Posted in Book Reviews

It’s #BookoutureWeek! Day 1: Last Witness by Chris Merritt @bookouture @DrCJMerritt

A new week!

Instead of giving in to the Christmas festivities, I have decided to have my own kind of happy fun with a special-reviews week. Technically, I was supposed to take a holiday, but my Macbook was held by Apple for a few days last week, forcing me to rechedule… All in all, it is actually going to be better this way. I can put Christmas aside and play with books!

What kind of books? Precious ones from a publisher I deeply care about!

This week is BOOKOUTURE WEEK on Chocolate’n’Waffles!

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Why focus on one publisher? The main reason is that few Bookouture books have disappointed me and I wanted December to be a good reading month. So I took a bet on them. Okay, a safe bet, but still! Another reason is that Bookouture was the first publisher to trust me when I started blogging, and they have given me great novels, fab friendships, and lots of fun, so I wanted to give back with seven reviews in a row, as a thank you and a ‘let’s have even more fun next year’!

One rule: all books have been read this month! As always, thank you to the fantastic Bookouture team for feeding me via NetGalley in exchange for honest reviews.

Today, we’re kicking off the game with Last Witness by Chris Merritt. I was lucky to meet Chris in June during a Bookouture event, and he’s a charming and talented writer!

Ps: don’t be afraid by the length of this review! I won’t apologise, I had too much fun writing it!


last witnessTitle: Last Witness
Author: Chris Merritt
Publisher: Bookouture
Date of publication: July 2018
Format: e-copy
Source: NetGalley

What if you made one mistake and it came back to kill you? 

Detective Zac Boateng’s old friend, Troy McEwen, is found dead in his home. The official verdict is suicide. But Boateng believes it was murder. And he thinks he might be next on the killer’s list.

If Troy didn’t take his own life, then who did? As he investigates, Boateng discovers a link to an incident from decades earlier. Mistakes were made that day. Lives were lost and secrets kept. Until now…

As more people who were there on that fateful day are found dead, Boateng knows that the killer is closing in on him…

A tense crime thriller for fans of Lee Child, Mark Billingham and Mark Dawson. Last Witness is a gripping, fast-paced thriller that will have you hooked from the first page.

my-review-red

Case n° 2018-104  

Location: Chocolat’n’Waffles precinct

Date: Monday 24th, December 2018

Time: 7:00am

Interview n°1

Witness: Meggy Roussel

Officer Review to interview Ms Roussel regarding her activity of reading Last Witness by Chris Merritt. This is a formal interview. Ms Roussel has declined the right to be accompanied by a solicitor.

  • Police Officer

Are you comfortable?

  • Ms Roussel

As much as one can be when sitting in a lotus position while her mind is bursting with things to say.

  • Police Officer

Let’s cut to the chase then. Can you describe what you saw?

  • Ms Roussel

Everything.

  • Police Officer

Be more specific.

  • Ms Roussel

Okay, I’ll try. I… Saw a cover. I’ll admit I couldn’t resist. The train station image stuck with me. The darkness, the loneliness, the danger, I could feel it all. Now, I have learned to be patient, so I waited. I waited so long. Then one day I just gave in… I picked the book. I took a peak.

  • Police Officer

So, you admit to having read the novel?

  • Ms Roussel

There is no point in denying it, now. You caught me red-handed. But it’s okay. I would it again.

  • Police Officer.

You’re admitting you would do the exact same thing with the risk of being discovered again. Can you explain why?

  • Ms Roussel

Because you’d have to be crazy not to read this book!

  • Police Officer

Can you elaborate?

  • Ms Roussel

Do you know how hard it is to find a police procedural that keeps me up at night? I have insomnia, so I have a strict routine and it takes a lot, and I mean A LOT to make me forget about the rules and stay awake until two. Well, I’m usually awake but books are forbidden in case one is so good that my brain feeds off it and uses it as an excuse to get even less sleep than usual. That’s what happened with Last Witness.

  • Police Officer

And does it explain your erratic behaviour?

  • Ms Roussel

I wouldn’t call yelling ‘I knew it!!!!!!’ at 2.07am an erratic behaviour.

  • Police Officer

Your neighbours disagree.

  • Ms Roussel

Because they haven’t read what I read. And they’re no fun.

  • Police Officer

Can you tell us what led you to this… situation, late at night?

  • Ms Roussel

It is simple. I grabbed my Kindle at 4pm that day. I just wanted to chill. I wanted to tackle that frightening TBR and make a dent in this awful NetGalley backlog. The title appealed to me. I mean, witnesses, you never know if you can believe all they say, right? But also, they can be so dangerous… What can they do with the information they get? Often, they don’t ask for anything, and surely, the opening of Last Witness proved that being an unintentional witness can scar you for life. I mean… That opening? Did I tell you how good it was? How my blood went from regular to cold, to burning with adrenaline, to dead freezing?? If you start reading a book and it has this effect on you, don’t ever stop, do you hear me???

  • Police Officer

I’m the one asking the questions here. So, you had fun with the beginning of a book.

  • Ms Roussel

Fun is NOT the word I would use for this opening. I was scared, my body was shivering with trepidation, my brain was sizzling, trying to get all the details in. Okay, yes. I loved it. I was breathless and stunned by the impact of each chosen word. That’s when I knew.

  • Police Officer

Knew what?

  • Ms Roussel

That the author had won. I was hooked. His writing is razor-sharp, intense, and yet there is so much emotion coming and going, it’s bliss. Pure bliss. I know you’re gonna say anyone can write. No. No, you are so wrong. There are lots of amazing authors, I’ll give you that. But Chris Merritt? He knows how to get you hooked and unable to think of anything else than what’s awaiting you on the next page. I physically could not put the Kindle down!

  • Police Officer

Was there a gun pointed at you to prevent you from putting said object on a table?

  • Ms Roussel

You don’t get it, do you? The book was the gun! I read as if my life depended on it. Nothing else mattered.

  • Police Officer

What made you feel this way?

  • Ms Roussel

What, you’re a psychiatrist now? Sorry, officer. The plot. Obviously, it was the plot. You must be at the heart of the action on a daily basis but for my part, I get my action through books. Last Witness is taut, crazily good, mixing past and present in a way that makes your stomach churn. A sense of foreboding crept up on me. I don’t know when it happpened, probably right from the start, but I cared for the characters, all of them. Zac Boaten has seen a lot during his career as a police officer. And his early days are back to haunt him. He has to deal with losing a friend, connecting dots, fighting against people who won’t listen to him, just to get to the bottom of a deadly, outstanding scheme for revenge. I loved getting to know him through the man he is now, the things eating at him, his decisions, and his family. No Super Cop, just a family guy with death at his heels. Isn’t it exciting?

  • Police Officer

I am getting worried about your mental state. Do all crimes have that effect on you?

  • Ms Roussel

Only the best ones. And I haven’t told you about the rest of the team. Well, the other characters, because the author didn’t create a perfect paper world. No, he filled his novel with likeable and unlikeable characters. People you judge based on what you’re given, before something happens and your opinion changes. Once. Twice. Thrice… You see, they all have a face and a body language in my mind. Again, that’s the writing’s fault. They are not soulless sculptures, they are real life men and women. Some I’d like to chat to, like Jones, and others I’d avoid at all costs. But they made it so easy to imagine every interaction that I took a guilty pleasure in trying to figure out who to put in the good guys box, who to send to the bad place, whose arse to kick.

  • Police Officer

So, you made up for your lack of real-life friends with book characters…

  • Ms Roussel

You make my life sound very dull.

  • Police officer

Isn’t it the truth? It still doesn’t explain the sudden screams and excitement.

  • Ms Roussel

Have you ever played Cluedo? Don’t you throw your fist in the air and grin because you’ve found out who killed Mustard in the library? Don’t answer this, I know you’ve done it. We all have. It’s the same thing here! I was given suspects. Well, I suspected everyone. I had no choice but to follow Zac, try not to be freaked out by the weird chapters from an unknown narrator, and see evil close in on a good cop who had made a bad decision years back. Don’t you get it? How can our brain take so much tension and no release it when you think you’ve got the theory right? Because I had!!! I am a great detective, by the way. Do you take applications?

  • Police Officer

You don’t fit the profile. Let’s go back to the crime.

  • Ms Roussel

If you think waking up kids in the middle of the night is a crime, you don’t fit the profile to be a cop either! Hey, I have dealt with gruesome deaths, a million questions, and I made it out alive! I was never sure of anything until I neared the end, and even then, I was scared as hell about what was going to happen! Isn’t that brilliant??? There is a dark undertone to this series and I want more.

  • Police Officer

Alright. Let’s pretend your reasons are valid. What happens next? Do you know?

  • Ms Roussel

I know I won’t be the Last Witness

7.49am End of interview. The witness is unstable and obviously still in shock. She keeps repeating the address of the website where you can get the book mentioned. She won’t apologize for having one of the best nights of her life. However, she doesn’t appear to be a danger to anyone except her neighbours…

….

Okay, so I went a bit crazy with this review, but oh my, the novel is totally worth it!

Grab a copy, and be happy!

about-the-author-red

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From Chris’s website:

Writer and Clinical Psychologist

I studied Geography at Oxford University before joining the Foreign & Commonwealth Office. There, I worked as a diplomat in Iraq and Jerusalem before leaving to retrain as a psychologist. I practiced in clinical psychology in the UK national health service for six years, while studying for a doctorate at King’s College London.

After completing my doctorate in 2016, I now split my time between project management for the Wellcome Trust’s African Mental Health Research Initiative (AMARI) at King’s and consultancy work on psychology for businesses.

Since 2010 I have been writing – both academic papers and blogs – on psychology, mental health, technology and parkour.

In 2014 I began writing crime fiction, and my debut novel Bring Her Back was published in March 2018. Its sequel, Last Witness, was released in July 2018 and book 3 is coming in early 2019.

contact@cjmerritt.co.uk

@DrCJMerritt

11 thoughts on “It’s #BookoutureWeek! Day 1: Last Witness by Chris Merritt @bookouture @DrCJMerritt

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