You Belong To Me by Mark Tilbury #BookReview #BlogBlitz

 Can two wrongs ever make a right?
The police never found fifteen-year-old Ellie Hutton. She vanished ten years ago after walking home from school along a disused railway track. But Danny Sheppard knows exactly what happened to her. She is dead and buried in a field near Lassiter’s Brook. Now Cassie Rafferty has gone missing. Same age. Similar circumstances. And Danny also knows what has happened to her.
Can Danny fight his demons and tell the truth this time? 
Or will history repeat itself and leave another innocent girl dead?

I first reviewed You Belong To Me in February 2019 but now Mark has made the decision to self-publish and so it's been re-issued with a fabulous new cover so I'm delighted to be re-sharing my review of this dark psychological thriller today.

In the early 2000s, many people used Friends Reunited to get back in touch with old school friends. Danny Shepherd doesn't use the internet to catch up with his old mates, however. He hires a private investigator to deliver a message to his former friends - Josh, Rob and Kieran but his note isn't greeted with any pleasure. It's rapidly obvious that all four men have been terribly affected by something in their past and their mental health issues, addictions, fear of commitment and suicide attempts bear testimony to that. Danny sends his message after a teenage girl, Cassie Rafferty goes missing; the book actually opens with an unnerving scene in which the reader sees the moments leading up to Cassie's abduction and her initial interactions with her kidnapper but for most of the novel we are left wondering about her fate.
The four old friends share a dreadful secret which they have tried and failed to move on from over the years. The novel takes us back to the fateful events which ended up causing them such misery and it makes for disturbing reading. I discovered that Mark Tilbury is able to create characters capable of some almost unimaginably evil acts when I read his previous book, The Key to Death's Door and in You Belong to Me, he once again introduces an antagonist whose actions are truly horrific. This probably isn't going to appeal to those of a more sensitive disposition; the violence is brutal and upsetting and includes cruelty to animals but it never feels gratuitous and is often described after the actual act has taken place which allows the reader to feel slightly more detached from the horror than if it was written about as happening in the moment.
One of the things I most enjoyed about The Key to Death's Door was Mark Tilbury's ability to capture the voices of his teenage protagonists so well and the same is true here. The first part of the book is set in the present but after the four men are reunited, the story goes back nine years to when they were still boys and it is here that we finally learn what abhorrent event has cast such a long shadow over their lives. We see the boys set on a course of dangerous revenge but despite their initial triumph, there is always a sense of ominous foreboding as it seems inevitable that their nemesis will soon regain the upper hand once again. When retribution comes, it is shocking and vicious and before long their teenage bravado is destroyed as they become mere shadows of themselves, their futures destroyed by what they experience at a time when they should still be dreaming of the promise of their lives ahead.
This cleverly plotted novel drew me until I was left contemplating my own morals and asking just what is acceptable when confronting pure evil. The characterisation is absolutely top-notch, with the four boys each having clearly defined personalities which are still apparent in the very damaged men they eventually become, and the cruel malevolence of the villain is terrifying. The shocking twists sent chills down my spine and meant I raced through the pages, desperate to discover whether the men would achieve the resolution they - and Cassie Rafferty - so desperately needed. Mark Tilbury's book is gripping, gritty crime fiction which never shies away from the darker side of humanity and yet still remembers the victims and the long-term consequences of the horror they are forced to endure. Compelling, thought-provoking and very highly recommended.

You Belong To Me can be purchased from Amazon UK and Amazon US. It is also available on Kindle Unlimited.

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About the Author

Mark lives in a small village in the lovely county of Cumbria, although his books are set in Oxfordshire where he was born and raised. After being widowed and raising his two daughters, Mark finally took the plunge and self-published two books on Amazon, The Revelation Room and The Eyes of the Accused. He's always had a keen interest in writing, and is extremely proud to have had seven novels published by Bloodhound Books. Now self-publishing, Mark has published The Last One To See Her and his most recent book, A Prayer For The Broken. 
When he's not writing, Mark can be found playing guitar, reading and walking.