Line by Niall Bourke

Thank you to Anne Carter and Tramp Press for allowing me to participate in this blog tour. All views my own.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Imagine that all you know is that you have to wait. You have to sit patiently in the Line until you reach your destination. You know as well that if you step out of the Line, you forfeit your place in it, and that there isn’t anything left out there just wild animals that are waiting, just like you, for their next meal. What would you do? Would you go against the instincts instilled in you ever since you were born that you have to remain in the Line? Or would you throw away all the sacrifices of the ones before you, and go into the unknown with the hope that it will be worth it.

To those who don’t know, dystopia holds a very deep place in my heart. There was one summer when all I read was dystopia and I craved more. It wasn’t some sick fascination with suffering but a need to see characters overcome the biggest challenges that a person could: their own limitations.

After reading Line, I’m happy to say that this is one of the best dystopia that I’ve read since The Testaments by Margaret Atwood. If you have read a dystopian novel before you know how important the story elements are in this genre. There needs to be enough promise, enough trouble and enough character development but most importantly there needs to be a worthy pay off and a satisfying ending to the story. And with Line, I can confirm that this checks all the boxes.

A horrifying tale bringing patience and overcoming the herd mentality to the forefront complemented by beautiful writing that will make a lasting impression on anyone who dares to open the cover, makes Line by Niall Bourke a stand-out.

The story develops from two points of view but we mainly follow Willard who has been born and raised in the Line. He knows what would happen if he would leave the Line. It even happened to his father. And to a certain degree Willard doesn’t mind this. He has his routine, collecting rations, caring for his mother but then something unexpected happens. The Line moves.

The story takes twists and turns and Bourke manages to captivate his readers by his unique writing style. Each sentence carries weight and if anything the tone to the story is set from the very beginning. Through out reading this book I felt more like someone telling me a story. A story that coincidentally I heard a couple of times from my parents from their experience during the communist period in Eastern Europe and how they used to be sent to wait in a line for hours for things that we now consider easily accessible.

Even after closing the cover to this book, I couldn’t find a fault to this story. There are many dystopian novels where at the end I would’ve like to change something. Especially the ending. But with Line, I feel that all the check boxes have been ticked and this book has the potential to be a classic in the dystopian genre without sacrificing its uniqueness or its authenticity. Definitely will be recommending this to everyone I know.

Thank you to Anne Carter who organised this tour and who introduced me to this marvelous book. Thank you to Tramp Press for bringing this book into the world and hopefully to many more to come. I would encourage anyone to go out and give this book a try because if anything this will be an eye opener and I would love to hear what you thought about Line.

The Killing Tide by Lin Anderson

Thank you to Anne Carter and Pan Macmillan for giving me the opportunity to join this blog tour. All views are my own.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I was really excited and scared when I was presented with the opportunity to join the blog tour for Anderson‘s new novel The Killing Tide for two reasons. One, I wanted to read a Scottish novel from a Scottish author. And two, what better way to dive into Tartan Noir than with a well established series. However it was really scary to go into this book because I felt like a kid in school who hasn’t done his homework. After all, The Killing Tide is the 16th novel in the Dr Rona MacLeod series.

Cleverly written and plotted, The Killing Tide starts off with the last night of a storm. I loved this opening as it set the mood from the beginning. Having experienced storms in Scotland I almost felt that the wind was going to start knocking on my windows, that the tiles on my roof will fly away and I would be left to my own devices to face the storm.

But unlike the storms I am familiar with, the storm on Orkney Island, brings forward a drifting ship quickly identified as MV Orlova. For me as a crime fan and reader of crime fiction I thought that the ship had to be somehow linked to the overall ARC of the story however, I must applaud once again Anderson‘s brilliant plotting because I think I fallen exactly in the set-up net she has opened. Meanwhile in Glasgow, DS McNab with his partner attend what initially looks like a self-immolation but the scene tells a different story.

How are these two story lines linked? What has a ship in Orkney Islands have to do with a self-immolation in Glasgow?

Anderson is a master at twisting webs of stories with intricate details that stick under your skin and a fabulous cast of characters that all fight for the spotlight regardless of their role in the story.

The story moves at an incredible pace. I don’t know what was the last time I read a book in a sitting. Sentence after sentence and chapter after chapter I had to understand more. I needed to get to the end of the story to satisfy an itch, a curiosity. The Killing Tide is much more than a noir novel, or a crime novel. Having not read the rest of the story I was a bit reluctant because I thought that I’m not going to be able to enjoy these characters as much as the fans of the series. But to my surprise, I felt invested in these characters. In all of them, regardless of their role in the story.

Anderson doesn’t shy away in the novel to bring to the forefront difficult themes and addresses them in a great and original matter. From corruption to threats and murder every theme is explored in a tantalizing and vivid way. To a certain degree I did feel a bit bad for the characters. One of the greatest writing advice I have read when it comes to crime writing is always think ‘what’s the worst that can happen next to these characters?’. I think Anderson‘s writing really shows what this advice can do in a great setting and with a strong set of characters.

The Killing Tide is an engaging read that will keep you on the edge of your seat, filled with plot twists that some you will see coming and others not quite. I can’t really speak of it’s position in the series as I have not picked up any other books in the series yet, but I will definitely look into starting this series from the beginning.

The Killing Tide is published today by Pan Macmillan and I would encourage anyone who isn’t familiar with Lin Anderson’s books to go and grab it because it really is one of the most stellar crime-novels I read so far this year. Even if you aren’t a fan of crime novels and police procedural novels this book is a great start to get into the genre as this book is so much more than the hard-cut crime and police procedural novel.

The Basel Killings by Hansjoerg Schneider

Thank you to Anne Carter for organising this blog tour and allowing me to be a part of it. All views are my own.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Police procedural have become a staple in the crime genre not only because they give an inside look to the everyday reader into the often romanticized police matters but because they are genuienly a joy to read. There are elements that make a police procedural great and most of these elements are being ticked off by in the debut of Schneider on the English market.

As the title gives away, the location at the centre of the story is set in Basel, Switzerland. One of the reasons why I chose to take part in this blog tour was due to the setting. I had yet to read a story set in Switzerland and when I heard it was also a police procedural I had to get my hands on it to see how the police works there.

I didn’t know in the beginning what to expect. Like all good crime novels, we are pushed straight into the story without much introduction to the characters. You are expected to carry through the story, to grow and learn to understand their feelings, and I can say it was a delightful ride. Inspector Hunkeler is the main character in the story, or better said the character through which we see the story develop. He is at the heart of an investigation and I often got the feeling that rather being inside the characters head, we are accompanying him, side by side.

With a great setting and an amazing set of characters, Schneiders sheds a light into the unglamorous life of Switzerland’s life of bars, bordellos and strip clubs.

The tone set by Schneider is I believe one of the strongest I have read in a translation fiction. Masterfully translated into English by Mike Mitchell, from the first sentence I understood that there is no way that the book I am about to read was like anything I read before. Sentences are often short, snappy and cold. Throughout the novel, the feeling for closure and coldness seeped out from the pages which in the end suited the story very very well.

With murders that seem to follow the same modus operandi the Inspector is quickly thrown into the unglamorous night life of bars and bordellos of Basel which Schneider doesn’t shy away to bring in front of the readers eyes. Some elements here reminded me a bit of the Noir elements also visited by Nesbo in his Harry Hole series, however Schneider manages to maintain a certain amount of originality. Often we don’t think about this when we think of Switzerland and I liked the juxtaposition Schneider managed to breathe inside my mind, making Switzerland feel more real.

Overall The Basel Killings is a strong debut novel which can be enjoyed by lovers of police procedurals due to the setting, by lovers of noir due to the tone and characters and lovers of thrillers due to the pacing especially towards the end of the novel. Schneider is definitely an author to keep your eyes on and I hope that Bitter Lemon Press will consider in the future continuing the translation of his future works.

Sleepless by Romy Hausmann

Thank you to Joe Christie from Quercus for giving me the opportunity to join the blog tour and sending me an advance readers copy. All views are my own

Rating: 5 out of 5.

What if your friend would ask you for your help? Would you say yes even though you are in over your head? How far are you willing to go for your friendship? Would you help them cover up a murder?

Back in January I had come across a little book titled ‘Dear Child’. The cover was the first thing that drew me towards the novel, having never heard of its author, Romy Hausmann. January was a month where I wanted desperately to go back to my roots, to spending hours upon hours discovering the German literature in high school, reading the small printed Reklam Ausgaben that had the colorful covers that looked more like collectibles. I had instantly made a connection with Hausmann and after finishing Dear Child I had to write a review about it. Back then little did I know that Quercus probably had already started to work on Hausmann’s debut – Marta Schläft – and mentioned even in my review that I hoped this would be translated.

Of course I didn’t have any patience and had a friend of mine in Berlin go and buy the German edition of the book. ( I think that book got lost in transit since it never reached me in the UK -.-” ) But then I found out that Quercus was going to publish Marta Schläft (trans. Sleepless) and it was happening sooner than I thought. And I made myself a promise, that if a blog tour would be organised, I had to be part of it.

Thankfully and thanks to Joe Christie who was kind enough to make my dream come true, I was allowed to take part in the amazing blog tour for this novel and now the time has come for me to share my thoughts on Sleepless.

With a strong publishing debut, Hausmann solidifies her status as the Queen of German suspense; proving her skills and abilities as a writer.

Meine Gütte did I enjoy Sleepless. Usually when it comes to debuts, I spot from the very first few pages that this is the first book someone has written. However with Sleepless, I never had that feeling; Hausmann brilliantly executing a complex narrative told from three points of view and on three different timelines.

The story follows the events in the life of Nadja who has been raised in Poland but now lives in Berlin. Her childhood wasn’t the best but she is now ready (or at least to a certain degree) ready to leave the past in the past and focus on her future. She is living a some-what normal life. Nadja has a job, and an apartament, however living is not as easy as it is for others. Battling with mental health issues and anxiety, Nadja finds it at times difficult to go on the subway, doesn’t like large groups of people and in the eyes of others her living conditions aren’t the best.

But to a certain degree Nadja is on the path of getting better. That’s until her friend one day appears at her work and tells her she needs her help. Nadja doesn’t hesitate to help her and why should she? Her therapist had told her she needs to make connections, and build friendships. But with what her so called friend needs help with isn’t opening a jar or help clean out the house of unnecessary things that she gathered without noticing. It’s with hiding a body.

The story from here on unravels in rapid successions. Multiple POVs contribute to fill in the picture about Nadja’s past and how she got to be who she is today. I’m not going to spoil the ending but all I’m going to let you know is that it is worth every moment.

The way Hausmann structured the novel I think is genius. We start somwhere in the middle of the story, without any context. We don’t know what’s happening only that things are happening. I found the moment to open the story perfect because it gave plenty of time and opportunity to give sufficient information to the reader whilst allowing for the current timeline to flow naturally. It also helped the overall ARC of the story to avoid any soggy middles by turning up the dial on the tension in the present moment and making the readers ask themselves how someone cold end in such a terrible position.

Sleepless, if I hadn’t known it was Hausmann’s debut, I would have been certain that it was written by an experienced writer that has penned many novels before. Simply from the structure adopted, I can only imagine how a difficult of a task it has been for Hausmann to strike the perfect balance that she has achieved. Now, thinking back to it, I should’ve known that Hausmann is a master storyteller from reading the intricate and yet effortlessly executed Dear Child.

Sleepless is definitely a great read for anyone who wants to see what German thrillers are all about. And paired with Jamie Bulloch’s translation, it is a perfect read for new readers of translated fiction as well as hard core lovers of the genre. Sleepless is now out everywhere where good books are sold and you should definitely check it out.

Please make sure you check out the other amazing reviewers who are part of this blog tour as well as check out Duncan’s review from Fiction from Afar who is my go to person when it comes to translated fiction reviews.

The Secret War by Louise Burfitt-Dons

Thank you to Anne Carter for giving me the opportunity to take part in this blog tour and to Louise Burfitt-Dons for sending me an advance readers copy of this novel. All views are my own.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Where is the line you draw between fiction and reality? What if the reality to you’ve been told to believe isn’t actually the reality at all? What if what others would quickly dismiss as a conspiracy theory is in fact what truly happened?

These are only a few of the questions that I found myself asking myself as I turned page after page in The Secret War by Louise Burfitt-Dons. I had my reservations about this book when I first saw the invitation from the lovely Anne to join this blog tour but I told myself that I needed to step outside of my comfort zone if I wanted to discover more books to love and adore. And spoiler alert… I don’t regret that decision.

With a very close to anyone’s heart premise, I dived deep into this action packed thriller following characters that were very well fleshed out and made me take an interest in the overall Karen Andersen series that Burfitt-Dons has penned.

With a chilling premise and twists and turns at every page, The Secret War is definitely the perfect read for lovers of Dan Brown and Blake Crouch thrillers.

Without spoiling the books content too much, the story centers around one particular premise that I have found gutsy. What if one of the biggest nations in the world would develop a bio-weapon to further their plans for the world? But going off of only this idea, and why I find this idea so intriguing and gutsy is that if this is not done right, the repercussions could be immense.

Having now read The Secret War I understand just how well these types of books can be written. There were many times where I had feared that the characterization might go wrong but the thrill of discovering the narrative as well as the plot only added to the excitement and thrill. With a strong list of characters, I found myself often swept into the story and my hyperactive imagination made come alive in my mind. And I’m not kidding, I really got some big Mr Robot vibes (but not to the extend where I found it too similar).

The Secret War is a unique story that flips the ‘What If?’ plot theory on its head and delivers a strong story told from multiple locations and points of view. I highly recommend this book to the lovers of action thriller genre but also to readers who have been enjoying Dan Brown’s thrillers and Blake Crouch.

I’m very thankful to Anne Carter and Louise Burfitt-Dons for allowing me to take part in this blog tour and if you haven’t already make sure you check out Varietats review form the 21st of June here. Also tomorrow is BooklyMatters turn over on instagram to share their thoughts on the book, so make sure you head over to her instagram account (@booklymatters) and give them a follow to check out their review.

The Secret War is now available to be order on Amazon and even is free to read on Kindle if you have a KindleUnlimited subscription. So there’s no reason why not to check this thrilling read.

The Girl on the Platform by Bryony Pearce

Thank you to Avon Books for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All views are my own.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Today (23rd of May) it is my turn in the blog tour of The Girl on the Platform to let you guys know what I thought about this book. When I dived into it, I didn’t know if I knew what to expect.

From the outset we follow Bridget, who has had her daughter together with her husband Tom not long ago and who is battling what at first I thought to be postpartum depression.

On her way back from work, Bridget witnesses how a girl is snatched from one of the platforms. The train doesn’t stop on the platform and Bridget questions the other passengers to see if they saw the same thing as she did. Defeated, she realises that no one else saw the kidnapping of the little girl.

From there everything spirals out of control for Bridget. She can’t think of anything else but the girl that has been kidnapped. Although she reported the kidnapping, the police seem to not make any progress in finding out who has taken the girl. And she even doubts that they believe her claims.

Has Bridget really seen a kidnapping? Every one else tells her she had dreamt it, imagined it but she feels that there is more to it than a bad dream.

Uncomfortable and gut-clenching, The Girl on the Platform provides an important insight on mental health of mothers and the repercussions of not addressing these when they arise. 

Neglecting her marriage and neglecting her daughter, Bridget can only think of the girl who none except for her, it seems, will try to find her. She lies to Tom, she is exhausted being riddled with nightmares as a side effect of the drugs she is taking to battle her anxiety and depression and when things couldn’t get any worse, Social Services, appear at her house threatening to take her daughter.

In a culmination to the story we learn that Bridget’s own mother has made a case to Social Services to take her daughter for her own good. But why would she do that, and what would she have to gain from it? Well, I will not spoil the ending and would definitely recommend you to check out this book because the ending is something different from what you would expect from this sort of book.

If you pick up this book, be ready for an uncomfortable read that will make you feel sorry and confused at the same time (confused in a good way). The unreliable narrator in Bridget makes you the reader doubt everything you read to the degree of starting, even to doubt yourself of what you are reading. Pearce has done an outstanding job bringing the spotlight on mental issues and repercussions of them if we do not address them in a thrilling psychological novel that punches you in the gut with raw and uncomfortable scenes that feel a bit too real. 

The Girl on the Platform is out everywhere where excellent books are sold and I hope you will pick it up and share your thoughts with me. 

The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave

Thank you to Viper Books for an advance copy of this book. All views my own.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

What if the person you love disappears one day, leaving you behind with only a note? A note in which he doesn’t even justify his actions, but instead leaves you with only two words.

Protect her.

From the very first page, The Last Thing He Told Me jumps out of the page. The voice that Laura Dave has channeled and managed to imprint in the pages of this book is clear and strong although filled with sorrow, frustration and an adventure guided by the need to understand who the person that you thought you knew, was.

Told from the point of view of the protagonist of this story, Hannah, the story begins as harmless as the title is. We learn fairly on in the story that Hannah has been raised by her Grandfather and has left New York for the comfort of Sausalito, California where she lives with her husband, Owen and her step daughter, Bailey.

With a voice that gets tattooed into your mind, The Last Thing He Told Me is the most un-put-down-able book you will read this Spring.

Hannah embarks on a journey of discovery that takes her to Austin Texas after her husband Owen is caught in a scandal of fraud at his workplace called The Shop. Nevermind getting through such news, but having to learn the news from a strange girl that shows up at her door leaving Hannah with a note from her husband, is such a heart wrenching moment that I couldn’t even imagine what she goes through.

The message from her husband doesn’t offer Hannah any explication. Just a simple instruction. Protect her. So Hannah embarks on this unknown journey as best as she can. In a whirlwind of events, Hannah finds herself being visited by Grady, a US Marshal from Austin, Texas that tells her that the best thing she can do is lay low and get a lawyer. Shortly after the US Marshal pays her the visit, FBI visit her at her office.

Feeling unable to answer the questions that Hannah feels everyone wants her to answer (Where is your husband?) and left with only her memories with Owen to pick at to find clues, Hannah takes Bailey and make a trip to Austin, Texas in the hopes that the city will give them some answers. Once there, Hannah learns something about her husband that she never thought she was going to have to deal with: her husband, Owen Michaels, doesn’t exist and has never existed since the moment he arrived in Sausalitos.

Why would he lie to her? Why did Owen disappear without a trace and no explanation? And who is Owen actually?

Filled with an intricate plot line and a strong voice, The Last Thing He Told Me is one of my favorite reads in a while. Refreshingly unique but also filled with moments that made me second guess what I was reading, this book is excellent for anyone who is looking for a book that will not allow you to rest until you finished it.

The Last Thing He Told Me is out now everywhere where good books are sold. I think that Viper has done a brilliant job this year to bring to the forefront interesting and unique stories having had published in the span of a few months two of my new instant favourite books (I’m talking of course about The Last House On Needless Street being the other one).

The Whole Truth by Cara Hunter

Thank you to Penguin Viking Publicity Team for an advance copy of this book. All views are my own.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

There is a new case on the horizon, and this one is crazy twisted. I’ve started reading The Whole Truth by the fantastic Cara Hunter on a Tuesday. It was sunny here in Glasgow, and the sun helped me, motivated me even, to read this book in two days. Yes, two days. But it was just the sun that kept my attention engaged. It was the story as well.

When a student comes forward reporting a case of sexual abuse, the detectives of Thames Valley think they know how the story goes. Honestly, I even thought I knew where the story would go. But as the book’s hook says, I should think again. Morgan, a male student, is reporting his tutor, Marina, a very prominent figure in the University of raping him. Now, this wouldn’t necessarily have struck me as out of the ordinary. But as I turned the pages, the more twisted the story became. 

As the sexual assault and rape case is getting traction on social media, a new case is reported. A body is found by some engineers working on the rail during the night. And someone in the police force knows the victim. They are closer to him than he thinks, in fact. 

The Whole Truth stands out from the first page. Brilliant and perfectly paced, Hunter checks all the boxes for the next big detective series.

DI Adam Fawley doesn’t have the time to process that the close friend Emma Smith of his wife was the victim found on the rail. And the evidence is pointing at him as being the murderer. Everything blows up in DI Fawley’s face, and all of a sudden, he faces a lengthy prison sentence. But he swears he isn’t the murderer, even though when presented with the opportunity, he doesn’t provide us with the opportunity to see that, the readers, for ourselves.

The Whole Truth is brilliantly written, with short and snappy chapters turning the tension to the max. The subplots are interlaced with images that I found really engaging as a reader to scrutinise. Instead of the information being dumped on the paper as exposition, we get files and handwritten notes, extracts from a podcast and even screenshots of a WhatsApp group.

I’m surprised (and mad) that I didn’t know earlier of the DI Fawley series. Because I believe there were a couple of easter eggs in this novel that I could’ve appreciated more if I had read the first four books in the series before starting this. However, I’m looking forward to diving into the other four books in the series (they are ordered and are on the way) and then reenjoy this 5th instalment in the series. But disregarding the easter eggs, Hunter makes sure that anyone can read this without reading the previous books (at least I believe it was intentional rather than unintentional).

The Whole Truth is published on the 29th of May by Penguin Viking. I hope you will join me and celebrating this fantastic book, especially if you are a fan of the show Line of Duty. If you are, you have to get your hands on this series. It’s just so, so good. And twisted. Also, rights for a TV show have been sold already, and we might soon get to see Adam Fawley and the crew on screen is just brilliant. I can’t wait. 

PS. Do yourself a favour and start with Close to Home.

The Liar’s Daughter by Rona Halsall

Thank you to Bookouture Publicity Team for the advance readers copy in exchange for an honest review. All views are my own.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

When Eva learns that her parents had been keeping away secrets from her, she embarks on a journey of finding the truth and at least understand why her parents would keep the truth from her.

That is how The Liar’s Daughter by Rona Halsall starts. Written in three parts, the story develops before the reader’s eyes from mainly two points of view. Eva and Nancy. Eva, who has been brought up by her father and her stepmother, and Nancy, Eva’s sister, who was presumed to have committed suicide after their biological mother’s death.

The decision taken by Halsall to award a part to each character was smart looking back at the story. Initially, as I was reading the story, I was a bit reticent because I was afraid that this might take away from the experience of discovering the story. But it wasn’t anything like that. It made perfect sense why Halsall chose to relay the story this way. If she had written it in any other way, I don’t think that the story would have been as enjoyable as it was.

The Liar’s Daughter is a thrilling read with many twists and turns that punch you in the gut, exploring how much one can rely on what you are being told versus what you are seeing is happening.

The story starts with Eva, who founds out from her stepmother that her sister had been admitted into the hospital and would require someone to take care of her. Eva agrees to go and help her out for a few days. On the road there, Eva struggles to understand why her stepmother had lied about her having a sister when she knew she was still alive. When she gets to the hospital, she meets her sister and takes her home to a remote, old farmhouse.

Strange things happen there. Food starts to go missing, windows are open, and the house seems alive with creeks and noises. Eva has a strong feeling that she is being watched, and as she explores the house and the surroundings, she has a strange feeling that something is not adding up. And when Eva discovers a body buried in the garden, she is convinced that she needs to go as far away as she can from this place. But before she can do it, she is caught by her sister and locked in a room. 

Then we get Nancy’s story, and we understand that after she ran away from home, she didn’t actually commit suicide but was actually taken in by a nice and welcoming woman. But appearances aren’t always what they seem, and the woman suddenly starts to manipulate her into believing that if she leaves, she would be arrested for the murder of her mother. Things spiral out, and in an attempt to escape the farmhouse, she knocks the woman out and leaves her behind.

Having read the first part as a reader, we know that the woman who says is Nancy isn’t actually Eva’s sister. But the woman who kept Eva’s sister hostage. I won’t spoil the ending, so if you want to find out how it ends, definitely check out the book.

The Liar’s Daughter is out today (26/04/2021) in e-book and paperback from bookouture. I would highly recommend this to fans of psychological thrillers and anyone who wants to dive into a story filled with twists and turns. 

The Vatican Secret by Peter Hogenkamp

Thank you to bookouture Publicity team for offering me a copy of this novel in advance of its publication. All view are my own.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Dubbed as James Bond but with priests, I was pleasantly surprised by The Vatican Secret. Although it is the second novel in the series and the story picking up right after where the first one ended, I asked myself if I would be able to pick up the pieces and understand what was going on. In true BooksTechnica fashion, reading a series out of order seems to be the staple, but I’m happy once again to report that this book can be enjoyed out of order but probably not as much as reading it in order.

Having now finished The Vatican Secret, I have a new appreciation for the action-thriller genre. And here’s the thing: I don’t usually reach for books with a conspiracy at its core. I don’t know if it is necessarily because I feel like they would disappoint me or why I shy away from reading these types of thrillers, but I do realise now that there is a whole new unexplored area for me to dive in to. Because if The Vatican Secret has left me with something, it was with an appetite for action thrillers. And I’m eager to pick up the first novel in the series to see where the characters started.

With deliciously flawed characters and paced from cover to cover with heart-racing scenes, The Vatican Secret is an excellent introduction to the action-thriller genre.

Going into the book, I was instantly swept into the story. It feels to me that there is no break, that as a reader (regardless if you have read the first book or not), you are carried away by the story. Written from multiple points of view, following both the antagonists and the protagonists, it feels to me that Hogenkamp chose an easily accessible topic that everyone would find appealing. I mean, who wouldn’t want to know the politics and what goes on behind closed doors in the Vatican?

The characters are perfectly flawed. I loved how Hogenkamp ensured that we spend enough time with each side to the point that I started (at least a part of me) rooting for the bad guys. I wanted to see what would happen if things didn’t go to plan for both the protagonists and antagonists, and I’m glad to say that things don’t go as planned multiple times throughout the story.

There was one thing that did disappoint me, and that is mainly the ending. I think this is also because we got to spend time with both sides–the ones trying to protect the Vatican from nuclear destruction and the ones trying to ensure that the Vatican will go down–that I found myself at the end conflicted. I would have wanted to see a dramatic ending because this book is packed with action from cover to cover. Instead of the somewhat happy and peaceful ending, I wanted to get the gritty and gory. This is, in the end, just a personal preference from someone who hasn’t read much in the genre but definitely is open to get more insight into it.

Overall I think The Vatican Secret was a perfect introduction for me to the action-thriller genre. I’m excited to see what Hogenkamp has next in store for his readers, and I will keep my eyes peeled on his writing journey. The Vatican Secret is out now from bookouture and is available to be ordered in either paperback or e-book everywhere you shop for your books.