ISBN-13: 9780062348876
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication Date: 23 September 2014
Format: Paperback, 368 pgs
Source: ARC from the publisher

Jessica Blackwood was five when she first started learning magic from her grandfather. She came from a family of magicians but decided to leave the glamour and her past behind after a performance almost got her killed when she was twenty. It was also the same time she decided to leave her family and be on her own.

At present, she volunteered to teach magic tricks as a form of therapy at a children's hospital since college and continued all the way through her career in the FBI. She was in forensic accounting, not really an adventurous job but she took pride in her work and had managed to crack a few cases through her persistence and observations.

However her careful constructed world was turned upside down when the FBI wanted her expertise when someone called himself 'Warlock' had hacked into their network and left them a code, which led them to a body. Jessica wasn't into homicide, but the FBI thought maybe she could help unravel the mystery, given her name as a magician years ago.

Now the mysterious part is the victim, Chloe McDonald's body is only hours old in the spot where they found it, but the fact is she was already dead for two years. What made it so horrific is Chloe face was filled with horror and her body was still half buried in the ground; it appeared she was trying to crawl her way free of the earth where she was buried. The creepiest part? Her coffin was empty. 

While Jessica managed to make an explanation about what happened is a clever and elaborate combination of illusions, the team is wondering if it's the same killer who murdered the real Chloe, since the other Chloe appeared to have the same wounds at the exact location. 

While they were speculating, another bigger and unexplainable case dropped onto their lap, this time round is an airplane which was claimed to be an original Avenger bomber which was believed to be lost in the Bermuda Triangle in 1945. Would it be the Warlock's work, again? After all, the pilot who was perished in the missing plane was found too. 

As the FBI struggled to piece things together, Jessica feared that more victims would die under the Warlock's hands if they didn't find and stop him in time. But the Warlock seems to be a step ahead of them, and this made Jessica more determined to catch this man who thought himself a god through the "miracles" he conjured.

I really enjoyed reading Angel Killer. Aside it's an action thriller, I liked it that it's also packed with a magic theme and this made my reading experience a different one from the rest as I felt myself like an eager audience, watching those magic unfold in front of my eyes, except that it's on paper instead of in a theatre. It is no wonder the author could write it that way, since Andrew Mayne is a famous magician himself and is the star of A&E's magic reality show Don't Trust Andrew Mayne.

Written from Jessica's perspective, I found the writing style to be appropriate and convincing as Mr. Mayne takes his readers into her magical world and see how her mind works as she tried to "see through" his tricks and lead them to the clues he left behind. I liked Jessica as a character, but what really intrigued me is another character whom I felt is another great mystery to this story. Damian is Jessica's ex-boyfriend and he is charming and appears to be very devoted to her. But she broke up with him after knowing that he had deceived her with his multiple identities. Is he delusional? Or does he has something to hide? Jessica never knew, but she knew he's always there for her whenever she's in danger. Damian even left a few clues to her regarding the Warlock's works, and this made him a suspect.

Like Jessica, I don't know if I trust Damian but yet an instinct told me that he might not be a bad guy, even though he could be dangerous. I hope my instinct is correct. Although the identity of the Warlock is revealed, the ending gave the readers the hope of a sequel. I definitely want to read more of Jessica, and Damian as well. 

ISBN-13: 978-0552166379
Publisher: Corgi
Publication Date: 7 November 2013
Format: Paperback, 512 pgs
Source: Personal Library

Like This, For Ever is the third installment of the Lacey Flint series, featuring DC Lacey Flint and DI Mark Josebury. In the previous two installments, readers follow their harrowing journey of tracking down notorious murderers. We see a vulnerable (dark?) side of Lacey in the first installment,  Now You See Me, and till now I'd not got over her past history. But then, that's fine since I like reading a character who's flawed and show us his/her imperfect side as it reminds us we are all human beings, even superheroes. 

In this installment it revolves around a killer who's set to murder young boys in South London. Four boys dead in two months, and another one still missing. The latest victims are ten-year-old twins, Jason and Joshua Barlow. None appeared to be sexually abused or tortured. The cause of death was mostly extensive blood loss following the severing of the carotid artery.

Alongside the story is an eleven-year-old boy Barney, who seems to have an incredible power of observation and memory. He plays a huge part in this story (in fact I think he's the star of this story); apparently he has huge interest of the missing boys cases and he even set up a page on Facebook, hoping it'd would draw people's attention and share whatever information they can get. But that's only a small part of it, his main issue is finding his mother who had left him when he was four. My heart goes out to him after reading that he uses his allowances to place ads on newspapers around London, hoping that his mother would read it and find him one day.

Not forgetting our heroine, Lacey's goal is to join The Sapphire Units which handle crimes involving sexual violence, but the previous assignment affected her so much. Plus, she wasn't really over with the first Ripper case and then, there is Mark Josebury, who seems to have the capability of confusing her state of mind, that is. Lacey isn't involved in the investigation,  but somehow or rather she is pulled into it when someone texted her about the missing boy.

However, that's not really the climatic part as Barney and his mates took the investigation into their own hands. Foolish or not, Barney is still one of the bravest boy I've read in a while, not to mention that he's also the second youngest amongst his mates. Although Lacey and Mark seem to be the external parties of this investigation, I still read with interest about the progress of the investigations and the suspense had me speculating who the killer is (there are several scenarios that got you into thinking), and on top of it we read about Lacey's vulnerability and her doubts about her feelings towards Mark as well as her career as a cop.

That said, I still enjoyed this installment although Lacey nor Mark is directly involved in the case. Speaking of Mark, I liked it that this installment shows a gentler and more delicate part of him. I think the relationship between him and Lacey will take a leap if she gives him (and herself) a chance.

The ending has somewhat threw me off the edge, as I still couldn't believe the identity of the killer. He is simply... oh well, I better not say it as this will be a spoiler. And once again, author Sharon Bolton has crafted another nail biting thriller and I look forward to reading her next installment soon.

ISBN-13: 9780060566944
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication Date: 12 August 2014 (Reprint)
Format: Paperback, 384 pgs
Source: Publisher

Kathryn Campbell lost her best friend, Jennifer Pelletier, on the night of their high school graduation. Jennifer simply told her friends that she's taking a walk in the woods, but she never back. Her disappearance comes as a blow to Kathryn, after all they are close and Jennifer asked her a question about future plans before she took off that walk. Kathryn didn't really understand her question at that time and Jennifer didn't wish to elaborate.

Fast forward to the present, Kathryn moved to Boston after her marriage to Paul, whom she met during their college days. However, their marriage only lasts two years and now Kathryn us moving back to her hometown, Bangor, Maine.

She has mixed feelings returning to Bangor, since it brought her sad memories of Jennifer, and on top of that she doesn't know what she wants to do with her life there, and she's afraid of finding out. She seems like she's living in denial. Other than these, she isn't sure how she'd go along with her mother and her younger brother, Josh. Their parents divorced when she was twelve, and she and Josh felt it was too much to face their mother with that sadness written on her. Gradually, Josh drifts apart from Kathryn and pursue his own dreams.

Her mother encourages her to write for the local Bangor papers, since she has the experience but Kathryn isn't keen until an old friend, Jack probed her to write something on the disappearance of Jennifer. It'd be one stone killing two birds as who knows, she may find something new surrounding her disappearance.

I've to confess I wasn't warmed up to Kathryn in the beginning. She has too much of her emotions bottled up, due to the disappearance of Jennifer, her parents' divorce when she was twelve, and finally her divorce with Paul. Although I totally understand the unfortunate events she has gone through, but at times her denial state got to me and I felt like shaking her up and telling her to move on. But then, she's been waiting for Jennifer to come back for the past ten years; waiting for the past to catch up with her so she can begins her future. She simply needs an answer; something she can lives with.

The story is categorised into four parts - Homecoming,  Memory, Reunion and Release. The part on the Memory is where readers will know more about Jennifer; and how she's getting along with her high school friends and how they think of her. I think this part is the most interesting and intriguing, as we speculate and wonder about her disappearance. Did Jennifer feel suicidal after the death of her father, or did she feel hatred and betrayed of her mother's affair? Then, there are questions about Jennifer going out with a few guys and then dumping them.

As much as this is a mystery, I find the pace is a tad slow in my opinion; thus this is more of a literary fiction by itself. The story is mostly surrounding on Kathryn searching for the truth behind Jennifer's disappearance and learning something which she didn't know about her along the way. I wasn't sure of the closure though,  it left me feeling unsatisfied because of the "murderer's" motive, but I suppose that's up to each reader to ponder about it.

ISBN-13: 9780552159814
Publisher: Corgi Books
Publication Date: 26 April 2012
Format: Paperback, 512 pgs
Source: Personal Library

I enjoyed reading Sharon Bolton's (aka S. J. Bolton) Dead Scared (not realising that it is part of a series then) so much that I decided to read the rest of the series. This series feature DC Lacey Flint and DI Mark Joesbury and Now You See Me is the first installment. She has a few stand-alone as well - SacrificeAwakening and Blood Harvest and I've added them to my to-read list. 

In this story, we are introduced to DC Lacey Flint and are told she has never worked a murder case before. It was only by chance that Lacey stumbled upon the victim when she saw the woman leaning against her car, bleeding profusely from a savage wound across her throat as well as her abdomen. Lacey didn't think it was a robbery, since her diamond earrings and wristwatch are still in tact. Anyway, Lacey became the witness as she had contact with the woman, as she tried to reach out to Lacey during her last struggle. 

DI Mark Joesbury, who is working with the Specialist Crime Directorate dealing with major crimes (including undercover works) is not officially tasked to the case since he was convalescing from his previous case but he has his plans. The investigation team managed to track down the identity of the dead woman - Geraldine Jones, but other than this information there isn't any leads, until a freelance journalist contacted Lacey and claimed she received a letter from the so-called killer, and that Lacey's name was mentioned in it. 

Lacey then pieced the letter quite similar to the notorious killer of the nineteenth century - Jack the Ripper, given the writing style and the signature. Lacey also pieced Geraldine's murder as the same day (31 August) where Jack murdered one of his victims - Polly Nichols, in 1888. Both Polly and Geraldine's injuries were identical. 

As the story progresses, we all know that the victim won't stop at Geraldine Jones, since there were four more victims under Jack's murderous hands, thus this Jack copycat wouldn't stop at one too. Like the original Ripper, the copycat killer seems to have a rough anatomical knowledge, is clever and quick. 

Speaking of the victims, I couldn't help but flinched at some of the descriptions of the human anatomy over the post-mortem scenes as part of the police procedural. And yes, there are some descriptions of how the victims are being murdered so this is not for the fainthearted readers. Having read many crime thrillers and how the murderers acted, I was still in a shock over the violence of this killer is capable of. 

Aside from having a compelling storyline, I think it is equally important to have engaging characters, and Lacey and Mark are fine examples. Lacey may have a sad past and is flawed (there's a little history of her being so), but she gave me the impression of an observant and a very brave woman. Why I said so is because in Dead Scared, she was an undercover and disguised as a student to solve a case in an University, and this time around she used herself as a bait to lure out the killer. As for Mark, he may seem like an obnoxious man but beneath his rank and his attitude, he is actually a man who cares a lot for his fellow colleagues. I've liked him from the beginning, despite the cool vibes he's been giving Lacey but of course, that might be his pride talking and I'm looking forward to see how their relationship will grow from here. 

Now You See Me is an intense, well crafted thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat right up to the end (I was totally blown away by the ending. How would I even describe it? I felt I was taking an emotional roller coaster ride. Intense, shocked and yes, even sadness for the killer.) Flipping that last page had had me at a loss for words; and my mind couldn't stop thinking over the horrific events and the shocking truth behind everything. 

What can I say? I thoroughly enjoyed this thriller and I cannot wait to get to the rest of this series. Highly recommended.