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WAKE By Shelley Burr

WAKE‘WAKE’ is the debut novel by Shelley Burr.

Mina McCreery’s sister Evelyn disappeared nineteen years ago. Her life has been defined by the intense public interest in the case. Now an anxious and reclusive adult, she lives alone on her family’s destocked sheep farm. When Lane, a private investigator, approaches her with an offer to reinvestigate the case, she rejects him. The attention has had nothing but negative consequences for her and her family, and never brought them closer to an answer. Lane wins her trust when his unconventional methods show promise, but he has his own motivations for wanting to solve the case, and his obsession with the answer will ultimately risk both their lives.

This debut is an absolute cracker of a story. Set in the rural outback of Australia. Lane Holland is a private investigator and is looking into the disappearance of Evie McCreery who disappeared over 20 years without a trace.

The story is seen through the narrative of Mina, the twin sister of Evie who’s had to live with people assuming she was behind her disappearance whilst Lane, is determined to get the reward for solving the disappearance and provide a better life for his little sister.

I loved this story, it’s dark, atmospheric and riddled with tension. A case of whodunnit set in the outback, everyone has a theory, whether that’s the people of the small town or online.

I loved the characters particularly Lane and found myself racing through the book to find out more about his background and the motivation into Evie’s disappearance. Mina was a sympathetic character who’s life never moved on since Evie disappeared and has lived in her shadow ever since.

This book was CWA Debut Winner in 2019 and it’s thoroughly well deserved with the taunt writing, a well crafted storyline along with a wealth of suspicious characters that filled me with unease and doubt.

Gripping from the first page and filled with shocks throughout. Written with skill and compassion, ‘Wake’ delves into the terrible tragedy of a child’s disappearance and when privates lives become public property.

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

Sun Damage By Sabine Durrant

Sun Damage‘Sun Damage’ is the latest book by Sabine Durrant.

Nine guests arrive at a remote villa in the south of France. They know each other well. Or think they do. But at least one of them has plenty to hide – and nowhere to run. Under the relentless sun, loyalties will be tested, secrets revealed, and tensions pushed to the point of no return.

Yesterday I spent my day absorbed in this book and it’s an exciting thriller packed with deceit, drama and delicious food that literally had my mouth watering.

Set in France, Ali works with Sean, they are both con-artists taking advantage of vulnerable people but one day it all goes terribly wrong and Ali decides that she wants to go alone and manages to escape Sean. Using her skills and wits, Ali takes on a new identity as an aspiring actress called Lulu who will be a cook for a holidaying family. Whilst hiding from Sean, she finds herself connecting with the family and uncovering their secrets whilst falling for the charms of the family friend Rob.

It’s been a while since I’ve read a book by Sabine but like the name of her previous book, once you start, they really get under your skin. Ali is a great character, having had a troubled past, she’s had to hustle her way through life and to be honest, it really makes for fascinating reading as she explains her tricks. The family that she’s working with is an interesting mix of personalities, the mother Rebecca is a scatty character who’s constantly putting herself down whilst her teenage daughters are dealing with their own dramas.

I thoroughly enjoyed this story and it was so easy to get whisked away and caught up in the drama set against the sunny backdrop of France and packed with delicious flavours and exquisite descriptions of food. The story is a suspenseful one packed with anxiety and unreliable characters that made for gripping reading. Fast paced, dramatic and steeped in suspense, ‘Sun Damage’ is a great thriller that sizzles throughout!

You can buy ‘Sun Damage’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Nothing Else By Louise Beech

Nothing Else‘Nothing Else’ is the latest book by Louise Beech.

Heather Harris is a piano teacher and professional musician, whose quiet life revolves around music, whose memories centre on a single song that haunts her. A song she longs to perform again. A song she wrote as a child, to drown out the violence in their home. A song she played with her little sister, Harriet. But Harriet is gone … she disappeared when their parents died, and Heather never saw her again. When Heather is offered an opportunity to play piano on a cruise ship, she leaps at the chance. She’ll read her recently released childhood care records by day – searching for clues to her sister’s disappearance – and play piano by night … coming to terms with the truth about a past she’s done everything to forget.

Hands up if you like thrillers set at sea, as ‘Nothing Else’ is a turbulent one.

Seen from the narrative of Heather, with a rocky childhood she often wondered what happened to her little sister Harriet, after they were cruelly ripped apart. Now with an exciting new job at sea, Heather is determined to piece together her childhood and find her missing sister.

From the offset this book is a creepy and intense story, filled with flashbacks of an unhappy childhood with abusive parents tackling substance abuse and two sisters just hoping to get through each day and a mutual love of playing the piano gives them a strong bond.

Louise’s writing is wonderfully vivid with beautiful descriptions of the cruise ship as well as the accompanying soundtrack throughout the story. Heather is a fascinating character haunted by her past and guilted by not protecting her little sister and the song that Heather wrote for her little sister is particularly sad.

The flashbacks really set the scene and tone of the story superbly and really gripped me from the start.

Atmospheric and unsettling, ‘Nothing Else’ is a emotional and poignant story about the strength of a sister’s bond and the determination to reconnect.

You can buy ‘Nothing Else’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

One of The Girls by Lucy Clarke

One of The Girls‘One of The Girls’ is the latest book by Lucy Clarke.

We were dying for a holiday. The six of us arrived on that beautiful Greek island dreaming of sun-drenched beaches and blood orange sunsets, ready to lose ourselves in the wild freedom of a weekend away with friends. On the first night we swam under a blanket of stars. On the second night the games began on our clifftop terrace. On the third night the idyll cracked, secrets and lies whispering on the breeze. And by the final night there was a body on the rocks below. Who would kill for it?

Lexi never thought she’d get married but along came Ed and suddenly she’s got a ring on her finger and bursting to say ‘I do’. Along with her five friends, she goes to Greece for her hen weekend and looks forward to reminiscing, fun and adventures but instead is faced with lies, revelations and a dead body.

You always know that when you’re settling down to a book by Lucy Clarke, you’re going to be in for a bumpy ride and her latest book was exactly that. A rocky ship that’s not for the faint hearted.

I absolutely loved this fast paced thriller, packed with unreliable and suspicious women that all had secrets or dramas going on in their lives. Outspoken and ballsy Bella, who’s the Maid of Honour has an unhealthy obsession with Lexi and wants to constantly be the centre of Lexi and everyone’s attention.

Her girlfriend Fen is unsure of her feelings, whilst Eleanor, Lexi’s to be sister in law, is sad that she was unable to make it down the aisle due to the tragic death of her fiancé Sam. Robyn, Lexi and Bella’d childhood is dealing with the aftermath of a broken marriage and new born baby and Ana is adapting to her little boy becoming a surly teenager.

I loved the dynamics of this story, the conflict was rife and each snappy chapter was riddled with suspense. The different narratives made the story particularly gripping as all the women had a gripe with someone so that made the story even more thrilling as we wondered who the victim was and who killed them.

Set against the hot and heady backdrop of Greece, ‘One Of The Girls’ is an intoxicating thriller packed with twists, tension that makes for perfect poolside reading.

You can buy ‘One Of The Girls’ from Amazon and is available to buy good bookshops.

The Agathas By Kathleen Glasgow and Liz Dawson

The Agathas‘The Agathas’ is the latest book by Kathleen Glasgow and Liz Lawson.

After falling from grace last summer, Agatha Christie-obsessed Alice Ogilvie needs to stay out of trouble. While smart and reclusive Iris Adams just wants to get the hell out of Castle Cove. But now they have a murder to solve. There are clues the police are ignoring, a list of suspects a mile long and some very dangerous cliffs. Amateur detectives Alice and Iris are about to uncover just how many secrets their sleepy seaside town is hiding.

If you enjoy Young Adults novels with a side of mystery, then look no further as the wittily named ‘The Agathas’ is for you!

The story is seen through the narrative of Alice and Iris, who attend the same school in Castle Cove but are complete opposites. Alice Ogilvie was once part of the popular school gang called ‘the mains’ whilst Iris Adams sits on the outside with the other nerds. She and her mother struggle for money and making ends meet, so when the opportunity arises for Iris to get extra funds by tutoring Alice, she jumps at the chance. But their tutoring are put to one side when one of Alice’s former best friends, Brooke is found dead and Alice’s ex-boyfriend is accused of her murder.

The story then flows between the characters as the pair of them embark on finding Brooke’s killer as well as finding out somethings about themselves along the way. I really enjoyed this story, it’s dark, relatable and reads like a traditional whodunnit but from the fresh approach of teenage girls.

Both Alice and Iris are great characters, although polar opposites in life, they have a respect for each other’s lives. Where Iris has poverty, she has a mother who loves her dearly and where Alice has an absent family, she has an abundance of wealth at her fingertips. Their determination to solve the crime much to the local police’s despair along with the Alice’s love of Agatha Christie novels really made for entertaining reading. Alice has had some issues in her past life and because of this has lost her status at the high school and this makes for sad reading when former best friends turn on her.

As well as some great lines from and tips from Agatha Christie novels, there were also the inclusion of text messages and communications from students at the the high school. This insight gave the bitchy, gossipy side from teenage girls, cliques and how malicious rumours can harm lives.

This story is the first book written by writing duo Kathleen Glasgow and Elizabeth Lawson and it was written wonderfully, I’d love to know more about the writing process of the book, whether they each played a character or simply wrote alternating chapters.

A story filled with murder, good old fashioned mystery and packed with hormonal teenagers and gossip, ‘The Agathas’ was a tremendous book and I look forward to reading more from this writing duo.

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