‘All the Wicked Girls’ by Chris Whitaker

 

Tall Oaks’, Chris Whitaker’s 2016 novel of small town American intrigue revolving around the disappearance of a three-year-old boy was an incredibly assured debut and trumpeted the arrival of an impressive new talent. Rightly acclaimed, it is a brilliant read, a pitch black yet hilarious and touching tale that brought to mind the work of David Lynch, in particular ‘Twin Peaks’, and films such as ‘Fargo’.

So the big question: after such a striking first offering, would Whitaker’s sophomore effort suffer from ‘difficult second album syndrome’? Could he produce the goods again, and cement his reputation as one of the most unique new voices in the crime writing genre?

Set in 1994, ‘All the Wicked Girls’ introduces us to the small Bible Belt town of Grace, Alabama, with its people reeling from ‘The Fear’: a series of unsolved disappearances of local girls, all of them church-going, ‘good’ young women. When star student and musical prodigy Summer Ryan vanishes the locals worry that she is yet another victim to add to the ever-growing list. This is the catalyst for Raine, Summer’s troubled sister, and her unlikely sidekicks Noah and Purv to join forces to find the missing girl. What follows is an extraordinary descent into the underbelly of Grace, with its motley collection of disenfranchised characters who are as far removed from ‘The American Dream’ as you could possibly imagine.

Back to that big question: does Whitaker pull it off? Well think season one of True Detective and you’re close to the tone and atmosphere of ‘All the Wicked Girls’. But think of the books of Frank Bill and Donald Ray Pollock and Denis Johnson and Daniel Woodrell too, because this – a glorious, seething, sweaty slice of Southern Gothic – is up there with all of them. Possibly even better than some of their work. What Whitaker has produced here is sublime. ‘Tall Oaks’, as great as it is, was just a taste of what the author had in store for readers – this new book is exquisitely written, with the darkest of hearts, but so beautiful and human and moving that it has been reducing people – me included – to tears. There is writing here that makes your jaw drop, and fills you with joy, and makes you close your eyes and wish that you had the ability to craft something as achingly gorgeous.

This is a crime novel, yes, but it is so much more than that. It is a study of marginalised folk, of broken dreams, of haunted people just trying to get by. It is uplifting and funny and sad. And it is about friendship and lust and grief and the things we will do for our loved ones, no matter how dark the path it takes us down.

But in short, ‘All the Wicked Girls’ is a very special novel, from a very special writer.

Advertisements

BlogTour | BookReview: Unforgivable by Mike Thomas

BlogTour | BookReview: Unforgivable by Mike Thomas

Hello. My name is Emma and damppebbles is my baby. I’m in my…ahem…late thirties and live in South Oxfordshire with my husband and two young children (my 3 year old son gives me a run for my money in the book loving stakes).

Emma says: “… Quite possibly my favourite guest post, EVER!  Seriously, how good was that?  I thoroughly enjoyed reading your post, Mike.  My thanks for such an interesting true crime/crime fiction focused piece!…”

damppebbles.com

Unforgivable.jpg“Bombs detonate in a busy souk, causing massive devastation.
An explosion rips apart a mosque, killing and injuring those inside.
But this isn’t the Middle East – this is Cardiff . . .

In a city where tensions are already running high, DC Will MacReady and his colleagues begin the desperate hunt for the attacker. If they knew the ‘why’, then surely they can find the ‘who’? But that isn’t so easy, and time is fast running out . . .

MacReady is still trying to prove himself after the horrific events of the previous year, which left his sergeant injured and his job in jeopardy, so he feels sidelined when he’s asked to investigate a vicious knife attack on a young woman.

But all is not as it seems with his new case, and soon MacReady must put everything on the line in order to do what is right.”

View original post 2,643 more words

Reblog: A Deadly Thaw by Sarah Ward – Reviewed by damppebbles

Reblog: A Deadly Thaw by Sarah Ward – Reviewed by damppebbles

damppebbles.com

a deadly thaw cover.jpgAutumn 2004
In Bampton, Derbyshire, Lena Fisher is arrested for suffocating her husband, Andrew.

Spring 2016
A year after Lena’s release from prison, Andrew is found dead in a disused mortuary.

Who was the man Lena killed twelve years ago, and who committed the second murder? When Lena disappears, her sister, Kat, sets out to follow a trail of clues delivered by a mysterious teenage boy. Kat must uncover the truth – before there’s another death . . .

A Deadly Thaw confirms Sarah Ward’s place as one of the most exciting new crime writers.”

I’m extremelyexcited to welcome you to my stop on theA Deadly Thaw paperback blog tour. A Deadly Thaw is written by the very talented Sarah Ward and is book two in the DC Childs series. Having been released in eBook format last year it is now also available in lovely paperback as well…

View original post 1,028 more words

Reblog: Evil Games by Angela Marsons – Reviewed by The Quiet Knitter

Reblog: Evil Games by Angela Marsons – Reviewed by The Quiet Knitter

The Quiet Knitter

51ft3kbl7nl-_sx323_bo1204203200_

Paperback Published: 26 January 2017
Reviewed 31 January 2017

5 out of 5 stars

Copy supplied by Bonnier Zaffre as part of blog tour

Description:

When a rapist is found mutilated in a brutal attack, Detective Kim Stone and her team are called in to bring a swift resolution. But, as more vengeful killings come to light, it soon becomes clear that there is someone far more sinister at work. With the investigation quickly gathering momentum, Kim finds herself exposed to great danger and in the sights of a lethal individual undertaking their own twisted experiment. Up against a sociopath who seems to know her every weakness, each move she makes could be deadly. As the body count starts to mount, Kim will have to dig deep to stop the killing. And this time—it’s personal.

My Thoughts & Review:

“Evil Games” is definitely a book that has nothing to fear…

View original post 571 more words

Reblog: The Day That Never Comes by Caimh McDonell – Reviewed by BIBLIOPHILE BOOK CLUB

Reblog: The Day That Never Comes by Caimh McDonell – Reviewed by BIBLIOPHILE BOOK CLUB

Bibliophile Book Club

Hey everyone,

Today is Ellen’s turn on the blog tour for Caimh McDonnell’s latest book, The Day That Never Comes! As well as Ellen’s review, there is also a guest post from Caimh AND a TWITTER giveaway for a signed book, UK AND IRELAND ONLY, so watch out for the rules at the end of this post!

About the book:

Remember those people that destroyed the economy and then cruised off on their yachts? Well guess what – someone is killing them.

Dublin is in the middle of a heat wave and tempers are running high. The Celtic Tiger is well and truly dead, activists have taken over the headquarters of a failed bank, the trial of three unscrupulous property developers teeters on the brink of collapse, and in the midst of all this, along comes a mysterious organisation hell-bent on exacting bloody vengeance in the name of the little…

View original post 1,134 more words

Reblog: Games People Play by Owen Mullen – Reviewed by damppebbles

Reblog: Games People Play by Owen Mullen – Reviewed by damppebbles

damppebbles.com

51fe2drwqul“Thirteen-month-old Lily Hamilton is abducted from Ayr beach in Scotland while her parents are just yards away.

Three days later the distraught father turns up at private investigator Charlie Cameron’s office. Mark Hamilton believes he knows who has stolen his daughter. And why.

Against his better judgment Charlie gets involved in the case and when more bodies are discovered the awful truth dawns: there is a serial killer whose work has gone undetected for decades.

Is baby Lily the latest victim of a madman?

For Charlie it’s too late, he can’t let go.

His demons won’t let him.”

I am absolutely delighted to be today’s stop on the Games People Play blog tour.  Games People Play is the first book in the Charlie Cameron series written by author Owen Mullen and published by the incredible Bloodhound Books.  I’m excited to have Games People Play  on my TBR and can’t…

View original post 1,008 more words

Reblog: A Boy Made of Blocks by Keith Stuart – Reviewed by IF ONLY I COULD READ FASTER

Reblog: A Boy Made of Blocks by Keith Stuart – Reviewed by IF ONLY I COULD READ FASTER

If only I could read faster

aboymadeofblocks A Boy Made of Blogs by Keith Stuart.

Today is my stop on the blog tour for a very special book. A Boy Made of Blocks has been out for some time in eBook but the publishers are doing a tour to mark the release in paperback.

My 5* review:

It isn’t often that I give a book 5 stars when I nearly gave up reading it. When the book starts it seems like it is going to be very similar to another book, Shtum, a book that was ok but in my opinion (which seems different to many others), not great. I was not keen to read a book that was so alike. I kept going though and I’m so pleased that I did, sure it was a bit slow to get going but once I got into it I loved it.

A Boy Made of Blocks tells…

View original post 543 more words