Wow! There are thrillers with twists and then there is Local Girl Missing. A slow burning thriller that builds up to a crescendo of twists!

Twenty years ago 21-year-old Sophie Collier disappeared one night in her small Somerset hometown of Oldcliffe-on-Sea. Her best friend, Frankie (Francesca Howe), is devastated and left the town soon after the tragedy. Now she is back, answering the desperate call by Sophie’s brother Daniel to help him. To help him finally discover what happened to his sister. The impetus to his renewed search for the truth is the discovery by the police of a woman’s foot – that believed to be of his long-lost sister after she vanished, leaving only her trainer on the seaside’s dilapidated pier.

The story is told through the present narrative of Frankie and through Sophie’s old diary entries from 1997, prior to her disappearance. Eerily the two voices weave back and forth, from the past to the present. From past shared loves, to the death of a boyfriend witnessed by the girls as young. To the present and renewed love interest between Daniel and Frankie, to her former boyfriend Leon who was Sophie’s big love the months before her disappearance.

All seems connected and as Frankie arrives the past seems to invade her present existence. Quickly she begins to regret her return as ghosts literally appear to haunt her in the town, around the flat she resides. Letters appear alluding to knowledge of a devastating secret. She hears a baby’s cry every night, yet no family resides in the other apartments. Frankie’s friendly father appears more and more in the past story-line. Why? He ran a hotel in which the girls worked. How far does family come before friends? Who really is the enemy? Can one tell? Frankie’s distress and confusion is palpable but still she remains in the Oldcliffe. Unwilling to leave Daniel. Desperate, it seems, to discover the truth of her best friend’s disappearance.

The novel quickly builds to one where everyone is held under suspicion by Frankie.

I had expected a great novel by Claire Douglas as I’d been hooked by her nail-biting debut of ‘The Sisters’ where nothing was as it seemed. This book only confirms the expertise and adeptness of the author. The writing is taut, tense and gripping. The undercurrent of menace bubbles beneath the surface – a real psychological drama. Intense, shocking and frightening. Absolutely wonderful.

netgalley I received a free copy of this book from the NetGalley in exchange for a honest and impartial review.

Rating:                    4 out of 5 stars

Publisher:               Penguin UK

Publication Date: 11th August 2016

Price:                        £ 4.99 Kindle – Amazon UK          


                                  £ 3.85 Paperback – Amazon UK    


                                $ 6.03 Paperback – Amazon US      




The next two books I will be reviewing are outside my normal genre: one a YA book, but first of all one of the most gripping psychological thrillers I’ve ever read.

Few books start with the dramatic intensity of ‘Baby Doll’. No gentle meandering scene-setting, no light character introduction. It all starts with a bolt on a door. A bolt that has not been shut.

As Lily gradually becomes aware of this lapse, she can finally hope for freedom. A chance to escape the room where she has been held hostage since she was sixteen. Eight long years of mental and physical abuse. One person, Lily, was captured, held. Two people escape. Lily and her five-year-old daughter, Sky. Sky who is about to encounter the outside world for the first time. Sky who is about the meet her relatives for the first time ever.

Once free, every new day brings fresh traumas to Lily and her family as they desperately seek to reconnect following the horrific years of heart-ache. As the man who abducted her, an ‘upstanding member of the community’, is brought to justice, Lily discovers the destruction wrought on her closest family after she went missing. Her twin sister, Abby, has changed beyond recognition and is now pregnant and in a relationship with Lily’s childhood boyfriend. Lily’s mother too sought relief outside the norm of the family.

Whilst relentlessly moving forward, the novel seamlessly weaves in much of the back story. It builds to a crescendo of shocking revelations until the brilliant, in the end the only possible, finale. 

This book is compelling; a definite page-turner and one I read in two days. Lily and her family became etched in my heart – I just had to know what happened next. Could the family survive? Could they re-unite? Would they ever find love and peace again? 

‘Baby Doll’ is an excellent taut thriller that raises many important issues. Although I felt at first that it was driven by the plot I quickly changed my mind as I warmed to the characters (or in the case of the abductor, detested). 

One major stumbling block for me was the poor edit of this Netgalley edition of the book. The first two words were joined together, then throughout the book there followed extra lines mid sentence, extra spaces before commas…I am sure Random House, its team and the author will correct these issues before publication but it was a distraction for me – luckily the book was so compelling!

I could say a lot more about ‘Baby Doll’ but I’m worried about spoiling the novel for you. I hope you get a chance to read this yourself. As you might have guessed I highly recommend this book.

netgalleyI received this ACR from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for a honest and impartial review.


Publisher:                      Random House UK

Group Release Date:  30th June  2016

Price:                              £ 12.99   (Hardback – Amazon)  

                                         £ 7.99      (Kindle – Amazon)

Rating:                           4 out of 5 stars.


A quick aside.

Have you ever wondered about the name Netgalley?

I thought at first it was meant to be a play on word of ‘gallery’. Reading through a book the other day I think I’ve finally found the reason behind the name.

Net – obviously the internet.

Galley – this was originally the flat metal tray with three raised edges which used to hold the metal type. The galley proofs were proofs taken on a long slip of paper from the type while it was still in the galley, though the term is now used for any proofs not yet divided into pages.  (source: The Cambridge Handbook. Copy-editing by Judith Butcher)