Book Review: Chasing Monsters by Paul Harrison

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

Chasing Monsters is the debut crime thriller novel by writer Paul Harrison. Harrison has spent much of his career working within the criminal justice system in the UK as a police officer, and has gained a remarkable insight into some shockingly violent criminals.

Chasing Monsters is set in a quiet suburb of Bridlington, where nothing much happens. However, after a mutilated body is discovered, the Eastborough Police Force is forced into action. As the number of murder victims begins to increase rapidly, DI Will Scott is put in charge of the investigation in a race against the clock to catch the killer responsible.

As a quick first impression, the genre of Chasing Monsters surprised me because of its use of supernatural language and imagery both in the title and book cover. You could be forgiven for thinking the book was a new fantasy / horror. The plot did have a small supernatural / religious undertone however, which may be foregrounded in later books and would explain this style of branding.

I also think it could be worth the author having another proofread of Chasing Monsters, as there were a few phrases that weren’t entirely clear, as well as some spelling / grammar oddities, which can be easy to miss!

Nonetheless, Harrison has written a good debut novel.

First of all, it’s set in Yorkshire – the perfect way to my heart, as a West Yorkshire lass myself!

It’s also evident he knows a lot about the subject matter; crime scenes, police protocol and murder victims’ bodies are always described with clear detail. In particular, the graphic descriptions of the mutilated bodies were always fantastically gruesome and I was left quite astounded that someone could think up such creative … murder methods.

As a reader, I could definitely feel the pressure building for DI Will Scott, as he desperately wants to stop the murder spree but can’t find new leads quick enough before the next body turns up, which I’m sure echoes the stressful nature of police work in real life.

Chasing Monsters gives nothing away early; the culprit is only revealed at the very end of the book, so if you enjoy a long, suspenseful wait then this would be a good book for you.

Personally, I think the book could have benefited from a few more hints at the murderer’s identity – dropped in subtly, of course.

In my ever so humble opinion, Paul Harrison has transitioned well from writing about true crimes to fictional ones, and Chasing Monsters was an enjoyable debut novel that I’m sure others will enjoy too.

Star Rating: 3/5 Stars

Chasing Monsters is available to buy as a paperback or an e-book from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com.

– Judith

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Book Review: Perfect Dead by Jackie Baldwin

This is part of a blog tour organised by Love Books Group and Killer Reads Publishing.

Perfect Dead is a crime novel by Scottish writer Jackie Baldwin. It is the second in her new series.

Perfect Dead follows ex-priest DI Frank Farrell, as he finds himself on the trail of a vicious killer in rural Scotland. It leads to the investigation of Ivy House, which is home to ‘The Collective’, a commune of artists prepared to do anything to keep their secrets hidden.

My Photo [Perfect Dead]

Although Perfect Dead is the sequel to Baldwin’s debut novel, Dead Man’s Prayer – a novel I have not read – this didn’t impede my understanding. Admittedly, it took me a little longer to fully understand Frank Farrell’s background. However, the events from Dead Man’s Prayer were sufficiently alluded to, to make it clear what had happened up until this point.

It was well-written and there was a good, slow-burning hook, which I’m sure will intrigue readers.

I liked the elements of the book that explored the possibility of staged suicides and premeditated murders; these are classic crime genre conventions and they were suitably entertaining to read about. Clearly, Baldwin’s own experience working as a Criminal and Family Law solicitor has informed this novel.

Unfortunately, I found it quite difficult to keep track of characters because they were referred to, sometimes with their surnames only, other times with their first names only. Also, there were a lot of characters. Whilst this might be explained as a reflection of the crowded bustle of a busy police station, and an indication of my newness to Baldwin’s series, I wonder whether this makes the series less accessible for new readers to join in along the way. My advice would be to refer to characters in a consistent way throughout.

Subsequently, a lack of understanding of the characters meant I cared less about the detectives’ private lives. Again, perhaps this is because I’ve joined a series without reading the first book, but I didn’t feel that Frank’s personal live significantly contributed to the overall narrative.

If this sounds overly critical, I apologise. I shall mention some further positives.

Perfect Deadwas a slow-burning suspense that, in style, reminded me other crime thrillers I heavily enjoyed, such as Find Her by Lisa Gardner and The Teacher by Katerina Diamond.

It also had a quick and dramatic ending.

Overall, Perfect Dead was a good read, but I don’t think it was fully the book for me.

Star Rating: 3/5 Stars

Perfect Dead will be available to buy as a paperback on Amazon UK from August 2018.

– Judith

Book Review: Tubing by K.A. McKeagney

This is part of a blog tour with Red Door Publishing.

Tubing is a mystery and thriller novel by K.A. McKeagney.

After a chance encounter with a mysterious man on a tube train, Polly’s mundane London life is turned upside down. The man leaves before she finds out his name, and so Polly becomes desperate to see him again. As she does so, she discovers the underground phenomenon ‘Tubing’, where complete strangers organise illicit sexual encounters on commuter tube trains, but doesn’t realise she’s placing herself in danger.

My Photo [Tubing]

Tubing is marketed as a thriller. I thought it was a thriller.

There’s also a lot of sex. A lot.

I’d never heard of ‘tubing’ before this book – it’s a rather weird phenomenon (sorry) and I sincerely hope it isn’t real – so for me, the sex scenes didn’t add anything.

Excluding the gratuitous sex scenes, Tubing was easy to read, and I thought the pacing was well-balanced.

Polly’s characterisation was also well-layered; we learn different things about her background such as her struggles with an eating disorder and the way her cruel, hypochondriac mother treats her – I loved this, it reminded me of Camille’s mother from Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn.

I really liked how Polly became more paranoid and suspicious of those around her as the novel progressed. It makes you wonder how much is happening in real life, and how much is simply happening inside her head.

However, I didn’t like Charlotte’s character. She was meant to be a bit snobbish and a bit devious, but I wasn’t convinced by her motivations – she felt like a weaker or unclear character.

Suddenly, Tubing moves from sex to thriller; there is an increasing number of mysterious deaths and possible suicides along the tube lines Polly normally travels. The theme of suicide here was eye-opening and shocking. Suicide on the tubes is a traumatic – and very real – issue and some of McKeagney’s descriptions were more graphic than I anticipated.

When the connections between the events on the London Underground and Polly’s own life were finally revealed, they were a good shock.

The ending was also justified, enjoyable, and satisfying.

I did enjoy the thriller moments of Tubing but I didn’t like that the premise was built around sex with strangers. I probably should have researched the book better beforehand!

Star Rating: 4/5 Stars

Tubing is available to buy as a paperback on Amazon UK from May 2018.

– Judith