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CTM = Crime, Thriller, Mystery Genre Authors

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Category: CTM - Mandasue Heller

  1. Kat's Review of Run by Mandasue Heller

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    Synopsis: After being cheated on by her ex, Leanne Riley is trying her hardest to get her life back on track, which isn't easy without a job and living in a bedsit surrounded by a junkie and a mad woman.

    On a night out with her best friend she meets Jake, a face from her past who has changed beyond all recognition. Jake is charming, handsome and loaded, a far cry from the gawky teenager he used to be. Weary of men, Leanne isn't easy to please, but Jake tries his best to break through the wall she's built around herself.

    But good looks and money can hide a multitude of sins. Is that good-looking face just a mask? And what's more, what will it take to make it slip, and who will die in the process . . . ?

    Kat's Rating: 4/5

  2. Kat's Review of Respect by Mandasue Heller

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    Mandasue Heller RespectMy Rating 4/5

     Synopsis: Chantelle has everything going against her. She's a good student who only wants to pass her exams and find a way out of the sink estate in Manchester where she grew up. But now her feckless mother has taken off for Spain with her latest boyfriend and she's single-handedly raising her tearaway nine-year-old brother Leon. She thinks her worst problem is the debt collectors at the door. But Leon has made some new friends: teenage gang members who have given him a mobile phone a knife - and some drugs to hide in her flat. A part-time job seems to be the answer to Chantelle's prayers. But the violence is about to come home to her -with a vengeance. And the only person who's offering any help seems to be just as bad as the people she's trying to escape from . . .

    My Review: As always I was chomping at the bit to get the new Mandasue Heller book and was very pleased when my prayers were answered, and a preview copy landed on my doorstep. I had read the synopsis and was looking forward to getting stuck into another gritty crime book and I wasn’t disappointed! Chantelle and her brother Leon live with their sad excuse for a mother on one of the estates in Manchester. It took me only a matter of pages to adore the studious and sensible young girl, and lead character Chantelle. Her brother Leon is on the edge in terms of friends and the sort of people he hangs around with and trouble is lurking from the early pages.

    One thing that struck me as different is that this book doesn’t go from standard crime to real dirty, gritty, crime (if you know what I mean). I got the real sense of a story that maybe isn’t that far from some people’s real life situations. Here are two young kids, being raised by a woman that isn’t fit to be a mother; and trying their best to make it work. When Chantelle’s mum does a bunk with her latest bloke, Chantelle has no other choice than to lie about her age and find part time work. At this point in the book we see the threat of danger slowly creep up.

    Chantelle soon realises that things with Leon are getting out of hand and isn’t sure what to do. In addition to that she has no idea that she herself will bring danger to their door. Chantelle and Leon take centre stage in this latest book along with a few additional characters such as one of Chantelle’s acquaintances Anton. Although this didn’t have the same feel as some of MH’s other books there was something a little bit refreshing about it. I know, I know, I’m not the best at explaining but that’s the best I can say right now. Her favourite title of mine was Lost Angel and I’m afraid it still takes the title but this was still a first class read and one that I loved from start to finish. As always I was sad to finish this book and am even sadder I have to wait a whole year for another of her instalments. 

  3. Kat's Review of Broke by Mandasue Heller

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    My Rating: 4/5

    I have mentioned in previous reviews that although I consider myself a fan, I don't LOVE every MH book I read. Having said that her last book Lost Angel was absolutely brilliant. With that in my mind I was really looking forward to reading the new release Broke. The story centres on Amy who at a young age and with a baby on the way marries Mark. Within the first two chapters I had the urge to slap Amy around the face and ask her what she was playing at. The character Mark is an absolute idiot and one that I loathed from the very beginning. A few years later and with another child in tow Amy and Mark find themselves stuck in the doldrums. When Mark loses his job and his gambling gets out of hand he makes the major mistake of borrowing money from the local loan shark Lenny Yates.

    From that point on the story takes a rather sinister and dark turn. Lenny Yates decides that Amy can pay off Mark's debts his way. For fear of giving plot spoilers I don't want to divulge any more of the story, but hence to say things are not particularly nice for Amy and her children. As Amy's world takes a turn for the worse, her situation spirals and becomes almost unbelievable. The one thing I would say is that Mandasue touches on many subjects that are hard to deal with. Although Amy's situation made me feel sympathetic towards her, I also felt irritated by her as a character. The fact that her life is all about Mark and nobody else grated on me, and at times it seemed like her children came second although at the end this seemed to have done a 360 degree turn? That was my only real bugbear about the book.

    Other than that, the story drew me in and I went through quite a few emotions from pure rage at reading what characters were doing to sheer irritation at how stupid they can be! I managed to read this in just under 4 hours which is a record even by my standards. It's certainly written in a way that makes you want to keep reading. Although I really liked this book her previous book Lost Angel was outstanding. That and the fact that Amy irritated me so much means it's only a 4/5 read from me, but still a great read. Can't wait for the next one.

  4. Kat's Review of Lost Angel by Mandasue Heller

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    Mandasue Heller Lost AngelMy Rating: 5/5

    I have read all of Mandasue Heller's books and would definitely consider myself a fan. Having said that I haven't loved every book, it almost seems like I either love it or just don't like it at all. Her last book The Driver I seemed to struggle with

    but the previous book Two-Faced I loved. With all that in mind I was excited to read her new book but apprehensive to see whether I would like it. Many people over the last few years have compared her to the likes of Martina Cole and this book just proves that she is in my opinion better than Martina Cole.

    Johnny Conroy is a young lad who is typically enjoying life and when he meets Ruth Hynes he takes his chances. What he doesn't account for is that the infamous hard man Frankie Hynes daughter will fall pregnant. Before he knows it he is part of the Hynes lives and is married with a baby on the way.

    The first portion of the book is like Mandasue's early books and was absolutely brilliant. We meet Ruth and her parents Frankie and Rita. Johnny, for all his faults, is a great character and before long you can't help feeling sorry for his sudden immersion into Frankie Hyne's business and his gloomy marriage to Ruth.

    The book moves on over the years and in total we see Johnny's life over twenty years. There was something easy to read about the way it was written and we see enough of what goes on in blocks of time, to make you feel like you are moving in time along with the family.

    Johnny's daughter Angel comes along and becomes the light of Johnny's life and all the time he is constantly progressing and improving the family business. Along the way we see Johnny's friend Dave and Ruth's cousin Lisa integrate themselves into the story making for some extra added story threads. Before long the book moves us into Angel's younger years before finally arriving at her teenage years where she becomes involved with one of Johnny's workers Ryan.

    That in itself causes major problems and before long it seems like they have all come full circle. The book had me reading well into the night and when I finally got to the climax of the story well into the early hours I was blown away.

    The book itself was what I would describe as old school Mandasue and was so easy and enjoyable to read. What I didn't account for was the shocking twist at the end that had me reading on in disbelief. I can honestly say that this is one of her best and is an absolute corker of a read. All those Mandasue Heller fans will certainly not be disappointed as we see her make a return to her brilliant skills as an absolutely exceptional writer. This one is certainly a book you will want to get your hands on as soon as it's released and I for one recommend it highly.
     

  5. Kat's Review of The Driver by Mandasue Heller

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    Mandasue Heller The Driver
    My Rating: 3/5

    The Grange Estate is known locally as a `rough estate' and Joe Weeks has just moved in. Joe is laid back but is quite eager to make friends with his neighbours. He meets Carl and Cheryl and before long he is one of them. With their regular parties and weed smoking, Joe fits in a treat.

     Eddie Quinn also lives on the estate and is known as the hardest man around town. He is also living from his reputation which is one that you don't wish to cross. When Joe is asked if he wants to work as Eddie's driver he jumps at the opportunity. Joe soon runs into Katya who is a very frightened prostitute who is trapped as a practical slave and wants nothing more than to escape from Eddie. Joe soon gets drawn into a dangerous life surrounded by death, drugs and prostitutes.

    Well first off I have to say I was shocked at the small offering that arrived when the book turned up. I am used to receiving a Mandasue Heller book that is a hefty offering as opposed to this slimmed down version. I picked up the book hoping that this one was better than her last book as I wasn't that impressed with it. Initially the first few chapters seemed to be going well. We get introduced to Joe and get to know the goings on of all the people who live on the estate. Joe as a character isn't the strongest Mandasue Heller has ever written but he was a likeable guy.

    We also see the bad guy Eddie who again I didn't think was that strong a character. Yes he seemingly had the right ingredients, the build, the attitude and the hard man look about him. Unfortunately that was all he had! Around the halfway mark I was beginning to wonder when the gritty storyline would jump in but sadly it didn't materialise. The book wasn't an awful read by any means it just wasn't particularly strong or memorable.

    The last portion of the book saw a rise in tempo slightly but it had an air of `unfinished business' about it. In actual fact this was how I felt about 90% of the book. You felt like you got to know the people involved but beyond that, nothing. I have read all of Martina Cole's books and felt bitterly disappointed that her more recent stuff was nowhere near as good as her original works. Sadly, it seems that Mandasue Heller is suffering the same fate. The storyline felt very lacklustre and had no real oomph in it. In addition to this, nothing that drastic or meaningful happened. I can tell from the writing style that Mandasue Heller still has a great writing style, but sadly the plot and characters are seriously lacking her usual standards. 

    I was bitterly disappointed with this and was hoping that we would see a return to her previously wonderful writing. Although the writing is there, it seems that nothing else is there with it. If I am being honest I wouldn't recommend this particular book of hers and would say try her earlier works which were brilliant. I can still live in hope that she will return with a vengeance with her next book.