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The Source By Sarah Sultoon

The Source‘The Source’ is the debut novel by award-winning CNN journalist Sarah Sultoon.

A young TV journalist is forced to revisit her harrowing past when she’s thrust into a sex-trafficking investigation in her hometown.

Written in the past and present tense, this book which is based on true life experience is a intense thriller that makes for unsettling reading at times.

The story is seen through of the narrative of teenager Carly, who lives with her alcoholic mother and baby sister called Kayleigh. She hates the life that she has to lead and blames her mother for everything that has gone wrong. Her brother Jason has joined the army and invites her and her best friend Rachel to come to the barracks and it’s there that both girls get caught in a sex abuse and Carly feels unable to say no incase something happens to her little sister. Now many years later, Marie a journalist is investigating a new sex trafficking ring and is finding it a difficult with new emotions and memories coming back the closer and more involved she gets in the story.

This story is a difficult read, Carly is a strong character with a deep frustration for her alcoholic mother who has let the family go and sits around self-pitying herself. She longs for a better life and the sex is an escape for her. Her primary concern is her little sister and will do everything in her power to keep her safe and from harm. As the story progresses, we see Carly realise that this isn’t the life for her and longs to make a better one and it makes for sad reading when everything blows up and Carly has to deal with the aftermath.

Although the author doesn’t go into much detail of the extent of the sex abuse, there is enough details for the reader to read between the lines, how never to say no and bite the sheets and this does make for disturbing imagery for teenagers as young as 14 and younger.

Deeply dark and troubling. ‘The Source’ shines a light on sex abuse within the army and police, forces that are meant to protect and not to deprive young ones of their innocence. The story is written over a decade, shows how far a person will go for a story as well as confronting their past. Fast paced and powerful writing from the very beginning, ‘The Source’ is a hard hitting and emotional story about survival and resilience.

You can pre-order ‘The Source’ from Amazon and will be available from good bookshops from 15th April 2021.

Hunt By Leona Deakin

Hunt‘Hunt’ is the third book in Leona Deakin’s ‘Dr Bloom’ series.

The Foreign Secretary is being held under the Terrorism Act. He will answer the police’s questions on one condition – they let him speak to Dr Augusta Bloom. He asks Bloom to track down his niece, Scarlett, who hasn’t spoken to her family for ten years. The last they heard, Scarlett was getting involved with Artemis – an organisation dedicated to women’s rights and the feminist movement, led by the charismatic Paula Kunis. But as Bloom learns more about Artemis, she’s torn. Is this organisation everything it claims to be, or do they have a secret side and an alternative agenda? And if so, what has become of Scarlett? The only way to find out for sure is for Bloom to go undercover. But will she make it out safely – or will she become the next Artemis woman to disappear?

Leona is back with a new book, with old characters resurfacing that Dr. Bloom thought that she and her team and put into prison but it seems that due to lack of evidence Seraphine Walker was walked free.

In the latest book of the series, Dr Bloom’s services has been required by the Secretary of State to look into the disappearance of his niece, Scarlett who no one has heard from in many years. There’s a fear that she’s been held captive in a women’s group called Artemis, so Dr. Bloom finds herself entering the group hoping to find Scarlett but instead is faced with dealing with a clever group of women and discovers that once you enter Artemis, you never get out.

I really enjoyed this book and this series. Dr. Bloom is a great character and gives a fascinating insight into police procedure and psychology. Cleverly written with tension and suspense throughout, this taunt thriller made for gripping reading.

The story is seen from multiple characters, Dr. Bloom, her partner Jameson as well as Scarlett, the missing woman and Seraphine Walker.

The different narratives really set the tone for the story, a countdown into finding the missing woman as well as Dr. Bloom getting deeper into the Artemis group. Although, the group has been created for to empower woman, it seems to brainwash its members into staying and that the outside world isn’t for them.

This latest book is a thrilling read, giving further insights and details into the character’s past and this narrative really adds to the story.

Fast paced and riddled with drama and twists throughout, ‘Hunt’ is another thrilling and suspenseful story in the Dr. Bloom series.

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

Unsettled Ground By Claire Fuller

Unsettled Ground‘Unsettled Ground’ is the latest book by Claire Fuller.

Twins Jeanie and Julius have always been different from other people. At 51 years old, they still live with their mother, Dot, in rural isolation and poverty. Inside the walls of their old cottage they make music, and in the garden they grow (and sometimes kill) everything they need for sustenance. But when Dot dies suddenly, threats to their livelihood start raining down. Jeanie and Julius would do anything to preserve their small sanctuary against the perils of the outside world, even as their mother’s secrets begin to unravel, putting everything they thought they knew about their lives at stake.

‘Unsettled Ground’ is a dark and unsettling story about twin brother and sister Julius and Jeanie Seeder, who’s lives change drastically when their mother dies. The siblings are reclusive characters, who live alone in their old fashioned cottage with no electricity or modern amenities. When their mother dies, it comes to light that she owed a lot of debts which in light of her death, was then passed onto her children.

Both the pair have to think of ways of making money, but are very limited in their skills. Although, he’s hard worker and can turn his hand to most skills, Julius cannot travel far due to travel sickness, whilst Jeanie has a bad heart and has to look after herself. As they struggle and save, it makes for sad and frustrating reading, as they are dealt constant hardship from the bullies of the town. We see rare moments of genuine happiness, when the twins play their instruments and sing together and maybe in another world could have been successful artists.

The story is beautifully written and vividly descriptive at very opportunity, from the run down cottage to the vibrant garden that Jeanie helps bring to life to earn a few pound. The characters are a fascinating blend of personalities, from the quiet reclusive sister to the sociable brother who enjoys engaging with others, whilst Jeanie prefers to shy away. But as the story progresses, we see her grow into a stronger and more independent woman, who begins to befriends others as she thinks of creative ways to make an income as well as provide a life for her and her brother.

One thing that struck a chord with me, was that Jeanie couldn’t read and I found this genuinely upsetting, as she struggled to adapt without her mother and brother reading for her. She made me realise how fortunate I am that I can read as she struggled with basic things such as shop for groceries. As an avid reader and book lover, it was sad to read that she missed out on an opportunity to learn to read which would have opened so many doors for her.

Atmospheric from the first page, ‘Unsettled Ground’ is a taunt and tense novel about loss, deceit and what might have been, that made for clever and gripping reading with unthinkable twist that will stay with you long after you reached the final page.

You can pre-order ‘Unsettled Ground’ from Amazon and will be available to buy from good bookshops from 25th March 2021.

One By One By Helen Bridgett

One By One‘One By One’ is the latest book by Helen Bridgett.

Professor Maxie Reddick has her reasons for being sceptical of traditional policing methods, but, in between her criminology lecturing job and her Criminal Thoughts podcast, she stays firmly on the side lines of the crime solving world. Then a young woman is brutally attacked, and suddenly it’s essential that Maxie turns her words into actions; this is no longer an academic exercise – this is somebody’s life. But as she delves deeper, the case takes a sickening turn, which leads Maxie to the horrifying realisation that the attack might not have been a one-off. It seems there’s a depraved individual out there seeking revenge, and they’ll stop at nothing to get it … little by little … one by one.

When a young woman is raped at a wedding, her friend contacts Maxie Reddick, the criminal professor with a successful podcast series. Georgina, the victim doesn’t want to go to the police but Maxie is doing in her power to convince Georgina otherwise as well as try to find the rapist. As Georgina finally begins to open up to Maxie, she is murdered and Maxie feels at a loss and that she has let the young woman down.

Determined more than ever to find Georgina’s rapist and murderer by starting her own investigation with the aid of the police but as the Maxie begins to piece things together and make new connections, there’s someone who is ahead of her taking them down one by one.

The story is primarily seen through Maxie’s perspective, a driven woman who’s determined to get justice for Georgina, who she feels that she has let down. Maxie throws herself into her work, much to the annoyance of her husband Philip, who’s recently started a mysterious new job after his redundancy. After many years of marriage, Maxie is unhappy with the relationship and spends most of her time avoiding Philip and his interference and sleeping in separate rooms.

To add a little bit more suspense to this already cleverly written thriller, there are also narratives from the rapist/murderer and this really does makes for interesting reading as the reader tries to piece together clues from their perspectives.

A gripping police procedural thriller, with characters that make for fascinating reading and a protagonist that is determined to bring justice to light, ‘One By One’ is a great book filled with twists, suspense that keeps the reader fully engaged throughout.

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

The Favour By Laura Vaughan

The Favour‘The Favour’ is the latest book by Laura Vaughan.

When she was thirteen years old, Ada Howell lost not just her father, but the life she felt she was destined to lead. Now, at eighteen, Ada is given a second chance when her wealthy godmother gifts her with an extravagant art history trip to Italy. In the palazzos of Venice, the cathedrals of Florence and the villas of Rome, she finally finds herself among the kind of people she aspires to be: sophisticated, cultured, privileged. Ada does everything in her power to prove she is one of them. And when a member of the group dies in suspicious circumstances, she seizes the opportunity to permanently bind herself to this gilded set. But everything hidden must eventually surface, and when it does, Ada discovers she’s been keeping a far darker secret than she could ever have imagined.

‘The Favour’ is an interesting story of lust, jealousy and obsession about one woman’s watchful eye on the sidelines that gives her power when she witnesses something that could potentially ruin other people’s lives.

The story is seen through the narrative of Ada Howell, stepdaughter to a famous author who sadly passes away, resulting in Ada and her mother leaving Wales for London and a completely different life. Although Anthony Howell was not Ada’s biographical father, she was close to the man and aspired to be a writer like him, name dropping him at every opportunity. Looking forward to going to Oxford University, her aunt Delilah has the grand idea that Ada should go on Dilettanti Discoveries, a tour of Italy. It’s whilst on this tour, that she makes life long friends including the rich and sophisticated siblings Annabelle and Lorcan. But one night a terrible tragedy occurs when one of the students falls to her death and the 3 are the only witnesses.

The story flows over a number of years, as Ada uses her power of knowledge from that particular night to get close within the folds of Lorcan’s and Annabelle society and achieve success. Although she is not openly threatening the duo, they are aware of the favour, but others in the circle particularly Oliver, a pompous character who dislikes Ada is suspicious of the close friendship. Ada also dislikes Oliver, as whilst in Italy, they were both vying for the attention for their fellow peers with arguments and childish remarks.

For me, this book was an interesting story but I really disliked Ada and I occasionally I found this to be frustrating reading. She was deceitful, sneaky but terribly clever and not remorseful of her actions but that probably made her a great character. She longs to be on the inside and not on the sidelines and will stop at nothing to achieve success whether that’s using her father’s name to her advantage or witness to a young girl’s death where she only knows the truth of that night.

‘The Favour’ is an fascinating and intelligent story seen from the narrative of a dislikable character that keeps the reader on edge with this atmospheric story of lust and ambition.

You can buy ‘The Favour’ from Amazon.