Title: Dead Head

Author: CJ Skuse

Pages: 480 Pages

Publisher: HQ

The Blurb

Victim. Murderer. Serial Killer. What next?

The third darkly comic thriller in the highly addictive Sweetpea series featuring serial killer Rhiannon Lewis.

‘Think Bridget Jones meets Killing Eve – only with better jokes’ Daily Mail

Can a serial killer ever lose their taste for murder?

Since confessing to her bloody murder spree Rhiannon Lewis, the now-notorious Sweetpea killer, has been feeling out-of-sorts.

Having fled the UK on a cruise ship to start her new life, Rhiannon should be feeling happy. But it’s hard to turn over a new leaf when she’s stuck in an oversized floating tin can with the Gammonati and screaming kids. Especially when they remind her of Ivy – the baby she gave up for a life carrying on killing.

Rhiannon is all at sea. She’s lost her taste for blood but is it really gone for good? Maybe Rhiannon is realising that there’s more to life than death…

The third book in the critically-acclaimed series following Sweetpea and In Bloom featuring everyone’s favourite truly original girl-next-door serial killer Rhiannon Lewis.

The Review

I’m not one for reading book series. I find that they can be too much of a commitment however the Sweetpea series by CJ Skuse is one exception to this rule.

In Dead Head, the third installment, we find our psycho-protagonist Rhiannon Lewis on the lam. Running away from her old life and the chaos that she has caused whilst also dealing with the yearning ache for her child Ivy. We see her travel across the world to escape the storm of drama she has left and the debris of her crimes in the UK but we also know that Rhiannon cannot truly leave herself – her true self – behind. Will she kill again? Probably.

The third installment in this series is different from the first two in that we see a more introspective Rhiannon. This could be that it is told in the past/present tense. So looking back but told in the present tense. It is as though this gives us chance – and indeed Rhiannon – to consider her actions and gives us time to process them alongside her rather than seeing the red mist descend and then the chaos. This doesn’t make them any less bat crap crazy but it does give us time to think.

Rhiannon Lewis will probably be one of my most remembered protagonists in fiction. Her actions and her unshakable belief in vigilante justice has left a lasting impression and I am hoping that there will be more in this series.

Dead Head by CJ Skuse is available now.

For more information regarding CJ Skuse (@CJSkuse) please visit www.cjskuse.com.

For more information regarding (@HQStories) please visit www.hqstories.co.uk.

Genre: Crime Thriller/Murder Mystery

The Gist: Following the death of a well known supermodel and 60s “It” girl the London Police force soon realise that they have a serial killer on their hands. It is a race against time to figure out who the murderer is. All they have to go one are the words left as clues in blue chalk.

Short Review: A run-of-the-mill whodunnit with a quirky main character and a villain whose motives seem insufficient. Easter delves into the criminal world with an 80s London backdrop using the era as an additional character.

Long Review: When Detective Inspector Anne Leeding turns up at crime scene she expects it to be a run-of-the-mill suicide. Yet clues begin to lead the inspector to consider different options. Could she have a serial killer on here hands?

Okay, as far as crime thrillers go Don’t You Want Me? is pretty good. The clues are dished out incrementally and you are generally playing guess who with who the killer could be. If I have to be honest, I did find the whole story a bit too long. I felt that certain parts could have been left out and the story would have flowed better. Furthermore, I did think that Easter really wanted the reader to know that the book was set in 1981. He overused references to the point of exhaustion. 

However, his smaller plot lines made the story much more full. The secrets waiting to be revealed allowed the characters to feel fully developed and much more interesting beside their lives within the police force. 

Overall, Don’t You Want Me? isn’t amazing but it is an interesting read that will keep you entertained for a few hundred pages. 

Don’t You Want Me? by Richard Easter is available now.

Genre: Young Adult/Crime

The Gist: After a sexual attack a young girl becomes the victim of malicious gossip.

Short Review: Emma Kennedy thinks that she has it all but when the boy she and her best friend have been pining after starts paying her attention Emma is forced into a toxic situation with devastating results. 

Long Review: Emma Kennedy is a typical high school girl. She is a cheerleader, she is plodding along academically, she has a good circle of friends. Her whole future looks bright. However, when an encounter with the boy she likes turns violent she becomes ostracised by the people she trusts the most.

If I am honest, Girls Like Me is not an original story. There are plenty of others that tackle the same theme. One of the things that I always find I take away from these types of stories is how they are almost cautionary tales. That the girl shouldn’t have allowed herself to get into this situation. The blame often shifts to the female protagonist and the attacker – though at times held accountable – it is the moral tale that girls have allowed themselves to be in these situation that overrides the rest of the narrative. 

Fortunately Kristin Butcher does not dwell on this. Whilst we don’t necessarily see justice done we are left with the potential for hope.

Girls Like Me by Kristin Butcher is available now.

For more information regarding Orca Books Publishing (@orcabooks) please visit www.orcabooks.com.

Title: Lockdown

Author: Peter May

Pages: 416 Pages

Publisher: riverrun

The Blurb

‘They said that twenty-five percent of the population would catch the flu. Between seventy and eighty percent of them would die. He had been directly exposed to it, and the odds weren’t good.’

A CITY IN QUARANTINE

London, the epicenter of a global pandemic, is a city in lockdown. Violence and civil disorder simmer. Martial law has been imposed. No-one is safe from the deadly virus that has already claimed thousands of victims. Health and emergency services are overwhelmed.

A MURDERED CHILD

At a building site for a temporary hospital, construction workers find a bag containing the rendered bones of a murdered child. A remorseless killer has been unleashed on the city; his mission is to take all measures necessary to prevent the bones from being identified.

A POWERFUL CONSPIRACY

D.I. Jack MacNeil, counting down the hours on his final day with the Met, is sent to investigate. His career is in ruins, his marriage over and his own family touched by the virus. Sinister forces are tracking his every move, prepared to kill again to conceal the truth. Which will stop him first – the virus or the killers?

Written over fifteen years ago, this prescient, suspenseful thriller is set against a backdrop of a capital city in quarantine, and explores human experience in the grip of a killer virus.

(AMAZON BLURB)

The Review

With London in lockdown due to a deadly pandemic, DI Jack MacNeil has to solve the case of a brutal murder of a child which may in turn lead to the end of lockdown and finally reveal the truth.

Okay, I’ll admit it. I read Lockdown because I was in lockdown – who doesn’t want to live the ‘meta’ life? It seemed fitting. I will also admit that crime novels are not my specialist subject but I actually found myself really enjoying the story. Peter May wrote it over 15 years ago but it was still ridiculously relevant.

In Lockdown (the book, not the current situation), the government are corrupt (erm…) and are to blame for the mass loss of life (I am really trying to keep my political opinions to myself here) and the corruption is all for political power and monetary gain.

There were some parts of the plot of Lockdown that were either a little irrelevant or far-fetched and if they had been left out of the story I don’t feel it would have suffered or lost anything. The most interesting parts were definitely those that focused on the insidious government and their involvement/lack of action when it came to the pandemic. That really helped add to the race against time feeling.

Lockdown is definitely worth a read especially if you are into conspiracy theories or if you like a good mystery to solve.

Lockdown by Peter May is available now.

For more information regarding Peter May (@authorpetermay) please visit www.petermay.co.uk.

For more information regarding riverrun (@riverrunbooks) please visit www.riverrunbooks.co.uk.

Title: Little Deaths

Author: Emma Flint

Pages: 368 Pages

Publisher: Pan Macmillan

The Blurb

It’s the summer of 1965, and the streets of Queens, New York shimmer in a heatwave. One July morning, Ruth Malone wakes to find a bedroom window wide open and her two young children missing. After a desperate search, the police make a horrifying discovery.

Noting Ruth’s perfectly made-up face and provocative clothing, the empty liquor bottles and love letters that litter her apartment, the detectives leap to convenient conclusions, fuelled by neighbourhood gossip and speculation.

Sent to cover the case on his first major assignment, tabloid reporter Pete Wonicke at first can’t help but do the same. But the longer he spends watching Ruth, the more he learns about the darker workings of the police and the press. Soon, Pete begins to doubt everything he thought he knew.

Ruth Malone is enthralling, challenging and secretive – is she really capable of murder?

Haunting, intoxicating and heart-poundingly suspenseful, Little Deaths by Emma Flint is a gripping debut novel about love, morality and obsession, exploring the capacity for good and evil within us all.

The Review

Hmmm…Little Deaths. I don’t really know what I want to say about this story. It is a fictional story that has been inspired by real life events that looks closely at the relationship between women and the societal standards that they were held to in the 1960s.

Ruth Malone is a working class single mother of two. When she is accused of murder her whole life is scrutinised to determine whether she is guilty or not. They don’t just look at the evidence they look at her personally.

Whilst the writing in Little Deaths was very good, I personally felt that the pacing let it down. In one respect it allowed you to reflect and really empathise with Ruth but in the other respect it meant that the punchier storyline of a crime that had been committed lost some of its importance to the plot.

Little Deaths is an interesting read if you look at it as a social construct of how women are perceived by society and the expectations of how to be a woman.

Little Deaths by Emma Flint is available now.

For more information regarding Emma Flint (@flint_writes) please visit www.emmaflint.com.

For more information regarding Pan Macmillan (@panmacmillan) please visit www.panmacmillan.com.