Book Review: Knock Knock by Chris Merritt

Hello, my name is Judith! Welcome to my blog, ReadandReview.

Knock Knock is the new crime thriller by Chris Merritt. It’s also his first book in a police procedural series which focuses on Detective Lockhart and the psychologist Dr Green. Natasha Mayston is found murdered in her home; her body is restrained by cable-ties and she has been choked to death. However, Natasha is not the first victim, and she will be not be the last. Detective Lockhart and Dr Green must work together quickly to understand the mind of a psychopathic serial killer before more women are murdered.

My Photo [Knock Knock].png

I thought Knock Knock was reasonably entertaining, though it did take a while for the story to pique my interest.

This book covers uncomfortable topics, which is worth bearing in mind. I am thinking particularly here of passages of narration from the point of view of a serial killer who defends and justifies violence, murder, and sexual abuse. These parts didn’t put me off, but I did find them quite … difficult to read at times. You’ve been warned.

Something I especially liked about Knock Knock was the way Merritt set up a variety of characters as possible, plausible culprits for the murders. This kept me guessing and I struggled to work out what the truth was and what the red herrings were.

Something I did not like about Knock Knock was Merritt’s characterisation. Every character, upon entering the room, was introduced to the reader with their age,  appearance, personality traits, and background story. This was an information overload and, quite frankly, it was dull. I am never going to remember the details about every character of a book if I’m given them all at once. Consequently, I forgot most of these details almost instantaneously and so they could have just been omitted, in my opinion.

However, I enjoyed the actual narrative of Knock Knock; it was interesting and exciting, whilst gruesome!  

Star Rating: 3/5 Stars

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I acquired this book for free in exchange for a review via NetGalley and Bookouture.

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Have you read this book? What did you think?

– Judith

Book Review: All The Rage by Cara Hunter

Hello, my name is Judith! Welcome to my blog, ReadandReview.

All The Rage is the new crime thriller novel by Cara Hunter, which follows DI Fawley as he works on his latest case; a teenage girl is found wandering the streets, having been abducted and assaulted. Yet, the girl refuses to press charges, or even explain what happened to her. Without any co-operation, Fawley struggles to investigate the case. Then, another girl vanishes.

All The Rage has a strong opening and a good prologue. This, for me, is an especially important positive as I am normally not keen on prologues – at all. However, Hunter’s writing had me hooked immediately.

Overall, it was a reasonable crime novel. Throughout the book, there were a variety of dead ends, false leads, and changes in the investigation which kept the narrative unpredictable and interesting.

All The Rage introduces a large number of different characters though – including a variety of police officers, which meant it was confusing and somewhat overwhelming to keep track of everybody and remember their characterisation. After reading some other NetGalley reviews which voiced similar concerns, I realised the likely reason for this is that All The Rage is actually the fourth book in a series – this explains why I didn’t feel “up to speed” with the characters. Admittedly, it is advertised as ‘DI Fawley Book 4’ on Amazon, though I was disappointed to find this is not mentioned anywhere on the NetGalley page, which is where I first came across the book.

As a result, I don’t think I could recommend this book as a standalone crime novel. This is a shame because I’ve read other books in the past which have been part of a series I’ve never read and still had no trouble picking up the characters, themes, and plot strands from earlier books.

However, if you have read and enjoyed the previous books in Cara Hunter’s ‘DI Fawley’ series, I am sure you would also like All The Rage.

Star Rating: 3/5 Stars 

Thank you for reading my blog post! Please click ‘Like’ to support my blog, and ‘Follow’ this blog if you would like to read more book reviews like this.

I acquired this book for free in exchange for a review via NetGalley and Penguin Books.

Have you read this book? What did you think? 

– Judith


This post was last updated in January 2020.

Book Review: Hold Your Tongue by Deborah Masson

Hello, my name is Judith! Welcome to my blog, ReadandReview, and my first book review of 2020!

Hold Your Tongue is Deborah Masson’s impressive debut crime / thriller novel.

In Aberdeen, Scotland, DI Eve Hunter is summoned to investigate a horrific murder scene – a young woman’s body in a hotel bathroom. Her tongue is missing, and a newspaper cutting has been pinned to her body. Yet, she is not the only victim. There is a serial killer on the loose, and DI Hunter must work against the clock in order to solve the mystery and stop the killer.

A Quick Aside: This cover is great.

As I have already mentioned, Hold Your Tongue is an impressive debut. It was well-written, clear to follow, and had some imaginative (albeit gory) crime scene descriptions!

I can’t say the plot was particularly striking or “special”, as a large number of similar crime novels already exist. However, if you particularly enjoy police procedures, forensic investigations, and gory murder mysteries, Hold Your Tongue is a worthwhile crime novel to add to your collection.

However, that’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the plot. I did! There were some subtle red herrings and some fantastic twists. At one point, I thought I had figured everything out, only to be left completely surprised and shocked again as things changed.

One of the best aspects of the novel – I thought – was Masson’s characters. I enjoyed watching Eve interact with the colleagues around her, and each character was individual and different. Everyone had different backgrounds, personalities and relationships, and the characters all felt completely real and believable. This made me invested in the murder mystery even more; I wanted Eve to succeed and I wanted her team to support her.

The more of Hold Your Tongue I read, the more interesting it became. I was captivated entirely by the ending and I thought these scenes were fantastic – they were thrilling and exciting, and I was glued to my Kindle app.

I would definitely recommend Hold Your Tongue if you are seeking a new, exciting crime / thriller to read this year.

Star Rating: 4/5 Stars

Thank you for reading my blog post! Please click ‘Like’ to support my blog, and ‘Follow’ this blog if you would like to read more book reviews like this.

I acquired this book for free in exchange for a review via NetGalley and Random House UK, Transworld Publishers, of Penguin Books.

Have you read this book? What did you think? 

– Judith


This post was last updated in January 2020.

Book Review: The House by Simon Lelic

Hello, my name is Judith! Welcome to my blog, ReadandReview.

The House by Simon Lelic is … not what I expected. It is about a couple, Jack and Syd, who move into what they think is their dream home. After all, the house is in a great location and has plenty of space for a family in the future. However, this all changes when Jack and Syd discover something grisly in the attic. Then, at night, Jack thinks he can hear people moving around inside. Then, someone is murdered right outside their home.

It took a while for me to get into this book.

The House begins with some first-person diary entries from both Jack and Syd. Seemingly, they share a diary because both characters write entries which consist almost entirely of quips and squabbles to their partner, as well as references to their partner’s other entries. Personally, I thought this format was a disappointing and confusing to begin a book. I didn’t learn anything in particular – apart from the fact that something bad had happened – and that Jack and Syd must enjoy writing argumentative messages for the other to read.

Then, the story finally begins.

Jack and Syd move into their new home and start finding odd things around the house, or hearing strange noises. Furthermore, they learn the owner was extraordinarily keen to sell his house but the real estate agents refuse to explain why. I liked this section because it created mystery and intrigue, and the house itself was very well described as dark, gloomy, and foreboding.

However, The House suddenly shifts completely in tone and genre from a potential paranormal or Gothic horror to a crime thriller. I don’t know if this was intended to be a shocking plot twist or not, but it just came across as a complete change in direction for seemingly no reason.

I still liked the crime thriller half of the novel. Some interesting things happened and, although I wasn’t completely blown away, it was enjoyable enough.

Ultimately, the main disappointment I had with The House was that I expected it to embrace the Gothic genre further, and it just didn’t. I don’t think these expectations were unfounded either.

The book is called The House yet, despite a title which is reminiscent of other Gothic works such as The House of the Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allan Poe, and The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson, the house in Lelic’s novel is really not that significant. Admittedly, there are some mysteries within to be uncovered but, really, the house seems more like a backdrop for the crimes and murders committed, rather than a place of immense significance by itself.

The cover of The House also emphasises the interior of Jack and Syd’s home, which contains rickety stairs and bare floorboards, both of which are classic conventions of a haunted house. Additionally, quotations featured on the cover of The House such as ‘terrifying’, ‘creepy’, and ‘spooky as hell’ all lead you to think and expect to read a haunted house story – or at least a story which hints at and embraces the paranormal – when, in reality, The House isn’t terrifying, creepy, or spooky at all – because it is a crime novel, not a Gothic novel. This didn’t feel like a clever twist, it felt like false advertising.

Overall, The House is a reasonable crime thriller, so if you’re a fan of that genre, you will probably enjoy this too. At least you’ll know what to expect, unlike me.

Star Rating: 3/5 Stars

Thank you for reading my blog post! Please click ‘Like’ to support my blog, and ‘Follow’ this blog if you would like to read more book reviews like this.

Have you read this book? What did you think? 

– Judith


This post was last updated in January 2020

Book Review: A Kiss Before Dying by Ira Levin

Hello, my name is Judith! Welcome to my blog, ReadandReview.

A Kiss Before Dying is crime thriller novel by Ira Levin, published in 1953, about a man who will stop at nothing to get what he wants – not even murder.

By now, after reading The Stepford Wives, Rosemary’s Baby, and Son of Rosemary, I have realised that I just love Ira Levin’s writing.

This review will be a little on the short side, as it’s very hard to say anything about this book without giving way huge spoilers.

In a nutshell, A Kiss Before Dying was excellent. It was incredibly tense, and full of unexpected moments – there were plenty of moments where I wish I had been paying more attention to the details. It was so good! The characters felt realistic and the plot was enthralling.

A Kiss Before Dying is a fantastically sinister crime novel that I would definitely read again, and you should read too.

Star Rating: 5/5 Stars

Thank you for reading my blog post! Please click ‘Like’ to support my blog, and ‘Follow’ this blog if you would like to read more book reviews like this.

Have you read this book? What did you think? 

– Judith


This post was last updated in January 2020.

Book Review: Who Killed Anne-Marie? by C.M. Thompson

Hello, my name is Judith! Welcome to my blog, ReadandReview.

This is part of a blog tour organised by Love Books Group and Hookline Books.

Daniel and Anne-Marie’s marriage isn’t just on the rocks, it’s about to go six feet under. Anne Marie Mills is out of work, out of love and out of whisky. Everyone else is out of patience. When Anne-Marie is found dead who is to blame? The neighbours who despised her drunken rants? The husband who wondered how much more he could take? Or is there another killer in the neighbourhood?

My Photo [Who Killed].jpg

I thought the beginning of Who Killed Anne-Marie? was really interesting because the narrative switches frequently between Daniel’s perspective and Anne-Marie’s perspective on their crumbling marriage, which makes it difficult to know who is worse, who enables who, and who abuses who – a fascinating idea.

As the title suggests, Who Killed Anne-Marie? is a murder-mystery novel. I actually liked that Anne-Marie’s death was revealed in the title, as I was alert to characters’ speech and actions, in order to pick up on possible clues in advance.

Another interesting aspect of Who Killed Anne-Marie? is that all the characters are horrible. Daniel is cruel, Anne-Marie is a violent drunk, Anne-Marie’s mother is bitter and angry, and Anne-Marie’s brother is selfish. Plus, all of the neighbours on the street are flawed too. This, I think, both helps and hinders the narrative. On the one hand, it made the murder mystery intriguing because the book was filled with seemingly hundreds of people who would be happier if Anne-Marie were dead. On the other hand, it was difficult to get read the book at times because it was so depressing. Also, I found it hard to sympathise or support any of the characters – including the police officers investigating her death – because all the characters were either overly harsh and horrible, or somewhat under-developed.

Whilst I admit I think Who Killed Anne-Marie? could have benefited from some glimpses of humour or some lighter moments, I nonetheless found it an enjoyable read.

Star Rating: 3/5 Stars

Thank you for reading my blog post! Please click ‘Like’ to support my blog, and ‘Follow’ this blog if you would like to read more book reviews like this.

Have you read this book? What did you think? 

– Judith


This post was last updated in January 2020.

Book Review: One Of Us Is Lying by Karen McManus

Hello, my name is Judith! Welcome to my blog, ReadandReview.

Five students go to detention. Only four leave alive.

One Of Us Is Lying by Karen McManus is a young adult murder mystery.  I’ve seen quite a few blog posts about this book so, for once, I followed the hype. One Of Us Is Lying is a fun teen drama that isn’t too cliché, despite its focus on teenage stereotypes and high school. The writing is self-aware and calls attention to its stereotyped characters: the geek, the jock, the criminal, and the princess.

The book adopts the point of view of all 4 suspected characters: Bronwyn, Cooper, Nate, and Addy. This allows you to get to know their personalities quite well, and understand their thoughts, and I thought all 4 of them were fairly likeable.

The author uses the phrase ‘more unique’ – a phrase that makes no sense and I can’t stand.

There were also some slightly forced references to popular youth culture such as Snapchat, Netflix, and Tumblr which, to me, felt like the author was trying a little too hard to be #relatable for the kids, but these aren’t huge criticisms.

The characters’ secrets were fun to find out, and it was interesting to read through and guess who was responsible.

I did work this out just before the “big reveal”, but the climax of the book seemed a little too rushed; I would have preferred more action/suspense once the characters worked out who the culprit was, but it concluded quite quickly afterwards.

All in all, One Of Us Is Lying was an enjoyable teen murder mystery, and a well-written debut novel.

Star Rating: 4/5 Stars

Thank you for reading my blog post! Please click ‘Like’ to support my blog, and ‘Follow’ this blog if you would like to read more book reviews like this.

Have you read this book? What did you think? 

– Judith


This post was last updated in January 2020.