Hall of Fame Review: Truth Or Dare by Tania Carver (5/5)

Friday, 10 October 2014
The sixth psychological thriller in Tania Carver's award-nominated, internationally bestselling Phil Brennan and Marina Esposito series.

Darren Richards opened his eyes to find himself duct-taped to a chair with a crossbow pointing at him. Behind the crossbow is a hooded figure wearing a black-faced, round-eyed gas mask. The figure tells him what Darren knows: that he stole a car, drove it recklessly while under the influence of drugs and killed a woman and her baby. His solicitor managed to get the case thrown out of court on a technicality so he has not paid for his crime. That, says the figure, cannot be allowed to happen.

Darren turns to his right. Next to him are his girlfriend and their baby daughter. Both similarly taped to a chair, gagged. It's very simple, explains the figure. Either you die or your girlfriend and child die. But someone has to pay. A life for a life. The choice is Darren's...

Truth or Dare is the sixth page-turning thriller in the internationally bestselling Brennan & Esposito series. You won't be able to put it down.

This book was so good that I think I'm going to struggle to do it justice with this review. Tania Carver, the writing duo of Martyn and Linda Waites, are at the top of their game. There aren't many writers in this genre better at the minute and the fact that this is book six and the quality shows no sign of deteriorating is very exciting indeed. Just what are they going to come up with next? I have no idea, but as their imagination seemingly knows no bounds I cannot wait to find out. If you've yet to discover these books then drop everything straightaway and read one.

The book opens as it means to go on, with an absolutely chilling and atmospheric opening. Darren Richards awakens to find himself strapped to a chair, next to him his girlfriend and baby daughter are also tied up. With a bow and arrow swinging between them he is given the choice by a masked man to either save himself or his family. We learn that Darren recently avoided jail for killing a mother and her daughter due to a technicality and the masked man sees this as his way of dispensing justice. Darren then makes his choice... I felt as if I was in the room reading the opening chapter, watching but helpless to do anything and unable to take my eyes off the scene unfolding before me. Incredibly addictive reading. The writing is descriptive, helping to paint a very vivid picture in your mind.

DI Phil Brennan receives a call from the masked man, otherwise known as The Lawgiver, who gives him the location of the murder. Brennan and his team soon realise they have a very dangerous psychopath on their hands. Unable to predict when or if he will strike next, it is a race against time for them to hunt The Lawgiver down. The Lawgiver wants Brennan to agree with what he is doing, to be on his side and is shocked when Brennan refuses to play his game and tells him what he really thinks. Usually in these situations the question of right or wrong is an interesting one yet here I don't think there's much to debate, there's nothing right about what The Lawgiver is doing. He's confident, arrogant and fearless. It sounds terrible but I couldn't wait to see what he would do next, who he would kill next.

Meanwhile Brennan's wife Marina is back in Colchester helping out some old colleagues where she discovers a woman is pretending to be Fiona Welch, an old nemesis of Brennan's and a woman believed dead. The woman pretending to be Fiona is clearly deranged, yet very dangerous and this part of the story soon gets very interesting. The two stories are told in alternating chapters, switching between things seamlessly I was soon hooked on both stories at the same time wondering if they would be connected given some very eery similarities. In the beginning The Lawgiver's story gripped me the most yet a huge development in the middle of the book soon found me tearing the pages in my haste to read both stories. I'm really trying not to give too much away yet what I have said is the bare bones of the story.

This book is absolutely how I love my crime fiction. Brutal, disturbing, graphic and moving at a relentless pace. The last section of the book especially had me - a cliche I know - on the edge of my seat with a rapidly beating heart trying to escape from my chest. It reminded me in places of one of my favourite crime authors, Chris Carter. Another author who never fails to produce the goods, giving us some exceptionally evil characters with a brilliant detective to hunt them down. Brennan is one of the best the genre has created and he's believable too. As are the bad guys which at times makes the book a whole lot more terrifying. The authors have the ability to hook the reader in and once you are on their rollercoaster you won't be getting off until the very end.

I had a few theories throughout about things that might happen and was convinced something was going to happen which didn't. That's testament to the talent of the authors to keep the reader on their toes, nothing is ever predictable and between beginning and end anything can happen and you won't see it coming. First class crime fiction that is very hard to beat I can't reccommend this one enough. One of the best books I've read this year.

Thanks to Sphere for providing a review copy.

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