Shattered Lives

A DCI Gerald Croft Thriller

Fiction - Thriller - Psychological
336 Pages
Reviewed on 08/07/2021
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Author Biography

Shattered Lives was written with the generous help of John Nicholl, best-selling author of psychological thrillers. He had read and reviewed my romantic thrillers and suggested this was the next logical step.

Always up for a challenge, Sarah Stuart took a year to create to world of DCI Gerald Croft and present him with his first complex crime as the new head of the fictional London Borough of Garton.

Sarah Stuart lives in County Durham, England, with her husband and rescue dog. London is her "second home"; she loves the theatre - musicals, plays, opera, and ballet - and her knowledge of England's capital shows in the background of Shattered Lives,

    Book Review

Reviewed by Susan Sewell for Readers' Favorite

Wanting to remove any claims to his vast inheritance, a serial killer is on the hunt for his recently discovered sister in the exciting thriller Shattered Lives: A DCI Gerald Croft Thriller by Sarah Stuart. Ralph Thyme is impatiently waiting for his grandmother to die. Tucking her away in residential care, he takes over the master suite in her mansion and inadvertently finds his grandfather's hidden diary. The pages hold a family secret that directly affects Ralph: he has a sister named Olivia that he didn't know existed. Not wanting to contend with anyone for what he considers his fortune, Ralph systematically begins hunting for Olivia to eliminate her. After the detective he hires finds Olivia, Ralph commits murder, but something dreadful goes wrong. In the meantime, the thirst for blood rages through Ralph's veins, and Ralph commits more heinous killings. His crimes have DCI Croft urgently looking for a serial killer, but can DCI Croft capture Ralph before he finds his target? Or is it already too late?

Filled with drama and foreboding, Shattered Lives: A DCI Gerald Croft Thriller by Sarah Stuart is a heart-stopping murder mystery. It is an intense story that takes the reader on a ride of horror and suspense. The apprehension and intensity continue building throughout the plot, snowballing into a climactic and shocking finish. I read it with bated breath and could not put the book down until I reached the final page. It is a sensational story with a clever plot and intriguing characters with realistic personalities, both good and bad. Containing gruesome murder scenes filled with blood and gore, Shattered Lives is a riveting novel for mature audiences that will engage any reader who loves spine-tingling thrillers.

Amy Powers

Shattered Lives by Sarah Stuart is a DCI Gerald Croft thriller filled with murder, deception, and other surprising twists that are sure to leave you on the edge of your seat. DCI Croft is investigating the gruesome murder of a local woman. Still, there is no evidence to point to the usual suspects. The puzzle becomes even more mysterious when another nearby woman and her father are also found murdered in the same manner. As more women become victims, Croft knows that it must be the work of a serial killer. Unfortunately, the killer is clever. The evidence is still completely absent, and the investigators can’t even find a clear connection between the murders. The case continues to become more complicated, and signs indicate that the subsequent murder might just be a little too close to home.

Sarah Stuart has created a complex and realistic world in which multiple stories merge into one as we not only follow DCI Croft but also a defending lawyer, the killer’s intended victim, and the killer himself. While the killer’s identity is not a secret to us, the complex way all of the stories intertwine makes for an elaborate web of intriguing narratives. I especially enjoyed how the characters’ personal and professional lives blended together – sometimes unknowingly to the characters themselves – making for a believable yet terrifying experience. With some of the most shocking and heinous crimes, Shattered Lives is undoubtedly one of the most memorable thrillers I have ever read.

Anne-Marie Reynolds

Shattered Lives by Sarah Stuart is A DCI Gerald Croft Thriller. Ralph Thyme believes the world owes him a living. His parents rejected him, but when they die in an avalanche, he finally feels free. He waits anxiously for his grandmother to die, believing himself to be the only heir to her vast fortune. The discovery of an older sister is a disaster for him. What if she finds out who she is and claims the inheritance? No, Olivia Sophia must die. Learning that his sister was sold to another family by his grandfather, Ralph decides to take matters into his own hands. When bodies begin to crop up, those of women raped and murdered, DCI Croft realizes a serial killer is at work, and it’s his job to find and stop him before it's too late. But how do you stop a psychopathic killer hell-bent on eliminating anyone who stands between him and his inheritance? Olivia Sophia must be found before Thyme gets to her and destroys her life forever.

Shattered Lives by Sarah Stuart is a fascinating thriller that delves deep into two storylines: the mind of a psychopath and that of a sexual abuse survivor who must save another from the same fate to heal herself. It isn’t a story for younger readers or the faint-hearted: child sexual abuse, necrophilia, and graphic violence are just part of the substantial subject matter. This story delves into how a psychopath functions and what makes them tick, leading you down some dark paths through a truly twisted mind. It also guides you on a journey of discovery through the eyes of a child sex abuse survivor, more dark paths that eventually lead to the light. Shattered Lives is a gripping tale that will hold your heart in a vise while you read it, and it will have you turning the pages deep into the night.

R Coulson

Wow, what a roller coaster that was! DCI Croft is thrown into the middle of a murderous and perverted killing spree as bodies of young women are found raped and strangled.
He doesn’t know Ralph Thyme is determined to eliminate any claim on the inheritance he believes is rightfully his. And like Olivia Sophia, he has no idea she was sold at birth to the father who sexually abused her. But what is the connection? Can Croft put together the pieces of the puzzle before Thyme finds and eliminates his ‘final’ victim.
This isn’t a story for the faint-hearted; the scenes are graphic, the struggles real, but it’s a story of victims and survivors and their determination to forge a future in very different ways, whatever the cost. Yes, even the awful Thyme is a victim as well as a murderer.
The courage Sophia shows in order to save the daughter of a stranger from the same abuse she suffered is extraordinary and compelling. Could you or I have done what she did? I doubt it.
The writing is superb, evocative, tender, thrilling, revolting, chilling… all these things and more. I have read and enjoyed both Ms Stuart’s steamy and cosy romance series, and she has taken a brave step into a new genre for which she is to be commended – a difficult subject handled extremely well. I look forward to reading many more DCI Croft books.


I loved the way the first murder happened right at the start, though it’s scary being inside the mind of a psychopath. Shattered Lives has a complex plot, and knowing who the killer was, and his real target, made it truly enthralling.

Theresa Jacobs

Be warned this book is not for the weak. With a serial rapist and murderer, the crimes he commits are horrendous. The story's exciting as DCI Croft must find and stop him. Two tales blend together as on the flip side a woman who was abused as a child meets a stranger and connects with him in order to save his children from the same abuse at the hands of their new step-dad. What is the relationships between her and the killer? Read it to find out.