Cover Image: Snakes and Ladders

Snakes and Ladders

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

A gripping and intense read that I loved and would.highly recommend. This book had me hooked from the very beginning.
Was this review helpful?
Wow…Snakes and Ladders was the dog’s testicles for sure!  Billed as psycho meets Silence of the lambs, never was I going to refuse a match up like that!  Although this book is one that you should go completely blind into.  It was very Silence of the lambs, but it far exceeded my expectations.  Do you want a book that will give you blunt force trauma by its sheer brilliant narrative and its impending threat that just constantly lurks around every corner.  If you only read one crime series this year, make it this one! 

Victoria Selman translates such equivocal storytelling onto the page with such ease.  She gives the reader a snapshot of her powerful imagination.  Snakes and Ladders is essentially a power to be reckoned with.  She pushes us to our emotional limits, squeezes us to accept humanities flaws and highlights society’s cracks. 

Snakes and Ladders will hook you immediately.  The setting, the storytelling and the characterisation will do a blinder on you!  I do love a good crime fiction novel but very few have been able to suck me into the storyline quite like this.  Add in the intensity of two serial killers and the flawed character of a highly successful criminal profiler and it eagerly ticks all the boxes for a hugely addictive crime novel.  All it takes is one taste of the story buried underneath and you will be gone. 

Snakes and Ladders is one of those books that are so incredibly difficult to review.  The story is so intelligent and compelling, but I don’t want to give anything away that may spoil the story.  Ziba Mackenzie is an extremely strong protagonist.  I think ultimately this is the reason I loved the story so much.  The flowed around her, she strengthened it, but she had her flaws and for that, she was relatable – we can all see parts of ourselves within her character.  Her personality felt like an echo resonating out with the pages.  Her role within the investigation was as a freelance criminal profiler.  I enjoyed this angle and it made an intriguing change from the usual detective or police viewpoint.  She delved into the investigation with vigour and I was intrigued about the personal connection she seemed to have with one of the serial killers, Vernon Sange.  He’s still behind bars but somehow, he’s still able to pull the shots.  He’s intimidating and creepily intelligent.  He’s for sure a dead ringer for Hannibal Lector.  He gave me chills! 

Our other serial killer, The Pink Rose Killer is the focus of this investigation, but it is no less devastating.  How does Vernon Sange know so much about him?  Are they in contact?  Will he give a name?  can they stop him before he claims his next victim?  We get insight into the killers past with flashback chapters and it really nails home just how much the past can have a firm grip on our present and future. 

Snakes and Ladders has cemented Victoria Selman as an exciting crime writer to watch.  Twist follows twist at such a breakneck speed.  Cancel all your plans.  Turn your phone off, lock the doors and get comfy…you won’t be going anywhere until the final page is closed.
Was this review helpful?
Really really good. I enjoyed this book and would definately read more by the same author. 4 stars from me
Was this review helpful?
Started out great.  Then the main character kept making stupid and purely emotional choices/mistakes!  If she's really that educated, please explain how she can be so dumb?  Not for me - the main character became too frustrating.
Was this review helpful?
The third in the crime series featuring the enigmatic criminal profiler Ziba Mackenzie. It is a dark and unrelenting cat and mouse story between Ziba and an imprisoned serial killer. An absorbing novel of good versus true evil.
Was this review helpful?
This called to me as initially it brought the epic Silence of the Lambs to mind. That's a tough path to follow and I must admit Victoria Selman did a fairly good job of writing her own story in this murder profiler investigation. It's part of a series, a fact of which I wasn't aware before I began reading, but I enjoyed the book never the less. It was an easy read and kept me engrossed throughout. I was so eager to discover the identity of  the pink rose killer that I stayed awake until the early hours of the morning to reach the end. I didn't find this story to be predictable at all and I found the twists really fitting and they were totally unexpected. This was a great read and I look forward to reading more from Victoria Selman in the future as I'm sure there will be many.
Was this review helpful?
Snakes and Ladders is the third installment in the Ziba MacKenzie series by Victoria Selman. Vernon Sange, a serial killer refuses to talk to anyone but Ziba, and she feels she must go see him in prison, since there are murders being committed that he seems to know about, and may be controlling from inside the prison. Fans of the Ziba MacKenzie series know that Ziba has her own psychological struggles and must work through them as well as do her job and get to the bottom of these new murders. Apparently a new serial killer, most likely acquainted with Sange, is murdering and taking a body part from each of the bodies. 

Selman is obviously well-versed on the subject of serial killing, and it makes the story believable because the actions of Sange and other suspects seem to fit with readers’ expectations. The novel starts out with plenty of suspense, and the suspense builds throughout. Ziba is likeable and relatable since she is not a super hero and has personal flaws. Selman’s characters are well-developed which adds to the enjoyment, and she weaves a story that is unique and puzzling. The dénouement is surprising and unexpected, and the scenarios seem real. Since the story takes place in London, and the characters are English there is a certain charm, which adds to the appeal of this and other Ziba MacKenzie novels. 

All told, this is a great series and will keep the interest of readers. 

Special thanks to NetGalley for supplying a review copy of this book.
Was this review helpful?
Another fantastic ziba read, I love this charecter loads, a brilliant gripping read from start to finish
Was this review helpful?
I haven't read the previous books in this series but I certainly will now.  Really great story. Highly recommend.
Was this review helpful?
When I read the tagline "Psycho meets Silence of the Lambs" I knew I just HAD to read this book! And wow...what can I say? It simply is...WOW!

SNAKES AND LADDERS is the third in the Ziba MacKenzie series, although I didn't know it at the time, but it reads well as a standalone. It was THAT good. There is enough background given throughout to ensure you don't miss out on anything. But be warned...once you start, you won't be able to stop and from there on in you then have a burning desire to get your hands on the other two books in the series and devour them in much the same way.

Ziba MacKenzie, who lost her husband Duncan in a shooting two years ago, is a profiler who specialises in serial killers on secondment to the FBI teaching at Quantico when she is called back to London to assist on a murder case. But not just any murder case. Someone is killing young homeless girls, mutilating their bodies and leaving behind various seemingly random items along with a single pink rose, earning him the moniker of the Pink Rose Killer. And word has reached Scotland Yard that there is to be another murder in two days' time.

While Scotland Yard has any number of profilers on their books able to assist police in their investigation, only Ziba can help. From his prison cell hundreds of miles from London, Vernon Sange (formerly Dr) holds the key to this latest mystery and he will help police on one condition - that he will only speak to Ziba.

Vernon Sange is a psychopath. But a very clever psychopath. Like Ziba, he profiles people, charms them, befriends them and even seduces them...to lure them into his trap. In his former life he was a successful university Don at Oxford, a doctor of philosophy, a lecturer, a teacher, a master, a murderer. It was Ziba's profile that lead police to him and an anonymous tip that sealed his fate during his trial. Now in his prison cell he is awaiting extradition to the US where he faces the death penalty.

Sange claims to know the identity of the PRK, and when and where the murders will take place. Ziba does not want to meet with Sange but knows, at this stage, police are out of options. And being so close to the next murder, if Sange knows anything and will only talk to her then she must see him and extricate any information she can from him. But that is easier said that done. Sange is a master. Ziba knows that as soon as he walks in Sange will be watching her. Looking for any reaction, even a flicker, that he can use to manipulate her. But Ziba resolves to give nothing away; she refuses to be played by him. But can she stop her subconscious from reacting? And can she outsmart Sange and get what she needs, never to return again?

But one thing is for sure...you can't outsmart a psychopath!

Faced with a deadly countdown, Ziba must get the answers needed to help catch the killer before he kills again. But for all his talk in her visit with him, does Sange actually ever tell her anything of use? At first, Ziba isn't so sure. But then she begins to piece some aspects together while others remain a mystery...earning her yet another long drive to the prison to see Sange once again.

While these visits are paramount to the investigation, Ziba dreads them...because Sange appears to read her effortlessly and he always wants something in return. His game is he will give her something if she gives him something first. But can she elude his mind games and figure out the clues on her own? And save the man she secretly loves?

Meanwhile in her private life, Ziba continues to grieve the loss of her husband two years ago. Although she misses Duncan, her friendship with his best friend journalist Jack Wolfe has grown into something more although she would never put Jack's life on the line by saying so. But somehow Sange knows even if Jack doesn't. And now Jack is in danger.

How does Sange know how she feels about Jack Wolfe? And why is Jack the only journalist the PRK writes to? While it is clearly Jack he sends these letters to, who is "O.D." to whom he addresses within them? And the code at the end of each letter...what do they mean? Is Sange involved more than they know?

So many questions throughout will have your head spinning that you won't want to put it down! As the truth begins to emerge piece by piece, it becomes clear that nothing is as it seems. Everything is smoke and mirrors. Mind games at its best!

SNAKES AND LADDERS is a well-crafted, well-plotted, brilliantly told murder mystery thriller that had me turning pages long into the night! I loved the short snappy chapters that kept the pace moving at a break-neck speed throughout.

I absolutely loved the dry wit peppered throughout the story. Ziba's thoughts on Fingerling as he sneered his comments at her had me chuckling on more than one occasion. Her passing thoughts on the weather even. If it didn't thrill, it made me laugh. Everything I love in a book.

Every character in the story is well developed and each has their part to play. None of them are insignificant or surplus to the tale. Victoria Selman has weaved each them into her web seamlessly leaving nothing to chance. Even one of the most likable characters with whom Ziba connected to wasn't by chance. And when that final plot twist came at the end, it was both shocking and brilliant!

While I haven't read the first two in the series, unaware at the time of requesting that this was a third installment, SNAKES AND LADDERS is everything I love in a thriller - fast paced, twisty, compelling, intriguing, witty and utterly unputdownable.

While it's always best to start a series from the beginning, I don't think it's essential to enjoy SNAKES AND LADDERS, as it flows seamlessly throughout with enough background given to know what is going on. I know I enjoyed it immensely without reading the first two...but let it be known, I have now added the first two to my collection and look forward to sneaking them into my reading list sometime soon. I suspect this is going to be one of my favourite series. Criminal Minds meets Psycho meets Silence of the Lambs .

That brilliant ending has me longing for the fourth installment now with that twist of a cliffhanger that leaves us wondering where the story goes from here...and that dawn of realisation that hit Ziba as she heard the news...I wasn't surprised, but she most definitely was. In the end, that final piece suddenly made sense to me and left me wanting more. Hands down brilliant!

Bring on book #4!!

I would like to thank #VictoriaSelman, #NetGalley and #AmazonPublishingUK for an ARC of #SnakesAndLadders in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
Well written, interesting, suspensful, well developed storyline, good pace.  

To be honest, not my favorite book of 2020 so far because somehow I felt like something was missing, can't put my finger on it, but I did like it a lot and give it 4 stars.

ARC received through NetGalley.  This is my honest review.  All opinions are my own.
Was this review helpful?
I absolutely love and adore this series by Victoria Selman. Snakes and Ladders is the third book revolving around Ziba MacKenzie, former special ops now a profiler for the Met. She's also known as the Serial Killer Hunter because finding serial killers is what she does best - primarily because she is fearless.  One such killer is now terrorizing London, cutting off body  parts and leaving a rose in their place. It appears to be a copy-cat killing or perhaps someone killing on behalf of the original murderer, Dr. Vernon Sange. It is necessary to talk with Sange to see if he is, in fact, conducting these killings from afar, but the only person he will talk with is Ziba. As the murders continue, the horrifying reality sets in that the killer is stalking Ziba as hard as she is stalking them.

Every book that Selman has written has been dark, gritty and frighteningly realistic. They are, in fact, everything one could ask for in a crime fiction thriller. Selman's writing is on point, tough and, at times, quite harsh. That is what makes these books so fascinating. Nothing at all is "sugar-coated." Her characters, not just Ziba who is one tough cookie, are very well written and developed. Once I've finished with one of Selman's books, I feel as though I'm missing friends. Not that there is anything friendly about Ziba. She has her guard up due to past emotional trauma and that guard protects her from a lot - especially in this book!  While this is the third installment in the series, and I do highly recommend reading them all in order, Snakes and Ladders can be easily read as a stand-alone. The background on the characters is thoroughly laid out for readers who are just joining in the game. ALL the stars and more for Snakes and Ladders.
Was this review helpful?
Another great book by Victoria,  i am enjoying this series. It had me gripped till the last page and I was shocked at the ending. Looking forward to reading more
Was this review helpful?
Snakes and Ladders is the third outing for  former Special Forces Agent turned Offender Profiler, Ziba MacKenzie. She's in the deep end with this one - the Pink Rose Killer or PRK as they're known and body parts are being left across London. She flies back from training in the Us to deal with the matter and it's a serial killer thriller on a par with Silence of the Lambs. 
Pretty gory in places , in fact very gory in places but then what do you expect? IT's a cracking crime thriller with perhaps a few too many jumpy moments that I could cope with but that's just me

There's a lot to love if you';re into the profiling way of working and it is fascinating. The links to folklore and history were a nice surprise.
Was this review helpful?
You can't outsmart a psychopath!
Now the moral of the story might just be 'walk away' but for Ziba our profiler she's into far deeper than she'd like and shitte's about to hit the fan.
You see the killer will only talk to her because she's the one who put him away while waiting extradiction.
Sange is one strange dude and while he's whispering things to her another PRK killer (Pink Rose Killer) is on the kill.
It's surely death if you forfeit so this cat and mouse game goes on for quite some time but is she being played like a master puppeteer?
It's been said this type of toxicity involves a Jekyll and Hyde persona and the ability to not let everything rub you the wrong way as it's that emotion that these evil individuals seek. That reaction , that anger, that emotion fuels them like a 'source of supply' fuels them.
It's a merry go round of a hamster wheel agenda yet it's a job that is rewarding on all fronts if you can bring in the killer.
Now the Butcher is on scene so I'm going to exit out but this one is sure to capture the heart and mind beautifully.
A perfect flow of juicy police procedure with elements of danger lurking in every corner paced evenly.
Perfection!
Was this review helpful?
I really enjoyed this book so much.  It has a really great plot, superb main characters and I read it in one sitting.  I would highly recommend this book.
Was this review helpful?
Thank you Netgalley for providing this book in exchange for a honest review.

I am reviewing from a standpoint of a reader who never read this series. 

I was impressed for many reasons: 

1. I could tell that the plot has continued from the previous books. The book ends indicating the same to come. 

2. I love how the author expresses each character.  Everyone has their own uniqueness that drew me in. 

3. The suspense could be felt from beginning to end of the book! 

4. The title and cover picture correlates to the plot. I find that alot of mystery thriller books dont always have the appropriate title.
Was this review helpful?
This is the third book in the Ziba MacKenzie series but can easily read as a standalone. I have read books one and two and I have to say that this story didn't grip me quite as much as the first two, for some reason.

Ziba is one kick-ass lady and I love that about her. I like the little things she keeps in her head about Fingerling, even when he is obviously being an idiot. I feel bad about the "will they, won't they" relationship with Wolfie - although I guess I understand the reason for it. It was a little frustrating though!

Vernon Sange is quite the opponent to come up against but there are others who are also playing with Ziba's mind. Some of them are closer than you think....

For some reason, the plot wasn't as tight as the other books, and the ending was unsatisfactory. Judging from that ending, there is another book coming our way (hopefully soon!) because I really want to know what happens next. 

This was a good book, just not of the very high standard of the first two.

Thank you to NetGalley and Thomas & Mercer.
Was this review helpful?
Wow another edge of the seat book, teeth clenched a lot!!! Ziba is back trying to help the police profile a serial killer, she's getting help from a serial killer she helped put behind bars, he's messing with her head and playing games, Jack is also tangled up and her feelings for him are making things worse. 
Ziba as always helps track down the killer but we are still left with a total cliffhanger!!! 
Can't wait for the next book!!!
Was this review helpful?
Victoria Selman’s Snakes and Ladders is a book that should come with a warning: do not read this in an empty house or if you are easily scared, because the third Ziba MacKenzie novel is so terrifying that it will have you jumping out of your skin.

The streets of London are being terrorised by a serial killer intent on maximum destruction who stalks his prey, removes a body part from each victim and then leaves in its place a single pink rose. This cruel act of vengeance has got everybody on edge and absolutely petrified that they might be next. Everyone is watching their every move and not trusting anybody because one wrong move is all that it takes for the killer to strike and destroy everything. With the police desperate to find this vindictive serial killer, the only lead they have is Dr Vernon Sange, a multiple murderer awaiting extradition who seems to know the killer’s identity. Vernon will only reveal what he knows to the one woman responsible for putting him away: profiler Ziba Mackenzie.

Ziba finds herself caught up in a dangerous game with a serial killer who will reveal the identity of the murderer who is killing all these people – but he wants something from her in return. With one killer whispering in her ear and another running rings around the police, Ziba finds herself up against an opponent who has torn up the rule book and has her dancing to a tune which only he can hear. Ziba needs to tread carefully and keep her wits about her because if she puts one foot wrong, she might just end up being a deranged killer’s next victim.

Silent Witness meets Hannibal Lecter in Victoria Selman’s third novel featuring profiler Ziba McKenzie. Snakes and Ladders is a book that is certainly not for the faint-hearted. Full of menace, danger and suspense, this sinister thriller will chill readers to the bone and keep readers from sleeping as they will be completely and utterly petrified while reading this book.

Terrifying, engrossing and impossible to put down, Snakes and Ladders is a must-read for fans who like their thrillers dark, gritty and creepy.
Was this review helpful?