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on 9 March 2012
Having spent many years as a police officer in the area in which this book is set, I eagerly anticipated reading this book, especially after so many positive reviews.
I was extremely disappointed, and gave up less than half way through. The plot does not compel one to read further, the characters are one dimensional, and I've heard more intelligent dialogue when I've accidentally tuned into the Jeremy Kyle show.
Additionally, the author's poor grammar coupled with poor editing - liberal misplaced apostrophes etc.- make this a tedious, frustrating read.
I won't bother again. I cannot understand why there are so many positive reviews, perhaps it's just me.
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on 13 February 2013
I didn't even buy the book. I read the prologue of the 'peak inside' function and wondered what all the hype was about. Example: second paragraph of the prologue: why am I receiving information like 'sounds getting louder then softer', and 'cars and woman's laughter getting louder then softer'...it seems to me to be redundant, useless information - even if it is descriptive its role in the telling of this passage seems irrelevant. We know she is moving away from somewhere, a parking lot. Ok good. The language is clumsy and non-informative where it counts. A familiar shape? (Ok...a human being then?) Beyond the apparent assumption we have to have that a 'familiar shape' must refer to someone she must know, there is no indication that this women actually acknowledges the shape as familiar. And the use of the term ironic seems grossly misplaced - ironic that she ends up where she belongs? Thats not ironic! That is deserved. And 'slapped her back' - did the daughter slap first? I appreciate different styles of story telling, but ones that read this clumsily ruin it for me. How did any one make it past the first page? Good on the author for going solo (i.e. independent publishing), however I can't see how this made it to the best seller list.
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on 10 July 2012
I met the author in PC World when we were both looking at ipads (I was the one with both legs in plaster Mel!) Mel told me her book was available on Amazon and I went home and bought it that day. I didnt expect such a gripping story, a great plot and the bonus of recognising the setting as I live in Staffs too! I couldnt put it down! Look forward to reading your next book!!
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 29 January 2015
I have read one of Mel’s Estate Series books as well as Watching Over You. With her imminent release of book 2 featuring DS Allie Shenton I figured I should read book 1 to familiarise myself. I am pretty glad that I did now as I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I also find it’s an added bonus that I have the next book as the ending was brilliant, albeit a cliff-hanger! Allie Shenton is a good character and easily likeable. She’s a copper who is working in Stoke, the place she was born and bred. The story itself was a bit of a slow burner, but by the second third I was well and truly gripped and read it right through to the end.

Steph Ryder and her dodgy husband Terry are the main focus of this book. Steph was frankly a rather despicable character. A virtual alcoholic we get to know exactly what are whop are relevant in her life. Terry Ryder, although an obvious gangster with a legit front, had a rather endearing character! We also meet additional characters that are all added to the mix such as Phil Kennedy who works for Terry, Steph’s friend Carole and her husband Shaun as well as Terry and Steph’s daughter.

The layers of the story are put there, and at times I thought they were maybe too much but I realised by the end that there is a method to Mel’s madness, namely the next book. As well as all the colourful characters, we get to know a bit about Allie, we meet her husband, her boss and her sister. All of this becomes a lot more relevant as the story continues. When Steph is murdered, nobody (including me) could work out what on earth was going on. It certainly added another layer of intrigue as each time I thought both they and I had figured it out, I was wrong!

This book certainly had me well and truly gripped, especially the last quarter of the book, and frankly the last chapter had me screaming in frustration. Luckily, the new book is already on my Kindle (due for release 10th Feb 2015) so I could get stuck straight back in. I think Mel Sherratt is definitely an underated author and I for one am starting straight on book 2. I think if you haven’t read Mel Sherratt before this book (or one of the Estate Books) is a fantastic place to start. Now if you don’t mind…I have another Allie Shenton book to read!
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VINE VOICETOP 500 REVIEWERon 22 January 2015
When Allie Shenton is tasked with investigating the murder of Steph Ryder she follows the maxim that 90% of murders are committed to someone close to the victim which leads her to Terry Ryder someone already on the force’s radar for a scam that has afforded him a mansion for him, his wife and his stroppy teenage daughter Kirstie. Allie soon runs into problems though finding Terry unbearably charming and attractive despite all that she knows, or at the very least, suspects him of. His wife, the now departed with a bashed in head, was less attractive and seemed to have few real friends left due in part to her reliance on alcohol to get her through the day.

The structure of the story is good, giving us an insight into Steph’s days in the run up to the murder, we know what she was up to and with whom and we also are privy to who else knows these details all of which is going to be important to knowing who did the dastardly deed but at the time with the numerous criminals being added to the mix felt a little confusing and long-winded at the time, but then we get to Steph’s death. This isn’t a spoiler we know it is going to happen from the start and from here on in the book became a race against time to find the right killer and hope for the safety of numerous other characters.

Allie Shenton is a likeable character, in a relationship with a banker which is slightly shaky at times and more than a tad immature but she comes across as realistic. As all good cops in this genre are, she goes off-piste when she feels necessary and takes extraordinary risks to catch the culprit. As a gritty crime the language is fruity and many of the characters seem to be shady in the extreme. With loan-sharks, dodgy tenant scams, drugs and blackmail, I have to say Stoke-On-Trent sounded an increasingly dangerous place to reside!

An ideal read to lose yourself in and enjoy the rollercoaster ride which has enough loops to keep you on the edge of your seat, as Mel Sherratt misdirects with aplomb. The only minor criticism I have is that there were a couple of times there were sentences that I simply couldn’t make sense of in the first section.

I’m now looking forward to the release of Follow The Leader to find out what Allie does next!
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on 13 February 2015
This is the third book I have read of Ms Sherratt's so I'm now quite familiar with her style of writing, her 'grit lit.'

The book is a tale of a bored housewife, Steph, who is a married to a 'gangster' husband, Terry, with movie idol looks and a reputation to suit. Add a brash 17 year old daughter to the mix and we have a family that wouldn't be out of place on 'reality or soap opera tv!' The book is split into two parts. Part one largely consists of Steph and her story, the kind of woman she is and where she sits amongst the quite large cast of characters. Here the book centres around the last week of Steph's life and who may be plotting to see her sad demise.

Part two is then made up of trying to solve Steph's murder and that's pretty much the premise of the book. There's a fairly large cast of characters including protagonist DS Allie Shenton who along with her team have been investigating into the affairs of Terry and his dodgy dealings. It's an interesting place to be where virtually every character is so unlikeable, and boy are they, especially the fragrant Steph who is an alcoholic nightmare!! I'm being generous!! Hardly surprising that many wanted to bump her off! I can't say that I took to Allie's character either, I found her a bit weak in places with her constantly blushing every time she was in Terry's presence. Not an unlikeable character, well not as much as the rest, more flawed in parts with questionable decision making that left me shaking my head. There are plenty of twists and turns to keep readers hooked and Ms Sherratt keeps us dangling right to the very end. My favourite part of the whole book, however, was Allie's back story and her relationship with her sister, I found that touching and revealing. And at the very end of the book in the epilogue there's a tantalising nugget of their story continuing. Now, THAT'S the story I want to read and hope Ms Sherratt follows up on that with her next offering in the DS Allie Shenton series, Follow The Leader.

Not a bad book by any means but not quite up to the mark of Watching Over You which is why I'm giving this one 3.5 stars.
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on 2 March 2015
I read this book immediately after reading Gone Girl, which I was thoroughly disappointed with, with the expectation that it HAD to be better than Gone Girl (I even tweeted this to Mel Sherratt!). I was definately not disappointed this time. With believable although not neccessarily likeable characters, I was taken into a world of organised crime, loan sharks and down right thuggery. The story centres around the murder of Steph Ryder, wife of local bad boy Terry Ryder and there was plenty of suspects who could've done the deed. Although a particular character thinks he did it and admits he did it well before the end, is it really that cut and dried? I'm not going to spoil it - you really need to read it to find out. Although it has to be said, I didn't really feel any empathy or sympathy for Steph Ryder or her rogue husband there were other characters like their daughter Kirstie who didn't deserve what happened to them. Things weren't all rosie for the lead investigating officer, DS Allie Shenton, either. Does she get to close to a suspect? Does her marraige survive the strain? Again, you'll have to read it to find out.

On the whole, a really enjoyable read - I've previously read and enjoyed Watching Over You by the same author and will most definitely be reading more by Mel.
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on 24 February 2015
Stoke-on-Trent. One of the wealthiest women in town, Steph Ryder is bludgeoned to death outside a pub.

The first part of the book takes us back in time to relive Steph's last week among the living. Steph is a self-centred alcoholic, with a nasty character living an extravagant life and thinking that the world spins around her. She rampantly betrays her husband with one of his most trusted men, Phil Kennedy. Phil's son Lee, a good-for-nothing, is in a relationship with Steph's spoilt daughter Kirstie. A relationship not approved by the Ryders.

Her husband Terry is a villain who runs a number of legitimate businesses with other dodgy affairs on the side. He is a manipulative crook who can use both his charm and connections to get what he wants. The police has been on his trail for a long time but somehow he has always managed to stay one step ahead.

It is immediately evident that Steph is hated by a lot of people. This means that many people want her dead, but who does actually kill her? Early on we know who is the mind behind the murder; what we don't know is who actually delivered the final blow and we’ll have to wait till the end to find this out.

The second part of the book starts with the discovery of Steph's body and the ensuing investigation. DS Allie Shenton, the main character in this series, is called to the scene. She is a successful detective with a number of solved cases under her belt. She is however consumed by a deep sense of guilt. Cases involving brutal attacks force her to relive a painful and terrifying past experience which she can never forget.

Allie starts digging by interrogating Terry. Under his hypnotising stare and good looks, she finds herself struggling not to let him get underneath her skin; not to fall for his charm.

Allie is faced with a tangled web of deceit, lies and secrets and when more blood is spilt, she realises that in order to solve the case she'll have to risk everything she holds dear.

For a debut novel, this was very good, maybe a little dragging at times and with too many things going on at the same time. Many of the characters were hateful and the rough sex scenes may be off putting for some readers. I wasn't particularly blown away by how the murder was resolved, but the ending certainly indicates a development on Allies' tragic history. Will read the rest of the series!
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on 22 December 2011
From its great cover to the tale within, this is a greatly packaged debut which delivers on all fronts.
With characters you'll love and love to hate too, this great debut has a feel of Martina Cole taking a trip to Stoke and taking the bad stuff with her.
The central character of DS Allie Shenton is a great creation and one I'd really like to read more of in future books. The investigation of the murder of Steph Ryder brings Allie closer to a family she already knows and closer still to the dark secrets that cluster to fog her search for the killer - of which there are several very likely suspects, it seems.
Skillfully juggling the cast of characters, we are led through the darkening streets of Stoke and the devious members of its society as each tries to cover their tracks for events that led up to the killing.
Like many great crime novels, the character is important, but so is the location and with 'Taunting the Dead' Mel Sherratt has placed Stoke firmly on the map and, with a strong mix of human drama, sex and crime, has hammered it home there.

What are you waiting for, hit that BUY button and check out the first investigation by Allie Shenton now.

Keith B Walters
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on 19 May 2012
I usually enjoy crime fiction, but this is the first since I bought the Kindle that I have given up with and only 13% of the way through. Perhaps I should have persevered and I may then have found it as rewarding as many of the other reviewers. I could not relate to either the jumble of characters or the dialogue and it may be my age or generation but when the eventual victim says "OMG I am so dead" I am afraid I switched off. I must have belief or interest in the characters, however unlikely the plot, but in this book I found neither in the small part that I read. Because I only read so little perhaps my review lacks some validity.
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