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Karola – :
I‘m a little split by this book. On one side I liked the story but on the other side I somehow missed more informations about Kate. Of course in the end a lot makes sense, but not everything. And sometimes I was a little bit confused about whom was meant by ‚she‘. But I think I would like to read another book by this author, because the story in itself was really good.
cheekybugger13 – :
**Sometimes a book cover sets up the mood, tells the story or raises the level of curiosity and intrigue. THIS cover satisfies all. The contrast. Beauty and ugliness. Calm and chaos. In the midst of beauty and calm illuminating the dark forest lies chaos. Its name is Spade and its mission? “Payback.” Can you feel it?**
If you haven’t read Charlotte Mills’ latest, “Payback,” her first Ylva-published novel, and you’re a fan of crime/mystery (with a compelling romance, to boot!), you really ought to, imo!
Craftily original. Insidiously unassuming. Slyly-weaved web. Pure FUN.
And the twist? *slow clap*
This book, I have to say, was one of the few anticipated books I had planned to explore in 2019 despite not knowing anything about the author when this ominously aesthetic cover caught me undivided attention when Ylva first revealed it on SM some time ago. Long story short, three previous books of hers later (prep for what was to come, in style and story execution, in this one), here I was, finally swiping the pages of “Payback” (thanks to the very kind author who, out of the blue, sprang a delightful surprise on me the other day, no obligation! Lucky me!), filled with anticipation, but not before getting a good, long look at the incredible cover again, for real, only this time, with its accompanying story! As I’d really enjoyed Mills’ convincing voice, tone and rhythm of her word flow writing craft in all her previous stories, I knew going in, “Payback” would surely provide me with an engaging and compelling story that I’d be fully invested in.
Needless to say, Mills delivered…and then some, in this latest outing! The overall style, the flow, the tone, her angle approaches, the entangled web she weaved… Naturally, I practically devoured it in no time at all and do I have much to comment about this utterly original and creative crime/mystery story!
First off, this was Mills’ first try in writing in the crime/mystery genre. But that didn’t put any damper on how she ever-so effortlessly transitioned from contemporary romance to a more structured genre, with the all-crucial five must-haves: 1) crime or mystery case; 2) victim(s); 3) killer(s); 4) law enforcement ; 5) solving of the crime. And she nailed them all with vigour, using her own distinct voice and style. Also, I believe, if I’m not mistaken, that this was her first try in using a third-person narrative instead of her signature first-person format, which was refreshing.
The prologue drew me in immediately. Mills set up a curious situation, shrouded in mystery and uneasiness in a suspended quietness which, without revealing anything here, ended with even more mystery! Not to mention, it kept creeping back into the peripherals of me mind periodically to taunt me as I delved deeper into the story. Needless to say, I was right hooked, I was!
Anyway, Mills wasted no time getting the story started, opening the chapter with a crime. I loved Mills’ attention to detail in describing the exterior which allowed me to instantly picture the visuals in me mind as she not so much as introduced but threw Kate, one of the protagonists, a DC (Detective Constable) into the scene, without any warning to me, the reader, and Kate herself! Needless to say, Mills’ style was effective. I found meself suddenly straightening up, much like Kate did, laser-focused on the apparent scene of the crime and the crime itself which quickly descended upon me, much to me utter excitement! Yes, crime/mystery needs to start off with a bang so the reader’s attention is grabbed fully from the start.
I was taken to Kate’s character right there and then. Her quick and dry wit, fiery temper, an inherent lack of respect for authority and an intriguingly rebellious nature gave the entire opening an added thrill. I was struck by Mills’ detailed description of the opening crime scene which provided not only a visual image but also the relevant “smell” that automatically increased the foreboding onslaught of what was to come. And throughout the story, this methodology was adopted with steady persuasiveness when subsequent relevant crime scenes were introduced.
Back at the station, the other protagonist, Helen, the DCI (Detective Chief Inspector), was introduced. I loved her instantly. She wasn’t the typical DCI characters that I was used to reading in the crime/mystery genre. Helen had a decided playfulness in her that was always screaming to get out and Mills manoeuvred that fine line between being the obligatory serious senior officer in front of her subordinates and showing her sense of mischief especially around Kate, with ease. I utterly enjoyed Mills’ dry and wicked sense of humour which flowed through Helen and Kate’s personas with great effect. Helen’s calm and quiet nature played off very well with Kate’s brash, impatient personality. The contrast with their professional experience only served to complement each other as they approached the cases differently, with Kate’s natural instincts compensating her lack of experience.
One interesting matter came up whilst reading this book. Literally from the first chapter, I noticed this particular reference that I initially dismissed but it kept coming back and stayed throughout like a layer of fog that wouldn’t clear up and I couldn’t help but feel disconcerted, utterly perturbed. I couldn’t understand why. It was somewhat distracting because me mind couldn’t let it go but definitely not enough to derail me reading pleasure, thanks to a solid, tightly written story. Nevertheless, I will come back to this perplexing matter later.
I was captivated by how Mills skilfully manoeuvred between advancing the plot and developing Helen and Kate’s mutual attraction toward each other. Speaking of, I absolutely loved their natural chemistry, so deftly depicted I felt their connection right away. Their constant banter, Helen’s very amusing way of referencing Kate (brilliant choice of name, Mills!), the adorable playfulness (verbally and physically) their increasingly risque flirtations and explicitly suggestive body language all made their chemistry and their physical and emotional connection even more acutely felt. As their relationship grew deeper, the case they were investigating was also progressing at an equal pace.
One of me favourite moments was the interview room scene. It reminded me of a favourite tv series of mine, “Scott and Bailey,” whose brilliant writing and style of police interview scenes were one of the best, if not THE best with unsettlingly realistic depictions (the only other one that could compare would be “Line of Duty”). Although not as detailed and expanded as “S&B,” Mills’ nailed the style and setting convincingly and her written description of every question posed by Helen followed by the suspect’s responses (at times non-verbal) were just as tight and potent, creating this similar air of realistic integrity. I believed it.
As the case reached its tipping point, so was Helen and Kate’s relationship. Just when I thought everything was falling into place as structured so well in the book…
ALL. HELL. BROKE. LOOSE.
You know, it was kind of like, M. Night Shyamalan’s signature in his films – just when you think it’s the end of the story, then comes the reveal which actually ends up being the CRUX of the story. That’s how it was with Mills’ final act! So sudden it was that I was taken by surprise. Whilst I wasn’t shocked by the initial revelation, the nature and inner-workings of the reveal literally threw me sideways. I did not see that coming! It was ever-so slyly weaved by Mills and I just couldn’t get enough of it! So original, truly outside-the-box thinking from Mills’ part! I truly appreciated Mills’ dramatic pullback of the veil with every point, every stage, every thought, every reason described in vivid detail. And THAT was THE essence of the entire story.
And that’s not all…..
Amidst all the excitement of immersing meself in this incredibly original, creative and utterly captivating mystery-romance that Mills masterly crafted, I suddenly perked up in the middle of reading the rest of the story when I noticed a sharp shift. Then a flicker of light switched on in me mind and realisation dawned on me. OMG. THAT’S WHY the fog that I was feeling utterly perplexed by throughout most of the book was so evident! And suddenly the persistent fog that had followed me throughout me reading experience of this book dissipated! I was dumbfounded! I mean, I do hope it was by design, carefully planned, because it was BEYOND original, imo! Yes, the content of the reveal was original but THIS? I raise me hat to Ms. Mills. Bloody well done! I know I must sound cryptically bonkers but you MUST read it to find out and experience it for yourself! Fair warning though – you may NOT have the same feeling as I did. Christ, you may not even think it was anything at all! Who knows? Reckon it’s a subjective view and vantage point, innit? Anyway, there you have it. But bloody hell! If I wasn’t completely gobsmacked because I don’t think I’ve come across anything quite like it before!
And last but not least, I utterly LOVED how it ended! Oh-so hopeful, so many possibilities! I felt the joy and couldn’t stop smiling even long after I finished the book. Well done, and thank you, Ms. Mills, for this incredibly crafted mystery-romance!
This book is a MUST-READ!!!! I can’t recommend this high enough! Mills has proven to be one solid, brilliant writer with an absolutely captivating narrative style that I can always get behind 100% because she tells her stories with utter honesty and with emotional effect. Her characters are explicitly defined and portrayed, which I totally appreciate. One can still apply these aspects even when writing in an otherwise more structured genre like crime/mystery. Mills’ “Payback” as written and told proves that.
**Thank you kindly, Ms. Mills, for surprising me with a complimentary, NO-obligation copy of this book! Very generous of you, mate, cheers! As you can see, I just HAD to comment on this brilliant piece of work because of all the things I just gobbed off above, obvs! Well done and congrats!**
blondi987 – :
Payback by Charlotte Mills is a mystery/romance novel that I must say is one of the most intriguing books I’ve ever read. The mystery begins in the Prologue with the reader seeing what looks like two murders. Starting in the first chapter we meet the main characters, Detective Constable Kate Wolfe and her superior officer Detective Chief Investigator Helen Taylor. The rest of the story which includes at least three somewhat related crimes and the romance between the two main characters are told through their eyes.
I have to tell you that I didn’t like the story through most of the first half of the book. The beginning (Prologue) was great. Then we see the two main characters teasing and playing tricks on each other as they try to figure out the crimes that are happening. This may be a cultural issue for me since the story is set in a small town in England, but honestly, if I had been Kate, I would have been reporting Helen to HR and probably would have been unemployed after a while. It also kept me from seeing the connection forming between the two. I almost stopped reading the book, but a fellow reviewer encouraged me to keep going, and boy am I glad I did. The mystery picked up steam in the second half with all kinds of evidence pointing to different suspects and sudden unexpected twists and turns. The sparks between Kate and Helen also burst into flame, and wow, were those flames hot. The end of the book is what turned my review from what I thought would be at best a three star review into five stars. I never saw that ending coming. Ms. Mills has created a brilliant and totally surprising ending. I am very glad I read this whole book.
If you love an excellent mystery filled with lots of twists and turns coupled with some very steamy romance, you must read this book. Just keep reading!
I received this book as an ARC from Ylva Publishing for an honest review.
Jude – :
I love it when, with mysteries, I can honestly say “I didn’t see this coming”. Charlotte Mills does a great job of taking the reader somewhere, very logically, but when you get there, it’s another place than you thought you were being taken too, yet it’s still as coherent. Very well done.
stephasselin – :
I think many of us have at one point in our lives felt the urge to get payback for something someone has done. And that’s what I’ve been expecting from the first pages of Payback, by Charlotte Mills.
I’m still unsure about how to review this book without spoiling anything, which is always my main concern when reviewing suspense/mystery novels.
Kate Wolfe arrives in town. She has been sent under unclear circumstances and almost makes an inexcusable mistake on her first day in. DCI Helen Taylor, also known ad Guv must deal with her new agent who doesn’t seem to know how to lay low.
At first, I didn’t know what to expect from the book, and it was that way for at least half the book. The mystery parts where captivating, blowing all assumptions we have about the committed crimes. It keeps the reader guessing all book long.
I thought there were a little bit too much of X-rated scenes for my liking, but that’s simply a preference on my part. They were well written and didn’t stop the flow of the story.
This book was filled with surprises and an unexpected ending that’s for sure. It was my first read by Charlotte Mills and I must admit I am gladly surprised. The intrigue was present all book long, keeping me captivated by the chapters to come, but at the same time, creating a romantic environment so the two protagonists could evolve in it.
It is a well-written mystery, pushing the lines between what we would be ready to do just to get a Payback and the fact that we all can picture situations in which we would’ve acted a certain way, giving there were no consequences… I think it helps the reader understand the characters and their personalities better.
I cannot say I have a favourite character since none of them stood out from the rest.
Payback is a good read and I suggest it to everyone looking for a good mystery. It’s not a Lee Winter’s mystery, but it’s close.
Rainbow Moose’s Reviews
*I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review*
MEC – :
Enjoyed this book quite a bit. I thought it would be a bit more like some of the old UK police procedurals I’ve read, but didn’t get quite that gritty. With Kate’s arrival in Warner, she’s called out a week before she’s supposed to start and gets off to a rocky start with the locals and the DCI. There appears to be a bit of a crime spree – an arsonist, a dead body and a missing architect – which keeps things moving as Kate and Helen juggle the cases and their burgeoning attraction. At times, I thought Kate was a shit police officer, but then again, the lesbian super detective trope gets old so it was nice to see someone who sometimes got caught off guard and the fact that sometimes it just takes time and effort to track down leads and evidence. Overall a very good read. I’ll be keeping my eyes open for the next book by Ms Mills.
payanke_ – :
That’s in exchange of an honest review that I received an ARC of « Payback ». So, here it is !!
1st of all : Thank you so much Ylva Publishing for providing me this book, I really appreciated my trip in the UK … )
That’s the first time I read something written by this author and what I have to say is : ❤️❤️❤️ WOW !!! ❤️❤️❤️ Attagirl Charlotte Mills !! 👍👍 That’s an AMAZING novel you offered us… As a matter of fact, « Payback » is one of the best lesfic mystery books I’ve ever read & 🏅🏆 officially on the top 3 of my favourite lesfic novels ever !!! 💜💙💚💛🧡❤️ So, I really hope the rumors I’ve heard about a sequel are true …
My rating : 4.5 ⭐️ (book read in April 2019)
The story takes place in Warner, a Cheshire backwater (Cheshire is county in North West England for those you wonder where it’s located), and focuses on Detective Constable Kate Wolfe (sent over there after falling foul of a disciplinary hearing in London.) & Detective Chief Inspector Helen Taylor. While fighting their growing attraction for each other they investigate a recent spate of arson attacks, a dead body found in a burnt out building, and a missing architect. Their lives will change forever because of a series of events sparked by the discovery of a dumped vehicle in a quarry lake …
The pros :
° the title … « Payback » is just perfect but to know why people, you’ll have to read the novel 😉
° the change of scenery since I don’t often read novels located in the UK.
° the amazing intrigue and suspence.
° the wording & style are very good … Seriously, most of the time the story is so well narrated that there’s no problem to picture the scenes and, in my mind’s eye, it was like watching one of these great cops (mixed with CSI) TV series… Trust me, it’s not often that I have such clarity in my visualisation (even if it’s usually very good)
° the funny banter between the MCs (there’s a great chemistery between them) and all the other numerous great touches of humour … That’s just excellent and helpful to relieve the tension due to the intrigue. I giggled & laughed out loud very often !! (It’s confirmed : my cats and dogs are convinced that I’m crazy, LOL 😂🤣)
° the erotism of the flirting, being even more intense when it comes to the lovemaking scenes between K & H …
° the best (that I kept for the end) : THE TWIST (last part of the book) => 😱😱😱 Oh my God !!!! That’s just awesomely brilliant !!! Aside the author, of course, I think that not a lot of people could have seen this coming … 👍 😍👍 😍👍 😍👍 😍
The cons :
° from time to time the sentences beginning by « She » instead of a first name of the character when both the MCs are present during some scenes can be quite confusing and, sadly, it breaks the rhythm of the reading the time we process the information to figure out who « She » is …
° the not always very clear/ quite confused elements which « appears » from time to time refering to the timeline … Some events which seem to have took place several weeks ago are suddenly described as if they had happened the week before…
If I had to make a very short and quite different version of my review it’d be something like this :
Did I enjoy this book? => Hell .. Yes !!! More than a lot… For me it’s A MUST READ, really captivating (I was pissed off each time I had to stop my reading : guess I should havecut off my phones … LOL) …
Did I find the characters believable? => Yes …
Is this book now included in my « must be re-read »-list? => Yes, definitely …
Will I purchase the paperback? => Yes … ASAP … I really want to have it on my bookshelves (what’s a shame is that it won’t be a signed copy ☹ 😞 )
Would I read another book by this author? => Oh yeah !
Would I recommend this book => Yes, mainly to all fans of cops/ crime/mystery stories but, of course, everyone can give it a try …
Hey guys and gals, you know that now it’s your turn … So … Grab your own copy and make your own opinion …
Enjoy (or not) your reading …
Hsinju C. – :
Dead body. Arson. Missing person. Throughout most of the story, I had trouble getting into the plot, connecting with detective Kate Wolf and her boss Helen Taylor, as well as understanding their attraction. A lot of things did not add up for me, so it took me a very long time to get past the first few chapters and keep reading. Even as I was close to finishing, I couldn’t understand why everyone loved it so much. Until I did.
This is difficult to review without spoilers, but if you start off feeling ambivalent about the story like me, please stick around until the end. The last 10% is definitely the game changer. I love how Mills dropped little hints here and there and each plot line completes one another. I skim read the book again after finishing it for the first time and picked up on even more subtleties. Everything makes sense. Everything.
Payback is a puzzle. Only upon finishing will you realize its beautiful picture. This mystery novel has the best moral grayness depiction I have read in a long time. If you love an anti-hero, Payback is for you. Highly recommend a reread as well.
* I received an electronic review copy from Ylva Publishing in exchange for an honest review. *
채원 장 (verified owner) – :
This was a good book. So much so that I wanted to leave a review. I especially enjoyed the mystery part of it. Romance part was nice as well but I personally just can’t get into romance between a superior and her subordinate although I do like their dynamics and enjoyed their playful banters. Anyway, the writing and the mystery kept me intrigued enough to reach the end. And what an end! I’m glad there is a sequel.
Both main characters were nice. I could see that they both got the equal amount of love and attention from the author. Sometimes I can sense which one of the two MCs an author favors but this book was not the case. That showed in the way how Helen and Kate’s personal storylines and past baggages were balanced out. All around enjoyable with a pleasant punch in the end.