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Heartbreaker by Tania Carver

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Feast your eyes on Heartbreaker, the latest addition to the DI Phil Brennan and Marina Esposito stable. Tania Carver books are like children’s birthdays. They came around once a year and are eagerly awaited. So are you ready for another mega helping of jelly and ice cream, followed by a slice of cake? Yes, this novel is THAT tasty!

Apologies if I’ve lulled you into a false sense of security though, because this is not a book for the faint of heart. I was already in tears by page 38 and they definitely weren’t tears of happiness. Notwithstanding the heinous crimes detailed within its pages, Heartbreaker also does a gut-wrenching line in domestic abuse. If scenes of violence are not in your reading remit, then probably best to stay away.

Looking back over the Crime Fiction Lover site, I was surprised to discover that this is my fourth Tania Carver review. Funny how addiction creeps up, isn’t it? That feeling of loss of control as your hands shake and you reach for another fix is something that all Brennan and Esposito fans will recognise (the tremors likely caused by the dark and disturbing scene or killer twist that has just been revealed).

2015 seems to be the year of the split up. Tony Hill and Carol Jordan were apart for much of Val McDermid’s recently released Splinter the Silence – and the same applies to Heartbreaker. As the book begins, and in the aftermath of the previous novel, Truth or Dare, Marina and Phil are living separately. Marina has care of their daughter, Josephina, and is vainly trying to convince herself that she can cope alone, while forever looking over her shoulder. She exercises obsessively and isn’t missing Phil at all (a lie). In her eyes, he let them down once and she isn’t going to give him the opportunity to do it again. It’s ironic that this psychologist has turned herself into a case study that any of her colleagues would relish.

Phil, meanwhile, is falling apart in spectacular fashion, replacing his wife with alcohol and anger – surely a recipe for disaster? The West Midlands Major Incident Squad will need all their wits about them to apprehend their latest twisted opponent, someone who is targeting vulnerable, abused women and torturing them in unspeakable ways before killing them. The killer’s MO of taking the victim’s heart away leads to the Heartbreaker nickname.

With Phil off the rails (and desperately close to being off the case), it is up to his team to use their own initiative. DC Imani Oliver goes off the books to enlist Marina’s help, and when another woman’s heartless body is found, the unofficial request for assistance becomes an official one. Marina is on the team – can she and her husband put their differences aside and become the dream team again?

Tania Carver is the alter ego of Martyn Waites and this skilled crime writer shows no sign of losing his edge. Heartbreaker is a brutal, bruising, totally engrossing and fiendishly devious book that has red herrings and do-you-think-he-coulda-dunnits in abundance. It is littered with broken relationships and damaged people – not all of them on the wrong side of the law – and enough plot strands to knit a woolly blanket (the only source of comfort in a book that will take you to the edge of despair and back again).

The next instalment is already being written, I hear. So same time, same place in 2016? Who’s doing the party bags?

Heartbreaker is released 10 September. Read our review of the Tania Carver novel Choked here, and Truth or Dare here.

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Print/Kindle/iBook
£8.99

CFL Rating: 5 Stars


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