Cover Image: Speak of the Devil

Speak of the Devil

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Member Reviews

*3.5 stars rounded up. 

On December 31, 1999, seven women are summoned to an emergency meeting in the top floor suite of a cheap hotel in Newcastle. There, they are in for the shock of their lives: the decapitated head of the man they all hated. They clean up any evidence of their having been in the room and steal away, leaving the grisly head to be discovered by a hotel employee. Detective Inspector Nova Stokoe is called in to lead the murder investigation but almost immediately realizes that her on again-off again lover is somehow involved. 

Rose Wilding weaves an interesting mystery around these women and their involvement with the victim, Jamie Spellman, in her character-driven debut novel. She keeps the reader guessing right to the end. Who hated Jamie THAT much? Wilding is a talented new mystery writer and I'll look forward to reading more of her work. 

I received an arc from the author and publisher via NetGalley. Many thanks! My review however is voluntary and the opinions expressed are my own.
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When Jaime Spellman is found murdered, no one is particularly surprised. He had done a lot of wrong to a lot of people. But as detectives narrow their search 7 women become the prime suspects. 

This is one crazy ride my friends. And I mean that in the best way. You get to know all 7 women throughout the story and damn it stays a mystery til the end as to who did it. This is very character focused (and there are a lot of them) so if plot driven storylines are your thing this one may not be for you. If you love learning everyone’s deepest darkest thoughts and feelings while trying to solve a murder then pick this one up now.
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I found this to be an odd and intriguing mystery. One decapitated head and a whole lot of legitimate suspects. The victim was not someone to feel sorry for his fate as he had few redeeming qualities. I liked the story of how each character connected to the victim told from their point of view. I was intrigued from the first page and wanted to know who did it. It was paced well as it got to the ending. I received an advance copy from NetGalley and am voluntarily leaving a review.
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A dark suspenseful tale told from numerous women’s perspectives that have all been wronged by the same man. Scene opens with the group of women around his decapitated head, who killed him? The first chapters were amazing and hooked me right in, definitely difficult at times to keep who is who straight and definitely would not do this one on audio as time frame and character speaking changes often. I didn’t figure it out and it kept my interest. Does have some lengthy descriptions at times, F2F romance with some descriptive sex scenes described that i don’t really need in a thriller, spells or the ability to cast a spell that kills, rape, abuse are through your the book, just so you are aware. Would recommend to the right audience but definitely not for everyone. 

Thanks to Minotaur books and netgalley for my advanced reader copy in exchange for my honest review.
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Read/Listen if you like:
😡 Female Rage
🔍 Who Dunnit 
👯‍♀️ 7 Women as Suspects 
🔪 One Man Dead 

This one definitely has a lot going on as we get 8 POV between the 7 women that out deceased had been involved with as well as the detective trying to sus out who revenge killed Jamie as they all have a motive to kill.

I really enjoyed the twists and turns and learning about what he had done to scorn each of the 7 very different women and why they each have motive. 

I also really enjoyed the movement of time and the 1999 setting for his murder as that made the book even more immersive.

The ending was absolutely jarring and so interesting how it all came together. 

If you want a thriller with lots of movement and female rage I definitely recommend this one! 

Thanks so much to Minotaur Books for my ARC!
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This story opens with a severed head missing its body. There are seven women with each of their own stories pondering on which one of them has killed this head without a body. They stare at its grotesquely disfigurement knowing each of them carries their own secret connection to, what was once, a human man named Jamie Spellman.

Jamie was the gorgeous type. The type of guy that young and older women craved and lusted after. The funny thing though, the women who have gathered around Jamie’s head, have met him at different stages of Jamie’s life wondering if he deserved to be where he is at this point? One of the women didn’t feel he deserved to be dead, while the other six figured he’d got exactly what was coming to him. What could Jamie have done that was so bad that someone beheaded him? Well, readers, of course you have to read the story to find out what secrets these women have to tell. And, after you’ve done so, the stories of their past will become ensnared in a web of lies, deceit, lust and even murder.

When you’re dealing with a multitude of characters, it can become so messy and convoluted that you forget what is going on. Often, I had to really think about each of the women when it was time for her to tell her connection to the dearly departed, Jamie Spellman. If you put the book down and try to pick it back up, I found it was better to end on one of the women’s stories instead of leaving a chapter undone because that confused me more. I found myself having to go back and see which character was speaking. I have to say, this grated on my nerves because it was entirely too many women to keep up with. But, having said that, once the years past and the present collided and the story began to make sense to me, it got interesting, especially the ending. I had my doubts and suspicions on who killed Jamie, and I’m happy to say I did manage to figure it out. However, having said that, it didn’t take anything away from the story. I had two suspects in mind the entire time and I was on the money.
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I really can’t believe I finished this book. It was a strangely intriguing premise but I totally did not care about the characters, who became more unbelievable with every chapter. Strong sexual assault trigger warning. Not recommended.
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Speak of the Devil by Rose Wilding is a recommended murder mystery.

Seven dissimilar women gather together at midnight on New Year’s Eve, 1999. In the middle of the room sits a man's head, no body in sight. The head belongs to Jamie Spellman and each of the women in that room had a reason to kill him. He had alternately lied to, seduced, manipulated, threatened, and betrayed each of them. They all say they didn't do it, but someone did and they need to find out who it was.

Chapters cycle between the voices of each of the seven women, slowly revealing their secrets and creating an incriminating picture of Jamie. To be sure, there are a whole lot of points-of-view to negotiate before you learn to care about any of these people and differentiate between them. This was a struggle for me because I wasn't caring about them as quickly as I normally would.

Also, to be fair, the opening does grab your attention and makes you want to know more. The chapters are short and things move along quickly so individuals do end up sorting themselves out.

Basically, Speak of the Devil is a tale about various women who encountered a hideous man and the reasons each of them might want him to be gone. It is an entertaining novel and a good vacation read if you can sort out all the characters while reading. It will create a diversion during any flights, however, if you misplace it in the airport you won't care.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of St. Martin's via NetGalley.
The review will be published on Barnes & Noble, Google Books, Edelweiss, and Amazon.
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Thank you NetGalley for providing me with an eARC of this book.

I really went back and forth with my rating for this one. I really enjoyed the story for the most part. I found some parts of this novel so infuriating (not in a bad way but just how some of the characters are treated...and it made me mad because it's how things really happen). I enjoyed the story. I thought the ending was pretty good. I didn't love how everything was organized though. I found myself constantly going back to the beginning of chapters to remind myself who's POV I was reading from and what year it was. I got a lot of the characters confused too, so this book did take me a little longer to read because I had to keep double checking which character's chapter I was reading and reminding myself of what this character had already gone through in the story. I did think this was a pretty effective thriller though.
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One decapitated head and 7 suspects! This seemed right in my wheelhouse of genres I love to read.  
Jaime Spellmam is an awful man, and someone or multiple someone's decided it was time to end his reign of torture on women.   It's up to the seven women gathered around his head to determine just who that is.  

Unfortunately, the novel as a whole, didn't work for me.  I think the biggest detractor was I didn't feel the suspense or tension normally felt while reading a thriller. My expectations were not met. There were things I liked and things that were flat.  The plot/premise of the book is what grabbed me.  I thought I'd be going into a fast-paced, twisty thriller.  It wasn't.  It was very much a slow burn. Much more a character driven story than plot.  And well done diverse representation of characters. I think we get 8 pov's.. the author did well telling the story through them but for me I didn't connect to any characters because we didn't stay with them long enough. It was a strange combination of great character development but lack of emotion.  You are getting all these suspects with a connection to the deceased and some with each other.  But the connection is never shown within the story, the reader is told about it.  Felt all a bit choppy.  And the ending was just an ending.. no real twists or thrills.  Overall I say 3 stars.. writing was good, plot interesting.. just didn't grab me to where I couldn't put the book down. Being a debut novel I do think the author has a lot of promise.   There is a foundation of really good writing.. just a few tweaks and it could have been gold.  
If you decide to read, which if you like those slow burns I do recommend, grab a pen and paper to keep track of who's who.  It helped me keep it all straight. 

Thank you to netgalley and the publisher for an opportunity to read and review honestly an advanced digital copy.
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The book never really grabbed me from the start. A bunch of truly unlikeable characters, but with an interesting premise, I thought it would be good. Poor execution of the plot and story line.
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“Speak of the Devil” by Rose Wilding ⭐️⭐️⭐️ Genre: Thriller. Location: Northeast England. Time: December 31, 1999- January 13, 2000.

Midnight at The Towneley Arms Hotel, 7 women gathered around the gruesome head of Jamie Spellman. The head sits on a bible opened to Leviticus 2:19 (an eye for an eye). Each had a motive to kill him; each swears they did not. To protect each other, they must lead the police astray. A circle of women, all harmed by the same man:
* the isolated young wife living in the woods with her daughter,
* the widow and former lover who refuses to believe the past,
* the pregnant, betrayed teenager,
* the reluctant mother figure who wonders about nature vs nurture, 
* the betrayed friend forced to choose sides,
* the former lover drinking and harming herself to keep her secrets, and
* the journalist, with her own trauma, who called them all together. 

Friends or enemies, lovers or ex lovers, pregnancies or loss, accidents or murders, silent or vocal, invisible or believed? Detective Inspector Nova Stokoe must sort it all out. But complicated connections make her question what she knows and believes.

Author Wilding has written a book about exploited and manipulated women, and what happens when they refuse to be victims anymore. The book is set in a part of England known for its regional accent and vocabulary, so she uses local slang and word spellings to keep the prose authentic to the area. 

Wilding slowly reveals the backstories of the women, ramping up the tension as you read their reasons for wanting Jamie dead. There are known and unknown connections between them, so make a list of characters. Seriously- make a list of characters or you may get lost!

The murderer wasn’t a complete surprise, but the end of the book felt a bit unfinished, and it’s a solid 3 stars from me🌵📚💁🏼‍♀️ Thank you Minotaur Books, Rose Wilding, and NetGalley for this early ecopy. Publishes 6/27/2023.
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There is something undeniable about the thrill of discovering an impressive new author with their debut novel, knowing that you are about to start an extended journey with this individual that could potentially span years. Readers will have that feeling when they pick up Speak of the Devil by Rose Wilding—a truly unforgettable work of fiction that feels more like the work of a seasoned veteran than a first-time writer venturing into the crime fiction genre.

Aficionados of crime fiction can hardly ask for a more gripping opening to a novel than that which is offered in Speak of the Devil. In a demolished apartment building on the top floor penthouse suite, seven women stand in a circle around the severed head of a man, with no body in sight. The life trajectories of each of these women was derailed in some tragic way by the evil machinations of Jamie Spellman (the dead man) and readers are quickly told that one of the women present killed him. But which one?

Rose Wilding’s strength lies in her ability to bring each of these women to life—giving them each point-of-view chapters—as they outline their various connections to Mr. Spellman. It makes for a miasma of time shifts that keep readers on their toes, but never loses them in the fog of temporal variance. There’s also an eighth woman—the detective investigating the crime—who is the impetus for several of the women telling their story. No doubt, it is a lot of characters to keep track of, but readers who invest fully will be justly rewarded by the conclusion.

At a time when the community is demanding diversity in their crime fiction, Rose Wilding has this covered—also proving that writers can craft characters beyond their own lived experiences as long as they do the research necessary to present them in non-stereotypical ways, free of unwarranted judgement and scorn. The seven women in Jamie Spellman’s sphere are racially diverse, they represent  varied sexualities (lesbian, straight, bi), most are cis-gender, but there is trans representation, their  ages vary widely, as do their backgrounds, and lastly they reflect different personality types—at least one of which is capable of murder.

Now Speak of the Devil could have suffered if these women all had similar conflicts with Jamie Spellman, however Wilding seems to have an inherent understanding of this, so the backstory for each woman is unique. We have relatives, coworkers, friends, and lovers—each of whom has a legitimate reason to want Jamie Spellman dead. The reader’s experience of figuring out which one did the deed is a bit like: “she should kill him,” “oh, she did it,” “how can she let him live,” to the eventual, “I’d like to kill him myself.”

Speak of the Devil is a gritty read—which should have been signaled by the dripping severed head on the table in the opening chapter. The list of trigger warnings that could accompany this novel include major topics like domestic violence, rape, humiliation, and self-harm, as well as less egregious ways of inflicting damage that under Rose Wilding’s writing skill and ability to craft tension hit equally as hard as the criminal mistreatments do. This is not a novel for the faint of heart, but again, those that can stick with it will find they are glad that they did.

Rose Wilding’s Speak of the Devil is easily one of the strongest debuts of the season and it will leave crime fiction readers anxious to see what she has to offer next.
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Review: Rose Wilding’s Speak of the Devil 

Seven women stand in shock in a seedy hotel room; a man's severed head sits in the center of the floor. Each woman - the wife, the teenager, the ex, the journalist, the colleague, the friend, and the woman who raised him - has an excellent reason to have done it, yet each swears she did not. To protect each other, they must figure out who is responsible, all while staying one step ahead of the police.

3 Things That Work: 

The book opens with seven women sitting around a severed head. They point at one another accusingly, pleading, “Did YOU do this?” Need I say more?  

Because Wilding wrote seven different POVs, I reserved making any predictions about the murderer until the 75% mark. Color me surprised when I guessed correctly! The whodunit factor kept me guessing until the bitter end. I saw a comparison title of Bad Sisters (Apple TV+ series) and wholeheartedly agree. 

That ending, though…whoa, there! Whoa! A furious hurricane of female rage beheading a worthless piece of garbage psychopath who rapes and kills women. Delightful! 

Minor criticisms: A lot of POVs to track, and some are better fleshed out than others. It ended abruptly after the murder cleanup. I wanted a little more here. 

TW: rape, suicide, transphobia, domestic abuse, grooming, infertility
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3.5 stars which I will round up to 4 as when I wasn't reading I was thinking of who killed the ex-journalist brutally.

Seven women,  so many secrets. 

All of them had reason to kill Jamie Spellman.

Jamie Spellman had very few redeeming characters:  being nice was not one of them.

I was intrigued as to who the murderer was and honestly I felt for all these women.

Speak of the Devil pulls you in slowly (after the startling opening) but as you get involved in the women's lives you will keep those pages turning.

Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press, Minotaur Books for a compelling read.
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This was an excellent who dunnit! 
Eight women, all egregiously wronged by the same man, get together to talk about him & the depths of their fury, a support group of sorts. When (only) his head turns up at one of their meetings, no one knows who actually did the deed. Which one finally took the monster down?  Which one of them snapped? 
This one kept me guessing til the very end. There were so many options and each one of them seemed capable, even likely. I especially liked the satisfying ending.
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I wish to thank NetGalley and Minotaur Books for the opportunity to read an advance electronic copy of this book. The story began with a shocking setup, and I thought it would be an intriguing read. I regret I was never fully invested in the story. 

 A diverse group of women of various ages and backgrounds had been mysteriously invited to a room in a rundown hotel. They were of different ages and different situations in life. There were seven of them in the group. A man's severed head was revealed in the room's centre, and each of the women had been wronged, manipulated, cheated, or deceived by the dead man in the past. All had some connection with the murder victim, and some of the women had a connection with each other. It was apparent that none were sorry he was dead. The majority opinion was to cover up the crime to protect the unknown perpetrator rather than calling the police. The female detective had reasons to avoid a thorough investigation. 

 I regret the book didn't work for me, but some found it fascinating. Prospective readers should not be deterred by my review. I failed to care for any of the characters and their past unpleasant connections with the dead man. The story lacked tension, being all tell and no show. When I realized I was taking a copious amount of notes to avoid confusing the characters' names, I knew  I didn't care who committed the murder. I ended up skimming through the pages. I thought the ending was anticlimactic, and very little was resolved with the solution. 2.5 stars. Speak of the Devil is due for release on June 13.
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Thank you to Minotaur Books and Rose Wilding advance readers’ edition of SPEAK OF THE DEVIL for an honest review. Thank you also to Macmillan Audio for the gifted audiobook copy!

SPEAK OF THE DEVIL begins in a hotel room, seven women stand around a severed head on the floor. None knows how it came to be there, or at least no one will admit it. They all know this man and all have good cause to want him dead, but which knows more about his demise or where the rest of him is? The women must protect themselves and each other while also seeking answers before the police come for them.

This was a very unique way to present a murder and I really enjoyed the process of following along and uncovering everyone’s secrets. I was really in the mood for a mystery story when I picked this up, so this was a really good quick binge listen. I felt that the author did a good job of balancing the present day mystery with the flashbacks to each of the women’s lives and their interactions with the victim. Trust me, no one is feeling at all bad for his death reading his story!

I think this is a good book to go into without knowing too much about it. It is a fast read (I finished it in a single evening) and one well worth picking up!
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I really enjoyed this revenge murder mystery. There were eight POV (the seven women and one detective) which I liked because it kept me from being able to guess who the killer was.
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"Speak of the Devil" by Rose Wilding is an entertaining, but predictable, thriller.  The plot follows seven women, all of whom have a motive for the gruesome murder and decapitation of the man who unites them.  I liked that the cast of characters was so diverse, but it was difficult for me to keep everyone straight.  All the characters blended together and it was tough at times to tell from whose point of view I was reading.  The first chapter was amazing and completely drew me in; unfortunately, it was downhill from there, especially since it was quite obvious to me who the killer was from very early on.  I never became invested in any of the characters and so didn't care much about what happened to them.  

Overall, I don't think reading this book was a waste of my time. It was a good way to pass a lazy summer afternoon, but it definitely wasn't up there with other thrillers I read this year.  I found it to be an average read, thus the three star rating.

Thank you to NetGalley, the publisher, and the author for the opportunity to read an advanced digital copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
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