All the Hidden Truths – Three Rivers by Claire Askew

REVIEW

A compelling fictional story that follows the lives of three different women in the wake of a school shooting.

Moira Summers, the mother of Ryan Summers, who on May 14th walked into his college and shot 13 girls before turning the gun on himself.

Ishbel Hodgekiss, the mother of Abigail Hodgekiss, the first girl to be shot by Ryan Summers.

DI Helen Birch, lead investigator in the Three Rivers College Shooting.

The story is told from the point of view of all three women, from the day before to several weeks after, leading the reader through the thoughts, sleepless nights, family upset and the difficulties that emerge from such a sudden and violent incident.

I was uncertain, to start with, as to whether this book would hold my interest.  The subject matter is quite upsetting but the behind-the-scenes insight into the police enquiry, the bereaved families and the unknown answers really made me stop and think about how I would cope in this situation, whether it was as a victim’s relative, the mother of the murderer, or as a support worker to the family.  I’ll admit I tried not to dwell on any of these thoughts for too long and could actually relate, in part, to the two mothers.  As a mother of two boys (11 & 13) I know that they can plug into whatever screen is currently at hand and not talk to you for hours, sometimes only appearing when their tummies tell them to.  It is difficult to find the right balance between overbearing, nosy and intrusive, and giving them space, privacy and, most importantly, trust.

The end of the book really got to me.  Lots of secrets are revealed from all three women during the course of the story but for me it was the last chapter.  I’m not sure it would have made any difference.  I think that if someone has worked that hard and been that focused on doing what Ryan did, then nothing is going to stop them.

I would just like to say that I don’t know why Ishbel stayed with that complete idiot (polite word!) and to do what he did at the vigil, I think I would have ripped his eyes out!

Rating 4/5

Synopsis

This is a fact: Ryan Summers walked into Three Rivers College and killed thirteen women, then himself.

But no one can say why.

The question is one that cries out to be answered – by Ryan’s mother, Moira; by Ishbel, the mother of Abigail, the first victim; and by DI Helen Birch, put in charge of the case on her first day at her new job. But as the tabloids and the media swarm, as the families’ secrets come out, as the world searches for someone to blame… the truth seems to vanish.

(https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/39683130-all-the-hidden-truths)

A Merciful Secret – Mercy Kilpatrick #3 by Kendra Elliot

REVIEW

Secrets and mystery surround Mercy Kilpatrick as she delves into the world of witches, Wicca and wonders.

After finding a distressed young girl on the side of the road near her hidden cabin, Mercy finds herself desperately trying to save the life of the girls grandmother who has been repeated slashed.  As the old woman’s life begins to slip away, Mercy hears her chanting a strange string of words that make no sense. When a second victim is found with identical markings, an old friend and fellow FBI agent, Ava McLane, works alongside Mercy and Truman to discover the full story behind the secrets in the woods.

The story was exciting and bordered on the mystical.  I loved the twist towards the end and I’ll be honest I did not see it coming, especially the connection between Salome Sabin and Christian Lake.  I have found that quite a bit with Kendra’s books, the ending is not predictable at all and it is often the last person you would expect.

It was great to have a character appearance from another series – Callahan and McLane – in this story, but this was not the only ‘guest’ appearance! I do enjoy when an author has a bit of a cross over with their other work.  I find it brings the imaginary worlds together and gives me a little insight into what some of my favourite characters are doing since their own series finished. I’m very much a person who once they find a good series wants it to go on forever, but even I know that this is not practical and everything has to come to an end, so to have them pop up every so often is lovely.

Mercy and Truman’s relationship is going from strength to strength, long may it continue, as is the relationship with Mercy and Kaylie. I also love Rose, I have great respect for her and really hope that she finds someone to settle down with, Nick Walker sounds promising.

Listened to via Audible. Narrated by Teri Schnaubelt.

Synopsis

Raised off the grid by survivalists, Mercy Kilpatrick believed in no greater safeguard than the backwoods of Oregon. Unforgiven by her father for abandoning the fold for the FBI, Mercy still holds to her past convictions. They’re in her blood. They’re her secrets—as guarded as her private survival retreat hidden away in the foothills.

In a cabin near her hideaway, Mercy encounters a young girl whose grandmother is dying from multiple knife wounds. Hundreds of miles away, a body is discovered slashed to death in a similar way. The victims—a city judge and an old woman living in the woods—couldn’t be more different. With the help of police chief Truman Daly, Mercy must find the killer before the body count rises. Mercy knows that the past has an edge on her. So does her family. How can she keep her secrets now…when they’re the only things that can save her?

(https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34868170-a-merciful-secret)

A Merciful Truth – Mercy Kilpatrick #2 by Kendra Elliot

REVIEW

Mercy and Truman are back in the next exciting installment of the Mercy Kilpatrick series.

Truman Daly is investigating a series of Arson attacks which bring on bad memories from his past.  When a couple of his deputies are killed during one such attack the FBI are brought in to assist.  Mercy Kilpatrick leads the investigation into the murders and working alongside her boyfriend, Truman, they uncover the works of a possible militia group formed under the guise of preppers.

Mercy’s character is great and I love how she is determined to stay independent but also desperately wants to be loved by Truman, Kaylie and the rest of her family.  Although she does not fully follow in her family’s way of life she has never been able to give up on the prepper life completely. Truman is definitely one of the good guys and is so perfect for Mercy.  He loves her completely but knows he cannot push her. He embraces her way of life and her family.  He loves how she has taken on Kaylie and watches the struggle into forced motherhood that she has taken, but will only intervene when Mercy really needs him.

This story, like the first, had a very unexpected ending.  There are lots of secrets being held in this small town of Eagle’s Nest, in particularly within the Kilpatrick household, but bit by bit they are being uncovered.  Mercy is becoming more accepted by members of her family, although one of them is still very reluctant.

Engaging and exciting.  I really enjoyed this story from start to finish.

Some violence and strong language. No intimate sexual scenes.

Listened to via Audible. Narrated by Teri Schnaubelt.

Synopsis

Raised by a family of survivalists, FBI agent Mercy Kilpatrick can take on any challenge—even the hostile reception to her homecoming. But she’s not the only one causing chaos in the rural community of Eagle’s Nest, Oregon. At first believed to be teenage pranks, a series of fires takes a deadly turn with the murder of two sheriff’s deputies. Now, along with Police Chief Truman Daly, Mercy is on the hunt for an arsonist turned killer.

Still shunned by her family and members of the community, Mercy must keep her ear close to the ground to pick up any leads. And it’s not long before she hears rumors of the area’s growing antigovernment militia movement. If the arsonist is among their ranks, Mercy is determined to smoke the culprit out. But when her investigation uncovers a shocking secret, will this hunt for a madman turn into her own trial by fire?

(https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32885178-a-merciful-truth)

A Merciful Death – Mercy Kilpatrick #1 by Kendra Elliot

REVIEW

Mercy Kilpatrick briefly appeared in the Callahan and McLane series by the same author.  I am please that she has now got her own series and this opening book promises to hold some exciting stories for Mercy. I have previously read all the ‘Bones Secrets’ series and ‘Callahan and McLane’ series, so I was very much looking forward to starting this one.

Estranged from her family since the age of 18, Mercy finds herself back in her home town of Eagles Nest, following a spate of murders of local preppers. Trying to keep her presence quiet it is inevitable that some people around town will recognise her and eventually she will run into her family. Working alongside the new police chief, Truman Daly, Mercy suspects a link between the recent murders and attacks that happened over 15 years ago, one of which happened very close to home.

Mercy holds her own secrets throughout this book but as her connection with Truman grows so does her trust in him, however this is a very long process.  Truman is a down-to-earth kind of guy who left the big city following a nasty incident. He has ties to the town of Eagle’s Nest and when Mercy enters his life he finds even more reason to stay.

Mercy and Truman’s relationship is a slow build, mostly on Mercy’s part, but it is (I hope) destined to stand the test of time.  They show signs of being a great complement to each other.

This is an interesting and exciting story.  The whole situation with the preppers and the reason behind what they do and why is very thought provoking in the sense of what would happen in a disaster.  It also highlights how much we all take luxuries, even the likes of electricity and running water, for granted.  The leads that Truman and Mercy follow kept me guessing as to who might be causing the attacks and the ending was a huge, and very sad, surprise. I really was not expecting that.

Contains moderate violence, some strong language. No sexual scenes.

Listened to via Audible. Narrated by Teri Schnaubelt.

Synopsis

FBI special agent Mercy Kilpatrick has been waiting her whole life for disaster to strike. A prepper since childhood, Mercy grew up living off the land—and off the grid—in rural Eagle’s Nest, Oregon. Until a shocking tragedy tore her family apart and forced her to leave home. Now a predator known as the cave man is targeting the survivalists in her hometown, murdering them in their homes, stealing huge numbers of weapons, and creating federal suspicion of a possible domestic terrorism event. But the crime scene details are eerily familiar to an unsolved mystery from Mercy’s past.

Sent by the FBI to assist local law enforcement, Mercy returns to Eagle’s Nest to face the family who shunned her while maintaining the facade of a law-abiding citizen. There, she meets police chief Truman Daly, whose uncle was the cave man’s latest victim. He sees the survivalist side of her that she desperately tries to hide, but if she lets him get close enough to learn her secret, she might not survive the fallout…

(https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29986740-a-merciful-death?ac=1&from_search=true)

Kiss of Death – Detective Mark Heckenburg, Book 7 by Paul Finch

REVIEW

To say I have been left reeling by this latest chapter in Heck’s life is an understatement!

Detective Sergeant Mark Heckenburg is back but could this be last case for Heck at the SCU?

When SCU combines forces with the Cold Case Squad, in order to save departments, they soon realise that they are not the only ones who have been looking for felons gone to ground.  Heck once again follows his instincts to uncover the deeper powers behind the disappearances.

Really enjoyed this book and loved it as the story unfolded every time Heck put two and two together.  The SCU really would be lost without him. There are elements of violence throughout this book but I would say that they are not as graphic and expansive as some of Paul Finch’s previous books have contained, that being said there are still some scenes that made me squirm. I know this is fictional writing but the sad truth is, is that out there somewhere, there are people who are capable of such depraved and unconscionable crimes.  Let’s hope we also have a Heck out there to stop them.

Lots of favourite characters are back again, with a few new faces to make things interesting! Does Gemma have a new love interest? For that matter, does Heck?!

This is a far more emotional book for Heck than the previous stories in the series.  Although he still manages to get himself into scrapes and generally disregard orders from higher up, Heck embraces the inner demons that have been plaguing him of late and faces them full force.  With decisions made and words spoken I was on the brink of happiness but then the end of the book happened…

This was an ARC Review for Netgalley

Release date 9th August 2018

Synopsis

Don’t let them catch you…

A Deadly Hunt
DS ‘Heck’ Heckenburg has been tasked with retrieving one of the UK’s most wanted men. But the trail runs cold when Heck discovers a video tape showing the fugitive in a fight for his life. A fight he has no chance of winning.

A Dangerous Game
Heck realises that there’s another player in this game of cat and mouse, and this time, they’ve not just caught the prize: they’ve made sure no one else ever does.

A Man Who Plays With Fire
How far will Heck and his team go to protect some of the UK’s most brutal killers? And what price is he willing to pay?

(https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/38613621-kiss-of-death)

 

Ashes to Ashes – DS Heckenburg #6 by Paul Finch

REVIEW

Heck is back on home turf and it’s not a happy experience for him.

Following a lead for a known torturer, Heck and the SCU team are plunged into the middle of a drugs gang war, however someone else is out to cause mayhem.  Dubbed ‘The Incinerator’, a lone figure has been burning people alive with the use of a flame-thrower.  When Heck is taken off his original case and moved to the incinerator case he is less than happy, but when the two cases collide Heck could be in more danger than he realises.

Heck is by far my favourite detective. He is not your traditional ‘guns-blazing’ hero, he gets dirty, tired and more often than not beaten up.  Like a tenacious Jack Russell, he grabs hold of a lead, shakes it around until something gives, then sinks in his teeth to leave his mark.

This story was far more personal to Heck than his previous cases.  Being on his home turf hasn’t helped but when friends become suspects and family becomes victims, Heck feels it more and to some respect it makes him reflect on his life.  The ‘chat’ with Gemma Piper doesn’t help the situation either.

The relationship between Heck and Gemma needs to advance. Part of me really wants them to get together but then another part feels that, although Gemma shows signs of the love she used to have for Heck, she will always choose her career over him, maybe the same could be said the other way round as well.  I would just really like to see Heck happy with a partner who will be there for him, help him through the tough cases, and love him for who he is without trying to change him.  If this turns out to be Gemma than I would be happy, if not then so be it (plot twist – what if Hazel from ‘Dead Man Walking’ came back in his life?)

And what’s going to happen to Shawna?  Really like her character and her link to Heck.  I think she also helps to keep him sane in a non-romantic capacity.

Another exciting and action-packed case for DS Mark Heckenburg.

Listened via Audible – narrated by Paul Thornley

Synopsis

John Sagan is a forgettable man. You could pass him in the street and not realise he’s there. But then, that’s why he’s so dangerous.

A torturer for hire, Sagan has terrorised – and mutilated – countless victims. And now he’s on the move. DS Mark ‘Heck’ Heckenburg must chase the trail, even when it leads him to his hometown of Bradburn – a place he never thought he’d set foot in again.

But Sagan isn’t the only problem. Bradburn is being terrorised by a lone killer who burns his victims to death. And with the victims chosen at random, no-one knows who will be next. Least of all Heck…

(https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25394450-ashes-to-ashes)

 

 

Dead Man Walking – DS Heckenburg #4 by Paul Finch

REVIEW

A thrilling fourth installment for DS Mark Heckenburg.

Having left the SCU for a more sedate life in the Lake District, Heck is now the local detective in a quiet village where the most excitement he gets is tracking down thieves preying on local tourists.  However, when a young girl is found shot on the hills, her harrowing account leaves Heck chilled.  The story brings back memories from a decade ago that are too close to home for comfort. As more and more horrific murders are caused by the elusive “Stranger”, Heck is determined to ensure this monster does not get away again.

This is a very different setting for Heck and a much needed respite, although it is clearly not where he belongs.  It’s not that Heck goes out looking for trouble but he is definitely a man of action and much happier when he is out on the streets bringing down the bad guys. The deaths are without doubt gruesome and graphic in their description but that is one thing I like about the way Paul Finch writes.  He does not hold anything back and approaches each scene in a very specific way by giving the reader a full character description, even if the character is not around for long, a lot of thought and detail goes into each and every one of the characters in these stories and everyone has vital role to play.   The build up and ‘getting to know’ the victim is what makes each murder even more horrifying as the reader can associate more with them and sympathise at their plight, it is almost as if you (the reader) are waiting for the hero to swoop in at the last minute and rescue the damsel, but this rarely happens.

Broken lives and broken hearts are left in the wake of the ‘Stranger’ and Heck is once again left to pick up the pieces and reassess his life.  What is next for DS Mark Heckenburg?

Previously read in 2015.  Listened to via Audible 2018 – Narrated by Paul Thornley

Synopsis

Beware the stranger in the night…

Consigned to a remote valley in the Lake District, DS Mark ‘Heck’ Heckenburg is getting used to a quieter life—a far cry from the bloodbath of his former division, the Serial Crimes Unit. But wherever Heck goes, trouble is never far behind.

Unknown to Heck, ‘The Stranger’ has returned. Last seen on Dartmoor ten years earlier, this prolific serial killer has found a new home. As a dense, frozen mist descends on the Lakes, The Stranger returns to his old ways, starting with two young women lost high on the hills. Only one girl is ever found—barely alive—but able to confirm Heck’s worst fears.

As The Stranger lays siege to the remote community, Heck helplessly watches as the killer plays his cruel game, letting off his trademark call before viciously picking off his victims.

And with no way to get word out of the valley, Heck has no choice but to play ball…