One Must Die by Mark Tilbury #BookReview #BlogTour

I have both your sons, Mr Levitt. One of them must die. You choose.

Widower Sean Levitt receives the ominous message in the post a few days after his teenage boys go missing on their way to army cadets. As time progresses, the abductor makes increasingly terrible demands of Sean by sending him shocking DVDs, and telling him to post videos of his ‘assignments’ on Facebook.

One Must Die is the shocking story of one man’s fight to keep his sons alive, and the terrible lengths he must go to in order to do so.

Can Sean do what the police have failed to do and find his sons?

Or will the abductor achieve his twisted aim of destroying his entire family?  

I'm delighted to be opening the blog tour for One Must Die today. Many thanks to Mark Tilbury for inviting me and for my advance digital copy of the novel.

At some point, most - if not all - parents will experience the worry of their child not returning home when expected. In the vast majority of cases, it's a short-lived concern with a mundane reason for their tardiness but in One Must Die, to say Sean Levitt's worst fears are realised would be an understatement.
When his teenage sons, Peter and Ben don't return from army cadets and he then discovers that they didn't even turn up there earlier that evening, people try to convince him that there will be a rational explanation behind their disappearance. Right from the start, however, Sean is convinced that something is terribly wrong. He knows his sons and is confident that the mature, sensible Peter would never do anything out of the ordinary without first informing his father. 
Unfortunately, in this case he is a little mistaken because the boys have made a fatal decision to accept the words of a stranger and as this is a Mark Tilbury novel, it means that terrible things are going to happen to them. Sean's fear gives way to horror after the first DVD arrives, confirming he was right and somebody has his boys. What comes next is an experience that would push anybody to the brink of sanity as each new DVD brings fresh horrors for Sean.
Most of the chapters follow Sean who must decide whether to respond to the increasingly horrendous demands of the kidnapper. There are emotional and moral choices to be made and I found it impossible not to wonder what I would do under the same circumstances. The man who has taken Peter and Ben seems to take a perverse delight in mentally torturing Sean but it pales in comparison to what is happening to the boys. It has to be said that Feelham, the setting for all Mark Tilbury's books seems to be a particularly dangerous place for teenage boys but unlike some of the characters from his previous novels, Peter and Ben aren't troubled, difficult lads despite losing their mother in a tragic hit-and-run accident a few years ago. Peter is particularly courageous and resourceful while Ben's anguished bravado is heartbreaking; the threats and violence they are subjected to is hard to read about at times.
Throughout the book there are chapters which are written about the kidnapper, giving us an insight into his plans and his deranged mind, although his identity isn't revealed until late in the book. The glimpses into his upbringing mirror Sean's in some ways - both have experienced agonising losses but it's clear that while Sean has managed to keep going for the sake of others, this man has been irrevocably damaged and as we see from his treatment of his victims, he is a sadistic, twisted individual.
The violence is quite graphic and there are some truly horrifying moments later in the novel which some people may find too distressing to read about. Meanwhile, as much as the brutality is appalling, the psychological impact of this man's actions is harrowing too. Watching Sean's spiral ever downwards as he loses all hope of ever seeing his sons again is heartrending but it certainly kept me turning the pages so desperate was I to discover why the Levitts had been targeted and whether anybody would escape the clutches of their captor. 
Obviously I'm not going to give anything away here - you'll have to read it to find out  - but the conclusion is nail-biting stuff with revelations that are shocking and really quite poignant. One Must Die is a tense, disturbing read; I'm not sure it's accurate to call it enjoyable as such but I was engrossed throughout by this dark, uncompromising and compelling horror thriller.

One Must Die will be published on 24th June 2021. It can be purchased from Amazon UK, where it is also on Kindle Unlimited and Amazon US.

Don't forget to follow the rest of the tour, details are below.

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, A Prayer For The Broken, Song of the Psychopath and his most recent novel, One Must Die. When he's not writing, Mark can be found playing guitar, reading and walking.