Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

Ward Zero – Linda Huber

Psychological Thriller 3*s
Psychological Thriller
3*s

Well it’s a long time since I’ve read a book set in a hospital, not my favourite of places, but I was intrigued about which direction the author was going to take this psychological thriller after all you don’t have to think too hard to imagine all sorts of mischief being committed with a setting so full people at their most vulnerable!

Min is Sarah’s foster mother, a woman she clearly loves, and having been injured she’s been taken to a busy NHS hospital in Manchester. The early descriptions of the hospital are accurate from the picture of a hospital that has grown piecemeal to accommodate the local population, the busy and harried staff and the patients in varying degrees of distress that inhabit the wards. Yet that isn’t enough for Linda Huber who gives these scenes that extra menacing edge already having ramped up the tension through an excerpt by the man who is clearly out to harm so from page one there is no doubt at all that something bad is going to happen! From that first visit Sarah is on edge, the hospital reminds her of the death of her parents and how she came to be in Min’s care in the first place.

While the plot is full of darkness there are also touching moments in it too as Sarah meets Frankie, the grandchild of another patient who has also spent time living with Min. When Frankie’s mother disappears things get complicated as she moves in with the recovering Min and Sarah while the police try to track her down. Throughout all of these major goings on there is also some missing money to track down and Sarah is determined to find out who took it and protect any other victims. Sarah is undoubtedly one of life’s ‘nice people’, as is Min but working out some of the other characters is far harder.
Linda Huber has come up with some complex storylines within this book and so you do have to have your wits about you, particularly at the beginning to ensure you keep track of who is who but it doesn’t take too long before the book really gets into its stride with the characters being quite distinct making the storyline far easier to follow than I first feared. There are a number of suspects for the anonymous voice that should you forget for more than a minute or so intones further feelings of dread throughout this novel.

The author has written a classic page-turner, I wanted to know who had murder in mind, I loved the palpable tension but I was less keen on the motive for the crimes being so obviously spelt out. My personal preference is for the motives to be revealed last in this kind of psychological suspense novel and because of my preference I found the motive to be less convincing than I may have done if it had been revealed later. If you want a dark tale and to see some of the stories you will have read in the news turned into a book, you couldn’t wish for much more from this little gem. I would keep well away from Brockburn General Hospital though!

I’d like to thank the author for allowing me to read a copy of Ward Zero and I’d also like to extend my apologies for the illness that prevented this review being posted prior to the publication date of 1 October 2016.

 

First Published UK: 1 October 2016
Publisher: Self-Published
No of Pages: 228
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Previous Books I’ve read by Linda Huber

The Cold Cold Sea

They stared at each other, and Maggie felt the tightness in her middle expand as it shifted, burning its way up… Painful sobs rose from her throat as Colin, his face expressionless now, reached for his mobile and dialled 999.
When three-year-old Olivia disappears, her parents are overwhelmed with grief. Weeks go by and Olivia’s mother refuses to leave the cottage, staring out at the turbulent sea and praying it didn’t claim her precious daughter’s life.
Not far away, another mother watches proudly as her daughter starts school. Jennifer has loved Hailey for five years, but the child is suddenly moody and difficult, and there’s a niggling worry of doubt that Jennifer cannot shake off. As she struggles to maintain control there are gaps in her story that even she can’t explain.
Time is running out for Maggie at the cottage, and also for Jennifer and Hailey. No-one can underestimate a mother’s love for her child, and no-one can predict the lengths one will go to, to protect her family. Amazon

Chosen Child

A disappearance. A sudden death. A betrayal of the worst kind.
Ella longs for a child of her own, but a gruesome find during an adoption process deepens the cracks in her marriage. A family visit starts off a horrifying chain of events, and Ella can only hope she won’t lose the person she loves most of all.
Amanda is expecting her second child when her husband vanishes. She is tortured by thoughts of violence and loss, but nothing prepares her for the shocking conclusion to the police investigation.
And in the middle of it all, a little girl is looking for a home of her own with a ‘forever’ mummy and daddy…
How well do you know your own family? And who can you trust? Amazon

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read, Five Star Reads

Hidden – Emma Kavanagh

Psychological Thriller 5*'s
Psychological Thriller
5*’s

On August 31 at 10:33 am at a Welsh hospital there is a shooting. This opening description isn’t for the faint-hearted, it was all too easily visualised thanks to Charlie’s detailed reporting, but then she is a reporter on the local paper. Amongst the casualties are a few familiar faces to Charlie.

Emma Kavangh has managed to create a complicated structure that actually works. With the story told from the number of days preceding ‘the shooting’ from different character’s viewpoints it does sound like a nightmare to navigate, but once I realised that the timeline wasn’t chronological, the earliest date six days before the shooting, beyond a brief reminder of what part of the story was being told and by whom, which is clearly signposted at the start of each chapter, it was remarkably straightforward. Nor did knowing the ending at the beginning ruin the tension, Emma Kavanagh keeps the identity of the shooter under wraps despite some of the tale being told from his viewpoint.

Did I guess the identity? Not on your Nelly! I had been far too busy chasing several of the well-placed red herrings. If a shooting wasn’t enough there is another big mystery and that is what happened to Charlie’s friend Emily who had recently been found dead on the M4, the police suspect that she’d wandered onto the motorway whilst drunk but Charlie suspects his death may be linked to a boy who is in a coma in Ward 12 of the hospital. Using her skills as an investigative journalist she sets out to uncover the truth. The other narrators to the story are Imogen, half of a twin and a psychologist at the hospital and Aden who is a member of the armed police tracking the shooter who had been spotted at the hospital days before the shooting. The main characters are all linked to each other, some more tenuously than others and just in case there isn’t enough to concentrate on the author gives us a few detailed sub-plots to follow too.

Emma Kavanagh was a police and military psychologist for a number of years and unsurprisingly this is evident with the psychology of dealing with extreme situations featuring strongly during the storyline. My preference is for the psychological thrillers I read to be based on real-life situations and for that reason I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to read about a gunman which fortunately doesn’t feature in my life, but the author’s background made understanding how the firearms officers act and feel far more accessible than I expected. I really enjoyed this read with the only mild criticism being some over-blown writing in some parts which isn’t helped by the repetition of some of the phrases which added to the constant changing of character, time and sometimes the tense of the writing, most of which is written in the first person present tense, meant that this book could easily have tipped into the plain confusing rather than the satisfying read I found it to be.

I received a free copy of this tense, complicated but ultimately satisfying psychological thriller from Amazon Vine in return for my honest opinion. Hidden will be published on 23 April 2015. I am now going to read this author’s debut novel Falling that received many rave reviews last year.