Cover Image: Dog Rose Dirt

Dog Rose Dirt

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Member Reviews

When former journalist Heather Evans returns to the house she grew up in following the death by suicide of her mother - from whom she was estranged - she discovers a shocking secret. Among her mother's belongings are a long correspondence with an imprisoned killer. Trying to discover why her conventional, emotionally withdrawn mother would be known to the notorious Red Wolf, and what could have driven her to suicide, Heather is drawn into a mystery reaching back to before her own birth.

Strangely, this is the second 'journalist returns to their childhood home after the death of a parent and uncovers a serial killer' thriller I've read recently: does the herald the beginning of a weirdly specific trend?!
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Dark and scary with twists and turns that keep you guessing right to the end. My thanks to net galley the publisher and the author for an advance copy in return for an honest review.
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A page Turner, a mystery horror, I found it had enough twist to keep you guessing and a very unique way of telling this story
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A great, twisty and compelling serial killer thriller. I thought it was quite slow to start, but as the story got deeper and creepier, I was fully invested. The conclusion was heart-poundingly tense, and the revelations were unexpected and satisfying. I really enjoyed it.
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If I were asked to describe this book in only two words it would be pitch black. Treading a fine line between thriller and horror this is not a book for the faint of heart as it touches on themes of child and animal abuse as well as the crimes of at least one ritualistic serial killer. 
It is vicious, dark, creepy as all hell and very, very good. 

Following the death of her mother Heather realises that she may be linked to the original serial killer, and could be the key to unlocking the identity of the copycat.Set in the present day as Heather visits Michael Reave in prison she starts to investigate the link between her mother and the killer, the chapters are interspersed with flashbacks to Michael's past. This cleverly creates a narrative that made me unsure whether Heather was being set up as a victim, whether she was being used as bait or whether she knew more than she was revealing. This uneasy feeling was only heightened by the references too original fairy tales and folklore. When Heather unearths a connection to a commune with strange ideas about the local woodland the story really picks up pace as she travels to investigate the area and interview some of the people involved. This leads to some incredibly creepy and atmospheric moments that had me frantically turning the pages to see what would happen next. Whilst by this point I had my suspicions there were  plenty of shocks and surprises that kept me utterly engrossed. 

If I had any gripes about the book it is that there was insufficient explanation for the twisted ringmaster running the show, and I would have liked to have understood more about the commune.

My thanks go to the publishers and NetGalley for the advance copy in return for an honest review.
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Scared me, kept me riveted to the end—even though I read a lot of it 'through my fingers'. The writing style is perfect for the book, and worked so well.
Thank you for the Arc.
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Written in a quite lovely dark style that gives a great atmosphere to quite an awful series of crimes, this was a book that I really enjoyed. I understand that this was the authors first departure in to this genre and I have followed her already on Good Reads and Amazon.

Not for the fainthearted but a good well structured dark thriller!
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Heather Evans left home at the age of 16 and her relationship with her mother has been strained ever since but she has to return to her childhood home when her mother commits suicide.  As she is packing up the house contents, she finds an old tin containing letters written to Michael Reeve since from before she was born.  Reeve, known as Red Wolf, is serving a life prison sentence for murder and Heather manages to arrange a visit to talk about his relationship with her mother.

Over various visits, she starts to realise that she didn't really know her mother at all but she also starts to notice signs that she is being followed and somebody is getting into the house.

Her curiosity gets the better of her and she starts digging deeper into her mothers past which leads her back to where her mother lived in a commune - but finding out the truth may not be all she was expecting.

A great story line although a little slow at times with a few twists and turns to keep you guessing.
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The blurb for this one sounded right up my street and there were some very disturbing and shocking moments throughout the storyline but it was very difficult to engage with the characters especially Heather and I did struggle to keep with it. 
Not really for me and I think it will be one of those “marmite” books after reading other reviews.
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A thriller with more than a small splash of horror, Dog Rose Dirt is the story of Heather Evans and her reluctant return to her home village following her mother's suicide. Heather always had a strange relationship with her mother, so feels uncomfortable returning to the house where she grew up to arrange the funeral and sort through her mother's things. 

Whilst looking through the house, Heather finds a box full of letters - sent over the course of many years - which she soon realises are from the notorious serial killer, Michael Reave, aka the Red Wolf, who has been in prison for 20 years for the brutal murder of women - which he has always denied. 

Why was her mother in such close contact with the Red Wolf? and why did she kill herself, leaving behind such a mysterious note? Soon Heather becomes embroiled in her mother's past, and - when copy cat murders begin to take place - she finds herself face to face with the Red Wolf in prison, trying to help the police and find out more about his connection to her mother. 

Dog Rose Dirt is an immersive, scary, gruesome read which had me shocked, disturbed, and racing to finish it and find out what was going on. It did get a little overboard by the end - and I really couldn't understand why Heather didn't seem to find anything scary herself until so late on in the story! but it was a very entertaining thriller.

I would like to give the book 3.5 stars out of 5.
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Thanks to Netgalley for the preview of this book.  It was great. Heather is a complex but intriguing character.  The plot although initially slightly confusing is excellent. A brilliant book.
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Difficult to get into but well worth the perseverance. A cleverly and intriguing crafted storyline. Hippie commune, a mother with a secret past, a jailed serial killer with a new copy cat killer in action, throw in a little romance what more could you ask for? A great read.
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Interesting characters and well written. A bit dark and twisted in places but, hey, welcome to the mind of a serial killer!. Enjoyed this one a lot.
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I had high hopes for this book going into it. The plot sounded like my kind of book. I love serial killer stories.

But sadly it wasn’t for me. It was very confusing to begin with and I lost interest. Also the daughter wasn’t the most likeable of characters.

I can see that it has mixed reviews, a lot of people loved it and others not so much.

Thanks for the advanced copy to read
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Holy cow wow, if you like dark, disturbing thrill rides, then you need to read this book!  It’s well written, fast paced, and unputdownable!!! Dark, dark, dark, but oh so delicious!  A must read for my fellow disturbing thrill seekers!  Sure to give you plenty of thrills, chills, twists and turns, and shocks!  Highly, highly recommend!
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This is Jen Williams first thriller and what a debut that is.

Estranged daughter and ex-journalist Heather only discovers her mother has been writing to a serial killer for decades after she unexpectedly commits suicide. This serial killer (Red Wolf) though – safely locked away in HMP Belmarsh – appears to have a big fan on the outside, as women start turning up butchered in remote patches of countryside, their mouths stuffed with flowers, and Red Wolf will only speak to Heather about it.

A dark and addictive read, with a serial killer and a story that will stay with you long after the last page. The use of folklore, location and dual timeline create an immersive and oppressive atmosphere perfect for this kind of story.
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A dark, creepy, atmospheric novel which will give you the chills. Beautifully written and descriptive, with each scene perfectly set. The plot twists are unpredictable and there are undercurrents aplenty, all of which will give you goosebumps. Plenty of mystery from the beginning and an ending that you'll never see coming. 

Characters are well thought out and fit comfortably within the plot. The various personalities depicted are easy to believe in and work well in their roles. 

Definitely well worth reading, great storytelling which will have you on the edge of your seat
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I would like to thank Netgalley and HarperCollins UK, HarperFiction for an advance copy of Dog Rose Dirt, a thriller set in the fictional Kent town of Balesford.

Former journalist Heather Evans returns to her mother’s house in Balesford to try and understand why she committed suicide. She didn’t get on with her mother and they had drifted apart over the years so she soon discovers that there is a lot she doesn’t know, including a decades long correspondence with notorious serial killer Michael Reave or the Red Wolf as he is more popularly known. Now a copycat is killing in the same way as Reave and he might have information to give, but he’ll only give it to Heather.

I enjoyed Dog Rose Dirt, which has an interesting plot, full of twists and turns. It did not, however, have my rapt attention or engender an overwhelming urge to get back it whenever I put it down. I understand that the author is new to the genre and, to a certain extent, it shows. Apart from the action packed denouement the novel is quite slow and repetitive and whatever information Heather gains is piecemeal and not particularly informative. Also, the novel switches timeline on a regular basis between Heather’s now and Michael Reave’s “before” as it’s labelled. Neither is particularly engrossing as both come across as slightly muddled with nothing clear cut enough for the reader to grab hold of.

Having said that, the plot is different enough from the standard serial killer fare to be be commended and while some of the twists are guessable others are more of a surprise, so more kudos there. 

I liked the idea of Heather trying to work out the cause of her mother’s suicide and I can see the reasons for some of her actions but she’s not a very attractive character, immature and unworldly for a 35 year old former journalist. 

I think Dog Rose Dirt has some teething problems in its execution, but overall it’s a credible (not in a plot sense) offering so I’m happy to recommend it as a good read.
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When Heather’s mother commits suicide, she returns to her childhood home looking for answers. Having fallen out with her after her father died she had had little contact in recent years so understanding her mother’s state of mind was not going to be easy. Meanwhile a serial killer is at large, murdering young women in a copycat way of a notorious killer, Michael Reave, who was currently serving life in prison. When Heather discovers hundreds of letters from Reave hidden among her mother’s belongings she is shocked to the core. Realising she really didn’t know her mother at all, she sets out to find the truth. A complex story that alternates between past and present gradually reveals its dark secrets. With many twists and an underlying chill of fear running through it, this excellent story delivers its full horror in a shocking climax.
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Dog Rose Dirt is another of those novels about children who never really knew their parents. In this novel Heather returns to her mother's home after her mother's death to clear up the estate. Amongst her belongings she finds some letters and is sufficiently curious to go in search of who this person was and why her Mum kept the correspondence secret all her life. The trail leads into areas of real darkness and, along the way, Heather discovers a lot about herself. Perhaps some of the clues, that lead to her achieving success in her search for answers, are sometimes a bit contrived but this doesn't prevent Williams' giving us a properly scary book.
Discovery, serial murders, danger and love - all in one book. What's not to like?
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