Category Archives: Debbie Howells

Review: The Vow by Debbie Howells

Title: The Vow by Debbie Howells
Publisher: Avon
Genre: Contemporary, Domestic Mystery, Suspense
Length:368 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


Everything was perfect. And then her fiancé disappeared…

Two weeks before her wedding, a stranger stops Amy in the street and warns her she’s in danger. Then that night, Matt, her fiancé, doesn’t come home. Desperate, Amy calls the police – but when Matt fails to emerge, she’s forced to call off her wedding day.

Then another man is reported missing, by a woman called Fiona – a man meeting Matt’s description, who was about to leave his fiancée for her.  He was supposed to be moving in with her – but instead, he’s vanished.

Amy refuses to believe Fiona’s lover can be her Matt – but photos prove otherwise, and it soon becomes clear that Matt has been leading a double life. As the police dig deeper, two conflicting, yet equally plausible stories emerge from two women who allegedly have never met.

The wedding day never happened. But the funeral might.


The Vow by Debbie Howells is a twist-filled domestic mystery.

Amy Reid is excited about her upcoming wedding to fiancé Matt Roche. Almost all of their plans are in place, but inexplicably, two weeks before they exchange vows, Matt disappears. Amy is frantic with worry both before and after reporting him missing to the local police. WPC Page is sympathetic as she tries to calm her fears as she opens an investigation. But when another woman, Fiona Rose, reports her partner missing, WPC Page quickly deduces Matt has been living a double life. As suspicions turn her way, Amy, her daughter Jess and Amy’s best friend Cath try to uncover the truth about Matt before it is too late.

After going through a divorce when Jess was five years old, Amy and her daughter live a quiet live. Amy is an herbalist with a successful business. It is not until Jess is about to leave for university that Amy begins dating Matt. Their relationship quickly becomes serious with Matt moving in with her and Jess.  Even after learning Matt about the “other woman”, Amy still remains loyal to her fiancé. But after unexpected secrets come to light, Amy’s faith in Matt begins to dim.

Jess is initially very happy for her mum but she soon has concerns. Pushing aside her doubts, she instead tries to focus on her mum’s happiness.  However, after Matt vanishes, Jess does not hesitate to reveal what she witnessed to WPC Page.  Although the officer takes her seriously, Jess will do anything to save her mum.

At first, Fiona is reluctant to become involved with Matt and she does tries to attempt to stop seeing him. After he explains his situation with Amy, she relents and eagerly awaits the day he is fully hers.  Fiona cannot come up with an explanation about his disappearance. But based on what Matt has told her about Amy, Fiona is convinced she is to blame for whatever has befallen him. But as the investigation continues, WPC Page and DI Lacey have serious questions for Fiona that need answers.

The Vow is a multi-layered mystery that is absolutely riveting. The storyline is quite clever and moves at a brisk pace. Amy is a complex woman but her loyalty to Matt is a little frustrating. Fiona is an interesting character but she is not easy to like. Jess is a powerhouse who absolutely refuses to stand by and wait for the police to find the missing pieces that might lead to finding Matt. With diabolical twists and  stunning revelations, Debbie Howells brings this suspenseful domestic mystery to a very shocking conclusion. Greatly enjoyed and highly recommend this intricately plotted mystery to fans of the genre.

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Filed under Avon, Contemporary, Debbie Howells, Domestic Mystery, Mystery, Rated B+, Review, Suspense, The Vow

Review: The Stepdaughter by Debbie Howells

Title:The Stepdaughter by Debbie Howells
Publisher: Kensington Books
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 288 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley



“I live in a village of stone walls and tall trees, a place of cold hearts and secrets . . .”

When Elise Buckley moved with her family to Abingworth, it was supposed to be a new start. She hoped the little English village, with its scattering of houses, pub, and village church, wouldn’t offer enough opportunity for her doctor husband, Andrew, to continue having affairs. Apparently, she was wrong. Now Elise’s only goal is to maintain the façade of a happy homelife for their teenage daughter, Niamh.

When the body of Niamh’s best friend, Hollie, is found, the entire village is rocked. Elise, though generally distrustful since Andrew’s infidelity, believed that Hollie was loved by her father and stepmother. Yet there was something unsettling beneath the girl’s smile. As the police investigation stalls amid disjointed evidence, it’s Niamh who unknowingly holds the key . . .

Flitting between the villagers’ lives, silent and unseen, Niamh is learning about the relationships and secrets that surround her—including those close to home. And as her daughter edges closer to a killer, Elise realizes that the truth may eclipse even her worst suspicions


The Stepdaughter by Debbie Howells is a multi-layered mystery.

Elise Buckley, husband Andrew and their fourteen year old daughter Niamh live in the small village of Abingworth.  Elise is a flight attendant and Andrew is a GP in a local medical practice. Niamh is quiet and shy but she is close friends with sixteen year old Hollie Hampton.  Hollie’s stepmom Stephanie owns a local flower shop and her dad James is a writer.  Everyone is worried when James reports his daughter missing but their hopes are dashed when her body is found.  Detective Sergeant Nicole “Nicki” May is called in by her boss Detective Inspector Saunders to work the case and she very tenaciously tries to figure who murdered Hollie and why.

Elise is unhappily married but she stays in the marriage for Niamh’s sake. Andrew is a serial cheater and although she no longer cares about his flings, she is upset by his disregard for her. It is already tense in their home but after Hollie’s murder,  Elise grows weary of allowing Andrew to continue treating her badly.  But will Elise do anything about her failing marriage?

Niamh is a silent spectator to her parents’ difficult marriage but she keeps out of the fray as much as possible. She is very concerned about Hollie but her friend is fond of drama and does not heed anyone’s advice. After Hollie’s murder, Niamh keeps her own counsel, but does she know anything that would lead to catching her friend’s killer?

Nicki is a skilled investigator with keen observation skills. She notices that something is not quite right in the Buckley home. She returns several times hoping to find out what, if anything, Niamh knows that could help figure out who killed Hollie. During her questioning of the villagers, Nicki has the sense they know more they are telling, but they appear to have closed ranks. When the murder investigation dovetails with another case, Nicki and Saunders cannot help but wonder if they might be connected.

Unfolding from three distinct perspectives, The Stepdaughter is a clever mystery with multifaceted characters and a complex storyline. The plot is character driven with plenty of secrets and suspense.  With shocking revelations,  Debbie Howells brings this riveting mystery to a twist-filled conclusion.  Highly recommend to fans of the genre.


Filed under Contemporary, Debbie Howells, Kensington Books, Mystery, Rated B+, Review, Suspense, The Stepdaughter

Review: Her Sister’s Lie by Debbie Howells

Title: Her Sister’s Lie by Debbie Howells
Publisher: Kensington
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 320 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


In this riveting psychological thriller, the international bestselling author of The Bones of Youweaves a compulsive story about one woman’s death and the web of duplicity and fractured relationships that unravels around it . . . 

Remember the script. Sisters look out for each other.  

It’s been ten years since Hannah Roscoe saw her older sister, but that distance fades to nothing when she receives a call from the police saying Nina is dead. As a teenager, desperate to leave home and make her career in music, Hannah moved into Nina’s cottage in the English countryside. In that secluded setting, Nina was trying to give her children the freedom that she and Hannah never knew growing up.

Now Nina is gone, and Hannah is left to care for her young nephew, Abe, who’s remote and moody in the wake of his loss. But worse is to come, as Nina’s death, first ruled an accident, becomes a murder investigation. Hannah is drawn back into her past, forced to confront the ghosts of their unhappy childhood and the reasons she and Nina finally drifted apart. Nina’s dream of creating an idyllic existence didn’t quite work out for her two older children, Summer and Jude. As for Abe, Hannah suspects he’s hiding something, but whom is he trying to protect?

Through it all, Hannah can’t shake the feeling that someone else knows all about the secrets she and Nina shared—and the ones they kept hidden, even from each other. Perhaps Nina’s death is not a tragic ending after all, but the beginning of a new and twisted nightmare . .


Her Sister’s Lie by Debbie Howells is a suspense-laden mystery that is chock full of tension and secrets.

Hannah Roscoe is still dealing with the emotional fall-out from the inexplicable end of her relationship with her boyfriend, Matt when she learns her estranged older sister, Nina Tyrell, is dead. The two sisters were once extremely close but they have not been in contact for ten years.  Hannah suddenly finds herself the guardian of Nina’s fifteen year old son, Abe, and the two are soon uncomfortably sharing a home. After Abe moves in, Hannah gets the eerie  feeling someone is watching her and her fear intensifies after discovering a stranger lurking nearby. She grows more fearful after the police rule Nina’s death a murder and raises an interesting question: are the events occurring in Hannah’s life connected to Nina’s death?

Hannah and Nina’s childhood is an absolute nightmare of abuse and cruelty at the hands of their parents. Nina escapes as quickly as possible and she, along with her children, Summer, Jude and Abe, live a very unconventional and isolated life. Hannah, too, leaves home at a young age and Nina’s home becomes her refuge as she sorts out her future.

In the present,  Hannah is less than forthcoming about the rift between her and Nina. She is quickly frustrated by Abe’s moodiness and disdain for her and their relationship quickly deteriorates. Hannah manages to alienate just about everyone in her life and even when it is her best interest to tell the truth, she clings tightly to the pact she and Nina made before their estrangement.

Unfolding through Hannah’s point of view, a series of letters, and passages from other different characters’ perspectives, Her Sister’s Lie is an intricately-woven, riveting mystery. Hannah gradually becomes such an unreliable narrator that it is virtually impossible discern whether her version of events can be trusted. Abe is grieving, sullen and resentful as he thrust into life with a virtual stranger but is there more his antipathy than meets the eye?

With plenty of clever twists and shocking turns, Debbie Howells gradually peels away the mistruths and prevarications and exposes the stunning secrets the sisters have kept hidden for years. Savvy mystery readers will most likely guess some of the surprises that are revealed at the novel’s conclusion, but the ending is still quite satisfying. A well-written domestic mystery that fans of the genre will enjoy.

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Filed under Contemporary, Debbie Howells, Her Sister's Lie, Kensington, Mystery, Rated B, Review, Suspense

Review: Part of the Silence by Debbie Howells

Title: Part of the Silence by Debbie Howells
Publisher: Kensington
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 320 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


From the international bestselling author of The Bones of You comes a haunting and heartbreaking new psychological thriller about the distorted nature of reality, the unreliability of memory, and the enduring power of a mother’s love.

A blighted memory. A child who seems never to have existed. A watcher in the shadows.

When they find Evie Sherman, battered and left for dead in a maize field, the young woman has no recollection of who she is. After three days in a hospital bed, the fog in her head begins to lift, and she remembers two names: her own, and that of her three-year-old daughter, Angel. Evie is convinced that Angel is in grave danger. But the police can find no evidence of the girl’s existence.

It’s clear that Evie is having some kind of mental breakdown—or is it? Even in the depths of her amnesiac darkness, Evie knows her daughter’s voice, her chameleon eyes, every precious hair on her head. So how can she be losing her mind?

As Evie’s grasp on reality slips away, she finds herself haunted by the same three-word warning, which she hears over and over: Trust no one. But whom is she being warned against? The police? The doctors and nurses? Or the mysterious figure who’s been watching her, who knows all her secrets, has a hidden agenda—and perhaps their own twisted version of reality.


A woman with amnesia and her three year old missing daughter are at the center of Debbie Howells’ latest mystery, Part of the Silence.

Badly beaten and left for dead in the middle of a maize field, Evie Sherman has very few memories beyond her name and her daughter, Angel. The only problem? Police cannot find any sign of the young girl and when Charlotte Harrison recognizes Evie as Jen Russell, the case becomes even more confusing. Why would Jen change her name to Evie? Why is there no record of Angel? Who attacked Evie and left her for dead? Is there any connection between Angel’s disappearance and the still unsolved case of another 3 year old girl who went missing fifteen years ago? Local police have very few leads but DC Abbie Rose and DI Jack Bentley are working hard to find answers to these very perplexing questions.

Charlotte is dealing with her own issues when she recognizes Evie as her old classmate Jen. Feeling obligated to contact the police with this information, she very reluctantly agrees to DC Abbie Rose’s requests to keep the very disoriented victim company while the police try to uncover information about Evie. Charlotte is quite compassionate and caring during her visits with Evie and she continues to stay by her side during her recovery. While everyone else doubts that Evie’s daughter Angel exists, Charlotte remains extremely supportive and always believes Evie is telling the truth.

About midway through the investigation, DI Jack Bentley returns from holiday and he becomes involved in the case.  He is extremely compassionate during his interactions with Evie and unlike his fellow detectives, he completely believes her story about her missing daughter. Jack is certain there is a link between the fifteen year old cold case and Angel’s disappearance but will he find the connection? Another body is discovered on the same property where Evie was attacked but does this murder have anything to do with her case?

Interspersed with the unfolding events in the present are flashbacks from Casey Danning, whose sister is the girl who vanished fifteen years earlier. These passages offer an unsettling portrait of a very troubled teenager who eventually matures into a rather disturbed woman.  These contemplative entries become somewhat dark and twisted with Casey leaving a swath of destruction in her wake. Where exactly Casey fits into the current situation is unknown but her narration is quite chilling.

While Part of the Silence is rather atmospheric, the pacing is bit slow for the first half of the novel. The premise is certainly intriguing and Evie is a compelling, if somewhat unreliable, character. The storyline is engaging but it takes a while for the various story arcs to come together. Although astute readers will most likely figure out the major plot twist fairly early this does not lessen the overall enjoyment of the novel. Debbie Howells brings the novel to an abrupt yet satisfying conclusion.

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Filed under Contemporary, Debbie Howells, Kensington, Mystery, Part of the Silence, Rated B, Review, Suspense

Review: The Beauty of the End by Debbie Howells

Title: The Beauty of the End by Debbie Howells
Publisher: Kensington
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 320 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


From the acclaimed author of The Bones of You comes a haunting and heartbreaking new psychological thriller about a man thrust into the middle of a murder investigation, forced to confront the secrets of his ex-lover’s past.

“I was fourteen when I fell in love with a goddess. . .”

So begins the testimony of Noah Calaway, an ex-lawyer with a sideline in armchair criminal psychology. Now living an aimless life in an inherited cottage in the English countryside, Noah is haunted by the memory of the beguiling young woman who left him at the altar sixteen years earlier. Then one day he receives a troubling phone call. April, the woman he once loved, lies in a coma, the victim of an apparent overdose–and the lead suspect in a brutal murder. Deep in his bones, Noah believes that April is innocent. Then again, he also believed they would spend the rest of their lives together.

While Noah searches for evidence that will clear April’s name, a teenager named Ella begins to sift through the secrets of her own painful family history. The same age as April was when Noah first met her, Ella harbors a revelation that could be the key to solving the murder. As the two stories converge, there are shocking consequences when at last, the truth emerges.

Or so everyone believes. . .

Set in a borderland where the past casts its shadow on the present, with a time-shifting narrative that will mesmerize and surprise, The Beauty of the End is both a masterpiece of suspense and a powerful rumination on lost love.


With an intriguing premise and an interesting spin on the unreliable narrator plot device, The Beauty of the End by Debbie Howells is a riveting mystery that moves at a steady pace to a somewhat shocking and unexpected conclusion.

Noah Calaway is a part-time solicitor and author who lives a solitary life in the countryside.  However, a phone call about his ex-fiancée April Moon pulls him out his self-imposed exile when he decides to look into the circumstances surrounding her apparent suicide attempt.  Even more surprising than the supposed overdose is the crime April is suspected of committing-the murder of her stepfather Bryan Norton. Although he has not seen her since she inexplicably ended their engagement years earlier, Noah is convinced April is not capable of murder and he has serious doubts she tried to kill herself.  As he pulls back the layers of this enigmatic and complex woman whom he has worshipped from the moment he first saw her, Noah is forced to revisit old memories and revise his perception of long ago events.  But will this new insight and information about the past lead Noah to the truth about what is happening in the present?

Noah’s infatuation with April began as a teen and despite their complicated history, he still views her as perfect and completely flawless.  In the past, he easily excused her faults and he turned a blind eye to her less than appealing traits. Their paths crossed many times over the years and although April broke his heart more than once, Noah never hesitated to give her a second chance.  But as he begins to investigate the murder of her stepfather and her overdose, he gradually realizes that he willingly ignored, consciously overlooked and simply blocked out anything that contradicted his vision of her “perfection”.

Noah was guilty of this willful ignorance of facts with his childhood friend, Dr. Will Farrington, as well.  He caught on much quicker to Will’s manipulation and arrogance much sooner, but unfortunately not before Will interfered with his relationship with April.  Noah has not had any contact with either Will or April in years so he is surprised when Will calls to tell him about the situation with April.  Never forgetting  Will’s betrayal, Noah still remains a little naive as he initially takes everything Will tells him at face value.  It is not until he scratches below the surface of April’s life that he begins to realize what Will might be capable of but Noah still cannot figure out where he fits into the current situation. By the time Noah eventually pieces together all of the clues will it be too late to save himself from his old friend’s lies and manipulations?

In addition to Noah’s first person narration of past and present events, there are occasional passages from a teenager’s therapy sessions.   Ella is the daughter of wealthy parents whose lives are often so busy they do not have time for their child.  Forced to see a therapist by her mother, Ella tries to keep her sessions impersonal as she dances around the real reason her relationship with her parents is so strained. Seemingly unrelated to Noah’s drama, the two storylines finally converge as the novel nears its explosive finale.

The Beauty of the End is an intricately plotted mystery that will leave readers reeling as Noah uncovers a sinister plot as he tries to prove April’s innocence.  Atmospheric and full of chilling secrets, lies and manipulations, this latest release by Debbie Howells is a must read for anyone who enjoy a well-written, suspense-laden psychological mystery.

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Review: The Bones of You by Debbie Howells

bones youTitle: The Bones of You by Debbie Howells
Publisher: Kensington
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Thriller
Length: 320 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


A stunning, wonderfully assured psychological thriller that evokes Gillian Flynn and Alice Sebold, The Bones of You revolves around a young girl’s murder and one woman’s obsession with uncovering the secrets in an idyllic English village.

I have a gardener’s inherent belief in the natural order of things.  Soft‑petalled flowers that go to seed.  The resolute passage of the seasons.  Swallows that fly thousands of miles to follow the eternal summer.

Children who don’t die before their parents.

When Kate receives a phone call with news that Rosie Anderson is missing, she’s stunned and disturbed. Rosie is eighteen, the same age as Kate’s daughter, and a beautiful, quiet, and kind young woman. Though the locals are optimistic—girls like Rosie don’t get into real trouble—Kate’s sense of foreboding is confirmed when Rosie is found fatally beaten and stabbed.

Who would kill the perfect daughter, from the perfect family? Yet the more Kate entwines herself with the Andersons—graceful mother Jo, renowned journalist father Neal, watchful younger sister Delphine—the more she is convinced that not everything is as it seems. Anonymous notes arrive, urging Kate to unravel the tangled threads of Rosie’s life and death, though she has no idea where they will lead.

Weaving flashbacks from Rosie’s perspective into a tautly plotted narrative, The Bones of You is a gripping, haunting novel of sacrifices and lies, desperation and love.


The Bones of You by Debbie Howells is an utterly heart wrenching mystery. Although not a typical police procedural, this suspenseful psychological thriller is an enthralling story about the murder of eighteen year old Rosie Anderson. Told from dual points of view, the Anderson family’s secrets, lies and betrayals are revealed and the truth about this perfect family is as shocking as it is heartbreaking.

From the second she learns her friend Joanna’s daughter is missing, Kate McKay is obsessed with learning the truth about Rosie’s disappearance. Although they are not particularly close, Rosie is the same age as Kate’s daughter, Grace and Kate immediately reaches out to Jo. Rosie and Grace were complete opposites with a different circle of friends, but Rosie spent time on the family farm helping Kate care for their horses. When Rosie’s body is discovered a few weeks after she vanished, Kate is compelled to continue supporting her grieving friend while at the same time searching for answers about Rosie’s murder.

Rumor and speculation about Rosie run rampant for several weeks, then life returns to normal for most residents of the small town. The same is true for Kate but she continues to check in on Jo and she grows increasingly alarmed at Jo’s deteriorating condition. Although understandable given her horrific loss, Kate is nonetheless shocked when her behavior becomes even more erratic. Once Jo confides the truth about her marriage, Kate does not know what to believe since Neal is a charismatic journalist who also volunteers at an orphanage in war torn Afghanistan. Even after Jo presents irrefutable proof that Neal is not the man everyone believes him to be, Kate still has doubts that he is capable of killing his daughter especially since the police cannot completely rule out Rosie’s secret boyfriend as a suspect.

While Kate remains unconvinced about Jo’s claims, readers are presented with an up close look into the Anderson family through Rosie’s eyes. Rosie’s spirit lingers after her death and she relives her life right up until the moment of her horrific murder. She sees her life as a movie and the truth about her short life is unbearably sad and unreservedly tragic. Rosie’s chapters are incredibly poignant and rather chilling but they provide valuable insight about her family and ultimately, her murder.

The Bones of You by Debbie Howells is a clever yet haunting novel. This shrewdly written mystery has plenty of unexpected twists and turns that cast reasonable doubt on the killer’s identity until the story’s stunning conclusion. An incredibly riveting psychological thriller that I highly recommend to fans of the genre.

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Filed under Contemporary, Debbie Howells, Kensington, Mystery, Rated B+, Review, The Bones of You, Thriller