Don’t Turn Around – Caroline Mitchell [REVIEW]

I received an ARC of this novel through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

I’d been looking forward to reading this book, and when I managed to get a copy through Netgalley that was even more awesome. I was so excited! There’s something really unique about the premise of this story – or at least I haven’t read one like it before so I was super psyched to delve right in. I actually finished reading this in a couple of days, which we know is usually a good sign.

don't turn aroundTitle: Don’t Turn Around

Author: Caroline Mitchell

Format: Kindle Edition

File Size: 1606 KB

Print Length: 277 pages

Publisher: Bookouture (24 April 2015)

Language: English



Soon he would be able to touch her, to feel the warmth of her blood. And when the time came, nothing would stop him.

As D.C. Jennifer Knight investigates a routine stabbing in the quiet town of Haven, she is shocked at what seems like a personal message from beyond the grave.

When more bodies are found, Jennifer is convinced the killings are somehow linked. What she discovers is more chilling than she could possibly imagine. The murders mirror those of the notorious Grim Reaper – from over twenty years ago. A killer her mother helped convict.

Jennifer can no longer ignore the personal connection. Is there a copycat killer at work? Was the wrong man convicted? Or is there something more sinister at play …

With her mother’s terrifying legacy spiralling out of control, Jennifer must look into her own dark past in a fight not only to stop a killer – but to save herself and those she loves.

A heart-stopping supernatural thriller to engross fans of Rachel Abbott, Paul Finch and James Oswald.

Don’t Turn Around is a splendid piece of fiction from emerging author Caroline Mitchell. I was initially attracted to this novel because of the cover (isn’t is fantastic to see some bright colours on crime covers? I love it!) and then the premise had me hooked. There’s something about killings in the past and copycats and legacies that really pulls me in, so I was excited for this one. And while this isn’t a flawless novel, there is a lot of good in it, and I will be looking forward to the next novels in the series.

What I liked:

1. The protagonist & her partner

Jennifer Knight is a whole lot of fun. She’s verging on OCD, tough, troubled, and had a rough childhood that she’s trying not to let bother her – and she’s determined to live up to her mother’s legacy. I like that. While Jennifer is certainly not perfectly written, she’s a cracking debut detective with a lot of room to manoeuvre. She’s sparky and has a nice relationship with her partner and friend Will.

I loved their relationship. Will is adorable, and I think Jennifer and he have a good balance of the tough and the sensitive, which is always nice. I’m glad we’re going to see more of how these two interact, because it’s definitely going somewhere good!

2. Her relationship with her nephew

I love that Jennifer’s greatest love in life is basically her nephew. I think that this is actually pretty unique and I felt it gave Jennifer’s character a lot of depth and made her seem realistic. Josh is also a good source of conflict because Jennifer often wishes she could mother him, which makes her sister unhappy.

3. The paranormal element

This is something I didn’t really think about when reading the synopsis but it ended up being my favourite thing about the novel. ‘Paranormal’ and ‘Detective’ just go together like ‘Victoria’ and ‘sponge’ – maybe not the first thing you think of (well, it is for me, but whatever, I just love cake ok?), but still a tasty combination! And handled very well with a lot of passion from Mitchell.

4. The bad guy

Frank is super damn creepy. And the idea of meeting him in a dark alley really freaks me out so we won’t talk too much about him… But his POV was a good addition to this novel and it really added some depth. Yes.

What I didn’t like:

1. The POV Switches

The POV moves about a lot. We sometimes start chapters in one POV and then suddenly we’re in somebody else’s and it’s a bit jarring for the reader. We don’t need to see into so many minds, honestly, because Jennifer’s is interesting enough! I did like seeing Frank’s thoughts and motivations, but I think that in any future Jennifer Knight novels I’d be happiest if Jennifer was the focus of the novel, carrying more weight throughout the story. In this novel she is still the primary protagonist, but I sometimes felt that she didn’t get the page-time she deserved. Still, not a deal-breaker, and something that can definitely be improved on in later novels if the author so wishes.

2. The ‘Ethan’ thing

[Spoilers ahoy] I didn’t think it was necessary for the romantic tension that we get between Ethan and Jennifer. Especially given that Ethan’s role in the novel is most importantly to introduce Jennifer into the world of paranormal investigation at the end, which I think would be achievable and perhaps more believable if he didn’t attempt to climb into her pants. Of course he’s also a general source of conflict, always good, and we also think he might be the bad guy, again not bad – but he’s successfully set up to be such a dodgy guy I actually didn’t understand why Jennifer would be so happy to go into business with him in the end.

But I am just grumpy because I can’t write romance very well and so I tend to dislike romantic entanglements that make me cringe (not because they’re badly written, just because they’re embarrassing) and Jennifer’s grope in the dark with Ethan definitely made me think, Oh Jennifer, NO! haha. So yeah, I think Ethan is a fun character and a good point of conflict with Jennifer, but for me his presence would be better served as platonic – at least for book one. I was more focused on Will. Because he’s adorable.

Now that pairing I DO ship. ❤

3. The ending

The ending (not going to spoiler you, I promise) was something that I wasn’t 100% about, but it didn’t necessary affect my overall impressions of the novel. It seemed a bit neat, really, with all of the loose ends being tied into perhaps too perfect a bow – but I didn’t DISLIKE it so much as I guess I just prefer my endings rawer and grittier. Still it sets itself up nicely for the rest of a hopefully long series, so I don’t really have too many complaints.

More DC Knight please, Caroline!



Don’t Turn Around is currently available for pre-order (99p!) and has a release date of April 24th 2015.


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