Reviews

Deception

 

I felt the story was insightful, the characters were cleverly, convincingly drawn and not all of them were the kind of people you'd want to spend time with. It was easy to 'take sides' so to speak with those characters who seemed to be genuinely good, yet at the same time, I wasn't quite sure if I was being duped, as it quickly became clear that several people were being less than open about their pasts and about what was going on in their everyday lives in the 'now'. It's hard to know if you are trusting the right person at times. There was one moment about halfway in the book when I just sat back and thought, I just didn't see that coming. (Hats off to You Helen, I'm not usually surprised!) Deception is exactly what it says: there is deception lurking in every character's story, and at times the story is quite dark, but there is a sense of resilience and hope at the end of the book which makes the journey worthwhile and ultimately uplifting. Fans of thrillers definitely need to read this book!

 

Caron Allan, Author and Blogger

Helen Forbes is at the top of her writing game with this new novel. Set in a very real and recognisable Edinburgh, its twist and turns will leave you breathless. The central character, Lily, is both vulnerable and courageous. A bright personality with a strong social conscience, she is determined to help those on the margins of society yet seems, initially, unable to help herself. I loved the interweaving of the characters stories and how the truth is revealed by degrees in an ever tightening web of intrigue. There is murder, violence - the reality of drugs and women forced into prostitution - but there is also hope, humanity and the possibility of redemption. No spoilers here, but you won’t regret investing some time in this riveting read. I couldn’t put it down!

 

Debbie Ross, Author

I really enjoyed reading this book. It was a difficult read in places, but it was such a gripping read.  There were times when I was so shocked with the twists and turns in this book. I have recently read another book by this author and loved that one as well. This is an author on my radar! This book is perfect for the crime thrillers out there!

Bookworm1346, UK Book Blogger

Bloody hell I loved this book. It was completely thrilling, action packed, well paced and just so good. I finished it and actually felt emotional it was over, as it was that good. I really enjoyed the short snippet chapters written from different characters POV as the story progresses and events unfold. It’s completely unpredictable and that made for a really enjoyable read. There are multiple characters but they are easy to keep track of and all play an important role in the story, there’s no filler characters or events to buff out pages, they’re all involved and relevant.
 

NJ Merchanto, UK Book Blogger

With this book all is definitely not what it seems… I thought this book was an absolutely cracking read, at times it was tricky to read as it dealt with hard hitting social issues that still occur in this day and age. Don’t let this put you off as it was written so well; this book is fast to read and is full of twists and turns and some that you just will not see coming at all which was refreshing. The chapters as you read through are from different named POV’s and were written so very well. Could you trust these characters? That was another thing entirely as it became obvious that a number of them were quite closed off about their past and in the present goings on. This book was executed and written really well and overall it was a superb read and one that I would recommend to anyone who enjoys a good crime thriller. This was definitely a great read and I will be interested to see how Helen’s next book turns out which releases later this year called Queen of Grime. Brilliant book, Helen Forbes.

 

Books ‘n Ink, UK Book Blogger

An absolute page turner, I finished this book in very few sittings, it was a gripping story. I particularly loved that each character had their own chapter and that the chapters were nice and short, the story flitters nicely between the different characters POVs. Very cleverly written. I loved the characters in this story in particular Lily, Sam, Julie and David. This story has many descriptions of physical abuse so a warning to anyone that could find this topic upsetting. I was left wanting to read more from this author.

A Little Happy Vegan, UK Book Blogger

Unravelling

Seriously, I'm blown away. Unravelling by Helen Forbes draws you in from the first exciting sentence to the very last word. Forbes is an outstanding wordsmith and this is apparent throughout the book. This is writing which invites and tantalises, drawing you in word by perfectly crafted word. Page-turner may be a cliche but it certainly applies in this case.

 

Wendy Jones, Author

Unravelling is an engrossing, claustrophobic psychological thriller. It was tense at times, and sorrowful. The insights into serious mental illness were so emotive, and I admit I blubbed. It was compulsive too. I just had to read on, I had to know. The ending was swift and satisfying, and hopeful. For me, I felt that Kate’s story was in a way a – not redemption exactly – more a second chance for Ellen. It was definitely an unputdownable, engrossing read, and I highly recommend this book.

 

Caron Allan, Author and Blogger

I devoured this book in one sitting - I couldn't put it down. It is tense, intense, well plotted, beautifully written and constructed with cleverly drawn characters who are vivid and alive. There's sadness and there's laughter too. Inverness is a central character and the city carries the responsibility well. It's a book that needs to be read. I highly recommend it.

 

Margot McCuaig, Author

From the minute I opened Unravelling, I felt confident that I was in the hands of a gifted writer. Forbes skilfully weaves the threads of her narrative together, dropping the odd clue, as a rookie knitter drops stitches, but all the time with the utmost skill. I was gripped by this novel. Kate and Ellen and Sif will stay in my head long after I’ve put Unravelling up on the shelf. Funny, sad and wise, this is a great read and I would heartily recommend it.

Ruth Leigh, Author and Blogger

Unravelling is beautifully written and cleverly plotted, by a writer who knows exactly what she’s doing, but it’s much more than that. Meticulously researched, the exploration of mental illness is nuanced and compassionate, the setting and characters captured with an authenticity that will instantly speak to anyone with a knowledge of the area.

 

Margaret Kirk, Author

 

In the Shadow of the Hill

 

It is a thoroughly excellent thriller . . . which explodes into a finale which I dare any reader to predict.  Her style is smooth and sweet.  Harris Noir has come home

 

Roger Hutchison, Author

If you give it as a present, don’t expect to hear from the person you gave it to for a couple of days . . . and then take some food round because they might have forgotten to eat anything while they were reading it!  This is a story raw with passion, with deception, and with intrigue

 

Fred Silver, Scottish Islands Explorer Magazine

Helen Forbes has hit the ground running.  The page-turning climax has more twists and turns than the road to the isles, making it impossible to put down

 

Press and Journal

You may think you know what is going on in the story, but trust me – you don’t. Unless that is, you have a mind of the most perverse sort… in the nicest possible way, naturally. What follows involves the unraveling of several lives, and dark deeds of the past being revealed and judged in the present.  I liked the way that Helen Forbes uses the metaphor of the hill. Ceapabhal is its name in Gaelic and it broods over the action both past and present.  A musical term best describes the author’s performance at this point – bravura. The last 50 pages or so had me utterly gripped in a mixture of bewilderment and admiration

 

Crime Fiction Lover, the site for die-hard crime and thriller fans

I loved this book. It’s a no-nonsense thriller that has you wondering from the beginning and reeling by the end. The author has created characters that are likeable and that you care about, which is refreshing as a lot of recent crime fiction seems to have dispensed with that crucial aspect of a novel. I felt as though I was part of the story, the descriptions being so convincing. All in all, a great read that ticks all the boxes – good characters, exciting plot, fascinating backdrop

 

Jackie McLean, Author

There’s an Ann Cleeves meets Ian Rankin and Kate Atkinson vibe going on here. This book is not just any old crime fiction, it’s Tartan Noir crime fiction, and it’s set in the Hebrides. It starts in Inverness on a slow burn and gradually picks up pace until after several clever, unforeseen twists it reaches its exciting conclusion on the island of Harris. The characters are believable and well fleshed out, especially the main character of DS Joe Galbraith who is both flawed and likeable. I definitely look forward to getting to know him as well as I know Jackson Brodie and John Rebus

 

Anne Stormont, Author

Madness Lies

Madness Lies is a murky tale.  Forbes twisting her noose ever tighter around some sympathetic characters.  Gritty and ominous, Forbes’s brand of ‘Highland Noir’ is shaping up to be a good series. 

Sunday Herald

The book is a gripping insight into friendship and betrayal, unexpected motivation and manipulative personalities.  The writing is crisp and brisk, enabling the story to move fast.  And it’s robust and full of energy. 

Fred Silver, Scottish Islands Explorer Magazine

Helen Forbes does spin a good yarn.  She clears the hurdles facing Highland Noir.  She wins our poetic faith. 

Roger Hutchison, Author

If anything Madness Lies is even better than its predecessor.  The characters are engaging. Joe Galbraith is the perfect mix of strong and vulnerable and the supporting cast are expertly drawn. The climax is superb and the ending flows well from all that has gone before.  This book definitely comes into the category of difficult to put down. First class crime fiction.  

Anne Stormont, Author

Madness Lies has it all; murder, drugs, mental health, prostitution and dysfunctional relationships. It provides a sharp and dark journey into the underbelly of the North East of Scotland taking us from Inverness to North Uist and London before a chilling climax at Black Rock Gorge which featured in Harry Potter, The Goblet of Fire. It was full of twists, shocks and heart-rending moments as I got completely caught up in the lives of the characters and the streets of the locations. Helen Forbes has created a cracker of a read here and she is certainly a name that I will be looking out for in Scottish Crime Fiction.

Sharon Bairden, Author