet dog becomes part of her small family and helps her solve some clues along the way.

Kate spent 5 years in the Territorial Army and studied Psychology and she has used her knowledge for both areas in this dark, psychological story. The story is filled with police procedures and a deep insight into the human psyche and what makes a person react in such a cruel way. This book is a tense and gruesome story from the start, with unlikable and sympathetic characters that made for disturbing reading but equally I found it hard to put down. A story of revenge and morality, ’The Watcher’ is a cleverly crafted story that is a perfect for fans of police procedures, but be warned, it’s not for the faint hearted!

Blurred Lines By Hannah Begbie

Blurred Lines‘Blurred Lines’ is the latest book by Hannah Begbie.

When Becky walks in on her boss with a woman who isn’t his wife, she’s horrified, but says nothing. She owes Matthew too much. But when the same woman accuses him of rape, Becky is trapped in a nightmare. Was what she saw rape – or is Matthew, her trusted mentor, telling the truth? Becky must try to ignore her own traumatic past and its terrible hold on her. As Becky attempts to untangle these blurred lines, she risks everything, even her home and family, to find the truth…

I’ve been fortunate to have read some fantastic books this year but I have to say that the twist in ‘Blurred Lines’ has been the best one yet!

The story is about Becky who’s a budding film writer, walks in on her boss having sex with another woman. This woman then claims that she was raped and is looking for the woman who saw them to come forward as a witness. This happens at a critical time in Becky’s career when her script has been picked up by both a director and actress and finally her dreams might become a reality.

Becky is the mother to a teenage daughter called Georgia and is best friends with Georgia’s dad called Adam.

The story is written in past and present tense. The present tense is when Becky is also a teenager and goes to a house party and taking some pills and waking up the following morning with no memory. As time goes by and the pressure is on Becky to come forward, Becky finds herself questioning her own history and trying to piece together what happened to her that night at the house party that changed her life forever.

I genuinely loved this story, it was addictive reading with such a well written and crafted story story that I spent my Sunday absorbed in this book. Becky was a fantastic character, a strong woman who’s primary concern is her teenage daughter. As the story progresses and we see Becky explore her past and try to fill in the blank spaces, we see her realise her own worth and confront fears.

Fantastically written with one of the best twists of 2020, ‘Blurred Lines’ is a story of toxic masculinity, control and the pressures of society. With flashbacks, unreliable narratives and unlikable characters, this book is a compelling story, that’s prevalent to the #MeToo and is timely in its writing.

You can pre-order ‘Blurred Lines’ from Amazon and will be available to buy from good bookshops from 20th August.