Last Lullaby – Detective Natalie Ward #2 by Carol Wyer

REVIEW

A gripping and chilling thriller that will leave you wondering if anyone is who they claim to be. DI Natalie Ward and her team are back, this time on the hunt for a killer who beat a woman to death in her own home.

When the body of wife and mother, Charlotte Brannon, is found beaten to death by a baseball bat, Natalie seeks to find the truth about what really happened that evening.  With alibis that turn into lies flying around it is hard to get any story straight, but as the pieces of the puzzle begin to align is the real picture forming or is someone playing games?

With the discovery of a second body, DI Ward is on a race against time to track down the culprit and ensure that they can’t strike again.

A captivating mystery suspense that had me picking suspects all the way through and then discarding them as new information was revealed. Natalie is not shy in showing her frustration when the case is not going her way and her team are right behind her.  There is a great dynamic within this team and a connection that goes beyond simple work colleagues.  Natalie’s home life is still up and down, David is keeping secrets and blaming Natalie for just about everything. With home and work demanding more and more from her, Natalie seems on the edge of breaking point, lets hope someone will help her pick up the pieces if/when it happens.

Great series. Next in the series – The Dare

Listened to via Audible. Narrated by Diana Croft

Rating 5/5

Synopsis

Charlotte’s baby is safe. But is she? 

When the body of young mother Charlotte Brannon is discovered by her husband in their immaculate, silver bedroom, Detective Natalie Ward is first on the scene. The killer has left a chilling calling card: the word ‘Why?’ written on the wall in blood. 

Determined to find justice, Natalie quickly discovers the husband is hiding a troubled past, and she’s sure the teenage babysitter’s alibi doesn’t quite add up. 

But before Natalie can dig deeper, another mother is murdered, her young son left distraught, staring at a fresh ‘who’ scrawled beside her. 

Natalie knows it’s only a matter of time before the killer strikes again, but all the key suspects have alibis. It’s her toughest case yet, and with her marriage hanging by a thread, the cracks are beginning to show. 

Just when Natalie finds an unsettling clue she thinks could solve the case, another young woman and her baby disappear, and a member of Natalie’s team is put in terrible danger. 

Can Natalie stop this twisted killer and save one of her own before more families are torn apart forever? 

(https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/42105401-last-lullaby)

The Birthday – Detective Natalie Ward #1 by Carol Wyer

REVIEW

From the Author of the DI Robyn Carter Series comes a new detective who will stop at nothing to find her killer.

DI Natalie Ward and her team find themselves on the hunt for a child serial killer, two years after the disappearance of a young girl from a birthday party.  When the body of Ava Sawyer turns up at the very place she went missing it starts the hunt for her killer but, following the murder of two more girls from the same party, DI Ward finds her list of suspects is extensive.  Is the link between these murders the birthday party or is just a coincidence.  Time is running out and DI Ward must find the killer before another girl goes missing.

Natalie Ward is a completely different character to Robyn Carter.  She is married, although not entirely happily, with two teenage children.  Finding the balance between work and home is a struggle and when a big case turns up, home takes a backseat.  She is close to all her team and they work well together, despite the occasional bit of rivalry. I’m not one to condone infidelity but I’m also not one who believes that you should stay in an unhappy marriage (plus I quite like Mike), be interesting to see where this side of Natalie’s personal life leads.

Carol Wyer never fails to produce an intriguing story-line, well defined characters and captivating plot twists. The Birthday will have you postulating over suspects, speculating over alibis and  conjecturing over motives.  A fantastic murder mystery from one of my favourite mystery authors.

Listened to via Audible. Narrated by Diana Croft.

Rating 5/5

Synopsis

When five-year-old Ava Sawyer goes missing from a birthday party at a local garden centre, the police are bewildered by the lack of leads. That is until two years later, when Ava’s body is found and another little girl, Audrey Briggs, goes missing. Audrey also attended that party …

Leading the investigation is Detective Natalie Ward. A mother of two teenagers, this case chills her to the bone, and is a disturbing reminder of the last job she worked on. One that ended very badly.

Natalie soon discovers that Ava’s mother has some worrying gaps in her alibi and as she digs deeper, she’s sure Ava’s father is not telling the full story. And what did the owner of the garden centre Elsa see that day? Something that she’s not telling Natalie …

Just as Natalie is facing up to the grim possibility that Ava and Audrey were killed by someone close to home, another little girl from the party doesn’t come home from her ballet lesson. Can Natalie find a way to stop this killer before more innocent lives are taken?

(https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40682386-the-birthday)

The Silent Children – DI Robyn Carter #4 by Carol Wyer

REVIEW

DI Robyn Carter finds herself embroiled in secrets yet again when people start being murdered for no apparent reason.

When a man is found shot in his car, an investigation will lead DI Carter and her team to have to try to piece together the who, what, why and whereabouts of friends and family, in order to solve this case.  But as the team dig deeper more people are turning up dead and the links between them are tenuous at best.  Secrets and lies are in abundance but who can Robyn believe?  Red-herrings and misconceptions thwart the investigation at every turn.  What is everyone hiding and is it worth killing for?

Yet another page-turning, gripping mystery from one of my favourite mystery/thriller writers. The Then and Now sections that intersperse all of the DI Carter novels so far give the story more depth and the reader more intrigue.  Who is the ‘then’ referring too? Why does it impact on what is happening now?  It definitely creates more mystery for the reader whilst developing a backstory for the antagonist.

Robyn’s abilities to use her gut instinct where murders are concerned is getting her noticed with the higher-ups but she always ensures that her team receive the praise that they deserve.  I am really getting into the back story about Davies as well now.  Is he alive and stalking Robyn?  Where has he been for the last two years.  I really hope we find out soon.  I’ll be honest, I hope he does come back and, for whatever reason he had to disappear, Robyn forgives him and they actually get some happiness (Ok, so I’m a romantic at heart!) but I have a feeling we are a little way off that yet.

(I did actually read book 5 as an ARC before I started this series, so I have vague idea where it goes from here, but that was a while ago and I have resisted rereading what I put until I have listened to the audio version and can update it)

Listened to via Audible. Narrated by Emma Newman.

Rating 5/5

Synopsis

The boy studied the bruise turning yellow at the base of his neck. With quick fingers his mother tightened his tie, and pulled his collar high above it. Her eyes alone said, We will not speak of this… 

Years later, a man is found shot dead in a local park. On his phone is a draft text: I can’t keep this secret any longer. The recipient is unnamed. 

Detective Robyn Carter knows this secret is the key to the case, but his friends and family don’t offer any clues, and all her team have to go on is a size-ten footprint. 

Then a woman is found in a pool of blood at the bottom of her staircase, and a seemingly insignificant detail in her stepdaughter’s statement makes Robyn wonder: are the two bodies are connected, and has the killer only just begun? 

When another body confirms Robyn’s worst fears, she realises she’s in a race against time to stop the killer before they strike again. But just as she thinks she’s closing in, one of her own team goes missing. 

Buried in the past is a terrible injustice. Can Robyn uncover the truth before another life is lost? 

(https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36266645-the-silent-children)

 

The Missing Girls – DI Robyn Carter #3 by Carol Wyer

REVIEW

DI Robyn Carter and her team are up against the clock in this latest thriller by Carol Wyer.

Robyn’s expertise are called upon when a young girls body is found during a drugs raid on a warehouse.  When a second body is found, Robyn believes that the girls may have been killed by the same person despite the difference in circumstances.  With links on social media, online dating sites and train stations connecting the girls, the team have to work overtime to cover all areas and narrow down the list of suspects.

When Amélie’s best friend, Florence, starts exhibiting unusual behaviour, Amélie looks to Robyn for guidance but is it just teenage hormones or is there something more going on?  Robyn needs to find their killer before one more young life is wiped out.

On top of everything, Robyn is thrown into turmoil when she receives a surprise package. Is someone playing a trick on her or has she been lied too?

Due to the content of the story I found it interesting to listen to, mainly because I could relate it to having two teenagers of my own.  Admittedly they are both boys, however they are regularly attached to devices, normally with headphones, and as a parent there is a fine line between needing to know what they are watching and who they are talking to whilst still allowing them independence and privacy.

This is a very well-written, hard-hitting story about the consequences of our actions and the affect social media and online-sites can have on our lives.

Listened to via Audible. Narrated by Emma Newman.

Rating 5/5

Synopsis

One girl found dead. Another girl gone…

Long shadows danced on the tin walls. Inside the trunk lay Carrie Miller, wrapped in plastic, arms folded across her ribcage, lips sealed tight forever…

When, a girl’s body is found at a Midlands storage unit, it is too decomposed for Detective Robyn Carter to read the signs left by the killer.

No one knows the woman in blue who rented the unit; her hire van can’t be traced. But as the leads run dry another body is uncovered. This time the killer’s distinctive mark is plain to see, and matching scratches on the first victim’s skeleton make Robyn suspect she’s searching for a serial killer.

As Robyn closes in on the killer’s shocking hunting ground, another girl goes missing, and this time it’s someone close to her own heart.

Robyn can’t lose another loved one. Can she find the sickest individual she has ever faced, before it’s too late?

(https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35514147-the-missing-girls)

Little Girl Lost – DI Robyn Carter #1 by Carol Wyer

REVIEW

Carol Wyer knows how to bring suspense and conceal secrets in this first DI Robyn Carter novel.  An exciting and gripping story that had me hooked from the first page.

Little Girl Lost begins when a young girl is indecently assaulted by her soon-to-be step-brother and the fallout from this incident, along with the tragic events that follow, send the girl on a road of anger and revenge.

When Abigail Thorne starts to receive anonymous letters and phone calls she knows that her secrets may not stay secret for much longer.  But who can she trust?  Is her husband having an affair?  Does she hear voices? Is someone trying to make her crazy? Or is it all in her head?

Whilst on temporary leave and working for her cousin’s PI firm, DI Robyn Carter finds herself embroiled in a missing persons case. When Robyn notices a link between the missing person, a murder, and the unusual incidents happening to Abigail, she must find out how and who connects them.  The truth must be told if the Little Girl Lost is to be found.

This story starts with an harrowing incident and spirals into a world of secrets and suffering.  As the reader, we know who is doing it, we just don’t know who ‘she’ is!  The twists and intrigue associated with this story kept me listening at every opportunity, whilst ideas and thoughts bounced around inside my head as to who the girl actually is.  Very well written, and although it took me a while to get used to the narrator of this audio version, I soon became lost in the story.

Listened to via Audible. Narrated by Emma Newman.

Rating 5/5 

Synopsis

A perfect family hiding disturbing secrets. A killer who wants the truth to be told. 

A teacher goes missing under suspicious circumstances. 
A millionaire is murdered at a local reservoir. 
For Detective Robyn Carter, there’s no obvious link between the men. But as she starts to delve into the cases, her investigations lead her to Abigail, perfect wife and mother to beautiful little Izzy. What was Abigail’s connection to the victims? And why is she receiving threatening messages from an anonymous number? 

But as Robyn starts to inch closer to finding the killer, Izzy is abducted. 

Unless Robyn gets to the twisted individual in time, a little girl will die … 

(https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32762388-little-girl-lost)

Dead End – DI Kelly Porter #3 by Rachel Lynch

REVIEW

Suspenseful and thrilling from the very first chapter.

DI Kelly Porter is still reeling in the aftermath of ‘The Teacher’ when new tragedy strikes.  The local aristocracy, who generally keep to themselves in the grounds of Wasdale Hall, comprises of the Earl, Xavier-Paulus II and his illegitimate grandson, Zachary. When Xavier is found hanging in his study, suicide is the immediate assumption but some things just don’t add up and Kelly unearths some secrets that perhaps should have remained hidden.  With the disappearance of two young women from a local campsite, DI Porter and her team have their work cut out of them.

This story has many twists and turns and continually keeps the reader guessing and surmising as to who did what and how, several times I thought ‘it’s him, it’s got to be, no it can’t be because…’.  I love it when a book makes me think and question my own thoughts and this one did exactly that. The characters are very well written and I really liked the way the backstory was written in at varying intervals, gaining little snippets of their lives, their secrets and their shames.   I’m not sure but there may be a few new regulars appearing in future books, maybe?!  Rachel Lynch has an amazing way of reminding the reader of the beauty and serenity of the Lakes and hills amidst the ugliness of human nature and despite the murders and kidnappings there is a peace that exists in the Fells and falls.

I can’t help but like Kelly and really want her to be happy.  She gets grief from all sides, her mother, her sister, her so-called friends, it is so nice to see that she has a constant companion in Johnny (long may it continue) and that in the darkest times he can bring a little ray of sunshine into her life.  Don’t get me wrong, like most couples they have their ups and downs but they are good together and help each other through the toughness of their jobs.

An engaging and engrossing mystery thriller that you will not want to put down.

Although it is not strictly necessary, I would advice reading the books in order.

Rating 5/5

Synopsis

When the seventh Earl of Lowesdale is found hanging from the rafters at Wasdale Hall, everyone assumes the aging, hard-partying aristocrat had finally had enough of chasing the glory of his youth. But when the coroner finds signs of foul play, DI Kelly Porter is swept into a luxurious world where secrets and lies dominate.

At the same time, two young hikers go missing and it’s up to Kelly to lead the search. But digging deeper reveals ties to two other unsolved disappearances and Kelly and her team find themselves in a race against time.

Now, as all roads of both investigations and Kelly’s own family secrets lead to Wasdale Hall it becomes more important than ever for Kelly to discover the devious truths hidden behind the walls of the Lake District’s most exclusive estate…

(https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/41152149-dead-end)

The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley

REVIEW

This is a new author to me and I really like finding out whether I will enjoy an authors work or not.  It took me a while to get into this book.  There are a lot of characters, and it was a little confusing at first trying to remember who was with whom and how they were connected, but after the first couple of chapters I soon had it sorted.

The story is about nine friends, who spend every New Year’s eve together.   This year they have hired a lodge and cabins in the Highlands of Scotland.  The only other people around are Heather – the manager, Doug – the Gamekeeper, Liam – the handyman, and two unexpected Icelandic travellers. To say that nobody has the New Year that they are expecting is an understatement!

This is a mystery with a twist. Not only do we not know who the murderer is until the very end, we also don’t know who the victim is.  It certainly was an interesting way of writing the story that keeps the reader wondering  and trying to piece information together about who either party could be.  There is a lot of backstory about the characters throughout this book which does have relevance when it is all tied together but I wouldn’t say that there was anything definitive to give the game away, but that is just me.

The story is told from the point of view of three of the female ‘friends’, as well as Heather and Doug. It also switches between the past and the present, which adds some more intrigue to the story as we still don’t know who has died.  Very well written in that regard.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, it is well written and has some very interesting characters. I will be reading more by this author in future.

Rating 4/5

ARC Review – Courtesy of Netgalley

Synopsis

The Hunting Party is the author’s first crime novel and is described as combining elements of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None (HarperCollins) and The Secret History (Penguin) by Donna Tartt.

The novel follows a a tight-knit group of Oxford university alumni as they celebrate New Year’s Eve in the wilderness of the Loch Corrin Estate in Scotland. A HarperFiction spokesperson said: “In these wild, white climes the group reminisce, go deer stalking, and hide friendship-destroying secrets, secrets that set a razor-sharp sequence of events in motion, culminating with a broken body in the snow.”  

(https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/37642030-the-hunting-party)