Monday 10 August 2015

REVIEW: Caroline Mitchell - Don't Turn Around (Detective Jennifer Knight Book 1)

Genre: Crime / Paranormal
Publisher: Bookouture
Publication Date: 24th April 2015
Pages: 318


I received an advance copy of Don’t Turn Around from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This is said review. This book is published by Bookouture.

So Caroline Mitchell is a new one to me. This is the first I have ever read of hers. To be honest I thought it was her first book until I discovered Paranormal Intruder which appears to be a story about her own true life experiences with paranormal activity. All I can say is that after reading Don’t Turn Around I am intrigued and interested to get my hands on a copy of Paranormal Intruder, firstly because I am interested in that sort of thing (no choice, my wife is a psychic medium and frequently brings her work home!!) and secondly, if she can write fiction like Don’t Turn Around then the non-fiction stuff must be pretty damn good as well.

Jennifer Knight is a detective in the CID in the quiet, small town of Haven. She is investigating the stabbing of a local gangster when the body of the perpetrator turns up. An apparent suicide by hanging. Something doesn’t fit for Jennifer though and the voices in her head seem to agree.

As the bodies mount up, they all seem very similar to a case Jennifer’s late mother was investigating when she was a Detective Inspector years earlier. Jennifer didn’t know about this case until she uncovers some evidence of her own and starts to put the pieces together.

She must now decide whether to listen to the voices in her head, follow the dead she was able to communicate with when she was younger and finally be able to admit her suspicions to her unbelieving boss and colleagues.

Now. I will hold my hand up and admit to something. When I saw this on NetGalley I requested it. I knew nothing of Ms Mitchell and I knew nothing of the book. I didn’t even read the synopsis. I saw it was published by Bookouture and after recent experiences of their books decided to give it a go. I thought I was getting a simple British crime book. How wrong was I? A lot. What I got was the British crime book element but a lot more besides. I didn’t know anything of the paranormal aspect of the book in that the main character, Jennifer was psychic. This shot the interest up by a large amount. Anyway, on with the book.

Characters wise was where I struggled a bit. Jennifer is a young girl with an obvious past that isn’t gone into in great detail. She is at a level she doesn’t believe she should be. Something happened in her past that left her in a sort of nowhere girls land. I would have liked to have known more about this to get a better grasp of her character and her strengths. She always seemed a bit lost for me but did grow as the story progressed. Her colleagues, again though good in the story, didn’t feel as strong for me as they could have. I can’t put my finger on it but at times they trundled through instead of going at things with the sense of urgency that the story needed. Will, her partner, struck me as a bit of a wimp at the start but turns out to be more of a strong, silent type. Her sergeant, Steph, didn’t make that much of an impact on the story at all for me. Neither did her Inspector DI Allison.

The villain in the story however, Frank, just oozed evil. Even though he was an out and out (insert expletive here) I loved him and hated him at the same time. He was so cool and calculated and knew exactly what he was doing. He gets a partner later in the story but should really have stayed on his own.

Now. That’s my negative. For me characters make up a third of a book. The other two thirds are the plot and the writing itself. I generally can lose interest in a book if the characters don’t do anything for me. However, Don’t Turn Around makes up for the character negative with the plot and the writing.

As normal in my reviews I am not going to tell you anymore of the story other than what I have said above. What I will say is, this is one hell of a story that smashes a standard, quaint little British crime book to pieces.

The addition of the paranormal element is a fantastic twist that keeps you glued to the story because you never really know what’s going to happen next. Jennifer doesn’t so why should you? You know the way you can guess things when the main character is still in the dark and you might scream at them to see what you see? Not with this baby you won’t. I knew who the ultimate villain in the story was from very early on. No I didn’t. I thought I did then when it became clear it wasn’t them, I finally had it sussed. No I didn’t. It switched again and to be honest if you guess who Frank is getting help from before the last couple of chapters in this book then you should be writing them instead of reading them.

Caroline Mitchell has written this book switching between the original investigation that Jennifer’s mum is dealing with, going from the ‘60’s through to the ‘90’s, and the current investigation in real time so to speak. It’s very effective. The scenes set in the past are excellent. They give you a true feel of the times they are set in. You can almost sense the atmosphere. You can almost see the difference in the clothes, the cars, the hairstyles and the attitudes. It builds the story fantastically well giving you a true sense of the evil that is at work. It truly is evil and becomes almost a horror story towards the end with the introduction of some additional characters.

If this is the first fiction book that Ms Mitchell has written then I say bring on the rest. This is obviously going to be a series using Jennifer Knight and I look forward to seeing where she goes and how she grows. The writing is very good. Very polished without going overboard. Well-paced and well put together to keep you reading well past your bed time. The fact that Jennifer has the “added” qualities gives a very wide spectrum of opportunity to develop her as a character in either the crime or even horror genres. I look forward to more.

To summarise: a thoroughly good British crime story with the added paranormal / supernatural elements that give it that little bit extra. Characters that could have been stronger for me but the writing and the plot itself more than make up for that. Twists and turns galore that give you no idea of how it is going to end. If you say you got it early on then I have one thing to say to you – liar, liar pants on fire!

One last point I must make. The publishers of this book, Bookouture are proving themselves to have amassed a stable of writers that many other publishers are going to become very jealous of. I have watched how they promote and support their authors over this past six months or so and I have to say it is second to none. If you are looking for something new to read I would definitely check them out.

General rating:

★★★★ The character issue I had loses a star. Still bloody good.

Crime / Paranormal rating:

★★★★ Just shy of the 5!

If you would like to help support Confessions of a Reviewer then please consider using the links below to buy Don’t Turn Around. This not only supports me but also lets me know how many people actually like to buy books after reading my reviews. Thanks.

Book Synopsis:

You don’t know him. But he knows you.

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.

Originally from Ireland, Caroline lives with her husband, four children and two dogs in a pretty village on the coast of Essex. Five years ago Caroline and her family encountered real life paranormal activity in their home. Paranormal Intruder is her best selling true story.

Caroline's new novel, Don't Turn Around has recently been published by Bookouture in a three book deal as part of her DC Jennifer Knight series. These edge of your seat crime thrillers are infused by Caroline's experience in both the police and the paranormal. To find out more please subscribe at

You can see more of Caroline at her website.

Caroline’s author page is here.


  1. Thanks Nev, I'm delighted you enjoyed the book. There's lots more in store for DC Knight.

    1. Very welcome Caroline. I look forward to them.