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Barbara Copperthwaite

PSYCHOLOGICAL THRILLERS TO GIVE YOU SHIVERS

Stay in with a good book this weekend!

As I write this the wind is roaring down my chimney, making the flames in my wood burner dance. Rain is lashing against the window, and the sky is dark as slate. It’s a day for staying in, maybe eating some cake and having a hot chocolate, and reading a good book while my dogs sleep at my feet. Basically, it’s a day to hibernate – and according to the weather forecast, the whole weekend is going to be like this.

Personally, I love an excuse to snuggle on the sofa and lose myself in a brilliant read. Even better when the book in question is a bargain! So I’m delighted to let you know that one of my psychological thrillers, The Darkest Lies, is currently on special offer on Amazon UK and Amazon USA. Right now, it’s only 99p / $1.28!

A mother desperate for the truth. A daughter hiding a terrible secret.

Melanie Oak appeared to have the perfect life. Married to her childhood sweetheart, Jacob, the couple live with their beautiful, loving, teenage daughter, Beth, in a pretty village.

Nothing can shake her happiness – until the day that Beth goes missing and is discovered beaten almost to the point of death, her broken body lying in a freezing creek on the marshes near their home.

Consumed with grief, Melanie is determined to find her daughter’s attacker. Someone in the village must have seen something. Why won’t they talk? 

As Melanie tries to piece together what happened to Beth, she discovers that her innocent teenager has been harbouring some dark secrets of her own. The truth may lie closer to home and put Melanie’s life in terrible danger…

What readers are saying about The Darkest Lies:

‘A darkly addictive and creepy page turner that had me on the edge of my seat…the last few chapters were breathtakingly shocking with developments I hadn’t been expecting and the final pages were absolutely brilliant, leaving me with goosebumps!’ My Chestnut Reading Tree, 5 stars

‘Compelling, claustrophobic and horribly believable – a great read!’ B.A. Paris, author of Behind Closed Doors and The Breakdown

‘It grips you by the throat and doesn’t let go. A tense, edge-of-your-seat, nail-biting ride’ Robert Bryndza, author of The Girl in the Ice and Last Breath

‘Vividly written and absolutely gripping. I couldn’t put it down!’ The Genre Reader, 5 stars

‘There are plenty of twists and turns that will keep you guessing, leading all the way to a jaw-dropping ending that left me spinning.’ Novel Deelights, 5 stars

‘Gripping and shocking. Had me completely enthralled in the action…a story that got under my skin.’ Rachel’s Random Reads, 5 stars

‘A dark, compelling and unforgettable read that had me hooked. The final paragraph haunted me, long after I had finished reading.’ Brew and Books Review, 5 stars

Find out more about THE DARKEST LIES here:

🇬🇧 Amazon UK

🇺🇸 Amazon USA

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The best Christmas crime books #BookReview

There are lots of lovely, warm, fuzzy books out there to give people the feel-good Christmas factor…but what if you fancy something a little darker for your festive season? Here’s my round up of the best seasonal crime and psychological thrillers!

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THE DEATHS OF DECEMBER, Susi Holliday

THEY SAY

It looks like a regular advent calendar.

Until DC Becky Greene starts opening doors…and discovers a crime scene behind almost every one.

The police hope it’s a prank. Because if it isn’t, a murderer has just surfaced – someone who’s been killing for twenty years.

But why now? And why has he sent it to this police station?

As the country relaxes into festive cheer, Greene and DS Eddie Carmine must race against time to catch the killer. Because there are four doors left, and four murders will fill them…

It’s shaping up to be a deadly little Christmas.

I SAY

An advent calendar filled with crime scene photographs rather than festive images – what a great hook. For over 20 years a serial killer, known as The Photographer, has been collecting these snaps. Now it seems they are ready to warn the police they are about to strike again. There are only ‘nine sleeps’ left until Christmas, so time is running out to catch the killer.

The book is written from different perspectives, including first-person from The Photographer, so that the reader understands why they are doing what they’re doing. The rest of the book is told in third person, and there is a lovely, easy rapport between Detectives Greene and Carmine as they race against time.

Although the book started quite slowly, it picked up pace and when it hit the middle…things took an interesting turn. This is a really easy read that will definitely entertain crime lovers.

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THE FIRE CHILD, S.K. Tremayne

THEY SAY

When Rachel marries dark, handsome David, everything seems to fall into place. Swept from single life in London to the beautiful Carnhallow House in Cornwall, she gains wealth, love, and an affectionate stepson, Jamie.

But then Jamie’s behaviour changes, and Rachel’s perfect life begins to unravel. He makes disturbing predictions, claiming to be haunted by the spectre of his late mother – David’s previous wife. Is this Jamie’s way of punishing Rachel, or is he far more traumatized than she thought?

As Rachel starts digging into the past, she begins to grow suspicious of her husband. Why is he so reluctant to discuss Jamie’s outbursts? And what exactly happened to cause his ex-wife’s untimely death, less than two years ago? As summer slips away and December looms, Rachel begins to fear there might be truth in Jamie’s words:

‘You will be dead by Christmas.’

I SAY

This is a stylish psychological thriller, with a gothic and ghostly feel to it. The set up for it is obviously a tribute to Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca, but I liked that, and it moved away from that to become very much its own story.

Even from the idyllic start, there is a clever sense of tension, as the chapter headings are on a countdown to Christmas. Immediately, the reader knows something is coming, drawing ever closer…

The talent of S.K. Tremayne’s writing is obvious. If you liked the Ice Twins, you’ll know that with S.K. Tremayne what you get more than anything is a creepy feeling of suspense, the wonder of ‘is it all in the character’s head, or is this real’, and some truly fabulous, atmospheric descriptions of the setting. The author is brilliant at using landscape as another ‘character’, such is its strength and the addition it makes to the overall story. That is what you got with The Ice Twins, and you get it again with The Fire Child.

I love slow, brooding stories that build like a wave far out at sea, gathering pace and height as it sweeps you along, until it crashes over you in a conclusion that leaves you gasping. But although I was swept along, I feel as if I was carefully placed onto dry land at the end of this story. Why was that? Quite simply, the storyline isn’t the strongest, and I do think more could have been done with it. The sense of place was magnificent, and the atmosphere was taut, but seemed to come at the expense of characterization and plot. Nevertheless, it is a good story to read in the countdown to Christmas.

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AN ENGLISH MURDER, Cyril Hare

THEY SAY

The snow is thick, the phone line is down, and no one is getting in or out of Warbeck Hall. With friends and family gathered round the fire, all should be set for a perfect Christmas, but as the bells chime midnight, a mysterious murder takes place.

Who can be responsible? The scorned young lover? The lord’s passed-over cousin? The social climbing politician’s wife? The Czech history professor? The obsequious butler? And perhaps the real question is: can any of them survive long enough to tell the tale?

I SAY

Originally published in 1951, this is a book from a Golden Age of crime when things were a little more cosy, and a lot less graphic. A quick glance at the set-up and list of characters reveals a sense that the tongue may well have been firmly in the cheek of Cyril Hare as he wrote this. A murder at the stroke of midnight on Christmas Eve, and everyone cut off due to heavy snow – the story even features a butler! It really is wonderful fun, so curl up in front of the fire, and enjoy a very English murder.

THE MISTLETOE MURDERS AND OTHER STORIES and SLEEP NO MORE: SIX MURDEROUS TALES, P.D. James

THEY SAY

THE MISTLETOE MURDERS: As the acknowledged ‘Queen of Crime’ P.D. James was frequently commissioned by newspapers and magazines to write a special short story for Christmas. Four of the very best of these have been rescued from the archives and are published together for the first time. P.D. James’s sparkling prose illuminates each of these perfectly formed stories, making them ideal reading for the darkest days of the year. While she delights in the secrets that lurk beneath the surface at enforced family gatherings, her Christmas stories also provide enjoyable puzzles to keep the reader guessing.

From the title story about a strained country house gathering on Christmas Eve, another about an illicit affair that ends in murder, and two cases for James’s poet-detective Adam Dalgliesh — each treats the reader to James’s masterfully atmospheric story-telling, always with the lure of a mystery to be solved.

SLEEP NO MORE: As the six murderous tales unfold, the dark motive of revenge is revealed at the heart of each. Bullying schoolmasters receive their comeuppance, unhappy marriages and childhoods are avenged, a murder in the small hours of Christmas Day puts an end to the vicious new lord of the manor, and, from the safety of his nursing home, an octogenarian exerts exquisite retribution.

The punishments inflicted on the guilty are fittingly severe, but here they are meted out by the unseen forces of natural justice rather than the institutions of the law. Once again, P. D. James shows her expert control of the short-story form, conjuring motives and scenarios with complete conviction, and each with a satisfying twist in the tail.

I SAY

Come on, these two collections of short stories are from crime-writing royalty, so there really is little to say apart from ‘I loved them’. My mum and I have a Christmas tradition: every year we read to each other. The lights are turned down low (not too low, otherwise we can’t see!) and we choose seasonal crime stories or ghost stories to share. It’s something that is so much a part of the festive season for me, that to do without it would be the same as not putting up a tree.  For the last couple of years, we’ve chosen to read stories from The Mistletoe Murders collection (the stronger of the two books, in my opinion) – to my mind, that says more than any review could.

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Twelve Days of Winter: Crime at Christmas (short stories), Stuart MacBride

THEY SAY

A collection of interlinked tales of crime and retribution laced with dark humour, set around the festive season – from the No. 1 bestseller Stuart MacBride

Thieves, drug dealers, lap-dancers, gangsters and even the odd good guy populate these twelve tales exploring the seedier side of life in North East Scotland.

I SAY

I like crime, I like Christmas, so this was bound to be a hit with me. Plus, I am a huge fan of MacBride’s Logan McRae series.  This time the talented crime writer takes the theme of the twelve days of Christmas to create twelve short stories which not only involve the festive season but a lot of murder, gore and tension. What is clever is the way each chapter works not just as a stand-alone story, but also has implications for the tale that follows. Ingenious, imaginative, and featuring MacBride’s signature dark, gritty humour, this is a fantastic book for this time of year – and it’s only 99p, too, so is a real bargain.

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HER LAST SECRET, by…ooh, me!

THEY SAY

Some secrets you can never tell.

Everyone thinks the Thomases are the perfect family: grand London house, gorgeous kids.

They don’t know wife Dominique is a paranoid wreck.
They don’t know husband Ben is trapped in a web of deceit.
They don’t know daughter Ruby lives in fear of the next abusive text.
But someone knows all their secrets.

Can the lies that bind them tear them apart?

I SAY

Okay, I’m a little biased, so won’t tell you what I think of this twisty psychological thriller, which counts down through the final eight days before Christmas. Each day that passes brings you closer to revealing just what happened that fateful festive morning. I’ll leave you to make up your own minds about this book, and hope you let me know what YOU think!

TO FIND OUT MORE, CLICK HERE

Five of the Best (November 2014 to November 2018)

Really honoured that FLOWERS FOR THE DEAD has been included in Cleopatra Loves Books’ ‘Five of the Best’ feature. To this day, I’m blown away by this quote from the review: ‘[Flowers For The Dead is] Perfect for the winter nights when the wind is howling and the rain is lashing down, and you are safe inside – or are you?’

Cleopatra Loves Books


5 Star Reads

In 2015 to celebrate reviewing for five years I started a series entitled Five of the Best where I chose my favourite five star reads which I’d read in that month. I will be celebrating Five years of blogging later this year and so I decided it was time to repeat the series.

So without further ado let’s see what books November has brought to me over the last five years!

You can read my original review of the book featured by clicking on the book cover.

In November 2014 I read a book which happens to fall into my favourite type of sub-genre that of fiction inspired by true crime, the book being The Perfect Mother by Nina Darnton. This book’s inspiration was the murder of Meredith Kercher and although the circumstances in this book were different it was a book that made me think about what I…

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Good news, bad news, & lovely news!

There’s good news and bad news within this post. Some of you may have noticed that I haven’t been around much on social media or my blog. Why? Because I’ve been ill since August.

It also means that my writing has been put on the backburner, so although my new book was supposed to be coming out in the new year, it is still languishing half-finished on my laptop. As soon as I’m well enough, I’ll be writing again, though, so don’t worry that you’ve heard the last of me!

In the meantime, there’s plenty to celebrate. THE PERFECT FRIEND has been having a brilliant month, actually.

At the end of October, Cosmopolitan compiled their list of 22 of the best psychological thriller books to add to your reading list – and sitting at number one was The Perfect Friend!

Click here to read the article in full.

Needless to say, I was over the moon. It meant all the more to me, as they’d also chosen it as a firm favourite for summer! That article can be read here.

The Perfect Friend also been back on Amazon’s bestseller’s list in the UK, hitting Number 5 in the Best Psychological Fiction category, and Number 44 overall. Thank you to everyone who has bought it.

One of my older books, FLOWERS FOR THE DEAD, also received a lovely boost this month, when it popped into the Noir bestsellers’ list over on Amazon in America, peaking at Number 17 – and it hit No 2 in Crime Fiction!

But even more exciting than that was the fact that, four long years after it was first published, Flowers For The Dead is finally available in audiobook. It’s worth the wait, I can tell you! It’s been created by Tantor Audio and narrated by the very talented Shaun Grindell, and I’m so happy with the finished product. I do hope you love it, too.

If you’d like to find out more about the audiobook (and listen to an excerpt!) here’s the link

So you see, there’s far more good news than bad news – and fingers crossed I’ll soon be well enough to get back into the swing of things.

Have a great weekend x

The best books for Autumn & Halloween #autumnreads #Halloweenreading

If you’re anything like me, at this time of year I hanker after a book that can give me chills as I sit in front of my fire. It can simply be set at this time of year and evoke howling winds and snow scenes, or be a full-on ghost story, or even something with just a touch of the supernatural, but it has to give me goosebumps. So I thought I’d share some books that I think fit the bill…

 

Naomi Cottle finds missing children. When the police have given up their search and an investigation stalls, families call her. She possesses a rare, intuitive sense, born out of her own experience, that allows her to succeed when others have failed. Young Madison Culver has been missing for three years. She vanished on a family trip to the mountainous forests of Oregon, where they’d gone to cut down a tree for Christmas.

It’s not often the phrase ‘beautiful’ can be used about a crime book, but The Child Finder really is something quite special, utterly unique in its ability to spin a gorgeous fairytale over the horror of child abduction. Doesn’t sound possible, does it? But this cleverly-wrought book manages it, alternating narrative between the world of Naomi, who is ‘the child finder’, and the lost girl Madison. Madison copes with being held prisoner by telling herself she has fallen into a book, and has become the snow child. These sections are heartbreaking, stunning, beautifully-phrased, and delicately judged, the balance never falling over into the cloying or ridiculous. In addition, the glorious language of little Madison somehow manages to hit a note that is even more sinister because of its naivety rather than despite of.

The reader needs to be prepared for a tough read, though. This is a book full of beauty and ugliness, with a tragically sad vein running throughout.

 

In January 1937, clouds of war are gathering over a fogbound London. Twenty-eight year old Jack is poor, lonely and desperate to change his life. So when he’s offered the chance to join an Arctic expedition, he jumps at it. After a brief Arctic summer at Gruhuken, in winter permanent night falls. Jack feels a creeping unease. One by one, his companions are forced to leave. But Jack is not alone. Something walks there in the dark…

The unique setting for this ghost story is what attracted to me to it initially. Author Michele Paver uses the eerie location of the uninhabited Arctic to create a spine-tingling atmosphere that feels both scarily large and claustrophobically close. The descriptions are, pardon the pun, hauntingly excellent, from the ice which pops and cracks constantly as though talking to itself, to the cold beauty of the Northern Lights; from the bone-chilling constant darkness of an Arctic winter where the sun never peeps over the horizon, to the creeping certainty that someone or something is out there, watching, waiting. This is not a book where much happens, instead it plays on the emotions, unsettling the reader and giving them goosebumps of anticipation. A beautifully-written, old-fashioned ghost story, I thoroughly enjoyed Dark Matter.

 

The reader is thrown into the middle of a marriage in its death throes. But who is telling the truth, when everyone has their own axe to grind? Just who is controlling who? From the very beginning I was changing my mind about who is the bad guy in this marriage, as each character is so relatable yet also has flashes of something uncomfortable and nasty beneath the surface. The characters are a bit of a cliché, though – the devastatingly beautiful and fragile wife, trying hard to be perfect; the pretty secretary and single mum, trying to make ends meet, who falls for her handsome new boss; the handsome boss with a secret…

Still, I was hooked, wondering just what the outcome would be, although initially it was along the blasé lines of: ‘will it follow the pattern of Gone Girl or Girl On A Train?’ That soon passed as I realised I was reading something that is a very different animal indeed.

Behind Her Eyes boasts the hashtag #WTFthatending – and rightly so. It is ingenious, dastardly, devastatingly well-plotted, and totally unique. It does, however, require a huge leap of faith on the part of the reader; a total suspension of disbelief that many lovers of crime fiction and psychological thrillers may not be happy about having to make. This is a strange, genre-blurring tale with a jaw-dropping ending.

A year after one of their identical twin daughters, Lydia, dies in an accident, Angus and Sarah Moorcraft move to the tiny Scottish island Angus inherited from his grandmother, hoping to put together the pieces of their shattered lives. But when their surviving daughter, Kirstie, claims they have mistaken her identity – that she, in fact, is Lydia – their world comes crashing down once again.

If I tell you this is a book in which very little happens, it will sound boring. No one could accuse The Ice Twins of being boring. Absorbing, haunting, heartbreaking and disturbing…all of those things, most definitely, but boring it is not.

So much of the action, though, happens in your imagination, and that is what makes this so clever and so very powerful.

It works on many levels, too. Is it a psychological thriller? Is it a ghost story? Is it a gothic tale? Or the story of a domestic crime? Somehow, this intelligent and complex novel manages to be all those things, yet never feels confused.

Each page you turn is the turn of a screw slowly, very slowly, ramping up the tension, as the Moorcroft’s marriage falls apart. As Kirstie/Lydia changes from one moment to the next. As secrets are revealed and conclusions jumped to. Expectations are built up that make the reader believe they are being led in one direction, only for things to switch around.  The Ice Twins contains enough twists and turns to give you whiplash.

And the ending…how I wish I could tell you about the ending. It will give you shivers, and stay with you for a very long time. But you won’t mind being haunted by this clever, psychological ghost story.

 

Late one summer evening, antiquarian bookseller Adam Snow is returning from a client visit when he takes a wrong turn. He stumbles across a derelict Edwardian house, and compelled by curiosity, approaches the door. Standing before the entrance, he feels the unmistakable sensation of a small cold hand creeping into his own, ‘as if a child had taken hold of it’.

At first he is merely puzzled by the odd incident but then begins to suffer attacks of fear and panic, and is visited by nightmares. He is determined to learn more about the house and its once-magnificent, now overgrown garden but when he does so, he receives further, increasingly sinister, visits from the small hand.

If ghost stories are your thing then you will love this novella by Susan Hill, best known as the author of The Woman In Black. So often, modern authors fall into the trap of trying to write a film rather than a book when creating paranormal stories. Hill doesn’t rely on visual descriptions of horror, or clichés designed to make you jump if only they were on the silver screen. Instead she builds spine-tingling unease, an atmosphere of tension, and the constant feel that perhaps you need to check over your shoulder before continuing to read. I actually got goosebumps at times when reading this, despite little happening that is truly sinister – instead everything is suggested, allowing the imagination to fill in the gaps, cleverly allowing the reader to create their own fear. This little book is elegantly written and subtly-told – a proper, old-fashioned ghost tale that is perfect for this time of year.

 

 

Lose yourself in the dazzling prose of this magical tale, as author Erin Morgenstern breathes life into Le Cirque des Reves (The Circus of Dreams), which appears suddenly, opens only at night, then disappears just as rapidly. From the colourful descriptions of the various tents, the amazing wonders, and even the incredible smells and tastes, the dream-like words create their own spell.

At the heart of this is an unusual love story, which builds subtly between two magicians hiding their skills in plain sight; two people who were bound from childhood before they even knew each other. Critics may say the ending is disappointing, and I’d agree that if put under a microscope it could be better – but frankly the writing transports and transforms to such a degree that it is worth any plots holes just to have sat back and enjoyed the journey.

The Night Circus is one of my all-time favourite books. Go on, allow yourself to be enchanted by it this Halloween.

Still looking for a Halloween read? THE PERFECT FRIEND is a psychological thriller set around at this time of year.

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My name is Alex, and my world has been shattered.
My husband has left me.
My children won’t speak to me.
My friend Carrie is the only person I have.
She’s the only one I can trust to keep all my secrets.
She’d never do anything to let me down.
Would she?

FIND OUT MORE HERE

FLOWERS FOR THE DEAD is a modern, psychological thriller take on a Gothic fairytale which, according to the Sunday Mirror, ‘will have you looking over your shoulder and under your bed.’

Flowers for the dead kindle idea16 02ADAM WILL DO ANYTHING TO MAKE LAURA HAPPY. EVEN IF IT KILLS HER.

After a devastating car crash wipes out her family, Laura struggles to get her life together. Grieving, she becomes forgetful. She doesn’t remember how money got into her purse, or buying that pint of milk…

Adam is the perfect boyfriend. He cooks meals. He does the housework. He looks after Laura’s every need. He knows everything about her.

But Laura has never met Adam. And she knows nothing about him.

What turned him into a monster who stalks his victims? How did he become warped from a sensitive boy who adored the fairy tales his gran read to him? And what is he trying to say with the bouquets he sends?

FIND OUT MORE HERE

Meet Alex & Carrie: creating the characters in The Perfect Friend #autumnreads #Halloween #psychologicalthriller

Halloween approaches; a time of strange goings on, when people deliberately choose to scare themselves, or others decide to… This is the time I chose in which to set my psychological thriller The Perfect Friend.

Just who are Alex and Carrie, the two women at the centre of The Perfect Friend? It’s been such fun getting under the skin of these two women. Their backgrounds, complexities, similarities and differences have been burned into my brain to such an extent that I now feel almost as if they are real and have chosen to reveal themselves to me, rather than being creatures of my own creation.

Alex is clearly vulnerable, struggling every day to deal with what life has thrown at her, to come to terms with decisions she has made that haven’t always been wise. She is 44, and empty nest syndrome has triggered the anorexia that ravages her body and mind; all she wants is to be a wife and mother once again.

Quote from psychological thriller THE PERFECT FRIEND, by Barbara Copperthwaite

Despite her fragility, I admired the strength she shows every single day to try and inch her way back to normality and put her problems behind her – and let’s not forget her desperation to make amends for the past. She is haunted by guilt, and that is the driving force behind all of her decisions. Somehow, she is determined to make things better and rectify her mistakes, no matter what the emotional cost; that means that sometimes, despite the good intentions, wisdom isn’t informing her new choices.

Quote from psychological thriller THE PERFECT FRIEND, by Barbara Copperthwaite

Carrie is her polar opposite, and being almost half Alex’s age, is like a surrogate daughter to her. Despite her youth, she’s tough in the face of a terminal diagnosis, and always positive, refusing to give in to what life has dished out for her. Nothing and no one are going to daunt her or stop her doing what she wants, and she encourages Alex to relax, enjoy herself, and be more ‘glass is half full’.

But when mysterious threatening messages are delivered to her, it’s clear there is more to her than meets the eye. Alex’s interference means Carrie is blissfully ignorant of what’s going on. Instead, Carrie continues to concentrate on trying to improve the life of a woman she’s grown so close to she almost thinks of her as family. But will Alex’s good intentions cause more harm than good? Will their friendship end up destroying one another?

Quote from psychological thriller THE PERFECT FRIEND, by Barbara Copperthwaite

Carrie was incredible to write, and in many ways empowering. She’s a survivor, just like Alex – they are two sides of the same coin. I don’t write about helpless women being in jeopardy and needing to be rescued. I create women who deal with jeopardy and save themselves and those they love, whatever it takes. Sometimes that means making morally dubious or down-right dangerous decisions. Inserting suspicion, then paranoia into the relationship between Carrie and Alex, and using them to prise open the cracks in their friendship into chasms was a fascinating experience as I discovered how each woman reacted.

Quote from psychological thriller THE PERFECT FRIEND, by Barbara Copperthwaite

Female friendship is built on commonality and the exchange of secrets, on making ourselves vulnerable in order to let someone in. Exploring how lies can be used to protect ourselves or others, or produce devastating harm, is a theme throughout the book.

Quote from psychological thriller THE PERFECT FRIEND, by Barbara Copperthwaite

Would I get on with either woman in The Perfect Friend if I met them, I found myself wondering. Knowing them as I do, with all their secrets laid bare to me, yes, I think I would. Both are a curious mixture of tough yet vulnerable, and it would be wonderful to sit down with them and chat. Alex would talk gently, always watchful and wary, but once drawn out she’d become more talkative. Carrie would be the entertainer, suggesting we do shots, or go dancing, or do something crazy. She’d make me feel instantly at ease and ask me all about myself. It would be lovely. But could I trust what they tell me? Ah, now that is a different story…

About THE PERFECT FRIEND

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My name is Alex, and my world has been shattered.

My husband has left me.

My children won’t speak to me.

My friend Carrie is the only person I have.

She’s the only one I can trust to keep all my secrets.

She’d never do anything to let me down.

Would she?

This dark, gripping psychological thriller will have you holding your breath until the very last page.

THE PERFECT FRIEND is available on: AmazoniBookstore; KoboGoogleplay; Audible

‘This book is darker than a blackhole, & will suck you in just as effectively’ #bookreview CROSS HER HEART, by Sarah Pinborough @SarahPinborough #tbr #psychologicalthriller

THEY SAY

Lisa. Ava. Marilyn.

Three women, three secrets and a hidden past that could destroy them all.

I SAY

Winning the award for possibly the shortest reader description in history, but personally I think it’s an inspired idea as this is a book best gone into cold with no expectations. You don’t know the storyline, you don’t know what is coming, instead you dive in and…boom.

Pinborough’s last book was much talked about because of the controversial turn it took; this is a much more traditional psychological thriller, but even so, don’t think that you know what lies ahead of you. Take nothing for granted. Each new reveal of information is like being slapped in the face by an icy wave that takes your breath away. You’re left feeling… TO READ IN FULL, CLICK HERE

The real life inspirations behind Jo Furniss’s psychological thriller THE TRAILING SPOUSE @Jo_Furniss

Today, I’m handing over to fabulous author Jo Furniss, who’s going to tell you all about her new book, The Trailing Spouse…

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Jo says: Hi everyone! I’m a writer of dark psychological thrillers, and I just released my second novel, THE TRAILING SPOUSE, which is set in Singapore.

I’m originally from England, but I spent the past 15 years living in Africa, Asia and Europe. This year, I relocated ‘home’ to the UK. Forever? Who knows…

After seven years in Singapore, I left a little piece of my heart in the Garden City. Little did I know as I wrote The Trailing Spouse that it would prove to be my swansong to this wonderful country. As you can see from the photos, it’s a place of contrasts: city vs jungle, old vs new, rich vs poor. And all squeezed into a tiny island measuring only 40 miles by 20 miles.

What else can I tell you about Singapore?

It’s hot hot hot. Most days reach 30C/90F degrees with super-high humidity. It plays havoc with your hair!

Singaporeans are CRAZY about food and you can get a Michelin-starred meal at a street stall for £2.

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A view over the Central Business District of downtown Singapore

Have you heard about the new movie, based on the novel Crazy Rich Asians? Well, the title is pretty accurate – Singapore ranks alongside London, New York and Silicon Valley for having the highest rate of millionaires (and billionaires!) per capita.

But there’s another side to life in Singapore. Hence the gilded cage on my book cover…

The term ‘trailing spouse’ causes expat women like me to shudder. It’s a commonly-used phrase, but ‘trailing’ sounds so pathetic, doesn’t it? However, like the main character in The Trailing Spouse, for the seven years I lived in Singapore, I was classed as a ‘dependant’ – permitted to live in the country only because my husband had the all-important Work Permit. (Of course, I could have switched careers and got a corporate job – plenty of expat women do – but I had a writerly dream to pursue!)

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Reflections at Kepple Bay – a crazy-looking building that inspired Amanda Bonham’s apartment, called The Attica

Happily, my ego is strong enough to withstand the indignity of being termed a ‘dependant’! Nevertheless, the status rankled and I became quite fascinated with the idea of power imbalance inside a marriage, and how much paranoia that could raise in a woman’s mind. The story of The Trailing Spouse is born from that insecurity and vulnerability.

There was a second aspect of Singapore life that fascinated me. Everyone in Singapore – or pretty much everyone – has a maid. Someone who lives and works in the home, like a cleaner, nanny and PA rolled into one. Unfortunately, not all of these migrant women are treated well. As soon as I started to write a novel set in Singapore, I knew I had to bring that inequality to the fore.

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A classic ‘Black and White’ colonial house

Finally, the snapshots from my photo album, scattered through this post, are real places that feature in The Trailing Spouse. When I first moved to Singapore, I stayed for a few blissful weeks at a waterfront condo, which inspired my character’s luxurious apartment.

The black and white house – a military officer’s residence from the colonial era – is where she goes for a disastrous book club meeting. My good friend lived here and little did she know that I was writing her home into a book!

I hope you enjoyed this rough literary guide to Singapore. If you’d like to explore further, I popped a link to The Trailing Spouse and my own Facebook page below. I’d love to hear if you’ve visited the country or any other that has inspired you as much as Singapore inspired me!

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‘What an opening scene!’ #bookreview SNAP, Belinda Bauer

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‘A different slant on a detective novel’

THEY SAY

SNAP DECISIONS CAN BE DANGEROUS . . .

On a stifling summer’s day, eleven-year-old Jack and his two sisters sit in their broken-down car, waiting for their mother to come back and rescue them. Jack’s in charge, she’d said. I won’t be long.

But she doesn’t come back. She never comes back. And life as the children know it is changed for ever.

Three years later, Jack is still in charge – of his sisters, of supporting them all, of making sure nobody knows they’re alone in the house, and – quite suddenly – of finding out the truth about what happened to his mother. . .

I SAY

What an opening scene! It has everything: vulnerability, heart, tension, fear…. From then, I HAD to keep reading.

Being somewhere between detective novel and psychological thriller, this book is a different slant on both, and…TO READ IN FULL, CLICK HERE

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