Noir detective fiction with a psychological edge

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Pub Date 09 Oct 2023 | Archive Date 09 Jan 2024

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The search for a missing detective brings simmering rivalries to boiling point…

Some five years since parting ways, Detective Eleanor Rose receives a message from Daniel, her ex-boyfriend and former colleague. He is in danger. He needs her help.

Eleanor is compelled to return to Liverpool, but dreads what she’ll find there. Her parents are dead. She has no friends.
She doesn’t trust her old colleagues. And her half-sister… well… enough said about her.

When Eleanor’s search for Daniel takes her to Sundial Court housing estate, her worries multiply. Lawless, seedy, destitute, it seems the worst of humanity is festering within its dark streets and desolate houses.

It turns out that her ex-boyfriend was investigating a serious crime there. It soon looks pretty likely he didn’t get out alive.
But whatever fate befell him, Eleanor is stumbling perilously close to it herself. Who or what is drawing her in?

The search for a missing detective brings simmering rivalries to boiling point…

Some five years since parting ways, Detective Eleanor Rose receives a message from Daniel, her ex-boyfriend and former...

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ISBN 9781804621264
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Average rating from 12 members

Featured Reviews

This is a dark, twisted and atmospheric read! I loved the characterisation, especially Eleanor, the eerie setting in a run down Liverpool estate and that unexpected ending. What a fantastic read! Thanks to Net Galley for my ARC.

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James Davidson is a new author to me and I thought the premise of Outcast Sister would be my kind of read, and it definitely was. I will say though, I don't think I've ever read a crime book quite like this - and I mean this in the best way - the authors writing is good, it is very engaging and I think this book is a cracker of a read. It grabbed my attention right from the start and held it right to the end. I think the descriptions of Sundial Court are brilliant - I could imagine the bleakness of the estate and the residents living there in my mind when reading. I couldn't help but like and root for Beth and Eleanor, estranged sisters who find themselves working on the same case. As always, there are unlikeable characters, secretive characters who added more depth to the story. I liked the tension and suspense introduced and at times the descriptive writing makes for one hell of an atmospheric read. There is a lot going on here which really fits the story and at times I had no idea where it was going and was trying to work it all out in my head! All starts to fall into place and become clear towards the end, and I was way off with my guesses. I liked the ending, and I hope there will be another book to follow and I'd definitely read it.

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed this book. If you like crime, police procedurals that are just that bit different then this could well be for you, and I'd recommend it.

4.5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Detective Eleanor Rose hasn’t seen her ex boyfriend Daniel for five years. They’d been colleagues as well as lovers until she found out something that she could neither forgive nor forget.

The last five years have seen her working as a Detective in London, but when she receives a message from Daniel saying he’s in danger and needs her help, she returns to Liverpool, something she swore she’d never do, and now she’s dreading it. She believes that the Liverpool force are corrupt, and doesn’t want anything to do with them, and that includes her half sister, Krush, also a Detective.

Eleanor discovers that Daniel was investigating some serious crimes centred around the Sundial Housing Estate - one of the most dangerous estates in the country, and investigations suggest it’s not looking good for him - he hasn’t been seen for weeks.

The harsh reality of life on a notorious down and out estate, dog eat dog mentality, lawless and destitute, poverty stricken, breeds some of the worst examples of human beings, and author, James Davidson’s debut novel details that well. He also gives a fascinating insight into the relationship between two sisters, as well as between hunter and hunted. It’s a deeply engaging and thought provoking psychological thriller, so if you're brave enough to venture hand-in-hand with the author into the Sundial Estate, you'll certainly be well-rewarded, for Outcast Sister is quite unique, gripping and hugely recommended.

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🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟

Thank you @netgalley for my ARC of Outcast Sister by James Davidson.

This was a fast paced twisty read and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It grips you from the beginning and doesn’t let up. There are a lot of pieces, but the eventually fall into place.

Detective Eleanor Rose gets a message from her ex boyfriend that he is in trouble. Her search for him leads her down a dangerous path and she becomes hunted as well.

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"Outcast Sister," by the talented James Davidson surprised me by how compulsively readable it was for a debut novel. In fact, it was so well written and unputdownable that I read it straight through in one sitting. Even though I had a long list of things to do, I kept saying to myself just one more chapter, until it was too late in the day to go out and do my errands. I really was so absorbed by the intriguing characters and plot which were developed brilliantly. I can safely say that James Davidson is an author to add to my favorite author list because I plan to read anything that he writes in the future. I was so impressed with James Davidson's writing style that I had no idea that this was a debut until I finished reading it and went back to the very beginning to refresh my mind on how it began. The reason I sometimes go back to how a particular story that I enjoyed so much that I get caught up in all of it I will explain. My reasoning for familiarizing with how it started is because I only include the first 10% in my review, so that I don't spoil it for anyone who decides that they want to read this excellent mystery and thriller novel for themselves.

It begins with Detective Eleanor Rose who had fled Liverpool five years ago to move to London leaving behind her boyfriend Daniel, her friends and her family. Eleanor has just been working on a case where she's invested months to infiltrate a dangerous situation. In the middle of the night she receives an alarming phone call that shakes her to her core. She doesn't recognize the voice of the caller but the voice on the other end of the call warns her to run. It is so eerie since it seems to know where she is and what she's doing. She looks around for hidden cameras and races to her job at the police station in London where she runs into her boss and she tells him that she needs to take a couple of days off. She thinks the case has been corrupted and she doesn't know how much she should tell her boss because she doesn't know how far the corruption has spread.

Eleanor checks her inbox and she has gotten another email from Daniel. He has been messaging her for the last five years of which she never responded. There's something different about this one since he uses their code word "Oslo." He tells her that he has come far in solving his own case where there is also police corruption and he only trusts Eleanor. He says that he is in trouble and he needs her help. Eleanor grabs her laptop and she destroys her cellphone on her way to Liverpool throwing it in one random trash bin. In an entirely different trash bin she has dumped her destroyed sim card. She purchases a burner cell phone, where nobody knows her new number and she is horrified when it starts ringing and she answers it only to receive the same threats that include that the person on the phone knows exactly where she is and what she's doing. How can this be?

Her sister Beth Krush whom Eleanor also hasn't spoken to for five years since she fled Liverpool is meanwhile investigating a murder in the Sundial Estates. This happens to be its own character in this thrilling novel. Half of the detached two story row houses have been abandoned and have been looted and are covered with graffiti. They have their doors and windows boarded up. This is the most dangerous housing development in the city known to everybody. Nobody who lives there will talk to the police refusing to help aid Beth Krush solve who killed an older woman. Where Eleanor appears to be polite and poised her sister Beth Krush is the polar opposite in temperament. Krush has no problem telling people to "shut up." She is brisk and a no nonsense type of detective and has risen to the top at Central Head Quarters. The other police officer who is assisting her is assigned to Sundial Courts as his permanent position seems shady and I wondered about his motives for why he acted the way he did.

Eleanor arrives in Liverpool and goes straight to her former police station looking to locate Daniel. She is told that nobody has heard from him in quite some time. Eleanor asks where Daniel is living and she is told that he was living in his deceased mother's home. She goes there and finds the place run down and quite neglected. She was given a key ring at the London police station with three keys on it. She tries the key that appears to be a house key easily slides into the lock and the door opens. She shouts out Daniel's name, but is met with silence. She finds his torch and checks room by room only to find them empty and dusty. She decides to take an extra blanket and pillow and sleep in the living room on the cold floor where she located Daniel's sleeping bag. At some point the next morning she trips over a rug and finds that there is a hidden trap door underneath the rug which upon further investigation leads to a tunnel beneath the house. She follows it and finds a map with a unit circled at the Sundial Estates. The old antique rotary phone starts ringing after which she answers it and the voice seems to know it's her and can seem to know what she's doing. Who can this nefarious threatening voice be? How does this person or group know exactly where she is and exactly what she's doing? It's very chilling.

Eleanor takes a taxi to the Sundial Estates and finds the unit that Daniel has circled and she finds that it's abandoned with boards on the front door and windows. She goes to the back door and it appears the same except the nails aren't rusty like the front they are in fact new and shiny and not really fastened deeply so that she is able to enter. What she finds is yet another clue, but the reader is shocked at her findings. Both Eleanor and Beth are both running parallel investigations at the Sundial Estates, but for different reasons and at different times. Eleanor enters the creepy housing development during the day and Beth works at night.

I know that my review doesn't give this terrific thriller and mystery justice. I actually learned about it from a new Good Reads friend named Maureen E. who gives a stunning and enticing review. Do read hers if you want to be blown away by how she gives enough interesting information that is much briefer than mine, but after viewing hers I feel very confident that you won't want to pass this one up. I really did find myself completely absorbed with how this author gripped my attention by leaving a cliff hanger at the end of the alternating sections of both sisters' Eleanor and Beth Krush's alternating chapters. It's rare that I find both characterizations equally so stunningly and brilliantly developed. There is a psychiatrist that is drug addicted that his point of view is scattered less often throughout the novel.

What didn't work as well for me is that there are some gruesome scenes that I wasn't prepared for. I took off one half of a star for that reason, which may appear harsh as I write this because otherwise this is a stellar thriller that is mysterious enough that I couldn't guess what would happen from one chapter to the next. In other words, I found this to be delightfully unpredictable. Since I plan on reading whatever this author writes next I can easily overlook the unsavory scenes. I highly recommend this to all genders of readers who enjoy their mystery and thriller genres to be captivating enough that you won't likely find any of this wonderful debut boring for a second. One last thing that I really appreciated was since this takes place in the U.K. the English language is geared so that readers who live elsewhere don't have to puzzle themselves what certain British words mean. There's never an instant leaving you wondering how to correlate what certain things translate to stand for in any country of origin. It's universal which I applaud this author for making it so. I tend to avoid British authors who write using their own terminology geared towards only a British reader would understand. This author doesn't do this so there is no interruption in the flow of the writing. This is also marketed as Literary Fiction and Horror. Upon just noticing that this is listed as Horror, I am okay with rounding it up to a full Five Stars!

Publication Date: October 9, 2023. Available Now!

This is free to read for Kindle Unlimited Subscribers & this gorgeous novel falls into the best category for KU members to choose from.!

Thank you to Net Galley, James Davidson and The Book Folks for generously providing me with my eARC in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

#OutcastSister #JamesDavidson #TheBookFolks #NetGalley

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Love love love this book. Storyline had some great twists and turns to keep you interested and loved the characters. The relationship between sisters added to the story but it would also have stood without it.
Writing style and tone definitely worked for me and I’d be keen to read more by this author.
10/10 from me

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This had a great dark feel to it, it had a great spark in the genre. I enjoyed getting to know the characters in this universe, the concept was what I was expecting and glad I read this. James Davidson wrote this well and had a great psychological feel.

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Takes you one way then the next, with a dark undercurrent.
One of those crime books you will either like or you won’t.

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Thank you NetGalley and The Book Folks for my approval to read and review.

Detective Eleanor Rose has been away from her home, Liverpool, for about 5 years. One day, she receives a message from her ex Daniel. From there, Eleanor starts to feel uncomfortable like she is being watched. Meanwhile, her estranged half-sister Detective Beth Krush is investigating a murder. It seems like all roads lead to Sundial Court but how does it all tie up together!! How does Eleanor, Beth, Scott and the Doctor fit within the plot. It's dark, full of twists and turns with a surprising conclusion!

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If there's one thing that I like doing, it's discovering new authors. James Davidson is certainly a new author for me. I read the synopsis of 'Outcast Sister' and it certainly grabbed my interest. I couldn't wait to dive in and so without further ado I grabbed a cup of tea, grabbed my Kindle and settled down for what proved to be an intense and dramatic afternoon of reading. I thoroughly enjoyed reading 'Outcast Sister' but more about that in a bit.

As soon as I started reading, I knew that I was reading something special and that I would become seriously addicted to the story. I was spot on in both statements. The story drew me in from the very start and seemed to develop a hold over me but it was a hold that I wasn't willing to break. The characters intrigued me and I had to keep reading to see if the story developed the way in which I thought that it would. The more of the book that I read, the more I wanted to read and the quicker the pages seemed to turn. My Kindle wasn't exactly glued to my hand but it might as well have been because it travelled everywhere with me. I couldn't bear to miss a single second of the story. I was so wrapped up in the story and in the lives of the different characters that I lost all track of time and just how quickly I was getting through the book. All too quickly I reached the end of 'Outcast Sister'. I found 'Outcast Sister' to be a gripping, tense and dramatic read, which certainly kept me guessing and kept me on the edge of my seat throughout.

'Outcast Sister' is extremely well written. The author certainly knows how to grab the reader's attention and draw them into what proved to be one hell of a story and then some. For me, this was one of those stories that started with a bang, hit the ground running and maintained a fairly fast pace throughout. I have to say that the characters were described so vividly and realistically that I began to think of them as real people rather than characters in a book. I can't say that I especially warmed to any of the characters but that could be because I have read too much crime fiction and I believe nobody and suspect everybody. Reading 'Outcast Sister' felt like being on an at times scary and unpredictable rollercoaster ride with more twists and turns to it than you would find on a 'Snakes & Ladders' board. I love the way in which the author makes the reader feel as though they are part of the story and at the heart of the action.

In short, I thoroughly enjoyed reading 'Outcast Sister' and I would definitely recommend it to other readers. I hope to read much more of James's work in the future. The score on the Ginger Book Geek board is a very well deserved 5* out of 5*.

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“Outcast Sister” by James Davidson is a crime novel that follows Detective Eleanor Rose as she returns to Liverpool to help her ex-boyfriend and former colleague, Daniel, who is in danger. The book is set in the Sundial Court housing estate, which is known for being lawless, seedy, and destitute. Eleanor’s search for Daniel takes her to the estate, where she discovers that he was investigating a serious crime. It soon looks pretty likely he didn’t get out alive. But whatever fate befell him, Eleanor is stumbling perilously close to it herself. The author skillfully unites clever formal daring with a stark, chilling atmosphere of suspicion and paranoia, and does so in strikingly elegant prose.

Despite her aversion to the city’s police force and her half-sister Krush, also a detective, Eleanor’s investigation leads her to the Sundial Housing Estate, a notorious hotbed of crime. Daniel’s disappearance while probing serious crimes at the estate complicates matters further.

James Davidson’s debut novel, “Outcast Sister,” skillfully portrays the grim realities of life on a destitute estate rife with criminality. It offers an intriguing exploration of familial and adversarial relationships, weaving a compelling psychological thriller. Readers brave enough to delve into the world of Sundial Estate alongside the author will find a unique and enthralling narrative that comes highly recommended. The book is perfect for fans of Robert McCracken, J M Dalgliesh, Valerie Keogh, and Angela Marsons.

Thanks to #NetGalley and #TheBookFolks for allowing me to read this advanced DRC in exchange for my honest review.

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