The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley

A group of thirty-somethings who were all at Oxford University together share a holiday lodge in the wilds of the Scottish Highlands to see in the New Year. Apart from the ‘friends’ the only other people are Heather and Doug who run the place, Iain the handyman who lives off-site and two strange Icelandics who shouldn’t really be there at all. Hats off to Lucy Foley for creating a group of so-called old buddies who are so unlikable that we would be quite happy if more than one of them got bumped off. One does wonder how any of them got into Oxford, especially Miranda – maybe Daddy had some influential friends. Most of us (thanks to The Pigeonhole for giving us the opportunity for reading along with the other Pigeons) guessed (or hoped) who the victim was, but a stunning twist near the end made it much harder to guess who the killer was. I absolutely loved this book. I couldn’t wait for the next stave to be delivered – I woke up at 5.30am and read the last part before I even had a cup of tea. Brilliant. And thanks to the author for taking part in our ‘comments’. We can be a hard lot to please, us Pigeons, but you excelled yourself.

All The Rage by Cara Hunter

If you are wondering why I gave this book four stars instead of five I will endeavour to explain. Close to Home was the first and it was fab. As well as finding out the truth about what happened to Daisy, we also learnt about the police officers and detectives – Adam Fawley of course, Gislingham, Quinn, Everett and Somer plus a few others less ‘important’. In book 2 In The Dark, we had another crime to solve but also more intrigue amongst the officers and more reveals of their relationships and back stories. But it was Book 3 No Way Out that was the real crescendo – the best story yet plus more about the main protagonists. So Book 4 was always going to be doomed to fade in comparison. I’m not saying it wasn’t good – it was – but we learn very little more about Gislingham, Quinn, Everett and Somer and what we learn about Fawley is more about his wife. Also the plotline wasn’t quite as gripping for me. However, I am still looking forward to Book 5. One thing that was really impressive about the four books is that looking back they didn’t blend into one another as so many series often do.

No Way Out by Cara Hunter

This book was even more stunning than the last two. I devoured it in two sittings. It was so emotional what with the death of the first child and then wondering whether Matty would survive. Where were the parents? Some of the fire scenes were very upsetting (I have always hated the idea of people dying in a fire since I was a child – I suppose everyone does but it became a bit of a phobia so I don’t like to read about it). The backstory was a really good way of telling us what happened as there were things the police would never know. We even think that Matty might have been involved because of his jealousy of little Zachary (no spoilers but we realise that this is just bravado). At one stage I had to ask my son (he’s 33) if he had ever played Minecraft – I can’t believe kids play this stuff. Now I can’t wait to read the next novel in the series.

In The Dark by Cara Hunter

Another brilliant book from Cara Hunter. I started this book the night before last but then I had a day off work and I literally just sat at home and read to the end. So intricately put together and I love the way the detectives and PCs are growing in character. After a while you start to question everyone and everything. Who is lying? Who is telling the truth? Is anyone telling the truth? Who really are the victims here? I can’t wait to read the next in the series No Way Out. In fact I’ve just purchased it for my Kindle.

Close To Home by Cara Hunter

This is the first time I’ve given five stars to a book in ages but Close To Home is worth every star. It was absolutely riveting. I read it with The Pigeonhole (many thanks to them and to my fellow Pigeons and Cara who was commenting along with us). I rarely give five stars to any detective novel but this was something else. On a couple of occasions I stayed up till midnight to get the following day’s stave – including the final part. The ending was unexpected but I can’t say more because that would give away spoilers. Poor Adam and Alex (their back story) and poor Leo is all I’m going to say. You never know who’s innocent and who’s guilty but Barry and Sharon are ghastly though I’m not sure Sharon deserves everything that’s coming to her. I can’t wait to read the next book in the series.

Even Stranger by Marilyn Messik

“I thought I’d knocked him out, but in a flash he’d turned on to all fours and was crawling swiftly, spider-like, back towards us. He still held the knife, so I set fire to the handle. The wood flamed and he hissed in pain but didn’t let go. It was all turning rather awkward.”

Having first met Stella as a child in Relatively Strange we now encounter her once again as an adult in the early 70s in Even Stranger. She is trying hard not to stand out by keeping her powers hidden as much as possible. From book one we know she can fly (though it’s more difficult when you’re bigger), move objects and use her mind to read other people’s. Following a series of unremarkable and often unsuccessful jobs, she decides to start her own service business. Whatever you need doing Stella will do it – from typing and research to picking up children and house sitting dogs (more of the latter later).

It’s been six years since her debacle with a group of people with similar abilities including the Peacock sisters, Gloria, Ed and Hamlet (a giant dog) plus Sam who they rescued from a dangerous government research facility looking into children with psi powers. Stella is aided in her new venture by her eccentric 83 year old aunt Kitty and Brenda who is employed to help them. There is also a snooty Borzoi (whom she acquired from a recently deceased client). I said there would be another dog. In this book Stella pits her wits and powers against three different foes and puts herself in danger as a result. Oh yes and there’s a new romance!! And creepy dolls.

It’s yet again a fabulous roller-coaster ride. Please don’t try to rationalise her powers – this is psi-fi and you need accept them from day one or you’ll be disappointed. I love Stella and her family and can’t wait for book three.

The Liar’s Daughter by Claire Allan

Having read Her Name Was Rose I was already a fan of Claire Allan. However, I didn’t like this book as much as I hoped I would. Like is a strange word to use as it’s the harrowing tale of Joe McKee, a paedophile, who was loved and admired in his community, except by his daughter and step-daughter who both hated him. When he is dying they are asked to come and look after him but neither of them are understandably keen. What makes this book stand out though is the relationship between the two women – they hate each other. Joe left his wife and daughter Ciara to be with Natalie who has a daughter Heidi. But Natalie dies soon after and Heidi has to stay with Joe, who doesn’t seem to have to legally adopt her or even apply to the court. Heidi’s natural grandparents feel they are too old and their house is too small to take Heidi. And that’s the bit that really annoyed me. If she were my granddaughter, I would take her in no matter how small my house or how old I was. Heidi is not a toddler. They would manage. Instead they leave her with a man who has already left one family and terrifies Heidi. Most of the story revolves around Ciara and Heidi fighting which got a bit tiresome after a while. There a few other characters who get involved when Joe dies and a number of clever twists but for me it wasn’t enough.
Thanks to Netgalley for an ARC in exchange for a review.