C J Tudor: The Chalk Man Sunday, Aug 19 2018 

One of Auntie M’s favorite authors, James Oswald, recommended CJ Tudor’s debut The Chalk Man, so she had to read it and could see why he was so enthusiastic.

It’s a strong debut with distinct characters, and a cleverly twisted plot. A whopper of an ending will have you re-reading the last page in disbelief.

Fat Gav, Hoppo and Metal Mickey are all friends of Eddie, the narrator whose story alternates between 1986, when he was 12, and 2016 when he is an English teacher and comes up against the secrets of his youth.

1086: The chalk men are the secret code Eddie and his friends use to summon each other. But it becomes corrupted when a chalk man message sends Eddie into the woods where he finds the dismembered body of a teenaged girl, changing everything.

Fast forward to 2016, where Eddie is living in his childhood home, teaching at his old school, and probably drinking far too much. He’s taken in a boarder, a young woman, and muddles along until he receives a letter with the figure of a chalk man.

His friends soon admit they have all received the same letter, but after the death of one of their group, Eddie knows he must find out who was responsible for that awful murder.

The bouncing back and forth between time periods allows the reader to see the earlier events as they unfolded while keeping pace with the current time and what is happening to Eddie.

It also works to heighten the suspense of this thoroughly chilling novel that marks the debut of a write to be taken seriously. Highly recommended.

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Elizabeth Haynes: Never Alone Wednesday, Jul 25 2018 

Elizabeth Haynes has a gift for psychological suspense that holds the reader in its plausible grip and never lets go until the last page.

In Never Alone, alternating points of view tell the story of Sarah Carpenter, a widow getting used to her empty nest; Aiden Beck, her college flame and friend of her husband, who needs a place to stay and rent Sarah’s vacant cottage; and an unnamed narrator who’s watching them both.

Sarah has her close friend, Sophie, nearby, and her two dogs. Daughter Kitty is at university; son Louis is estranged from Sarah and she doesn’t understand the reasons. But she’s hardly alone. And yet … the menace she comes to feel at times is very real.

Then married Sophie starts an affair with a much younger man, a friend of Louis, and people start disappearing. Shorter chapters up the ante as the suspense piles on. What exactly does Aiden do for a living, and can he be trusted?

The alternating point of view adds to the suspense and builds a dark thriller, while the elusive narrator tells his/her part of the story from an outsider’s view.

With the setting in North Yorkshire, the brooding landscape provides the perfect noir-ish backdrop to a story steeped in sexual imagery. Add in Hayne’s creation of fascinating characters, a creepy house cut off in heavy snow, and a clever plot, and you have all the ingredients for heightened danger and a whopping good thriller.