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.

If you would like to support my blog further, you can click my affiliate link to purchase a copy of Knock Knock. This means I receive a small commission if you purchase using my link.

Have you read this book? What did you think?

– Judith

Book Review: The Silent House by Nell Pattison

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

The Silent House is a compelling new crime thriller novel by Nell Pattison. It is about the Hunter family, whose baby daughter is brutally murdered in the middle of the night. However, the family members are all deaf. No one heard a thing. The police call Paige Northwood, a BSL interpreter, to assist with their investigation by interpreting for the witnesses. The local community is in shock, but Paige has her suspicions about what really happened.

I greatly enjoyed the plot and narrative style of The Silent House. The narrative alternates between the murder investigation taking place in the present day and a series of flashbacks, counting down to the time of the murder. Each flashback bolstered my understanding of the present-day investigation and revealed little details and secrets along the way, allowing me to piece together the mystery myself.

An aspect of The Silent House I found particularly interesting was the information given about BSL and the deaf community, via the narrative voice of Paige Northwood, an interpreter. This was not a topic I knew anything about previously, and so I enjoyed reading about, and learning about, sign language.

I was also struck by the difficulty of Paige’s situation; as the interpreter, she could understand the thoughts and feelings of the suspects in a way that the police officers never could, making it increasingly difficult for her to remain unbiased and professional. This then seeps into the narrative voice; Paige’s sympathies and suspicions become blurred as she gets to know those whom she is interpreting for, making her a changeable and unreliable narrator. I’m not used to this in a crime novel (usually, crime novels cast a police officer or a detective inspector as the protagonist), but I liked the unreliability of Paige’s narration.

However, the downside of casting an interpreter as the protagonist, instead of a police officer, meant that, because The Silent House is still a crime novel, Paige was constantly trying to investigate the murder herself, meddling and nosying for secret information and leads. In my opinion, this was highly inappropriate – Paige is not an investigator, and she knows a great number of the suspects personally – and the police officers expressed this repeatedly, and, every time, Paige refused to listen. Because of this, I struggled to see her as a sympathetic, or even a likeable, character.

I don’t know what a solution to this is would be, though. Would it have been better if Paige had been characterised as a police officer who also knows BSL? Or is that “too convenient” for the plot? I’m not sure.

Anyway, on the whole, I enjoyed The Silent House and would recommend if you are seeking a new, interesting crime novel this year.

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 Avon, a division of HarperCollins.

If you are interested in reading this for yourself, and would like to support my blog further, you can click my affiliate link to purchase a copy of The Silent House. This means I receive a small commission if you purchase using my link.

Have you read this book? What did you think?

– Judith

Becoming A ‘Secret Reader’ & Reviewing Framed by S.L. McInnis

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

Towards the end of last year, Hodder Books announced on social media that, provided anyone over the age of 18 based in the UK had the opportunity to become a ‘Secret Reader’, allowing participants early access to e-books from a range of genres. It works as follows: A small number of books from a particular genre are made available for 7 days. The ‘Secret Reader’ can then choose 1 book to read online, or via the Secret Readers App. Once the reader has made their selection and has read more than 10% of it, they have 2 months to finish the book. I decided to sign up.

In the first week, the available books were from the genre of Women’s Fiction. This isn’t a genre I’m particularly interested in (at all), so I let the 7 day period elapse without choosing anything to read.

In the second week, however, the available books were categorised as Crime, Thrillers & Mystery, which caught my attention, and, out of the 6 books available, I chose to read Framed by S.L. McInnis.


My ‘Secret Reader’ Experience 

I should probably start with the positives:

  • In becoming a ‘Secret Reader’, I was granted early access to a new book which I may not have come across otherwise
  • Unlike NetGalley, my access to the book was immediate, and I didn’t have to wait for approval

Unfortunately, those were the only positives I could think of.

There doesn’t seem to be much publicity around being a ‘Secret Reader’ – so much so that it makes you wonder whether it’s even “legit”. I have to admit, I really can’t see much of a need when NetGalley is already so widely popular, well-known, and well used.

However, my biggest problem with being a ‘Secret Reader’ was the functionality of their e-reader app and website. As you cannot download your chosen e-book as a PDF or Kindle file, you are reliant on using their app or website in order to read, which I was disappointed by.

On the Secret Reader App, some of the icons were unclear as to what they were supposed to represent. This is a new, unfamiliar app to me, and for example, I had no idea which button meant “start reading” and which button meant “delete download” – especially as both were represented by images of books / pages. Consequently, I was frustrated to discover I’d accidentally deleting my new book, just as I was getting ready to read it! I also had difficulty adjusting the font size and using the progress bar at the bottom of the page; if I lost my place, it would either drag me too far backwards, too far forwards, or crash entirely. In the end, I gave up on the app and read the book via the Secret Reader website, on my computer, which was not ideal.

My Photo [Secret Readers 2]My Photo [Secret Readers 1]

On the one hand, these technical issues may have just been my experience – my phone or the app could have been playing up on the day I tried to use it, for instance – and I may be making a big fuss over nothing.

On the other hand, I don’t particularly want to risk repeating the experience, and the prospect of reading another full-length novel on a computer screen doesn’t thrill me. With this in mind, whilst I was glad to be able to read Framed, I’m not sure I would be a ‘Secret Reader’ again.


Book Review: Framed 

Framed is a crime thriller / suspense novel which focuses on two women: Beth and Cassy. They were roommates at university, but they both grew apart and moved away. Beth has made a life for herself; she has married and embarked upon a career teaching music. Cassy, on the other hand, is on the run. The LAPD are searching for a culprit in connection with  a quadruple homicide and a botched drug deal. Then, Cassy turns up on Beth’s doorstep, desperate for help.

My Photo [Framed]

On the whole, I enjoyed Framed.

It was easy to read, largely due to the short and simple sentences used throughout. On the one hand, this writing style increased the tension and quickened the pace of the novel in certain scenes but, on the other hand, it risks making the book look a little too simplistically written.

I liked reading the different character perspectives – Beth, her husband Jay, and Cassy – and gradually learning more about their personalities, pasts, and the nature of their relationships with one another. I was less interested in following the police procedural part of the narrative, unfortunately.

I’d say Framed is a slow burner; I was halfway through the book and found myself still waiting for more excitement and more plot development to happen. Nevertheless, I was interested and invested in the story throughout.

The final quarter of Framed is where things get most interesting, and the book is packed full of plot twists. Everything changes – even the narrators aren’t being honest with themselves, or the reader, and this was fun to experience. It did mean, however, that  unravelling the lies and piecing together what actually happened was somewhat confusing.

On the whole though, I thought Framed was an entertaining new crime thriller and I would recommend if you are searching for new books in this genre to 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 had any experience as a ‘Secret Reader’? Would you consider becoming one? 

– Judith

Book Review: Tell Me Why by Ruth O’Neill

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

This book was sent to me from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Tell Me Why is a new novel by Ruth O’Neill. It follows Laura, who is longing for love. She meets Max, a seemingly charming man, and falls head over heels in love with him. However, Laura soon discovers Max is not the man she thinks he is, and Laura’s life is placed in danger.

I liked the ideas behind Tell Me Why: revenge, imprisonment, and manipulation. I’ve read other thrillers with similar themes such as The Collector by John Fowles, Underneath by Anne Goodwin, and Find Her by Lisa Gardner, and I would strongly recommend all three of these books to any interested in these types of thriller.

I also liked the tense and exciting scenes in the climax of Tell Me Why, as Laura attempts to escape from Max’s clutches.

However, there were a few things in Tell Me Why which, for me, missed the mark. For example, I thought the writing was too simplistic. In addition, the plot moves very quickly. If you fancy a short and fast thriller to read, Tell Me Why may suit you perfectly. Personally, the pacing was too fast and, as a consequence, the plot felt rushed. I would have preferred more time to get to know the characters better, and a longer, more drawn-out thriller.

Speaking of characters, I think they could have been developed further, in order for them to feel realistic and lifelike. Despite being the antagonist, for example, Max didn’t seem particularly evil or fearsome. Furthermore, Lauren, though a victim, wasn’t particularly sympathetic or likeable, as I knew little about her. As a result, I didn’t care very much about what happened to either Lauren or Max.

Overall, I think Tell Me Why is a commendable attempt at a psychological thriller, though there are areas in which I think it needs improvement.

Star Rating: 2/5 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? 

Tell Me Why is currently available to download for free on Amazon until the 15th of February.

– 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: An Unwanted Guest by Shari Lapena

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

An Unwanted Guest is a murder mystery / thriller by Shari Lapena set in Mitchell’s Inn, a warm and inviting lodge deep in the woods. A number of guests have travelled there for relaxing getaways and romantic weekends. None of them know each other. However, when a blizzard cuts off the electricity, guests are left trapped inside the lodge until help arrives. Then, a body turns up. Then, another. One of the guests is a murderer; the question is, who?

An Unwanted Guest immediately caught me eye and reminded me of other murder mystery / Agatha Christie style books such as The Unexpected Guest. Also, a creepy, isolated hotel encased by heavy snowfall and woodlands is like something out of The Shining by Stephen King and so I was very excited to read this book.

I enjoyed the narrative style of An Unwanted Guest because it circulates between each character throughout each day. This helped me to see events from different character’s perspectives and understand their individual thoughts, fears, and suspicions. Even after I was halfway through, I still had no idea who the culprit was!

I didn’t think the range of characters were particularly interesting or distinct, however.  All of them were rather secretive and shifty and – dare I say it – a bit bland. On the one hand, this makes everyone a possible suspect and keeps you continuously guessing. On the other hand, this means whenever secrets are revealed, there was no way of knowing whether these secrets were “out of character” or not for the person in question. I would have preferred some more archetypal characters (such as those featured in the Cluedo games, for example) as I think this would make each characters’ personalities and motivations much clearer.

I had also hoped it would be the guests themselves who worked out the identity of the murderer. This is almost the case – for most of the book, with no police intervention due to the snowstorm, characters discuss amongst themselves what they think might have happened and who might be responsible. I thought it  was fascinating to see which details characters chose to fabricate completely or omit from their “alibis”, in order to shield themselves or frame others they suspected. Unfortunately, when the police do arrive (a minor spoiler), the identity of the murderer is swiftly resolved and revealed. Whilst I suppose this is to be expected – the hotel was surely covered in obvious forensic evidence, after all – it was still a bit disappointing, and less enjoyable than seeing the guests work it out themselves.

Now, a second spoiler. When the Big Reveal happens, it is quite likely you will be surprised. This is because the Big Reveal hinges on backstory information we as readers knew nothing about until the ending. It is impossible to reread An Unwanted Guest, hoping to spot clues and key details that you missed the first time which may have hinted towards the killer’s identity. Often, thrillers do rely on plot twists that reveal new, shocking information the reader couldn’t have predicted. Arguably, that’s what makes the book so thrilling! Yet it was a shame that this murder mystery thriller did the exact same thing. For me, a crucial aspect of a good murder mystery is being able to question, puzzle over, and work things out based on clues that are drip-fed to me by the author. This is not possible at all in An Unwanted Guest and for me, this is its biggest flaw.

I still really enjoyed reading it – I was keen to find out what happened, and who was responsible. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t eagerly turning the pages, desperate to know more. As a thriller, I’d say An Unwanted Guest is pretty good. As a murder mystery – which lots of reviewers have compared to Agatha Christie novels – I’d say An Unwanted Guest is pretty disappointing.

Star Rating: 4/5 Stars

Thank you for reading my blog post, and my month of thriller reviews! 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.