GOOD AS GONE – Amy Gentry

You have just about managed to hold what is left of your family together – your husband and younger daughter – since the older daughter, then aged 13, was kidnapped. Then she turns up at your door, a young woman, now. That is Julie, isn’t it?

Good as GoneShe says she is. Mother Anna believes she is. But she also knows she is lying.

This incredibly tense tale of unravelling turned out to be one of the best I’ve had come my way in a while. It depicts several teenagers of intense courage and endurance evolving into womanhood. They endure unbelievable treachery, mistreatment and brutality until they escape back into the impossible world or normality.

Anna is no less a warmblooded character layered in suspicion, care, love, doubts, courage and determination as she struggles through the veils of deception towards the truth.

Slowly, slowly, that truth, penetrated level by painful level, comes twisting home.

Amy Gentry

Amy Gentry

An excellent story. The cover, however, does not do it justice; so judge not.

Thank you, Sahina Bibi | Publicity Intern at HQ for this review copy.









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THE PROTECTOR – Danielle Lenee Davis

Enter Detective Sydney Valentine. She’s strong, sassy, intelligent, likeable and above all, a loyal friend.

The Protector

Sydney and her colleagues are well drawn, flesh and blood, and I especially liked the repartee. As to the plot, the body count rises and gets closer to home until the inevitable target is Sydney herself, which makes for an exciting ride as characters you have now gotten rather fond of are threatened.


The antagonist I found to be a little dubious but I suppose there is no limit to mad murderous maniacs in life. What’s needed is the convincing depiction thereof and I was not entirely convinced. Twists are there as required, but there should be more of a shucks-I-shoulda-seen-that-coming feel to them, rather than where-did-that-one-come-from?


Danielle Lenee Davis

Danielle Lenee Davis

However, that is not to say I didn’t find this intro to Sydney Valentine enjoyable or entertaining. I did, and I think the author is going to grow to dizzying heights with so much evident promise.

Thank you, Danielle, via Instafreebie for this Kindle copy. Good luck with the marketing, which is often harder than writing a good thriller.

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TOUCHING THE SUN – Bahamas series 1 – Maynard Sims

Childhood friendships change, of course they do. But Harry Beck never expected just how much it was possible for those to change, so his rose-tinted glasses don’t fall off until faces the awful truth. Thankfully, current friendships turn out to be more solid.

Touch the SunWhen you have a small charter business in the Bahamas, what could be more idyllic than that? Carefree and relaxed as Harry himself; no responsibilities and no commitments, there are few clouds on his horizon. When his young mechanically minded partner, Stevie, a tough tomboy whose loyalty knows no bounds, gets beaten up, his life starts to unravel. The pace accelerates until Harry needs to fight or flee. And, cornered, fight he does.

Easy writing, so easy reading. The first in a series of Harry Beck adventures gives us a promising picture of what lies ahead. I enjoyed this and look forward to more of the same. I loved the backdrop to the Maynard Sims team development and I think a similar set-up would benefit a lot of writers, but getting over the ego hurdle must be a bit step.


Maynard Sims – a formidable team

Book 2 in the series is CALLING DOWN THE LIGHTNING

Book 3 in the series is RAGING AGAINST THE STORM

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The BIG MANGO -Jake Needham

Jump the smelly puddles and hang on to your wallet; this is Bangkok. Nobody paints it better than Jake Needham, so hold your nose.

the-big-mangoAfter the fall of Saigon, the South Vietnamese Government treasury is shipped out by plane to Bangkok. And disappears. The only man who knew where it went was the captain in charge of the guard detail and he’s just been killed.

Years later, two members of his detail receive copies of old photos. Their heads in the group of servicemen are circled in red pen. Somebody offers a vast sum of money for them to go to Bangkok to look for the loot, even though they don’t have a clue where to look. The dead captain’s wife also says she needs their help. A US agent says he needs their help.

Charlie and Winnebago wander around the grimy city as innocent lambs looking for safety at the butchery until they finally run into an elderly journalist who reluctantly agrees to help with his local knowledge.

Just when you wonder if anything exciting is going to happen, ever, all hell breaks loose and starts revolving like a corkscrew.

Half yeasty description of the backstreets of Thailand’s underbelly, and half thriller and who dunnit, this was a fun read I thoroughly enjoyed.

Jake Needham1

Jake Needham

Jake pointed me at The Big Mango, his first novel, on Instafreebie. . Thank you, Jake!

He is the successful author of The Jack Shepard Series, and the Sam Tay Series, both set in the Asia that he knows so well.

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Beware of old flames when the fire’s gone out, you can still be burned on the coals when she phones long after midnight and offers you money and sex. Especially when you should know better.


Ed Earl Burch says no, no, no. Then yes, firstly because she needs protection from some very nasty people who think she knows where her husband stashed their money, and secondly, she won’t take no for an answer. He soon also needs protection from the same nasty people, and a hoard more that the two pick up along the action packed way. Needing help to track down the elusive treacherous financier, Ed Earl enlists the help of his best friend. Things can’t get more serious when his friend is eliminated in Dallas, for which he rightly blames himself.

Everyone is nasty. From Ed E himself, a boozy falling-apart PI, and the self centred old flame to the ruthless conniving husband and everyone in between. Murdering sonsabitches, all.

Okay, maybe, as least nasty, we do get fond of Ed E and wish him well as he blunders along in an almost nothing-to-live-for fashion.

What do you want?

Action? You get it in spades.

Sex? It dribbles and groans in plenty.

Brutality? No problem – blood, puke, pain; mop the pages to see the writing.

The trail is a rough ride with your heart in your mouth. With the odd stop to visit my cardiologist, I otherwise couldn’t put it down, but gritty feels like icecream, and hardboiled is like jelly compared to this. Keep going, Mr Nesbitt.


Jim Nesbitt



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GOOD ME, BAD ME – Ali Land

Mum’s a serial killer, and even though I had you arrested, you’re still in my head. Day dream and nightmare. Just how much thicker is blood than water, Mum?

good-me-bad-meAnnie, whoops, I mean Millie, a fifteen year old, is with a foster family until after the trial. Head of the family, Mike, psychologist, is trying to prep Millie for the upcoming trial. He spends so much time and sympathy with her that his own daughter, Phoebe, plots Milly’s misery both at home and at school. Milly makes only one friend, a slightly younger urchin from a local housing estate, but even she becomes wary of the teenager under so much mounting stress.

Ali Land takes along to live in Millie’s head in a very scary, convincing way. The foster family, with caring gullible Mike, his pill-popping wayward wife, and betrayed daughter with her loyal bitchy friends, are all very real. The tension mounts inexorably as the trial gets nearer and the teenage schemes of revenge are hatched.


Ali Land

Some may suspect which way the cookie is going to crumble before it actually does, which could help steel a reader for the heart-banging climax, but those that don’t are in for a twist of note.

Book Details: Penguin – Michael Joseph. ISBN: 9780718182939

Thanks to Lorienne Brown, Marketing & Publicity,, for this review copy.

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Truth is in the eyes of the beholders. For every sliver of a broken mirror there is a slightly different reality.


The unsolved murder of psychologist Professor Joseph Wieber in Princeton in 1987 resurfaces when literary agent Peter Katz receives the introductory part of a manuscript.  Written by Richard Flynn, it introduces the main characters that interacted with the professor around the time of his death. Richard, Laura Barnes,the girl he is head over heels in love with and the psychologically damaged handyman, Derek Simmons.

This enjoyable who dunnit tale is told – and retold – in fragments, as Katz asks his friend, John Keller, an ex-journalist, to try to find the rest of the manuscript when Flynn dies. The bulk of the story is told by Keller who finally gives up and passes the baton to the retired detective, Roy Freeman, who was involved in the case twenty five years previously.



Each narrating character is warmly moulded and each sheds some fractured slivers of light as they and the peripheral figures who knew the professor or the suspects who might have had reason to take his life all contribute to the picture.

The story highlights the fallibility of memory and the conflicting interpretations of views focused on the same events.

Book Details: Century imprint – ISBN: 9781780895680

My thanks to Random House Penguin South Africa for this review copy.

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An excellently written serial killer thriller with an original plot and acceptably real characters. Highly recommended.

the-beautiful-deadIt would seem obvious that a TV crime reporter would find it difficult to remain grounded and unaffected by her close association with the brutal and ghoulish demands of her audience. Eve Singer needs to ramp up her involvement in order to satisfy a demanding director and save her job in a competitive world where she is threatened by aspiring wannabes as well as the other networks. She needs to be that much closer to the action, until there is blood spatter on her face and she not only realises that maybe she is too close and she and the killer are working together to get the publicity that he craves.

The killer himself is as much a fully explored character as is the woman he needs to bring his passion to life. Bauer goads his psyche to plausible reality; so much so that it could resonate with those who might think that the beautiful state of death is so desirable that it might be a favour to be bestowed on the worthy. Or the unworthy who get in the way…

The ruthless editor, the loyal cameraman, the despicable rival reporter; all are convincing pieces of the jigsaw. I started off by almost disliking Eve Singer for her reportative greed, but her internal battle for integrity eventually endeared me to her.

Gripping, feasible, and well written, this was a thoroughly satisfactory read.


Belinda Bauer

Book Details: ISBN: 9780593075517

Publisher – Bantam Press; Penguin Random House UK.


My thanks to Lorienne Brown, Marketing & Publicity Assistant, Penguin Random House South Africa for this ARC.



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CAST IRON – Peter May.

Could this be the last in the excellent Enzo Series? From skeletons in a lake to some in cupboards, the truth could kill this likeable determined investigatorCast Iron cover.jpg.

Enzo Macleod, a retired forensic expert living in France, had been set an almost impossible challenge of cold cases, the last of which involves Lucie Martin, whose bleached bones are discovered when a severe drought dried a lake and exposed her remains in what had been the deepest part. This suggested local knowledge, and to Enzo came the belief that this was not unsolvable. As he interviews anyone involved in the now nearly quarter-century old murder, from retired policemen to Lucie’s family, his own life and that of his family, become endangered.

Enzo is endearingly fractured in his personal life and relationships, and his choices have sometimes been terrible, but he has a determinedly loyal nature, reluctant to believe the worst in his intimates. In pursuit of his quarry, he is equally one track minded, a quality that will soon set the killers onto him with deadly fury.

If there is a problem with the fluidity of this tale, it is in the involved and convoluted backstory from the previous in the series. I think a reader’s chronological approach to the Enzo Series would be advisable to avoid confusion, but, this being my intro, I still enjoyed it immensely.


Peter May

Meet the latest PETER MAY fan. Me. And there is a lot of work from this prolific writer for me to seek out.

Thanks to Alice Geary of for the eCopy for review.


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OUR FATHERS – Karin Brynard.

More than a tight grip on the throat!

Our Fathers - Brynard.jpgIt is probably not a unique experience to read two thrillers at the same time, especially for thriller cowards like me. When the pace gets so hot that I have to take a break to stave off cardiac arrest, I sometimes pick up the next book in the review queue to read while pulse and heartbeat normalise.

OUR FATHERS was a bit like that, only in a single volume.

Detective Captain Beeslaar from South Africa’s Northern Cape is heading for Stellenbosch to look up his retired old friend and mentor, but arrives only just in time for the funeral. Local police Captain Vuyokazi Qhubeka enlists his reluctant help in tackling the murder of the wife of a local millionaire property developer, while the rich white man’s family, who have no faith in the black female cop, try to enlist his help in a private capacity. Qhubeka slyly manages to use their attempted manipulation to her own advantage.

Simultaneously, in the sprawling black city of Soweto, where Beeslaar’s ex-colleague and protégé, Sergeant Ghaap, who had himself transferred for the experience, is having severe regrets. On his way to his station to report for duty on foot due to the fact that his car has been stolen, he is given a lift by a team of “trackers” whose job it is to retrieve stolen vehicles. They know the warren of shacks and tracks very well, and it is with their cheerful, irreverent help that Ghaap slowly grounds himself and inserts his detective abilities into the search for a kidnapped pregnant woman, Beeslaar’s ex-girlfriend, and her small son.

Both stories are tense, gripping and entertaining; the one a small release for the other as the action flip-flops back and forth between the two.

Translated expertly from the Afrikaans by Linde Dietrich, it is far more than a pair of gripping thrillers. It is a mirror of the uneasy racial melting pot that is the New South Africa, where racism remains firmly entrenched in some quarters, but a slowly increasing respect and understanding reaches out a tenuous grip in others. There is no lack of humour, either.


Karin Brynard

While non-South African readers will probably find this a real strain on colloquial adjustment, locals may also be stretched to keep up with the slang/s influenced by several of the 11 official languages.

Trying to explain the title may be to introduce a spoiler or two, so I won’t bother. Speaking for myself, I thoroughly enjoyed the read. Or reads.

Reviewed honestly for, and Published by, Penguin Random House South Africa.



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