Book review: The Water Keeper by Charles Martin


Title: The Water Keeper

Author: Charles Martin

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Publication date: 5th May 2020

My rating: ★ ★ ★

Summary:

Murphy Shepherd is a man with many secrets. He lives alone on an island, tending the grounds for a church with no parishioners, and he’s dedicated his life to rescuing those in peril. But as he mourns the loss of his mentor and friend, Murph himself may be more lost than he realizes.

When he pulls a beautiful woman named Summer out of Florida’s Intracoastal Waterway, Murph’s mission to lay his mentor to rest at the end of the world takes a dangerous turn. Drawn to Summer, and desperate to find her missing daughter, Murph is pulled deeper and deeper into the dark and dangerous world of modern-day slavery.

With help from some unexpected new friends, including a faithful Labrador he plucks from the ocean and an ex-convict named Clay, Murph must race against the clock to locate the girl before he is consumed by the secrets of his past—and the ghosts who tried to bury them.”

My review:

I didn’t know what to expect when I requested The Water Keeper on Netgalley. I thought that it would be a steady paced and easy read however I was surprised to find a stimulating and complex plot with plenty of action and rollercoaster moments. It suited both the character development and story line well and never left me bored.

The characters in The Water Keeper are extraordinary. Murph at first appears to be a normal man with a love of boats but that doesn’t even cover the surface of the complexity of his character. His passion for justice is reflected in the risky work he undertakes each time he saves a girl from sex traffickers. His integrity and dedication is  ignited when he meets Angel, a young girl who soon becomes the target of a dangerous group of sex traffickers. I found myself warming to Murph with every decision he took to save her life and he soon became my favourite character. Secondary characters are often more difficult to connect with but that wasn’t the case in The Water Keeper as each character had a place and was beautifully developed. They included an unlikely mix of a convict, a dog, a young girl who is still trying to discover who she really is and a worried mother hoping to be reunited with her daughter.

At the forefront of The Water Keeper is the beautiful and calm scenery which perfectly challenges the turbulent plot filled with violence. I found the boat related descriptions too repetitive but I realise that it is closely connected to Murph’s love of boats and the sea and complements his passion well. The remaining imagery was delightful and superbly described. It takes the reader on a journey through both tranquil and dangerous waters as Murph and the team get closer to Angel and I thoroughly enjoyed following them on their journey.

The Water Keeper kept me guessing until the very end and there were several troubling moments where I wasn’t sure if it would end in disaster or not. However, I was satisfied with the ending which ties up all lose ends and also answers all the questions from Murph’s private life and why he chose to follow such a dangerous career. Filled with wonderful storytelling, a set of interesting characters and vivid scenery, The Water Keeper is a must read for anyone who is willing to be surprised and taken on an exciting adventure.

The Water Keeper is out to buy today!

Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing a free advanced reader’s copy in exchange for my honest review.

Book review: Blood Orange by Harriet Tyce


Title: Blood Orange

Author: Harriet Tyce

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Publisher: Wildfire

Publication date: 26th December 2019

My rating: ★ ★ ★

Summary:

“Alison has it all. A doting husband, adorable daughter, and a career on the rise – she’s just been given her first murder case to defend. But all is never as it seems…

Just one more night. Then I’ll end it.

Alison drinks too much. She’s neglecting her family. And she’s having an affair with a colleague whose taste for pushing boundaries may be more than she can handle.

I did it. I killed him. I should be locked up.

Alison’s client doesn’t deny that she stabbed her husband – she wants to plead guilty. And yet something about her story is deeply amiss. Saving this woman may be the first step to Alison saving herself.

I’m watching you. I know what you’re doing.

But someone knows Alison’s secrets. Someone who wants to make her pay for what she’s done, and who won’t stop until she’s lost everything….”

My review:

Even though she tries her best to hide it, Alison is a mess. At work she may appear to be a successful and levelheaded barrister but she struggles to spend enough time at home with her family and she abuses alcohol to the extreme. That coupled with her frustrating affair which she doesn’t seem to be able to end as much as she tries makes her out to be a realist and relatable character. I liked the fact that she desperately tried to improve her relationship with her family and I was silently encouraging her to do so until the end.

As the plot unraveled I found Alison more irritating as she took one bad decision after another. For a smart woman she appeared to be unable to tackle her problems head on and refused to stand up to the torment she was facing from both her husband Carl and her lover Patrick. I was eagerly waiting for the moment where she would finally take control and challenge both of them but this never happened except in a few situations towards the end where a fragment of her rationality surfaces. I was left disappointed and felt that as an intelligent main character she could have achieved much more.

At the background of Blood Orange is what appears to be an easy murder case which soon turns out to be much more twisted than Alison imagined. Her new client confesses to stabbing her husband multiple times yet Alison knows that she is hiding something and is keen to unearth her secrets. I found the legal side of the thriller intriguing and liked the connections formed between the trial and Alison’s personal life. The story line gained momentum towards the middle of the book when more hints were dropped and I was increasingly interested in solving the murder case.

The mounting tension in the final chapters leads to a twist which I unfortunately saw coming and was not as surprised as I should have been. Nevertheless, this didn’t diminish the rest of the book and I feel that the steady pace and tension filled plot created an engaging thriller and a quick read. I would have preferred more depth to the characters and to see an end to the self-destruction in Alison’s life but after reaching the conclusion I partly understood the decision to keep her character as chaotic as she started out. Although I wasn’t left stunned by this book, it held my attention until the end and I am sure that many readers would enjoy this legal thriller.

Book review: After the End by Clare Mackintosh


Title: After the End

Author: Clare Mackintosh

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Publisher: Sphere

Publication date: 25th June 2019

My rating: ★ ★ ★

Summary:

Max and Pip are the strongest couple you know. They’re best friends, lovers—unshakable. But then their son gets sick and the doctors put the question of his survival into their hands. For the first time, Max and Pip can’t agree. They each want a different future for their son.

What if they could have both?

A gripping and propulsive exploration of love, marriage, parenthood, and the road not taken, After the End brings one unforgettable family from unimaginable loss to a surprising, satisfying, and redemptive ending and the life they are fated to find. With the emotional power of Jodi Picoult’s My Sister’s Keeper, Mackintosh helps us to see that sometimes the end is just another beginning.

My review:

I could tell from the blurb that reading After the End would be difficult but nothing could have prepared me for the myriad of emotions I felt while turning the pages. It tells the painful and frightening story of Max and Pip, parents who are forced to make a decision no parent should ever have to make when their son Dylan falls ill. Presented with the opportunity to continue Dylan’s treatment but with no certainty of success, they weigh up the options and disagree on the best care for their terminally ill son. Are they ready to put him through months hospital visits and medical care in the hope that it is successful and he gets better even though doctors don’t believe it will? Or is the most humane option to listen to the doctor’s advice even though it is not something they ever want to hear? The struggles these characters faced were told through their eyes with a beautiful mixture of anguish, longing and tenderness. I was blown away by how well the author produced these emotions and the sensitivity with which she presented both sides of the argument.

As the story line moves from hospital to courtroom and a difficult decision is made, the author explores a what-if scenario with a great effort to analyse both sides with compassion and fairness. I appreciate what she created through the use of the split timelines and was surprised and rattled at some of the consequences. Despite the outcome of the courtroom battle, ultimately both decisions have a set of consequences which both characters struggle with years to come.

This book explores the grey areas in life with a conscientious effort to honour both characters and their choices. Max and Pip both love their son and want the best for him but cannot agree on what the best course of action entails. I empathised and connected with both characters and was torn when it came to difficult decision they had to make. I had to put this book down several times and wonder what I would do in such a situation but the enormity of it was too much to handle.

A tough subject matter presented with understanding and compassion as well as a set of real characters made this book a gem that I cherished from beginning to end. I would recommend it to anyone willing to explore the meaning of life told from a young family’s perspective although I would encourage any readers to have tissues ready for the emotions they will most likely experience.

Book review: A Stranger in the House by Shari Lapena


Title: A Stranger in the House

Author: Shari Lapena

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Publisher: Penguin

Publication date: 15th August 2017

My rating: ★ ★ ☆ 

Summary:

He looks at her, concerned. “How do you feel?” She wants to say, Terrified. Instead, she says, with a faint smile, “Glad to be home.”

Karen and Tom Krupp are happy—they’ve got a lovely home in upstate New York, they’re practically newlyweds, and they have no kids to interrupt their comfortable life together. But one day, Tom returns home to find Karen has vanished—her car’s gone and it seems she left in a rush. She even left her purse—complete with phone and ID—behind.

There’s a knock on the door—the police are there to take Tom to the hospital where his wife has been admitted. She had a car accident, and lost control as she sped through the worst part of town.

The accident has left Karen with a concussion and a few scrapes. Still, she’s mostly okay—except that she can’t remember what she was doing or where she was when she crashed. The cops think her memory loss is highly convenient, and they suspect she was up to no good.

Karen returns home with Tom, determined to heal and move on with her life. Then she realizes something’s been moved. Something’s not quite right. Someone’s been in her house. And the police won’t stop asking questions.

Because in this house, everyone’s a stranger. Everyone has something they’d rather keep hidden. Something they might even kill to keep quiet.

My review:

A Stranger in the House tells the story of Tom and Karen, a couple who at first seem normal and lead a quiet life with few troubles. One day Tom arrives home to a bizarre scene: dinner seems to be half finished but there is no sign of Karen even though her belongings are still at home. The atmosphere is tense with an unsettling feeling that something sinister may have happened to Karen and Tom’s worries are confirmed when the police knock on his door informing him that his wife has been in a car accident in a troublesome part of town. This beginning was chilling and had the potential for an exciting mystery which I was sure I would enjoy.

Despite the strong beginning, the remaining part of the book left a lot to be desired. I could not sympathise with Tom or understand Karen as much as I tried even though I could tell that the author was trying to grow these characters as much as possible. Karen was hiding a lot from her husband and after her backstory was revealed I could see why she made some choices however could not understand how Tom could be so oblivious to her lies for such a long time. His side of the story made him appear weak and naive. Their neighbour, Brigid, worked well as a secondary character although I found her to be too nosy and irritating at times.

The plot in A Stranger in the House is complex and interesting enough to hold my attention however there were only three characters which didn’t allow for much speculation in regards to the outcome. I had already guessed the ending at the halfway point so the twists didn’t deliver the tension or excitement I would expect from a psychological thriller. I was also unimpressed by the conversational nature of the writing style as it made it seem choppy and too simple.

A Stranger in the House starts well and with enough potential to be a gripping thriller. However, it didn’t help that there were too few characters and I could not get used to the author’s writing style. This book may suit readers who are looking for a quick read with short chapters but I prefer psychological thrillers with more complex characters and want to be surprised by twists so it ultimately fell flat for me.

The importance of pace in thrillers

Studious Saturday

After struggling through a strange period during the beginning of the lockdown where I was unable to concentrate on reading for more than 10 minutes, I finally managed to finish several thrillers which were stuck on my TBR list for a while. They each had positive and negative features but a common factor which helped me determine the rating was the use of pace.

I have discussed the importance of beginnings and endings before but had never truly considered pace as a key element of the genre until now. Exceptional additions to the genre usually involve a solid beginning, a compelling plot and a set of charismatic characters. However, after carefully analysing why I didn’t fully enjoy some of the more recent thrillers that I read, I realised that the common trait which ultimately prompted my decision to give an average rating was pace.

Does slow pace make the reader lose interest?

I have noticed that focusing on setting and character development is often the main goal of many authors, particularly in the mystery & thriller genre. Many authors prefer to flesh out their main characters while introducing some other minor characters and others concentrate on creating an atmospheric setting. This works well in many thrillers, especially when the writing is crisp and articulate. However, it sometimes hinders the pace as a huge chunk of the beginning and middle is absorbed by character growth and descriptions and little movement. Although I appreciate a slower pace in historical fiction and contemporary fiction, I often find that setting the pace too slow in thrillers loses emphasis on the suspense and doesn’t engage the reader fully.

Does pace always need to be dynamic?

Pace will always have peaks and valleys in books and the thriller genre is no exception. Keeping the reader fully invested will involve a combination of both highs and lows in pace – lots of action and edge of your seat moments mixed in with reflection of the characters’ decisions. When executed well this combination has the potential to create an unforgettable experience for the reader. It works particularly well in spy and legal thrillers in which the author builds up the tension right before a huge revelation or when delivering a twist. However, in psychological thrillers a constantly changing pace sometimes provokes a sense of unease in the reader as it doesn’t reflect the nature of the genre as the focus is naturally on the characters rather than the pace.

Is fast pace the solution to a gripping thriller?

Many thrillers have a constantly set fast pace with lots of action, the occasional red herring and many twists. These are usually my preferred choice of reading although I don’t believe that fast pace is the answer to a gripping thriller. While it may keep the reader invested for longer, if the characters or plot aren’t interesting enough a fast pace will only create confusion and still make the book fall short of the reader’s expectations. A steady pace with a few unexpected twists coupled with an engaging plot and characters often has a bigger impact than a book with a fast pace but little space for the characters’ backstory.

Pace is an extremely important element in thrillers and one that I believe all authors should consider. Changes in pace are often based on the author’s intentions of how and when twists are delivered and the suspects revealed so it is key that the pace echoes these decisions. Pace is a very powerful tool of building tension and suspense and when used well can create memorable moments that satisfy the reader and have a positive impact on their final verdict of the book. However, authors should not rely only on pace as character growth and plot are equally influential and should not be forgotten.

Question time

Do you believe that pace is an important aspect in thrillers?

Book review: The Missing Sister by Elle Marr


Title: The Missing Sister

Author: Elle Marr

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

Publication date: 1st April 2020

My rating: ★ ★ ★ 

Summary:

Shayna Darby is finally coming to terms with her parents’ deaths when she’s delivered another blow. The body of her estranged twin sister, Angela—the possible victim of a serial killer—has been pulled from the Seine. Putting what’s left of her life on hold, Shayna heads to Paris. But while cleaning out Angela’s apartment, Shayna makes a startling discovery: a coded message meant for her alone…

Alive. Trust no one.

Taking the warning to heart, Shayna maintains the lie. She makes a positive ID on the remains and works to find out where—and why—her missing sister is hiding. Shayna retraces her sister’s footsteps, and they lead her down into Paris’s underbelly.

As she gets closer to the truth—and to the killer—Shayna’s own life may now be in the balance…

My review:

When Shayna arrives in her sister’s apartment in Paris, she is shocked to discover a message on her noticeboard written in their secret language. Certain that her sister is still alive, Shayna endeavours to uncover the truth and find her sister, fearing that she is in danger.

The beginning of The Missing Sister shows a lot of promise and I had high hopes for an exciting mystery. Set in the catacombs of Paris with secret riddles and code names, the prospect of following Shayna on this adventure was thrilling. The author did a wonderful job in this area and I thoroughly enjoyed the foreign and different setting. The first few minor characters which were introduced appeared grounded and I was hoping for deeper interactions between them and Shayna. Unfortunately, many of these minor characters dipped in and out and towards the end I was struggling to remember them.

I started to lose interest in the middle of the book and found that I was skimming through the main plot. A lot of the story line is based on Shayna following clues and speaking to people who her sister interacted with before her disappearance. There was little evidence to suggest how she found those clues which resulted in a weak argument when the kidnapper was revealed. It also didn’t help that the majority of the plot happened in the last few pages of the book as the pace felt uneven. Although I usually appreciate fast-paced endings when well done, here it seemed like the author was in a rush to finish the story.

The Missing Sister explores a complex relationship between twin sisters which thrillers rarely cover and was one of the most interesting and enjoyable aspects. That coupled with the mysterious setting created a strong base for a promising read. Ultimately the weak links in the plot and unbalanced pace did not sit well but I was still able to find a lot to like in this debut.

The Missing Sister is out to buy today!

Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing a free advanced reader’s copy in exchange for my honest review.

 

Book review: The Whisper Man by Alex North


Title: The Whisper Man

Author: Alex North

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Publisher: Penguin

Publication date: 13th June 2019

My rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Summary:

” If you leave a door half-open, soon you’ll hear the whispers spoken…

Still devastated after the loss of his wife, Tom Kennedy and his young son Jake move to the sleepy village of Featherbank, looking for a fresh start.

But Featherbank has a dark past. Fifteen years ago a twisted serial killer abducted and murdered five young boys. Until he was finally caught, the killer was known as ‘The Whisper Man’.

Of course, an old crime need not trouble Tom and Jake as they try to settle in to their new home. Except that now another boy has gone missing. And then Jake begins acting strangely.

He says he hears a whispering at his window…

My review:

“If you leave a door half open, soon you’ll hear the whispers spoken.
If you play outside alone, soon you won’t be going home.
If your window’s left unlatched, you’ll hear him tapping at the glass.
If you’re lonely, sad, and blue, the Whisper Man will come for you.”

After suffering the tragic loss of his wife, Tom Kennedy decides to start a new life with his son and soon finds the perfect place for their future: Featherbank. Years ago the Whisper Man haunted the lives of its inhabitants and some still remember the pain he caused. Others doubt he ever existed. However, when Jake starts hearing whispers and Tom is certain that there is no one else in the house, reality hits close to home and Tom begins to doubt if he and his son are really safe in their new environment.

The premise of The Whisper Man is intriguing and boasts potential of an electrifying thriller. It comprises the perfect blend of character growth, plot and setting. There were many red herrings and tense moments, creating an eerie feeling that lingered throughout the book. Questions were raised on whether the whole scenario was a hoax or if the Whisper Man had returned and I enjoyed the hints dropped which helped the reader discover the truth.

An important aspect in The Whisper Man, not to be forgotten, is the relationship between father and son which was extremely well portrayed. Mixed emotions such as grief, distress and love are explored as Tom and Jake adjust to their new life. I warmed to both characters and enjoyed following their journey to acceptance and content.

The plot is incredibly well developed with many unexpected twists thrown in at the most tense moments. I ultimately guessed the big reveal correctly but this didn’t hinder the ending as the execution was slick and tied in well with the remaining part of the story.

I thoroughly enjoyed every twist and turn in The Whisper Man. Few thrillers manage to grab my attention from the first chapter but the solid writing, tense atmosphere and likeable characters made this book an exception. I advise all fans of thrillers to consider reading this debut and am certain that they will not be left disappointed.

Book review: The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware


Title: The Turn of the Key

Author: Ruth Ware

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Publisher: Vintage

Publication date: 8th August 2019

My rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

Summary:

“When she stumbles across the advert, she’s looking for something else completely. But it seems like too good an opportunity to miss: a live-in nanny position, with a staggeringly generous salary. And when Rowan arrives at Heatherbrae House, she is smitten by the luxurious ‘smart’ home fitted out with all modern conveniences, by the beautiful Scottish Highlands, and by this picture-perfect family.

What she doesn’t know is that she’s stepping into a nightmare – one that will end with a child dead and her in a cell awaiting trial for murder.

She knows she’s made mistakes. But, she maintains, she’s not guilty – at least not of murder. Which means someone else is.

My review:

Rowan doesn’t know what to expect on her first day at Heatherbrae House. The job ad seemed perfect and she is already experienced at taking care of young children. The idyllic family home is located in rural Scotland and features contrasting state of the art smart home characteristics which baffle her. When she finds signs from the children and past nannies that the house is not what it seems to be and advice to get out while she still can, Rowan wonders if she perhaps made the wrong choice in coming here after all.

The premise of The Turn of the Key presents a variety of opportunities for suspense and tension and Ruth Ware takes advantage of these possibilities, creating a plot thick with ever increasing tension. The letter format is original and matches the atmosphere well. I am also pleased that the author chose to write the book in first person narrative as there were several uneasy moments where this style perfectly reflected the mood.

Although I had my doubts about Rowan at first as she seemed an unreliable character, as more bizarre events occurred I soon took her side and eventually warmed to her. The letter format help to present her as an innocent and sincere person who seemed to be caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. Some of her decisions aggravated me and there were many missed moments where she didn’t take the lead which made her appear weak and passive. The other minor characters, especially the children, were presented as indifferent to the strange events happening at the house which ultimately made me believe that the whole mystery was somehow linked to Rowan.

I was completely invested in The Turn of the Key until the very end which felt very anticlimactic and rushed. There were many red herrings throughout the book and I thought that at least one of them could have explained the creepy events but the big twist let me down and felt too unbelievable.

An original format and first person narrative makes The Turn of the Key easily digestible and a quick read for anyone looking for a straightforward thriller. Although the ending was ineffective, the build up and suspense was authentic and merits praise.

Book review: The Muse by Jessie Burton


Title: The Muse

Author: Jessie Burton

Genre: Historical Fiction

Publisher: Picador

Publication date: 30th June 2016

My rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Summary:

A picture hides a thousand words …

On a hot July day in 1967, Odelle Bastien climbs the stone steps of the Skelton gallery in London, knowing that her life is about to change forever. Having struggled to find her place in the city since she arrived from Trinidad five years ago, she has been offered a job as a typist under the tutelage of the glamorous and enigmatic Marjorie Quick. But though Quick takes Odelle into her confidence, and unlocks a potential she didn’t know she had, she remains a mystery – no more so than when a lost masterpiece with a secret history is delivered to the gallery.

The truth about the painting lies in 1936 and a large house in rural Spain, where Olive Schloss, the daughter of a renowned art dealer, is harbouring ambitions of her own. Into this fragile paradise come an artist and revolutionary, Isaac Robles, and his half-sister Teresa, who immediately insinuate themselves into the Schloss family, with explosive and devastating consequences …

Seductive, exhilarating and suspenseful, The Muse is an addictive novel about aspiration and identity, love and obsession, authenticity and deception – a magnificent creation and a story you will never forget.

My review:

Historical fiction novels which feel both pivotal to their period and discuss a variety of hard hitting and complex societal topics are hard to come by. Often authors develop the setting beautifully and transport the reader to another time but they fail to inspire when it comes to tackling controversial issues for that time period. The Muse is an exception and Jessie Burton successfully manages to tell the most beautiful tale of hope, distress and love while engaging the reader in some of the most disputable topics at the time.

Shifting between 30s rural Spain and 60s busy London, the setting in The Muse is possibly one of the most magnificent I have encountered in Historical Fiction to date. The level of detail was astounding and I could easily see myself following Olive around the villa on a warm summer’s day or keeping up with Odelle’s busy life in London. I adored both backdrops and, although I could easily relate to both after living in both countries, the period features and details in the nature and architecture felt authentic to both the time and setting.

The characters and story line in The Muse suited each other perfectly. I quickly warmed to Odelle and recognised her assertiveness and desire to find her place in busy London in myself. Although I struggled more with the characters in the 30s setting I eventually connected to them as well and appreciated how different they are in personality to Odelle. As the story line progressed from the hectic London backdrop to a more relaxed and artistic rendition of Spain, the characters also developed and grew into their identities.

Unfortunately I had great difficulties with the pace and structure in The Muse to such an extent that I considered leaving it several times. It is not until nearly the halfway point that the two story lines merge where it becomes clear how the characters are connected and this lack of cohesion made me lose interest at the beginning of the book. I decided to power through and keep reading with the mindset that both story lines would converge and I was not disappointed. From the halfway point I witnessed a literary masterpiece, not only through the artwork but also the deep connections formed between these characters and the magnitude of social topics explored, such as classism and social exclusion.

Featuring a cast of strong female characters, settings one can only dream of and a poignant and bittersweet story, The Muse is a gem in the Historical Fiction genre not to be missed. Although the pace seemed distorted at times, Jessie Burton balances this with a beautifully told tale difficult to forget.

Book review: All the Rage by Cara Hunter


Title: All the Rage

Author: Cara Hunter

Genre: Crime

Publisher: Penguin

Publication date: 19th December 2019

My rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Summary:

“The first girl came back.The next might not be so lucky.

A teenage girl is found wandering the outskirts of Oxford, dazed and distressed. The story she tells is terrifying. Grabbed off the street, a plastic bag pulled over her face, then driven to an isolated location where she was subjected to what sounds like an assault. Yet she refuses to press charges.

DI Fawley investigates, but there’s little he can do without the girl’s co-operation. Is she hiding something, and if so, what? And why does Fawley keep getting the feeling he’s seen a case like this before?

And then another girl disappears, and Adam no longer has a choice: he has to face up to his past.

Because unless he does, this victim may not be coming back . . .

My review:

The fourth addition to the DI Adam Fawley series did not disappoint. As with its predecessors, it features a wonderful mix of interesting and multidimensional characters and a crime brimming with secrets, ready to be unearthed. Needless to say, I inhaled All the Rage in only a few sittings.

Cara Hunter has already made a name for herself in the Crime genre and with each addition to the series the detectives, in particular Adam Fawley, become more refined and easier to relate to. More details on Fawley’s past are also revealed in this book and I particularly liked the balance between his backstory and the crime. At no point did it feel like the author was forcing Fawley’s past hardships to gain the reader’s empathy but rather attempt to form a natural connection to this central character without removing focus from the main crime. My personal favourites, Somer and Everett, feature heavily in All the Rage and by the end I had formed an even closer connection with both detectives.

When it comes to storytelling and plot development in a crime novel, Cara Hunter is by far one of the best at gaining momentum and always keeping the reader guessing. The minor characters she introduces in each book always feel central to the plot which makes guessing the suspect much harder. The twists are always unexpected and shocking and there were several times in this book where I almost couldn’t believe some of them and had to read back to check if I understood them correctly. In particular, the ending astounded me and left me with an unpleasant feeling. Unfortunately it felt a little unrealistic and farfetched and I could not imagine similar events unfolding in real life but I appreciate the effort and detail she invested in the story line.

Cara Hunter successfully developed the team of investigators and narrated an increasingly complex crime with ease. I was invested in the plot throughout the entire book and was not able to guess the killer or their motive until the very end. Fans of the DI Adam Fawley series will be pleased with this addition to the series and those who haven’t yet read any of the past books will also find themselves constantly guessing.