Compelling: Review of Their Last Breath by Sibel Hodge

Sibel Hodge is another author I discovered through NetGalley (much like Mark Edwards, I had one of her books on my list but got a chance to read another one through NetGalley). When I read Into the Darkness, I absolutely got hooked onto her writing style, settings, and characters. And when I saw that an ARC of Their Last Breath was up for review, I (obviously) grabbed it. The fact that it featured Warren Carter from Into the Darkness was a happy bonus. Keep reading to know if Their Last Breath met expectations.

Sibel Hodge Their Last Breath
Source: Goodreads

Genre:

Thriller, Mystery

Length:

380 pages

Blurb:

It took just a few short months for Warren Carter to realize that retirement didn’t suit him too well, especially with the memories of his last case and the ensuing bloodbath still fresh in his mind. Then, six women die in a fire that claims an abandoned building – six women who were chained to their beds with no means of escape. Carter is called back into the system to investigate members of the police force itself, and find the corrupt officer involved in the heinous crime that claimed six lives. As the case unfolds, Carter finds himself relying on an old, unexpected friend. But will he find the culprits in time? Or will he trust the wrong person and let more people die?

Overall Rating:

10 out of 10

Plot:

10 out of 10

Characterization:

10 out of 10

Primary Element:

8 out of 10

Writing Style:

9 out of 10

Part of a Series:

Their Last Breath features Warren Carter and other characters who were part of Into The Darkness.  Warren Carter also makes an appearance in an earlier book. For the most part, though, this can be read as a standalone. References to Into The Darkness are minimal and easily understandable.

Highlighted Takeaway:

There are chapters of the story told from the victim’s perspective. This was surprising in the beginning because it seemed like it would give away a lot of the suspense. But Hodge manages to showcase the victim’s side of things without really disclosing anything about the mystery, while also evoking stronger association for the victim, consequently making you associate with the fight for justice even more.

What I Liked:

The book and story are very well-rounded, right from the characters to the unfolding of the mystery. In a world where cryptic endings are becoming increasingly common (and are often done well), reading a well-rounded book felt extremely satisfying.

What I Didn’t Like:

Can’t think of a single thing that adversely affected the reading experience.

Who Should Read It:

Anyone who enjoys a good mystery or thriller, but with a touch of real-world ugliness.

Who Should Avoid:

Sibel Hodge is a great writer who is unafraid to dabble in very real events. This may make Their Last Breath a bit too realistic at its essence for some to take. I would still recommend it to all mystery and thriller lovers though – its dark side really adds to the reading experience (which, I suppose, is the intention).

Read It For:

Warren Carter – a great character who knows that things are either good or bad, but that sometimes you have to be both.

Thanks to NetGalley and Amazon Publishing UK for a free ARC of this book. I thoroughly enjoyed it and can safely say that, after Their Last Breath, Sibel Hodge is one of my favorite mystery and thriller authors.

Their Last Breath was released on 24 September 2019 and is now available for sale.

As always, thanks for stopping by and reading my book reviews!

– Rishika

Review: Into The Darkness (By Sibel Hodge)

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Source: Goodreads

Length:

My rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Eighteen-year-old Toni wants to study criminal psychology to be able to help people, especially children, affected by the evil deeds of which psychopaths are capable. But a week before her university course begins, she discovers something horrifying in the deepest corners of the internet. Before she is able to wrap her head around what she’s seen, she finds herself attacked, abducted, and locked in a dark cell. With no help from the police, Toni’s mother turns to an old friend for help. Ex-SAS operative, Mitchell, has seen the worst that the world and its people have to offer. He knows that evil is not a concept of fairy tales, but a very real threat that can exist in the form of anything and anyone. Uncaring about the law and only concerned with quick justice, Mitchell is a vigilante with a mission – bring Toni home safe, no matter what it costs.

DS Warren Carter has been a detective for so long that the job and the growing lack of justice are beginning to make him grow weary. He is two weeks away from retiring from the force and taking up a different job. Then, he’s called in to investigate the double murder of a simple, seemingly normal couple. Nothing is what it seems in the case. DS Carter is short on staff and has almost no support from his overbearing, bureaucratic boss. Yet, he won’t let the case go, relying on the instincts that have always had his back to try and solve the cold-hearted, heinous crime. But the case isn’t simple, and DS Carter finds himself falling into the depths of a world that is more twisted and evil than he could have ever imagined.

Time is running out for Toni as Mitchell tries desperately to find her in a world of shadows where anonymity is pivotal. And DS Carter is beginning to question everything he’s ever known. The Missing, the Vigilante, and the Detective are caught in a dangerous game, one that offers threats at every turn, and that none of them may win.

The Bottom Line:

An interestingly told thriller that does not shy away from the gory stuff, hits you in the face with the truth that you’d rather never know, and spins an intricate, well-plotted tale that is not made any less enjoyable by its predictability.

My take:

Writing in the first person isn’t always easy. Not too many people like the approach so you have to be exceptionally good at it to ensure that your audience can associate with the character they’re following. Writing from different points of view consistently isn’t easy either. It’s altogether too easy to get their personalities mixed up, and end up with one’s style seeping into the other.

Yet, Sibel Hodge does both these things with brilliant precision in Into the Darkness. 

The story follows a vigilante who believes that justice is best served instantly, a missing girl whose desire to help people takes her into the depths of unspeakable horror, and a detective who’s been worn down by the injustices he’s witnessed in his career but still, desperately, needs to trust in the legal system. All three are gray characters, and Hodge’s style allows you to follow their internal battles and really get into the story. She doesn’t break their characterization at all, which adds to the association that readers develop for the characters.

The story itself is quite interesting. It is based on a topic that has been done previously (in movies and books) – the dark web – but still manages to be fresh in its approach. It’s also painfully graphic, so those who aren’t used to too much gore may have a few cringe-worthy moments while reading. When you look beyond the near-horrific narrations though, you see that it’s less about the activity and more about the people behind it. Into the Darkness focuses a lot on what people, good and bad, are really capable of; on how far someone can go, how malleable their morals can become, if they’re motivated by greed and insane fetishes, or the desire to help people and enable justice.

The book proceeds at a good speed, taking you from one POV to another and back as you turn pages wondering just how (and even if) these three arcs meet. It’s not immensely unpredictable, but there are definitely some shock-factors. The characters within the story have apparently made appearances previously in other works, but the story is complete in itself. All in all, Into the Darkness is a well-paced, intriguing thriller; and while I wouldn’t say that this should be the next book you should read, it definitely should be on the TBR pile of anyone who enjoys the genre or wants to venture into it.

Recommended to:

  • those who enjoy thrillers
  • those who enjoy multi-POV or first-person focused books (both these aspects are done extremely well)
  • those who like crime fiction

A big thanks to NetGalley and Thomas & Mercer for an ARC of this book. It led to me discovering some very interesting characters and a new author to follow. Share your thoughts on how you liked (or are waiting for) Into the Darkness and any other books by Sibel Hodge in the comments section below.

Into the Darkness releases on 3rd June, 2018.

– Rishika