Book Review: The Naturalist by Andrew Mayne

Professor Theo Cray is a computational biologist, on a field trip in Montana to study phenotypic plasticity in wood frog tadpoles, when he is caught up in a homicide investigation. An ex-student of his has been found brutally murdered in woodland not far from the motel he is staying at, and Theo is the prime suspect.

Upon further investigation, it appears that the murder was in fact a vicious bear attack, but Theo is not convinced. Against the wishes of local law enforcement, he sets out to investigate the death himself and uncovers a number of disappearances in the area, dating back to years before.

Using a combination of his own computer software, developed to sort through various points of information and identify patterns, and a quizzical and analytical mind, Theo doggedly begins to track a ruthless killer, unearthing bodies and secrets along the way.

But somebody is intent on keeping the murders a secret, and will stop at nothing to ensure that.

I absolutely LOVED this book! It was like a science lesson and a thriller rolled into one, and I learnt some brilliant tidbits of information along the way. Theo is an amusing character too, with some great one-liners and a stubborn determination to get to the root cause no matter what happens along the way.

Can’t wait to read the sequel!

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Book Review: When You Disappeared by John Marrs

I really like John Marrs’ imagination. His books are never your run-of-the-mill psychological thrillers, but instead something a little bit different.

Catherine’s morning appears to be a normal one – waking early to get the kids ready for their day, feeding the dog, going about her daily business. However, nothing is as it seems, as she gradually begins to realise. Her husband Simon has disappeared. His running shoes are still beside the door, his car is parked in the driveway, his wallet is on the dresser. But as for Simon, he has vanished without a trace.

Twenty-five years later, he appears on her doorstep, completely guilt-free about deserting his wife and children so callously, yet intent on explaining his life in the intervening years, and his reasons for leaving.

The story jumps back and forth from present day to twenty five years previous, detailing Simon’s story of adventure and debauchery across Europe and the US as a single man, and Catherine’s life of doubt and depression, struggling to raise her young family in the wake of their loss.

I must confess to disliking Simon intensely. He is a pathetic excuse for a man with no evident conscience, but his story is shocking and action-packed, and not what I had expected at all.

A fabulous read. Highly recommended.

Book Review: Our Little Secret by Darren O’Sullivan

Chris is waiting for a train. But not to take him to another destination. Chris wants to jump in front of the train. He plans to commit suicide and join his wife Julia, who died the previous year.

Sarah has walked out on her ex-boyfriend, tired of being used for one thing, and arrives at the train station to wait for the next train home. Unwittingly, she interrupts Chris’s suicide attempt, and he leaves.

In the following days, Chris is angry that his plan to join his wife was thwarted. He wonders what to do next. He can’t keep on living without Julia. He is scared that the man who killed her will return and make good on his threats to harm the people Chris loves. He isolates himself and plans his next move.

Meanwhile, Sarah can’t get the stranger from the train station out of her mind. As it dawns on her that she stopped a suicide attempt and saved Chris’s life, she becomes obsessed with tracking him down and helping him.

What follows next is a tense psychological thriller that keeps the reader guessing. Chris’s life rapidly unravels as Sarah relentlessly pursues him and immerses herself in his life, certain that they can make each other happy. But Chris is still intent on suicide…

I really enjoyed this book, the debut from Darren O’Sullivan. Even though I had it figured out pretty early on, I was still intrigued to discover what would happen next. The author definitely knows how to keep the reader enthralled and I am looking forward to reading his next thriller.

Book Review: The Visitor by K.L. Slater

I was really excited to purchase this book when I spotted it on Amazon at just 99p for the Kindle version. The author has penned quite a few other titles, and I imagined I had stumbled on a new fave.

Well, you know what they say about judging a book by its cover!

Holly is a woman with a past, returning to the town she grew up in with her tail between her legs. With no money and nowhere to live, she is taken in by the kindly but odd Cora, who has a hidden story of her own.

Neighbour David is another oddball, filling his mornings with his self-important job as a car park attendant a local store Kellingtons, and his afternoons and evenings as the self-appointed Neighbourhood Watch on his street.

They become friends, and it is clear that David has the beginnings of an obsession, while Holly is just living day-by-day and making ‘the most’ of her new life, and therefore doesn’t really take him seriously.

The story jumps between the present and the past both Holly and David are trying to escape, and their past turmoil is definitely a little more exciting than their humdrum lives working at Kellingtons.

Yes, I say humdrum because, even though the storyline has the potential to be great, nothing actually really happens. It is just boring, everyday life. David’s character could have become something fantastically creepy and entertaining, but it just failed to launch, much like the rest of the book.

There is a twist right at the end, which did redeem the book very slightly, but as I had forced myself to continue reading throughout, I didn’t think it warranted a better rating.

2 stars on Goodreads. Disappointingly bland.

Book Review: Trespassing by Brandi Reeds

This was my Kindle First choice for March, and OMG, I’m glad I chose it.

When Veronica’s three year-old daughter Elizabella begins talking to an imaginary friend, Veronica worries that hereditary schizophrenia may be the cause. As a child, she had watched her mother succumb to the disease, and she is frightened for her daughter. Already fraught with tension due to her ongoing IVF treatment, things take a turn for the worse when husband Micah fails to return home after a business trip, and Veronica’s seemingly perfect life begins to unravel.

Suddenly, Elizabella is appearing to predict Micah’s death, which is surely impossible, and the police are suspicious of Veronica’s part in her husbands disappearance. She digs deeper into his life in an effort to track his last movements, and is shocked to discover the extent of Micah’s lies.

Did Micah’s plane really crash into the sea? Why does Veronica own a house in Key West that she has no knowledge of? And who is the night-time smoker who seems to be following her everywhere?

The suspense in this novel is nail-biting, and it is difficult to know who Veronica can trust throughout the story. There are so many twists and turns, along with a smidgen of romance. It certainly keeps you guessing!

This is a brilliant debut novel. I loved it!

Book Review: White is the Coldest Colour by John Nicholl

Doctor David Galbraith is a renowned child psychologist with a well-hidden perversion – he is a voracious paedophile with a predilection for young boys. One of the leading members of a nationwide paedophile ring, he is not averse to using murder and extortion in an effort to get what he wants.

Anthony Mailer is seven years-old and struggling to adapt to the break up of his parents marriage. Worried, his mother Molly arranges an appointment with a child psychologist in an effort to return her son to his former self.

Step in Dr. David Galbraith, who already has Anthony in his depraved sights, and will stop at nothing to fulfil his sick desires.

Despite the sensitive subject matter, which some may find off-putting, this book had all the hallmarks of a decent crime novel. Unfortunately, however, for me, it did fall a little short of the mark.

The writing style leaves a lot to be desired, and definitely highlights the fact that this is a debut novel. It is amateurish, and the dialogue is stilted and cliched. DI Gravel, the main protagonist, is blunt, unnecessarily rude and disparaging, and needs a few lessons in effective people management. And Dr. Galbraith’s habit of calling people “old boy” and “my dear lady” was actually really annoying and unrealistic.

He really is a dangerous and despicable villain though which kept me reading until the end, if only to see him get his comeuppance.

I’ve given this book 3 stars on Goodreads.

Book Review: The Singularity Wheel by Michael S. Fedison

In this sequel to The Eye-Dancers, Mitchell, Joe, Ryan and Marc are BACK, along with Monica Tisdale, the ghost girl.

Five years on from their journey into a parallel universe, summoned by Monica to rescue her from kidnappers, the boys are struggling through their teenage years, their adventures largely forgotten. Life is tough for them all, and their friendships have fallen by the wayside. But suddenly Monica is back in their heads, and stronger than before. She needs their help again, and resistance is futile.

Over the years, Monica’s powers have increased to the point where she cannot control them anymore, and this has lead to her downfall. The boys have to help her, or else she will lose herself completely. And she won’t take no for an answer.

Reunited, the boys set out on the journey back to Colbyville, and along the way are forced to confront and deal with the issues that are holding them back. Will they be able to help the ghost girl? And will they ever find their way home in one piece?

Another journey of self-discovery from Michael S. Fedison, written in such a way that hooks you from the first page. The characters of the four boys are excellently crafted, naturally evolved from their younger selves in the first novel, and their individual problems are described realistically and sympathetically.

I found this book as compelling as the original, and was a little sad to leave them all behind at the end. Loved it.