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That was my face when I finished this book! I’m thrilled to be hosting Louise Voss’ The Old You blog tour today. Massive thanks to Anne Cater and Orenda for the ARC and invitation to take part in this tour! How about we find out a little about the author and this book before I share my thoughts on this SUPERB read!

About The Author 

Louise Voss has been writing for the past eighteen years, with many twists and turns in her career. She started her publishing life with four novels for Transworld/Black Swan, the first of which, To Be Someone, was published in 2001 with its own CD soundtrack. This was followed by three more contemporary women’s fiction novels, Are You My Mother? Lifesaver, and Games People Play, until she switched to publishing thrillers with Mark Edwards.

She and Mark were the first British indie authors to reach No.1 on the Amazon charts with Catch Your Death, where they stayed for the month of June 2011, with their novel Killing Cupid also at No. 2. This led to a four-book deal with Harper Collins; then two books in the DI Lennon series, From the Cradle and The Blissfully Dead (Thomas & Mercer).

Her first solo thriller was The Venus Trap in 2015 and her second, a twisty tale of domestic noir, is out in now: The Old You, published by @OrendaBooks.

Louise lives in southwest London and can be reached at @LouiseVoss1 on Twitter or on Facebook: www.facebook.com/LouiseVossAuthor.

About The Book

Nail-bitingly modern domestic noir
A tense, Hitchcockian psychological thriller
Louise Voss returns with her darkest, most chilling, novel yet…

Lynn Naismith gave up the job she loved when she married Ed, the love of her life, but it was worth it for the happy years they enjoyed together. Now, ten years on, Ed has been diagnosed with early-onset dementia, and things start to happen; things more sinister than missing keys and lost words. As some memories are forgotten, others, long buried, begin to surface … and Lynn’s perfect world begins to crumble.
But is it Ed’s mind playing tricks, or hers…?

Jaysus wept! This just might be the BEST domestic thriller I have read this year … possibly EVER! Set in Surrey I was enveloped in a story of isolation, betrayal, dementia, manipulation, friendships, relationships, mistrust, control, deviance, denial and desire. And what a bloody ride it was!

Told from the main character, Lynn’s POV the reader is drawn in as tidbits of information are dropped before us and we eagerly follow the trail! I absolutely LOVED the premise of this story – unnerving, spine-tingling moments had me racing through the pages …I had to know …I had to bloody know everything! So cleverly written – OMFG- I actually had no clue how this book would end but I can tell you ….MIND BLOWING …. just look at my face up there!

We are treated to a fantastic ensemble of characters who have you wondering about their reliability, guilt and part in the storyline.  Lynn has one hell of a backstory, how she ends up with Ed Holy sh*tballs! She seems to go through waves of emotions, has a strong personality but also a strange vulnerability and perhaps a bit gullible at times. But once the pieces start coming together – LOOK OUT – this woman will not rest until she has every last piece of the puzzle in its place … but is she a puzzle-master…?

Ed – the husband, early onset dementia (Pick’s disease), angry outbursts, erratic, child-like behaviour …I was torn. What a difficult thing to live with – both for himself and those around him. He has an incredible backstory too … no spoilers… and despite his bravado, confidence and love for Lynn, he sometimes made me so frustrated and angry with his almost unforgiving behaviour! Though, I couldn’t hold it against him, they were symptoms of his disease…

There were so many other characters – some from the past, some in the present day that just had my head reeling with questions. Seriously great writing. I simply had NO CLUE how it would all turn out!

Would I recommend this book? That is a Hells Bells you bet I would – a SUPERB read and seriously the best domestic thriller I have read this year. Unnerving, compelling and OMFG just phenomenal – you MUST buy this book today! Louise Voss …I am onto you now …prepare for HUGE #fangirling!

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EXCITING NEWS – Press Release

Congratulations to you all!

https://spark.adobe.com/video/gtWyuj6N3mMX3

Two authors who returned to crime writing after more than a decade away have today been named among an eclectic longlist for the 2018 Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Novel.

“We shattered our record for entries in the Ngaio Marsh Awards this year, with 69 different books entered across our two fiction categories” says founder Craig Sisterson. “Along with a surge in first-time Kiwi authors choosing to write tales of crime, mystery and suspense – more than fifty new voices in the past three years – it’s been great to see more experienced local authors veering to the darker side as well as past crime writers returning to the fold.”

This year’s longlist for the Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Novel includes a mix of new and experienced voices, several authors who’ve won and been shortlisted for a variety of awards in several countries, and writers ranging in age from early 20s to early 80s.

“It’s a really eclectic mix of tales on this year’s longlist,” says Sisterson. “Exhibits A-E, we have the return of Edmund Bohan’s nineteenth century detective Inspector O’Rorke after a fifteen-year absence, Stella Duffy’s first crime novel in more than a decade, a stunning debut from an ex-undercover cop, and two tales that impressed the Ockhams judges.”

The Ngaio Marsh Awards have celebrated the best New Zealand crime, mystery, thriller, and suspense writing since 2010, and this year’s longlist runs the full gamut, from detective fiction to gothic suspense to psychological thrillers to historical mysteries and magic realism.

The longlist for the 2018 Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Novel is:

• MARLBOROUGH MAN by Alan Carter (Fremantle Press)
• BABY by Annaleese Jochems (VUP)
• SEE YOU IN SEPTEMBER by Charity Norman (Allen & Unwin)
• THE LOST TAONGA by Edmund Bohan (Lucano)
• THE EASTER MAKE BELIEVERS by Finn Bell
• THE ONLY SECRET LEFT TO KEEP by Katherine Hayton
• TESS by Kirsten McDougall (VUP)
• THE SOUND OF HER VOICE by Nathan Blackell (Mary Egan Publishing)
• A KILLER HARVEST by Paul Cleave (Upstart Press)
• THE HIDDEN ROOM by Stella Duffy (Virago)

The longlist is currently being considered by a judging panel of crime, thriller, and suspense writing experts from the United States, United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand.

The finalists will be announced in July, along with the finalists for the Ngaio Marsh Award for Best First Novel. The finalists will be celebrated, and the winners announced as part of a special event at the WORD Christchurch Festival, held from 29 August to 2 September.

For more information on this year’s longlist, or the Ngaio Marsh Awards in general, please contact founder and judging convenor Craig Sisterson, craigsisterson@hotmail.com

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That’s me right now as I am soooo frickin’ excited to finally be able to share my review of Paul Hardisty’s Absolution! A massive thanks to Anne Cater and Orenda for the ARC and inviting me on the tour – if I missed this tour, I may have just cried!  First I’ll share a bit about this fabulous author and the book, before I let loose with the Eeeek’s and OMFG’s in my review!

About The Author

Canadian Paul Hardisty has spent 25 years working all over the world as an engineer, hydrologist and environmental scientist. He has roughnecked on oil rigs in Texas, explored for gold in the Arctic, mapped geology in Eastern Turkey (where he was befriended by PKK rebels), and rehabilitated water wells in the wilds of Africa. He was in Ethiopia in 1991 as the Mengistu regime fell, and was bumped from one of the last flights out of Addis Ababa by bureaucrats and their families fleeing the rebels. In 1993 he survived a bomb blast in a cafe in Sana’a, and was one of the last Westerners out of Yemen before the outbreak of the 1994 civil war. Paul is a university professor and CEO of the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS). He is a sailor, a private pilot, keen outdoorsman, conservation volunteer, and lives in Western Australia.His debut thriller, The Abrupt Physics of Dying, was shortlisted for the CWA John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger

About The Book

It is 1997, eight months since vigilante justice-seeker Claymore Straker fled South Africa after his explosive testimony to Desmond Tutu’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. In Paris, Rania LaTour, journalist, comes home to find that her son and her husband, a celebrated human rights lawyer, have disappeared. On an isolated island off the coast of East Africa, the family that Clay has befriended is murdered as he watches.
So begins the fourth instalment in the Claymore Straker series, a breakneck journey through the darkest reaches of the human soul, as Clay and Rania fight to uncover the mystery behind the disappearances and murders, and find those responsible. Events lead them both inexorably to Egypt, where an act of the most shocking terrorist brutality will reveal not only why those they loved were sacrificed, but how they were both, indirectly, responsible.
Relentlessly pursued by those who want them dead, they must work together to uncover the truth, and to find a way to survive in a world gone crazy. At times brutal, often lyrical, but always gripping, Absolution is a thriller that will leave you breathless and questioning the very basis of how we live and why we love.

OMG…OMG….O-M-G – THIS book! The story is mainly set in 1997 S. Africa, though we do visit Paris and Egypt as well. Within the pages of this novel I came across loss, fear, helplessness, pain, a haunting past, an overwhelming sadness, survival, a fight for truth/justice, revelations, realisations, love & relationships, death, guilt, terrorism, a longing for peace and a desire for forgiveness.

This novel may have fictional characters, but the “story” it tells is real. Written in a way that the reader is immediately pulled into the time and place, all the emotions felt just overwhelm you. I absolutely adore Paul Hardisty’s writing style – unforgiving, real and raw but almost lyrical as the words are just beautifully strung together to get into the very heart of the reader.  The narrative is phenomenal and I can hear the character’s voices as they speak. I find this series is equally plot and character driven and as shocked as I am about the events, I almost cheer Claymore and his companions in the hopes they can right the wrongs …even though I know they can’t. What was done was done.  Damn! Paul Hardisty, I hope you know what an absolutely phenomenal writer you are!

I have to say that I was over the bloody moon to see Claymore Straker, Crowbar and Rania back together in Absolution, even though there was an overwhelming sadness within this novel – these characters just work so well together. Love, hate, friendship, betrayal -WOW – I was on the edge of my seat throughout!  Straker is no stranger to trouble, it just finds him and unfortunately spreads like a contagious disease to anyone he knows or comes into contact with. Straker seems indestructible, but emotionally he is broken and my heart just goes out to him despite the things he does.

I adore Rania – passionate, strong but also quite vulnerable. This novel really brings out her character and feelings to the point of bursting! She needs to keep her wits about her, be strong when she feels so weak and turn a blind eye to things she may not always agree with. Can she do it?

Crowbar…YAY…Crowbar!! I LOVE him! The sheer joy on my face when he appeared on the page was indescribable!  That a character alone can do this, should tell you how brilliant the author is! But..What the hell!? I can’t even say what I want to as I would spoil the story …just…what the hell!?

Absolution is defined as formal release from guilt, obligation, or punishment. Did this happen? Is this the final time we’ll see Straker? Is there more story to be told … you’ll have to read this stunning piece of crime fiction to find out!

Would I recommend this book? Holy mother of the book-gods, ab-so-friggin-lutely I would! An addictive and intense story, with an hypnotic writing style that reels the reader in, this book is pure genius! Easily read as a stand-alone, I would however, urge everyone to read the whole series as it is simply stunning!

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Keller Baye and Rebecca Brown live on different sides of the Atlantic. Until she falls in love with him, Rebecca knows nothing of Keller. But he’s known about her for a very long time, and now he wants to destroy her. This is the story of two families. One living under the threat of execution in North Carolina. The other caught up in a dark mystery in the Scottish Highlands. The families’ paths are destined to cross. But why? And can anything save them when that happens? (Jenny Morton Potts takes to the psychological thriller stage on an international canvass, and with a unique, bold voice.)

Huge thanks to the author for providing me with an ARC of this novel. The novel is set in both the US and Scotland. Loss, revenge, manipulation, abandonment, betrayal, secrets, dysfunction and relationships are just some of the themes that the reader will come across. I have to be honest and say that I did struggle initially – I got a little lost as the book seemed to jump back and forth, HOWEVER – that did not last long and then all of a sudden  BOOM - I was glued to the pages trying to figure out what in the world was happening. I am SO glad I persevered as the plot moved forward and I felt the tension build. We are told this story from both Rebecca and Keller’s POV and that really worked in setting up the contrast when these two character eventually meet. It was also interesting to see the author work with the separate character voices. It was distinct, believable and intriguing. PLUS – added bonus – I enjoyed the revelation (twist) when it all unfolded and although I had my suspicions, I was still pleasantly surprised! I still felt there were some unanswered questions at the end, but that could well have been my brain working on overdrive – as often is the case when a psychological thriller grabs me… The main characters that stood out to me and that were probably the most interesting, were Rebecca and Keller. Coming from two different backgrounds and two different sides of the world, I wondered how the author was going to make them “work” – but she did! I thought Rebecca was so quirky, interesting but also a bit naive – especially since she was such a free spirit of sorts. Her family background is MESSED up – no spoilers here – but let me tell you….WOW – there are some very interesting pieces of the puzzle that once revealed…well, I was like…WTAF?! Despite Keller not being a very likeable individual – I was actually quite drawn to him. He is one messed up kid/young adult and I shook my head many a time. His bravado made me wonder how vulnerable he really was – at times this was quite transparent but masked behind his nasty streak. Great character! I almost felt sorry for him… almost! Would I recommend this book – actually, I bloody well would. My initial questions about where the book was headed were resolved after the first few chapters and then I was pulled into a very dark, twisted, dysfunctional story that had me racing through the pages. I definitely recommend you check this book out – it was my first book by this author, but it will not be my last!

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Absolutely over-the-moon to be hosting A Fractured Winter blog tour today! I adore Alison Baillie’s writing, so I was thrilled to be asked to take part in the tour! My thanks to the author and Williams & Whiting publishing for an ARC of this book. Let’s find out a bit more about the author and her book before I share my thoughts… About The Author

ALISON BAILLIE was brought up in Ilkley, Yorkshire by Scottish parents. She studied English at the University of St Andrews, before teaching English in Edinburgh secondary schools and EFL in Finland and Switzerland. Now she spends her time reading, writing, travelling, spending time with her grandchildren and attending crime writing festivals. About The Book

A missing girl.
Threatening notes.
Sinister strangers.
Olivia’s idyllic family life in a Swiss mountain village is falling apart. She thought she’d managed to escape the past, but it’s coming back to haunt her.
Has somebody discovered her secret – why she had to leave Scotland more than ten years ago?
What is her connection to Marie, a lonely schoolgirl in a Yorkshire seaside town, and Lucy, a student at a Scottish university?
A story of the shadows of the past, the uncertainties of the present and how you can never really know anybody.

I absolutely LOVED Alison Baillie’s debut novel – Sewing The Shadows Together so was THRILLED to be offered the opportunity to read her second novel, A Fractured Winter. This novel is set in both Switzerland and Edinburgh – but the main story happens in Switzerland. Mystery is everywhere as the reader is faced with secrets from the past, loss, fear, change, a search for answers, revelations, consequences and manipulation …but so much more! I have to say, I just LOVE Alison Baillie’s writing style – so enchanting, despite the subject matter – I was immediately drawn in as the tension and suspense pushed and pulled me with each page turned.  There was an air of mystery that just hung over me, setting my synapses on fire as I eagerly read and experienced the story unfolding. This novel was rich with atmosphere and a true sense of place – I was in Switzerland – I was in Edinburgh, breathing the air ..ooooh, it was fabulous!! I also loved the sense of jeopardy that coursed through my veins… I felt it – the storyline delivered a sinister and alarming vibe. OMG it was brilliant! Character-wise I felt like I came to know each individual. Everyone had a purpose and even those I wasn’t particularly drawn to, I had to know what happened…I cared….I needed to know! Olivia annoyed me at the best of times – her naivety made me want to shake her, but I could also empathise with her. Very well written! Christen was also annoying I thought he was a bit of a know-it-all and a little too old-fashioned at times, but again, this WORKED and really made me want Olivia to come out winning in the end. In fact, a lot of the characters gave me mixed emotions, and that is exactly what kept me turning the pages. This was definitely a character-driven story and I think this is something that Alison masters in her writing. Would I recommend this book? Oh my giddy aunt, you bet I would. Beautifully written, dark, mysterious with some twists that had me jumping up in my seat! I am sad I finished this book so quickly as it was such a pleasure to read! If you haven’t read Alison’s books before, you really need to sort that out – she is AMAZING!

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Thrilled to be hosting the final stop on Claire Kittridge’s debut novel – THIS DARK PLACE blog tour! My thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for the invite and organising an ARC.  I’ll start off by sharing a bit about the author and this book before I delve into sharing my thoughts … About The Author 

Claire Kittridge grew up in Brooklyn, NY watching The X-files, Law and Order, and a worn-out VHS tape of Sweeney Todd that she found in the basement. Long a lover of atmospheric landscape, rolling hills, and rainy days, Claire fell in love with England and its great fictional detectives while traveling around Britain as a teenager. An avid reader, triathlete, and boxing fan, Claire lives in New York City with her cat, Chairman Meow. She is currently at work on the second Kelly Moore novel. Twitter: @cpkittridge
Instagram: @clairekittridge
Amazon author page: amazon.com/author/clairekittridge About the Book

Priscilla Ames is the daughter of a Wall Street hedge fund manager that has made millions in the stock market. She’s reckless, impulsive, always wanting to be the center of attention, but one thing has been constant – her friendship with Avery Moss. They are like sisters that share adventures and look out for each other in times of need. Avery Moss comes from a working-class family in Brooklyn. She met Priscilla as an 8 year-old at an elite NYC private school where Avery was on a one-year scholarship. They became friends on the first day of school when Avery beat up a boy that was teasing Priscilla. When Avery’s scholarship was discontinued, Priscilla’s father, Peter Ames, stepped in and has supported her schooling ever since, including sending the girls to a prestigious acting college in London NYPD Detective Kelly Moore is a member of the elite Queens Violent Felony Squad. She is smart and strong and direct. Years ago, her older sister disappeared while traveling in England and the case was never solved, haunting all of her investigations. Moore’s greatest strength and her greatest weakness are two sides of the same coin: when she’s on her game, she works from the inside out, acting on hunches and then backing them up with evidence – but under duress, she acts rashly, leaping before she looks. When Priscilla’s body is found by Avery in a posh London flat and her death is splashed across headlines worldwide, Kelly Moore flies across the Atlantic to join a crack team of British investigators working on the case. Together with the London Metropolitan Police, Kelly must track down a twisted serial killer who seems to know her every move and her darkest secrets. As the body count rises, and panic spreads, the killer threatens to make Kelly the next victim. In a heart-racing game of cat and mouse, Kelly must outwit this elusive master of surveillance – who might be the last person she suspects.

An NYPD cop finds herself in London in this debut novel where risk is around every corner, manipulation, fear and revelations grip the reader and where loss, secrets/lies along with a haunting past drag the reader into the search for justice. Well OMFG! Claire Kittridge certainly held nothing back in this fabulous debut! The prologue had me scratching my head, wondering what in the world was going on – I must read more!! Full of suspense, this police procedural dabbled on the psychological edge with a plot that I found intriguing and unsettling. I really enjoyed the mix of UK and US policing with a fantastic cast of characters and a few red herrings that kept me guessing throughout! This is certainly a very promising start to a new series and I am super keen to see where the author takes us next! Detective Kelly Moore is an NYPD cop with a past that not only haunts her, but brings her back to the place where it started. Talk about having to face your fears head on! There is an interesting backstory here and although we know her sister is missing, we don’t know what happened, only that it seems everyone presumes the sister is dead … many years have passed but no body! Hmmmmmm I most definitely want to know more! I instantly liked this character – she is a risk-taker, determined, a wee bit fiesty but also very clever. I want more of Moore!! Another character I was immediately drawn to was DI Samantha Joshi – LOVED her! She befriends Moore and their rapport instantly leaps off the pages. Another one who does not shy away from taking a risk now and again, I think she is, however a little less obvious in her methods. For some reason, I also really liked Brickmat – a reporter who always left me wondering what his real motives were. He certainly knows a lot and there were times that he made my skin crawl – for me, he is one of those likeable unlikeable characters Confusing, I know! But it’s how I feel! So would I recommend this read? Oh hell-to-the-yeah I would! Dark, edgy and absolutely filled with page-turning suspense, I can’t wait to see how this series develops!

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‘You’ve got to help me.’ On a wet road in the black of night, Karl Seabury is driving home to his pregnant wife. Suddenly, caught in his headlights in the middle of the road is a woman shaking with fright. The woman says her name is Liz Smith, that her home was attacked, and that she was the only one to escape. In a split-second decision, Karl decides to help her to safety. But can he really trust her? Or has he put his family in danger? An absolutely unputdownable thriller, with twist after twist after twist, that will leave you breathless. Perfect for fans of Robert Dugoni, John Marrs and Harlan Coben.

Woooo-weeee! Set in London, the reader is taken on a dark and thrilling journey where fear, corruption, consequences, choice, violence, greed, power and betrayal wrap themselves around you like an unwelcome blanket! What a fantastic opening! The reader is instantly hooked in the first paragraph of this story and the author then spends the rest of the story, reeling us in …page by merciless page! I loved the tension injected right from the start and I was like – WTAF is happening here?! Never knowing who OR what to believe, the plot has your mind racing with peaks and troughs of suspense laced throughout. I found myself holding my breath at times with a hunter vs the hunted game that I knew would not end well for someone..but WHO!? The police are secondary characters in this novel which sees Karl and Liz’s story as the main plot. There was humour, violence, suspense and a few OMFG moments to keep me gripped until the very last page! Character-wise – there were A LOT! For some this may be confusing, but I URGE you to stick with it as they all have a role to play in driving this story forward. Karl Seabury is a bit naive and I found myself feeling sorry for him – trying to be nice and then finding himself in a situation that just would not end the way he may hope it will! He’s a decent guy but his good nature is his downfall. Who can we trust? Who can HE trust? Liz Grafton – I immediately want to know what her story is. Is she an innocent victim? I didn’t find her very likeable and with quite an attitude for someone who wanted help! When you find out more about her …well… I have to say, my sympathy wore thin! I want to talk about so many of the characters but fear I may inadvertently give something away! The baddies – well they are some dark, twisted, nasty individuals in the main. I cringed when I knew I would be coming across them again.  There are quite a few twists and surprises – one that caught me COMPLETELY off guard…I had to do one of those re-read, double takes! Brilliant! So would I recommend this read? You bet your sweet arse I would! I love a book filled with flawed characters, dark souls, twisted storylines and a pace that leaves your fingers on fire! Definitely one for the TBR, peeps!

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I’m thrilled to be hosting the final stop of the D.B. John STAR OF THE NORTH blog tour today! Huge thanks to Vintage Books and the ever-so-awesome Angela McMahon who invited me on this tour and always knows exactly the type of book that will excite me! About The Book 

North Korea and the USA are on the brink of war A young American woman disappears without trace from a South Korean island. The CIA recruits her twin sister to uncover the truth. Now, she must go undercover in the world’s most deadly state. Only by infiltrating the dark heart of the terrifying regime will she be able to save her sister…and herself Star of the North is the most explosive thriller of the year – you won’t be able to put it down.

Set in both Korea and the US, Star of the North tells a story of forgiveness, fear, anger, survival, loss, trauma, past secrets, corruption, politics, power/control, desire for freedom, the risks people take and the consquences they face, upheaval, sadness, unease, unrest and the search for the truth. The prologue takes us to 1998, South Korea and the suspense I felt was palpable, as the beautiful writing style was both hypnotic and intense – I found myself holding my breath. Yes, I was HOOKED! The plot was a mixture of both fact and fiction which gave me an almost surreal sense of being an observer rather than a reader. Topping this off was a superb narrative and characterisation and I found myself both thrilled and shocked as the events unfolded before me. When this book arrived, I read the blurb and wondered if it would be my cup of tea. But this crime thriller WAS explosive, intriguing, tense and simply caught me off guard. There is a wonderful mix of culture and diversity in the characters and as much as I thoroughly enjoyed each one, I also felt I was learning about a period in time that I had relatively little knowledge or understanding. This was a thought provoking read, made even more so through the characters who brought the words alive on the pages! Dr Jenna Williams has never escaped the trauma of losing her twin – she feels there is more to discover and when approached to join the CIA she sees the opportunity to discover the truth. What will she uncover? Mrs Moon is a hard worker, determined, resourceful and has a story of her own to share. I simply adored her and admired her strength when others may have just crumbled and given up. What secrets does she hide? Cho is a respected leader in the army and finds himself mixed up in a situation where there is no turning back. He is a little naive at first, but when things unravel his courage and sense of right come to the forefront. Will he do the right thing? Jenna- Mrs Moon- Cho … three very different characters but all tied together. When their ties are revealed the links are seamless and I absolutely LOVED seeing how everything came together. All I can say is WOW WOW WOW – what an absolute blinder of a book! It’s emotive, heartwrenching, thrilling and so beautifully written, I could not help but find myself with a mega #bookhangover once I had finished. I highly recommend this read for those of you who enjoy the mix of thriller, fact and pure action in your crime fiction!

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