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Dog Rose Dirt by Jen Williams

Blog tour: 26 July to 4 August 2021

Synopsis

Once upon a time there was a red wolf. But this is no fairy tale. He was a killer.

A convicted murderer with a story to tell
Serial killer Michael Reave – known as The Red Wolf – has been locked in Belmarsh Prison for over 20 years for the brutal and ritualistic murders of countless women.

A grieving daughter with a secret to unearth
Ex-journalist Heather Evans returns to her childhood home after her mother’s inexplicable suicide and discovers something chilling – hundreds of letters between her mother and Reave, dating back decades.

A hunt for a killer ready to strike again
When the body of a woman is found decorated with flowers, just like his victims, Reave is the only person alive who could help. After years of silence, he will speak to Heather, and only Heather.

If she wants to unearth the truth and stop further bloodshed, she’ll have to confront a monster.

My review

After the unexpected death of her estranged mother, former journalist Heather Evans heads to her old family home in Balesford to sort out Colleen’s belongings and finalise the funeral arrangements. The pair haven’t been close for years, since her father’s death, but Heather is shocked by her mother’s suicide and the strange note that she left behind and hopes to discover some clues in the house that will give her an idea about Colleen’s mental state in the weeks before her death.

The house is eerie and it feels like there’s a presence inside with various strange things happening. Her mother’s friend, Lilian, from up the road is a bit odd, despite kindly popping in with a stew. Luckily, Heather has an old friend, Nikki Appiah, who gets in touch again and the pair meet up for a drink.

While sorting paperwork in the attic, Heather is surprised to discover an old biscuit tin containing two bundles of letters between her mother and a man called Michael Reave who was in prison. The letters go back decades, including the early years of her parents’ marriage. Heather searches on the internet and is horrified to discover that Reave is still in Belmarsh prison and is a convicted serial killer, nicknamed The Red Wolf, who was responsible for the murder of five women in Lancashire and Manchester, and possibly many others too.

When Heather confesses to her friend about the letters she’s found, Nikki tells her that, shockingly, there have been some similar murders recently and women have been found dead and laid out in the same intricate way as Reave used to, using flowers and plants. Either a copycat killer is at large or Reave wasn’t responsible for the original crimes. Or perhaps he had an accomplice?

Heather phones the police and talks to DI Ben Parker about the letters and he’s very interested in Colleen’s correspondence and connection with Reave, especially in light of recent events. The police speak to Reave, who is keen to meet up with Heather when he learns that she is Colleen’s daughter.

It doesn’t make sense that Colleen would have corresponded with such a man and Heather agrees to talk to Reave. The meetings between them are very tense and there’s a lot unsaid between the two of them. I felt scared for Heather, her safety and mental health. At times, the tension is unbearable as Michael appears to be on the brink of confessing secrets to Heather, before distracting her with creepy Grimm’s fairy tales and changing the subject. He seems to enjoy the attention and likes manipulating the conversation and teasing her. It feels like he is in control throughout and he’s toying with Heather.

As she continues to meet up with Reave and learns more about her mother’s past, Heather can’t resist using her journalism skills to dig deeper and try to discover what’s going on. Is she putting herself in real danger? Will she be the next victim of the serial killer?

Overall, I really enjoyed this dark, creepy and disturbing serial killer crime thriller, which was cleverly plotted, well written and had great tension. It kept me gripped throughout and I was fully absorbed in the storyline and desperate to find out what was going on! It was an unsettling and, at times, grisly read and I felt on edge throughout, just waiting for something awful to happen!

Heather is a rather intriguing character – she was brave but also foolhardy and was also hiding some secrets. I liked the way she was determined to speak to Reave and learn more about her mother’s past, even if she wasn’t really sure that she wanted to know the truth! Reave was also a compelling character – despite his obvious flaws and appalling crimes, I was curious to learn more about him and his childhood.

This was an excellent and well-crafted story, with lots of twists and turns, and some unusual elements that made it different from your usual thriller. Not being much of a fantasy fan, I haven’t read any of the author’s previous books but I’ll definitely look out for any other crime thrillers that she writes! It would be great if this was a series as I’d love to read more about Heather Evans and DI Ben Parker.

Buy the book

Dog Rose Dirt by Jen Williams can be purchased from Amazon on Kindle and in hardback, and as an eBook from Kobo and iBooks.

About the author

Jen Williams lives in London with her partner and their small ridiculous cat. Having been a fan of grisly fairy tales from a young age, these days Jen writes dark unsettling thrillers with strong female leads, as well as character-driven fantasy novels with plenty of adventure and magic. She has twice won the British Fantasy Award for her Winnowing Flame trilogy, and when she’s not writing books she works as a bookseller and a freelance copywriter.

Twitter: @sennydreadful
Instagram: @sennydreadful19
Website: https://www.sennydreadful.co.uk

Blog tour

Thanks to Jennifer Harlow at HarperCollins for my copy of Dog Rose Dirt and to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for my place on the blog tour.

See the banner below for more stops on the #blogtour.

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Cyprus Kiss by Murray Bailey

Blog tour: 16 to 24 July 2021

Synopsis

Help Me!

Those were the words on the back of a woman’s photograph. And she vanished six months ago.

It’s 1948 and military investigator Ash Carter has arrived in Cyprus.

A gang has been operating for two years, leaving a mark known to police as the kiss of death. Is this something to do with them? And why ask him for help?

After a murder, Carter begins to realise this is personal. In a race against time, Carter must work out the connection between the gang, the missing woman and the murder before it’s too late.

My comments

Apologies, my review for this book will follow at the weekend as I’ve had a hectic time at work recently and fallen behind with my reading.

Set in 1940s Cyprus, Cyprus Kiss is a prequel to the Ash Carter mystery thrillers, and is the start of a series called the Ash Carter Near East crime thrillers.

I really enjoyed the original Ash Carter series – they’re well-plotted, gripping thrillers with lots of twists and turns, tense moments and some scenes of violence. The books are action-packed and fast-paced reads with some startling revelations! I’d definitely recommend them and I can’t wait to find out more about Ash Carter’s earlier life in this new series.

Buy the book

Cyprus Kiss by Murray Bailey is released on 24 July and can be preordered from Amazon on Kindle and in paperback.

About the author

Murray Bailey got his first taste of success when he was published in The Times at 18 and in his local newspaper. Although he went on to pursue a different career, he continued to write and edit and became the editor of an international magazine and editor of four technical books.

I Dare You was the first of his books to be published in 2016. It was followed by Map of the Dead, the first of the series based on his interest in Egyptology. His main series, however, is the Ash Carter thrillers, inspired by his father’s experience in the Royal Military Police in Singapore in the early 1950s.

Murray was born in Greater Manchester, England and has being moving south ever since. He now lives on the beautiful Dorset coast with his wife and family.

Twitter: @MurrayBaileybks
Facebook: @MurrayBaileyAuthor
Instagram: @murraybaileyauthor
Website: https://murraybaileybooks.com/

Thanks

Thanks to Murray Bailey for my digital copy of Cyprus Kiss and for my place on the blog tour.

Featured

Woman of a Certain Rage by Georgie Hall

Blog tour: 19 to 25 July 2021

Synopsis

Eliza is angry. Very angry, and very, very hot.

Late for work and dodging traffic, she’s still reeling from the latest row with husband Paddy. Twenty-something years ago, their eyes met over the class divide in oh-so-cool Britpop London, but while Paddy now seems content filling his downtime with canal boats and cricket, Eliza craves the freedom and excitement of her youth. Fifty sounds dangerously close to pensionable: her woke children want to cancel her, a male motorist has just called her a ‘mad old bat’ and to cap it all her hormones are on the run. Who knew menopause was puberty’s evil older sister?

But then a moment of heroism draws an unexpected admirer, and Eliza sets out to discover whether the second half of life can be a glass half full after all. She might suffer mental fog and night sweats – and have temporarily mislaid her waist – but this is her renaissance.

My review

Set in Warwickshire, near Stratford-upon-Avon, Woman of a Certain Rage tells the story of Eliza Finch, 50, menopausal and frustrated by life in several ways! She is married to Paddy Hollander, a bespoke cabinet maker, and they have three children, Joe (19), Summer (17) and Edward (12).

When we first meet Eliza, the family’s dog, Artemis (Arty), has just died and she is still in mourning and has a big argument with Paddy after he suggests they get a new puppy.

She’s feeling misunderstood by her husband, who can’t empathise with her menopausal symptoms (hot flushes, crazy mood swings, forgetfulness, overactive bladder, loss of sex drive, insomnia), and is feeling unloved and unwanted by her children, who seem to dismiss her opinion and rather look down on Eliza and act embarrassed by her.

Eliza is stuck in a rut and frustrated by life, mourning her younger carefree days and her loss of identity, fed up with being overlooked and ignored. Paddy is more interested in his work, the family canal boat and cricket. Her children cause her lots of worries – from her youngest son, Ed, who is autistic and very fixed in his ways and anxious about his routine, to her teenage daughter, Summer, who is at a difficult, impressionable age, and her oldest son, Joe, who is in his first year at uni and struggled with depression when he was younger. She also has strained relationships with her elderly parents, Peter and Fiona, and with her younger brother, Miles, who has just come out as gay after three marriages to women and fathering two sons. Her older sister, Jules, and her control-freak husband, Reece, also drive her crazy!

Eliza always wanted to be an actor and studied drama at university but she wasn’t very successful and, being too tall, struggled to find suitable roles. She then did radio work and is now a voice artist, narrating non-fiction and fiction books, and also works part time for an all-female estate agency doing viewings.

She gets up to some great escapades – there’s a particularly funny one where she experiences road rage and ends up in a daring rescue mission! Eliza also has amusing encounters with an Italian man called Matteo, who runs the local restaurant, and she gains a Japanese tourist friend who keeps popping up when least expected.

Woman of Certain Rage is an honest, thoughtful and hilarious account of a menopausal, fifty-something woman who is struggling with her life, jobs, husband, marriage, children and her parents and siblings, while trying not to explode with rage or melt into a puddle due to her emotions and internal heating system going haywire!

The book is entertaining, amusing and poignant and has some great observations and witty one liners. I’m in my early forties, so not quite menopausal yet, but I still found Eliza’s turbulent emotions and frustrations very relatable and loved her wry sense of humour!

Overall, I really enjoyed this book – it was a great slice of humour and despite being a fairly chunky book, I zipped through it, chuckling away at Eliza’s antics! It’s not my usual type of read but I could identify with the main character well and was rooting for her to overcome her various challenges!

I’m not sure if I’ve read any of Fiona Walker’s other books but I’ll definitely be checking them out now.

Buy the book

Woman of a Certain Rage by Georgie Hall can be purchased from Amazon on Kindle and in hardback, and as an eBook from Kobo and iBooks.

About the author

Georgie Hall is the alter-ego of best-selling author and woman of a certain (r)age, Fiona Walker. Stepping aside from her usual big-cast comedies to write as Georgie, she has her sharp-eyed wit firmly fixed on midlife, marriage, motherhood and menopause. Woman of a Certain Rage is for women everywhere who refuse to be told it’s too late to shake things up.

Twitter: @GeorgieHallUK
Facebook: @georgiehalluk
Instagram: @georgiehalluk
Website: https://georgie-hall.com/

Blog tour

Thanks to Avneet Bains at Head of Zeus for my copy of Woman of a Certain Rage and for my place on the blog tour.

See the banner below for more stops on the #blogtour.

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I Know What I Saw by Imran Mahmood

Blog tour: 5 to 25 July 2021

Synopsis

I saw it. He smothered her, pressing his hands on her face. The police don’t believe me, they say it’s impossible – but I know what I saw.

Xander Shute – once a wealthy banker, now living on the streets – shelters for the night in an empty Mayfair flat. When he hears the occupants returning home, he scrambles to hide. Trapped in his hiding place, he hears the couple argue, and he soon finds himself witnessing a vicious murder.

But who was the dead woman, who the police later tell him can’t have been there? And why is the man Xander saw her with evading justice?

As Xander searches for answers, his memory of the crime comes under scrutiny, forcing him to confront his long-buried past and the stories he’s told about himself.

How much he is willing to risk to understand the brutal truth?

My review

Set in London, I Know What I Saw, the author’s second novel, tells the story of former wealthy banker, Xander Shute, who has been living on the streets for the last 30 years.

One rainy evening, after an altercation with another homeless man in Hyde Park, Xander is injured and soaking wet and needs to find shelter to avoid becoming ill. He walks away, disorientated, and finds himself in Mayfair, where he notices the lower trade door to a house is ajar. He sneaks inside and falls asleep on the floor of the living room. He’s woken by the return of the residents and quickly hides behind a sofa. The couple are fractious and start arguing and Xander is horrified to hear the situation escalate and, powerless and afraid to help, he witnesses the woman being murdered in front of him.

When the man leaves, Xander makes his escape and decides he must report the woman’s murder to the police. They’re rather dismissive and say he’s mistaken and they keep telling him to stop wasting their time. He’s determined to find out exactly what happened to the woman and his own buried memories slowly emerge and become more regular and vivid as he gets nearer to discovering the truth.

Xander also gets back in touch with friends from his past, who are shocked to see him again after all this time, and this triggers the stirring of various fractured memories in his mind. He struggles to put all the pieces together and can’t work out what is real and what he’s imagining.

Xander is a complicated character – after so many years being homeless, he’s streetwise and self-sufficient but also very vulnerable and there is lots hidden away beneath the surface, which is slowly revealed as the story progresses. He used to have a privileged life – he was a Cambridge graduate and earnt lots of money as a city banker – but there are hints of trauma from his past in flashbacks to memories of his parents, brother, Rory, and former girlfriend.

Over the decades, Xander has learnt to follow various unwritten rules and keep his wits about him to stay safe on the streets and he divides London up into several zones (red, blue, green and purple) and tries to avoid venturing too far into the dangerous (red) and unpredictable (purple) areas. We learn about what life is like on the streets – how Xander tries to stay warm with plastic bags and newspaper, the places he visits to find food and the practicalities of living and sleeping on the streets and being unable to wash properly.

The main protagonist is an intriguing but also very unreliable narrator with memory problems and secrets, and I was never really sure if he was telling the truth as he’s rather confused a lot of the time and keeps getting flashbacks. Despite all this, I had sympathy for this troubled man and found myself hoping he would figure out what on earth was going on! I especially liked Xander’s friendship with a student, Amit, he meets in the local library, who keeps an eye out for him and helps him use the computer.

As the novel progresses, through fragments of memories and remembered events, we start to learn why Xander gave up his privileged existence and all the trappings of wealth for a simple but dangerous life on the streets, free from the constraints of a job, house, money, family and even friends. It’s a dramatic story but realistic and I could easily see how someone could descend to these depths of despair after a difficult past.

Overall, I really enjoyed this compelling and disconcerting murder mystery novel, which was cleverly written and made for tense and uncomfortable reading. The character-driven thriller is gripping, intense and engaging and its tormented protagonist is fascinating. The story is slow paced but well plotted with plenty of twists and turns, highs and lows, and just enough was revealed on each page to keep me thoroughly hooked.

I really must check out the author’s debut, You Don’t Know Me, which I’ve heard such good things about and it’s been on my Kindle for over three years!

Buy the book

I Know What I Saw by Imran Mahmood can be purchased from Amazon on Kindle and in hardback, and as an eBook from Kobo and iBooks.

About the author

© Bill Waters

Imran Mahmood is a practising barrister with almost 30 years’ experience fighting cases in court. He hails from Liverpool but now lives in London with his wife and daughters.

His debut novel, You Don’t Know Me, was chosen by Simon Mayo as a BBC Radio 2 Book Club Choice for 2017, longlisted for the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year and for the CWA Gold Dagger, and is currently being adapted for screen in three parts.

When not in court or writing novels, he can sometimes be found on the Red Hot Chilli Writers’ podcast as one of the regular contributors.

Twitter: @imranmahmood777
Instagram: @imranroundthecorner

Blog tour

Thanks to Raven Books for my hardback copy of I Know What I Saw and to Tracy Fenton at Compulsive Readers for my place on the blog tour.

See the banner below for more stops on the #blogtour.

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Far From the Tree by Rob Parker

Blog tour: 2 to 14 July 2021

Synopsis

Twenty-seven bodies, vacuum-packed, buried in a woodland trench – some have been there for years, some for just days.

DI Foley finds himself the Senior Investigating Officer on one of the largest murder cases the country has ever seen. This could make his career.

But as new discoveries unfold, this horrific gangland crime suddenly gets personal. Too personal.

Foley has a choice. Solve the crime and risk his family? Or leave well alone?

To a man like Brendan, that’s no choice at all …

My review

Far From the Tree is the first book in the Thirty Miles trilogy and was originally released in audio and became an Audible number one bestseller.

It’s Detective Inspector Brendan Foley’s son’s christening but he’s called away to a horrendous crime scene – 27 bodies, wrapped in plastic and in varying stages of decomposition, have been discovered in a large grave in Peel Hall forest park in Warrington. As the police and forensic team begin examining the bodies, DI Foley is horrified to discover that he recognises one of the victims.

Brendan is determined, for his family’s sake, to take charge of the investigation and find the killer and he manages to persuade Superintendent Monroe to let him stay on the case. At first, he seems to be doing a valiant job in trying circumstances but, when he’s involved in an embarrassing altercation at the police station, he’s told to take some compassionate leave and go home and look after his wife and sons.

As the team struggle to identify the victims and make a connection between them all, Brendan is carrying out his own investigations, with a little help from Detective Sergeant Iona Madison, and he realises that the key to the whole case may be a lot closer to home than he realised.

With Warrington being between Liverpool and Manchester, there are blurred lines amongst the local criminal gangs about whose patch it actually is and the police are baffled about who is responsible and why. Will they figure it out before things escalate and more people are killed?

This is a great book – engaging and action packed with lots of twists and turns and some shocking cliff hangers! I raced through it in a few days, frantically turning the pages and holding my breath at some particularly tense moments! It’s dark and disturbing, with some nasty characters and a few of the police officers weren’t very pleasant either! I’d definitely recommend Far From the Tree if you love police procedurals as much as I do!

I was fascinated by the setting of the Warrington police station, which was housed in the town’s old converted Victorian baths. I loved the descriptions of the different elements of the station, all based in and around the three former pools. It’s a shame this is all fiction as I’d love to see photos!

I liked the main protagonist, DI Brendan Foley, despite the fact he, understandably, became obsessed with the case and rather neglected his wife, Mim, 15-year-old son, Dan, and baby son, Mick. He also has a few secrets that he’s been desperately trying to keep under wraps for years, which added to the intrigue. DS Iona Madison is a fascinating character too and it’s great that she’s a tough amateur boxer and can handle herself!

Overall, I really enjoyed this cleverly plotted and gripping police procedural. It was entertaining and well paced and there were some startling revelations at various points throughout! There were vivid descriptions of cadavers and some nasty violent attacks on live victims, which also really added to the gruesomeness!

I recently read and enjoyed Blackstoke by the author and must check out his Ben Bracken series soon. I’m looking forward to the next book in the Thirty Miles trilogy and can’t wait to see how the characters develop and tackle their next investigation.

Buy the book

Far From the Tree by Rob Parker can be purchased from Amazon on Kindle and in hardback and paperback. Or purchase all formats directly from the Red Dog Press online shop.

About the author

Rob Parker is a married father of three, who lives in Warrington, UK. The author of the Ben Bracken thrillers, Crook’s Hollow and the #1 Audible bestseller, Far From the Tree, he enjoys a rural life, writing horrible things between school runs. Rob writes full time, attends various author events across the UK, and boxes regularly for charity.

He spends a lot of time in schools across the north, encouraging literacy, storytelling and creative writing, and somehow squeezes in time to co-host the For Your Reconsideration film podcast, appear regularly on The Blood Brothers Crime Podcast, and is a member of the Northern Crime Syndicate.

Twitter: @robparkerauthor
Facebook: @robparkerauthor
Instagram: @robparkerauthor
Website: https://robparkerauthor.com

Blog tour

Thanks to Meggy Roussel at Red Dog Press for my digital copy of Far From the Tree and for my place on the blog tour.

See the banner below for more stops on the #blogtour.

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Afraid of the Light by Douglas Kennedy

Blog tour: 8 to 14 July 2021

Synopsis

Brendan is an ordinary man; a married man and devoted father who has always tried to live his life well and do the right thing. Now, on the cusp of sixty and having lost his job after corporate downsizing, he is struggling to stay afloat in the only work on offer for a man his age – driving for Uber.

When one of his rides, a retired professor named Elise, asks to be dropped off outside an abortion clinic where she now volunteers, Brendan finds himself driving right into the explosive epicentre of one of the most polarised ethical issues of our time. As the religious and moral divisions deepen within his own family, everything about the life Brendan knew, starts to unravel. Will the unlikely friendship with Elise bring the possibility of a new life or does the ‘good guy’ never win?

The portrait of a man trying to navigate a world of division and anxiety, Afraid of the Light is a highly charged, plot-driven, deeply affecting social thriller that speaks to our troubled times.

My review

In Afraid of the Light, we meet Brendan, 56, who is married to Agnieska, 54, and they have a daughter called Klara, 24. After 27 years, Brendan was made redundant from his job as a regional sales director for a big electrical cable company called Auerbach and now works long hours as an Uber driver in Los Angeles, dealing with aggressive and rude customers, earning the minimum wage and living on the brink of losing his livelihood at any moment – if someone complains about his car or behaviour, he’s likely to be let go by Uber.

One day, Brendan picks up a woman called Elise Flouton, a retired UCLA professor and women’s rights activist, and drops her outside what turns out to be an abortion clinic, where she volunteers, and it’s from this point that his world quite literally explodes. He gets caught up in events that make him question his own beliefs and those of his family and friends and he learns things about them that shock him to the core. He becomes involved in tense and dangerous situations and the lives of several people are put at risk. Can Brendan help to resolve the situation before his close family members are hurt?

In between fascinating observations of his mainly unpleasant passengers, we learn more about Brendan and his life and family – his childhood, how his parents got together, how he met his wife, their religion and beliefs, their daughter, etc. It makes for intriguing reading and really helps to build a picture of our main protagonist, who often does what is expected of him and what he thinks he should do, rather than what he actually wants to do. He is struggling and regretful and quite literally ‘afraid of the light’ at times.

From a rather relaxed start, the pace speeds up rapidly and I was surprised by the direction that the book took and found it very dark, gripping and tense and I flew through it in less than a day and couldn’t put it down. It’s engagingly written, covers some very emotive topics and is very powerful and thought provoking.

I haven’t read any books by the author before but the synopsis for Afraid of the Light was intriguing and I was keen to read it. This compelling and emotional thriller includes some difficult issues including family relationships, grief, religion, abortion and a person’s choices in life, and made me question my own beliefs and thoughts.

I really enjoyed this provocative and enthralling novel; it was cleverly plotted and made a big impression on me and I was still thinking about it days later. I will definitely be checking out the author’s back catalogue and reading more of his books soon!

Buy the book

Afraid of the Light by Douglas Kennedy can be purchased from Amazon on Kindle and in paperback, and as an eBook from Kobo and iBooks.

About the author

© Paul Stuart, 2012

Douglas Kennedy is a masterful storyteller whose compelling and thought-provoking, moral and emotional page-turners have sold 15 million copies around the world.

Kennedy was born and raised in Manhattan and educated at Bowdoin College and Trinity College Dublin. He returned to Ireland in early 1977 and co-founded a theatre company, Dublin Stage One. Eighteen months later he was put in charge of the Abbey Theatre’s studio theatre, The Peacock. During his five-year tenure he began to write – selling his early radio plays to RTE and then to BBC Radio 4. He quit his post at The Abbey Theatre in 1983 to become a full-time writer and has lived by his pen since then.

Kennedy was a columnist for the Irish Times and, in addition to four plays for BBC Radio 4, had a stage play, Send Lawyers Guns and Money, staged by The Peacock Theatre in 1984. His first book, Beyond the Pyramids: Travels in Egypt was published in 1988, the same year he moved to London. Two further narrative travel books followed: In God’s Country: Travels in the Bible Belt USA (1989) and Chasing Mammon: Travels in Pursuit of Money (1992).

In 1994, Kennedy’s first novel, The Dead Heart, was published, followed by The Big Picture (1997) which was an international bestseller, selling over three million copies and publishing in 22 languages. His subsequent acclaimed novels include: The Job (1998), The Pursuit of Happiness (2001), A Special Relationship (2004), State of the Union (2006), The Woman in the Fifth (2007), Temptation (2008), Leaving the World (2009), The Moment (2011), Five Days (2014), The Heat of Betrayal (2016), The Great Wide Open (2019) and Isabelle in the Afternoon (2020). The Big Picture was filmed in France as ‘L’Homme Qui Voulait Vivre Sa Vie’, directed by Eric Lartigau and starring Romain Duris and Catherine Deneuve. The Woman in the Fifth was filmed by Pawel Pawlikowski, starring Ethan Hawke and Kristen Scott Thomas. He received a WH Smith Award for The Big Picture, the Prix Deaville for Temptation, and the first Grand Prix du Figaro for his body of work.

A celebrated writer in France, Douglas has sold over 8 million copies of his books there alone and is a fluent French speaker. In 2007, he was awarded the French decoration of Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. He has also published a book of philosophy, All the Big Questions … With No Answers and two children’s books.

Douglas divides his time between Maine, Manhattan, Paris, London and Berlin and is available for interview and events.

Twitter: @DKennedy_Novels
Facebook: @DouglasKennedyBooks
Instagram: @douglaslkennedy
Website: https://www.douglaskennedynovels.com

Blog tour

Thanks to Hutchinson Heinemann for my paperback copy of Afraid of the Light and to Megan Denholm at ED PR for my place on the blog tour.

See the banner below for more stops on the #blogtour.

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A Cut for a Cut by Carol Wyer

Blog tour: 29 June to 8 July 2021

Synopsis

DI Kate Young can’t trust anybody. Not even herself.

In the bleak countryside around Blithfield Reservoir, a serial murderer and rapist is leaving a trail of bloodshed. His savage calling card: the word ‘MINE’ carved into each of his victims.

DI Kate Young struggles to get the case moving – even when one of the team’s own investigators is found dead in a dumpster. But Kate is battling her own demons. Obsessed with exposing Superintendent John Dickson and convinced there’s a conspiracy running deep in the force, she no longer knows who to trust. Kate’s crusade has already cost her dearly. What will she lose next?

When her stepsister spills a long-buried secret, Kate realises she’s found the missing link—now she must prove it before the killer strikes again. With enemies closing in on all sides, she’s prepared to do whatever it takes to bring them down. But time is running out, and Kate’s past has pushed her to the very edge. Can she stop herself from falling?

My review

A Cut for a Cut is the second book in the Detective Kate Young series and after enjoying the first book, An Eye for an Eye, and taking part in the blog tour earlier this year, I was keen to read this one!

This book is set in Staffordshire, about four months after the first novel, and Kate is still determined to investigate her boss, Superintendent John Dickson, after all she learnt about him and the corruption in the force in her previous investigation.

When a woman is found dead in a waste bin in a restaurant car park in Abbots Bromley, Detective Inspector Kate Young and her small team of Detective Sergeant (DS) Emma Donaldson, 23, DS Morgan Meredith, 24, and Detective Constable (DC) Jamie Webster, 27, are tasked with discovering what happened to the unfortunate victim, who has the word ‘MINE’ cut into the flesh on her back.

Kate is still struggling after recent events involving her husband, Chris, and the appearance of her stepsister, Tilly, and her five-year-old son, Daniel, newly arrived from Australia, causes more turmoil in her life. She has a rather difficult relationship with Tilly due to her stepsister’s former husband, Jordan.

When a second body is found and it’s someone known to Kate and her team, the pressure on them to find the murderer intensifies. The investigation seems to be stalling and they struggle to find any links between the victims or locate many possible suspects or any useful witnesses. Yet again, Kate’s boss, Dickson, seems to want her to fail and enjoys putting obstacles in her path and making her life difficult. She’s also still suspicious of Detective Chief Inspector William Chase who isn’t very encouraging either.

Tilly is planning to move to Staffordshire permanently after tying up her affairs in Australia and she gets back in touch with some old friends from school in Uttoxeter and arranges a few dates too. With a killer on the loose, Kate warns her to be careful but, despite being attacked in the past, her stepsister isn’t too worried and takes some self-defence classes.

The police hit dead end after dead end and can’t connect any of the victims or their families or acquaintances and, unbeknown to the team, the killer is starting to get even more agitated and it’s only a matter of time before he attacks more women. Will Kate be able to work out the culprit and his motive before it’s too late?

I really enjoy police procedurals and this was another brilliant read from the author! The story is engaging, well plotted and tense – at times, I was shouting at various characters as they did daft things and put themselves in danger!

Kate is a strong character and despite the traumatic events of the past year, she manages to stay focused and determined, and she works well with her small team, getting the best from them in trying circumstances.

The storyline is gripping and, although the investigation is frustrating at times as the police don’t seem to be getting anywhere, I imagine it’s very reminiscent of real-life cases where they just need that lucky break to solve the crime. The book was cleverly written and well paced and there were some vital breakthroughs at key moments.

Overall, this was a very entertaining read and I read it in a day and didn’t want to put it down! There were some good twists and turns and I enjoyed trying to put all the pieces of the puzzle together. I didn’t make some of the connections and was surprised by how things turned out.

This series is developing well and I’m enjoying getting to know Kate Young and her small team and can’t wait for the next instalment!

Buy the book

A Cut for a Cut by Carol Wyer can be purchased from Amazon on Kindle and in paperback.

About the author

USA Today bestselling author and winner of The People’s Book Prize Award, Carol Wyer writes feel-good comedies and gripping crime fiction.

A move from humour to the ‘dark side’ in 2017, saw the introduction of popular DI Robyn Carter in Little Girl Lost and demonstrated that stand-up comedian Carol had found her true niche.

To date, her crime novels have sold over 750,000 copies and been translated for various overseas markets.

Carol has been interviewed on numerous radio shows discussing irritable male syndrome and ageing disgracefully and on BBC Breakfast television. She has had articles published in national magazine, Woman’s Weekly, featured in Take A BreakChoiceYours and Woman’s Own magazines and the Huffington Post.

She currently lives on a windy hill in rural Staffordshire with her husband Mr Grumpy … who is very, very grumpy.

When she is not plotting devious murders, she can be found performing her comedy routine, Smile While You Still Have Teeth.

Twitter: @carolewyer
Facebook: @AuthorCarolEWyer
Instagram: @carolwyer
Website: www.carolwyer.co.uk
Blog: www.carolwyer.com
YouTube: @CarolEWyer

Blog tour

Thanks to Emma Welton at damppebbles blog tours for my digital copy of A Cut for a Cut and for my place on the blog tour.

See the banner below for more stops on the #blogtour.

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The Family Tree by Steph Mullin and Nicole Mabry

Blog tour: 10 to 22 June 2021

Synopsis

The DNA results are back. And there’s a serial killer in her family tree …

Liz Catalano is shocked when an ancestry kit reveals she’s adopted. But she could never have imagined connecting with her unknown family would plunge her into an FBI investigation of a notorious serial killer …

The Tri-State Killer has been abducting pairs of women for forty years, leaving no clues behind – only bodies.

Can Liz figure out who the killer in her new family is? And can she save his newest victims before it’s too late?

My review

It’s 2019 and Liz Catalano, 27, a social media associate, lives with her cousin Andrea (Andie) Catalano, 28, an X-ray technologist, in a two-bedroom ground floor apartment in a Greenpoint townhouse in New York. Andie buys Liz a 23andMe DNA ancestry test kit for her birthday and, when they compare their results, they discover that Liz is adopted. She’s shocked as she had no idea that her mum and dad weren’t her real parents as they’d never told her. She also learns that her birth mum was in prison when she had Liz.

Liz puts her details into various ancestry websites via one website, GEDMatch, in order to trace her relatives and also ticks the option to allow law enforcement to access her ancestry results. A couple of weeks later, she hears back from a grand uncle, Cristian (Cris) Dominio (65), and his wife, Rosie, in Connecticut. She arranges to meet up with them and finds out a bit more about her mum, Teresa, and discovers that there aren’t many of her close relatives left now.

Soon after, the FBI contact Liz as her DNA is a familial match to an ongoing multi-person homicide investigation. She’s horrified and quickly researches various active serial killers to try and work out who it could be. One that seems to match the timescales is the Tri-State Killer, who has evaded capture for decades and held captive, tortured and murdered numerous women over the years.

The Tri-State Killer’s first kill was in 1974 and he next struck 17 years later and from then on abducted and murdered pairs of women every two years to 2012. He’s been operating for over 40 years but the police only have vague details about his identity (grainy CCTV footage and a rough sketch) and a partial DNA sample taken from his first victim. After a gap of six years, it now seems that he’s back on the scene as two university students from Boston have been missing for nine months.

Liz is determined to investigate the case and work out what her links are to the serial killer, despite the danger she’s putting herself in. She’s feisty and determined – and rather reckless – but full of spirit. She’s in a unique position and the FBI agents tell her details of the cases in the hopes that she will discover some relevant evidence and links when talking to members of her newly found family.

Interspersed between scenes and dialogue from Liz and Andie are gruesome and disturbing chapters focusing on the Tri-State Killer’s numerous victims – how he approached the pairs of women or what happened afterwards. This works well and helps to ramp up the tension and it made me think about what must have happened to the women mentioned in the previous flashbacks.

Overall, this was a gripping and engaging read and kept me thoroughly entertained! It was over 400 pages long but it flew by and I couldn’t wait to find out if Liz would manage to work out who the Tri-State Killer was before she ended up as one of his victims!

The chilling story was cleverly plotted and well paced and I was never quite sure who was telling the truth. I suspected several different characters as they were all rather suspicious at times and there were a few hints and red herrings.

It was an intense read and I could sympathise with Liz’s feelings after discovering that she was adopted – she felt like her whole life had been a lie and that she’d been let down by everyone in her family, a lot of whom knew she was adopted. She almost rejects her parents in her desperation to discover the truth about her ancestry and she becomes obsessed with trying to work out which of her relatives is the Tri-State Killer. She’s lucky that Andie and her boyfriend, Travis, are so supportive. There were lots of tense moments as Liz kept putting herself in danger.

This was an intriguing and entertaining story and I find it fascinating that it was written by two authors! I understand they’re releasing another book in six months’ time so I’m already looking forward to that one!

Buy the book

The Family Tree by Steph Mullin and Nicole Mabry can be purchased from Amazon on Kindle and in paperback, and as an eBook from Kobo and iBooks.

About the authors

Steph Mullin and Nicole Mabry met as co-workers in New York City in 2012, discovering a shared passion for writing and true crime. After Steph relocated to Charlotte, North Carolina in 2018, they continued to collaborate creatively. Separated by 5 states, they spend countless hours scheming via Facetime and editing each other’s typos in real time on live Google docs. The Family Tree is the writing duo’s first co-authored crime novel.

Steph Mullin works by day as Creative Director for a Media, Entertainment and Digital Marketing Solutions company, using early mornings, nights, and weekends to write fiction.

Steph’s dream of becoming a writer started at age 6, followed by winning scholastic writing awards and crafting articles for her university’s literary magazine. In her 20s, she became engrossed in true crime podcasts and literature, which later became the perfect source of inspiration to launch her second career writing dark and twisty thrillers.

In 2018, Steph relocated from NYC to Charlotte, North Carolina where she currently resides with her husband and her rescue puppy. Outside of reading, writing, and playing with her dog, you may find her sipping on a soy latte, watching a new movie, or trying out new recipes in the kitchen.

Twitter: @Steph_Mullin
Instagram: @stephmullin_author

Nicole Mabry works in television as Senior Manager of Post Production in the photography department. She is the author of Past This Point (2019, Red Adept Publishing), an award winning apocalyptic women’s fiction novel. Past This Point was chosen as Best Book of the Year by Indies Today and won first place in the Global Thriller division of the Chanticleer International Book Awards.

Twitter: @NicoleAMabry
Instagram: @nicolemabry_author

Blog tour

Thanks to Avon Books for my copy of The Family Tree and for my place on the blog tour.

See the banner below for more stops on the #blogtour.

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True Crime Story by Joseph Knox

Blog tour: 17 to 25 June 2021

Synopsis

‘What happens to those girls who go missing? What happens to the Zoe Nolans of the world?’

In the early hours of Saturday 17 December 2011, Zoe Nolan, a 19-year-old Manchester University student, walked out of a party taking place in the shared accommodation where she had been living for three months.

She was never seen again.

Seven years after her disappearance, struggling writer Evelyn Mitchell finds herself drawn into the mystery. Through interviews with Zoe’s closest friends and family, she begins piecing together what really happened in 2011. But where some versions of events overlap, aligning perfectly with one another, others stand in stark contrast, giving rise to troubling inconsistencies.

Shaken by revelations of Zoe’s secret life, and stalked by a figure from the shadows, Evelyn turns to crime writer Joseph Knox to help make sense of a case where everyone has something to hide.

Blending fact and fiction, this is a thrilling true crime story like no other. Weaving together a collection of fictional interviews, Joseph Knox creates a compulsively readable, dark and pacey thriller with a twist. This is the first stand-alone novel from the critically acclaimed author of the Aidan Waits series.

My review

True Crime Story is about the disappearance of Zoe Nolan, a 19-year-old Manchester University student who went missing during a party at her student accommodation block in the early hours of Saturday 17 December 2011. The book tells the account of the events leading up to her disappearance as put together by a woman called Evelyn Mitchell who spent a year interviewing Zoe’s twin sister and parents, as well as her boyfriend, friends and acquaintances from that time.

Evelyn communicated with the author of the book, Joseph Knox, after meeting with him at the book signing event for his debut novel, Sirens, and she emailed him her interview transcripts and observations, which she’d compiled into chapters of key events. Joseph was busy and didn’t always respond promptly and it was only after something tragic happened that he put the rest of the material together and produced this second edition of the book, which includes some clarifications and apologies.

Zoe was only at the university for three months but it seems that a lot happened in that time, some of it quite disturbing and concerning. She was due to go to another university but didn’t get in and so ended up in Manchester with her twin sister, Kimberly. The women had a rather strange relationship. They weren’t very close and they had a difficult childhood with their dad, Robert, focusing his attention on singer Zoe. He’s rather controlling and dominated his daughters and wife, Sally.

Zoe and Kim were put in a tower block called Owens Park and it’s there that they met their flatmate Liu Wai. Zoe’s boyfriend was called Andrew Flowers and other friends were Jai Mahmood and Fintan Murphy (Zoe’s course mate).

As the story progresses, we learn more about the characters – they all seem to have lots of secrets and they don’t really know each other very well after only three months. There are some shocking revelations, which are carefully revealed in chapter format, and some curious and surprising links between various people! 

The novel is fictional but it seems real, especially with the way everything is set up initially with Evelyn discussing various elements of the case, which she assembles by piecing together the interview transcripts and pulling out common themes. The book also contains newspaper cutting and photos. And then there are emails and phone calls between Evelyn and Joseph in which they sum up and discuss specific findings and share their thoughts. Everything seems to spiral out of control and strange things start happening as Evelyn gets closer to finding out some truths.

The story was intense and gripping. It seemed true to life and I could really imagine the horrible tower block where the students live and it reminded me of one on my university campus! Most of the characters are horrible, with some awful behaviour, and they’re all rather unreliable witnesses. There are contradictory statements and everyone interprets and sees things differently, especially when trying to recount events seven years later.

It’s a fascinating and enthralling concept and reminds me a little of The Appeal by Janice Hallett, which is also set up as a series of communications between various people and you have to try and work out what on earth is going on!

I was rather rubbish at guessing what was happening in True Crime Story and feel like I need to read the book again and make notes! I’m sure there are various clues scattered throughout but I probably missed most of them. A friend said she would use sticky tabs to highlight key points!

Overall, it’s an innovative and intriguing read, definitely something a bit different! I found it absorbing and immersive and disturbing in parts. It’s dark and tense, with a great sense of foreboding, and it feels like we’re not being told everything and there are sinister undercurrents to the story. It makes for very uncomfortable reading.

It’s the first book of the author’s that I’ve read but I’ll definitely be checking out his Aidan Waits series soon!

Buy the book

True Crime Story by Joseph Knox can be purchased from Amazon on Kindle and in hardback, and as an eBook from Kobo and iBooks.

About the author

Joseph Knox was born and raised in and around Stoke and Manchester, where he worked in bars and bookshops before moving to London. He runs, writes and reads compulsively. His debut novel Sirens was a bestseller and has been translated into 18 languages. The Smiling Man and The Sleepwalker are the second and third books in his bestselling and highly praised Aidan Waits series.

Twitter: @josephknox__
Facebook: @JosephKnoxAuthor
Instagram: @knobbth
Website: https://www.josephknox.co.uk/

Blog tour

Thanks to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for my copy of True Crime Story and for my place on the blog tour.

See the banner below for more stops on the #blogtour.

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Falling by T.J. Newman

Blog tour: 10 to 25 June 2021

Synopsis

You just boarded a flight to New York.

There are one hundred and forty-three other passengers onboard.

What you don’t know is that thirty minutes before the flight your pilot’s family was kidnapped.

For his family to live, everyone on your plane must die.

The only way the family will survive is if the pilot follows his orders and crashes the plane.

Enjoy the flight.

My review

Falling tells the story of Coastal Airways Flight 416, from Los Angeles to New York, and the plane’s experienced pilot, Captain Bill Hoffman.

Bill wasn’t due to be on the Airbus A320 – he was supposed to be at his 10-year-old son, Scott’s Little League season opener – but when the chief pilot, Walt O’Malley, phones to ask him to fly the route, he can’t really say no. Bill’s 42-year-old wife, Carrie, is annoyed with her husband and, as he heads to the airport, the couple don’t part on the best of terms, especially as she’s distracted by the internet repairman. Bill promises to talk to her later, before take-off.

Onboard the plane are 144 passengers and five crew, consisting of Captain Bill and First Officer Ben Miro plus flight attendants Jo Watkins (46), Michael ‘Big Daddy’ Rodenburg and newbie Kellie. Bill has worked with Jo for over two decades and considers her a friend and part of his family.

Bill tries to phone his wife before the five-and-a-half hour flight to John F. Kennedy International Airport but she doesn’t pick up so he carries on with all his pre-flight checks.

Shortly after take-off, he receives an email from his wife. At first he thinks it’s blank, then he realises, to his horror, that it contains a photo of Carrie and Scott and they are obviously in danger and being held captive by someone. Bill receives instructions via a FaceTime call and is told he must crash the plane or his family will be killed. What an awful dilemma! He also learns that provisions have been put in place in the cockpit to ensure that he complies with the terrorist.

The story is told from the points of view of Bill in the cockpit and flight attendant, Jo, in the cabin of the plane. On the ground, we follow FBI agent, Theo Baldwin, who is related to one of the aircrew, and Carrie, son Scott and 10-month-old baby daughter, Elise, as they are held captive by another terrorist.

I love books set on planes and this was definitely an excellent story, full of suspense, peril and drama! I was really rooting for Bill and star of the show, Jo, and hoping that Theo would be able to solve things on the ground, despite the other FBI agents trying to hamper his earnest efforts.

Overall, I really enjoyed this dramatic, gripping and tense read! I felt like I was up in the air, experiencing all the terror and fear that the passengers and crew were enduring. It seems a hopeless situation from all angles and one from which there’s no escape.

The novel was fast paced and entertaining and the action and twists and turns came fast and furious as Bill and his flight crew battled to foil the terrorists’ plot. I was a bit unsure about the terrorists’ motives but they were certainly menacing and seemed to have thought of everything. They appear to be one step ahead all the time but Bill is determined to save his family and all the passengers and he has a few surprises up his sleeve too. It makes for disturbing and exciting reading!

The author is a former flight attendant and this book was written on cross-country red-eye flights while the passengers were asleep! Her professional experience really showed in the authenticity of the procedures and protocol on the plane.

I understand this is due to be made into a film and it would definitely be an intense and terrifying movie and I can’t wait to watch it! I’m also looking forward to seeing what the author writes next.

Buy the book

Falling by T.J. Newman can be purchased from Amazon on Kindle and in hardback, and as an eBook from Kobo and iBooks.

About the author

T.J. Newman, a former bookseller turned flight attendant, worked for Virgin America and Alaska Airlines from 2011 to 2021. She wrote much of Falling on cross-country red-eye flights while her passengers were asleep. She lives in Phoenix, Arizona. Falling is her first novel.

Twitter: @T_J_Newman
Facebook: @TJNewmanBooks
Instagram: @tj_author

Blog tour

Thanks to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for my digital copy of Falling and for my place on the blog tour.

See the banner below for more stops on the #blogtour.

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The Lock In by Phoebe Luckhurst

Blog tour: 27 May to 30 June 2021

Synopsis

Meet Ellen, Alexa and Jack. They’re broke. They’re lonely. They’re hungover. And things are about to go from bad to worse

After Ellen stumbles downstairs to discover their kitchen is flooded, the housemates find themselves in the attic, desperate to cut the water supply. But when Ben, Alexa’s date from the night before, accidentally breaks the door handle, all four are trapped.

Cue the worst ever Morning After The Night Before, especially when Ellen becomes convinced she knows Ben from somewhere …

Will the housemates ever get out of the attic? Will they survive the wrath of Elias The Evil Landlord? And will Jack please stop live-tweeting this whole fiasco?

My review

Twenty-somethings Alexa Ingram, Ellen Fisher and Jack Barnes are housemates and live together at 49 Rokeby Close in North Cross, south-east London. The house is owned by their rather horrible landlord, Elias, who is rude and abrasive and always complaining about something they’ve done or, more likely, haven’t done to the property!

One Saturday morning in April, Ellen wakes with a hangover after a heavy night of work drinks. She works in communications for a CBD tampon company called The Flowdown. Heading to the kitchen for a glass of water, she’s horrified to discover water pouring out of the cupboard under the sink. She panics and starts hunting for a stopcock but can’t locate one. She suddenly has a brainwave and decides to head up to the attic, where the fuse box is located, in the hopes of finding the mains tap up there!

When she has no luck, Ellen asks Jack to help her search. He’s no use either so Ellen knocks on Alexa’s door and discovers she’s not alone after taking her Hinge date, Ben, home! Alexa knows where the stopcock is downstairs but can’t get it to turn off. She goes back up to the attic to ask Jack to help then Ben appears while they’re all up there and a gust of wind from the skylight blows the door shut. When he tries to open the door, the handle comes off in Ben’s hand and the foursome are trapped!

With water gushing out of the kitchen pipes, no way to open the broken attic door and a lack of powered/wifi-connected phones, there seems to be no way out for the group! It’s fairly early in the morning and, from their small attic skylight window, there’s no sign of any life on the streets below! How are they going to escape this one?

Told from the points of view of Alexa, Ellen and Jack, we learn more about the housemates and their pasts. Alexa and Ellen met 10 years ago at university in York and have been friends ever since and shared houses in York and London together. Jack has lived in their shared house for five months after moving down to London from Manchester. Alexa is a civil servant and Jack is a customer service rep for a vegetable delivery box start-up called Green Genie.

There are some intriguing revelations as the group alternate between panicking, talking about random things, trying to attract the attention of someone outside and crossing their legs (or not in the case of Ellen!)! Weirdly, Ellen is also convinced that she knows Alexa’s date, Ben, from somewhere too!

Overall, this was an amusing and light-hearted tale and, despite being nearly 400 pages long, I raced through it in a couple of days. It’s engaging, very readable and well written and I enjoyed learning more about the main protagonists in flashbacks to their pasts. They were all rather daft in their actions and should have handled things a lot better but it was all part of the fun in this entertaining locked-room romcom!

This heart-warming novel was relatable and I could picture the scene really well and imagine all the trials and tribulations up in the attic! The mention of MSN was a blast from the past as I remember spending hours chatting to random people on there while at uni! This was a fun summer read and great escapism in these locked-in times!

Buy the book

The Lock In by Phoebe Luckhurst can be purchased from Amazon on Kindle now and in hardback on 22 July, and as an eBook from Kobo and iBooks.

About the author

Phoebe Luckhurst was born in London and brought up in Glasgow. She is the Features Editor of the Evening Standard and appears regularly on their podcast, The Leader. She has written for The Guardian, Sunday Times Style, ELLE, ES Magazine, Grazia, The Telegraph and Vogue. She has had the theme tune to The OC stuck in her head since 2003 and once almost spent her student loan on a micro-pig. She no longer shops online when drunk.

Twitter: @phoebeluckhurst
Instagram: @phoebeluckhurst
Website: https://www.phoebeluckhurst.com

Blog tour

Thanks to Sriya Varadharajan at Michael Joseph for my proof copy of The Lock In and for my place on the blog tour.

See the banner below for more stops on the #blogtour.

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Meat is Murder by Chris McDonald

Blog tour: 8 to 21 June 2021

Synopsis

McNulty’s Meats, one of Stonebridge’s oldest businesses, is about to be taken over in a lucrative deal that would make brothers Ron and Kevin very rich men indeed. Unfortunately for them, local activist Tyler Love has other ideas. Convinced that the deal would be bad for the town, he burns the place to the ground and inadvertently kills himself in the process.

At least, that’s what the police think.

Tyler’s mum disagrees and pleads with amateur sleuths Adam and Colin to investigate. Although, going up against the psychopathic McNulty brothers, a rival businessman, a group of hippies, and a girlfriend with secrets of her own might not be such a good idea … Someone has something to hide, and will go to great lengths to keep that secret buried.

Meat is Murder is the third book in The Stonebridge Mysteries series of cosy crime novellas.

About the series

Stonebridge is a small town on the north coast of Northern Ireland. Most of its inhabitants are friendly, happy people. Most of them … Because bad things happen even in the happiest of places. It’s a good thing, then, that Adam Whyte and Colin McLaughlin call Stonebridge home.

Armed with an encyclopaedic knowledge of detective shows, a misplaced sense of confidence and a keen desire to see justice done, these two are the closest thing the town has to saviours. Which isn’t that reassuring …

My review

When I heard there was going to be a third novella in The Stonebridge Mysteries series, I couldn’t wait to read it! I love these short but perfectly formed cosy crime stories.

Set in the small Northern Irish town of Stonebridge, Meat is Murder introduces us to the rival local meat businesses, McNulty’s Meats and Tanner’s Meats! The owners of McNulty’s Meats, brothers Kevin and Ron McNulty, are planning to sell their business to a large English company, much to the disgust of a group of protestors called The History Makers and their leader, Tyler Love, who chain themselves to the gate at the abattoir.

In the last six months, Adam Whyte and his best friend for over 20 years, Colin McLaughlin, have become amateur sleuths and solved two murder cases, both of which the police had assumed were accidents. Adam has matured in several ways – he now has his own gardening business with a van and lock up for storage and he’s recently moved out of his mum’s house into his own flat. Colin is still working at the local retirement home and has just bought a house.

When the abattoir at McNulty’s Meats is set ablaze after the protest and a body is discovered in the wrecked building, the police assume that the victim, Tyler Love, set fire to the place and then became trapped and couldn’t escape. Tyler’s mum, Jennifer, contacts Adam to ask if he’ll investigate her son’s death as she insists that he was a peaceful protestor and doesn’t believe he would have set fire to the abattoir.

Adam and Colin decide they will help out and the next morning they head to the headquarters of The History Makers to attend a memorial service for Tyler, in the hopes of uncovering some key information. The pair work undercover again, often going their separate ways so that they can speak to various people connected to the case, putting themselves in danger when they meet up with some rather unsavoury characters.

There were some good twists and turns and several potential suspects. I had fun trying to guess how the story was going to unfold and work out who was responsible for Tyler’s death.

Meat is Murder is another well-plotted and entertaining novella from the author and I’m a big fan of this fab series! Adam and Colin make a great amateur sleuthing duo and work well together to solve some puzzling murders. They get rather a lot of luck along the way but that’s all part of the fun!

The book is a quick read, at just under 100 pages, but it’s engaging, action packed and full of intrigue and suspense. The story is well paced and cleverly developed and there are some witty lines. I love the amusing chapter titles – they’re a great device to give the reader a little insight into what’s to come!

I’m really enjoying this engaging, well-written crime mystery series and spending time with Adam and Colin and I’m hoping there’s going to be another instalment soon!

Buy the book

Meat is Murder by Chris McDonald can be purchased from Amazon on Kindle, in hardback and paperback, or from Kobo or Google Books. Purchase the hardback, paperback and eBook directly from the Red Dog Press online shop.

About the author

Originally hailing from the north coast of Northern Ireland and now residing in south Manchester, Chris McDonald has always been a reader. At primary school, the Hardy Boys inspired his love of adventure before his reading world was opened up by Chuck Palahniuk and the gritty world of crime.

A Wash of Black was his first attempt at writing a book. He came up with the initial idea whilst feeding his baby in the middle of the night, which may not be the best thing to admit, considering the content. Whispers in the Dark and Roses for the Dead are the other two books in the DI Erika Piper series. The Curious Dispatch of Daniel Costello and Dead in the Water are the first two books in The Stonebridge Mysteries series of cosy crime novellas.

He is a fan of 5-a-side football, heavy metal and dogs.

Twitter: @cmacwritescrime
Facebook: @cmacwritescrime
Website: https://macsbookreview.wordpress.com
Instagram: @cmacwritescrime

Blog tour

Thanks to Meggy Roussel at Red Dog Press for my digital copy of Meat is Murder and for my place on the blog tour.

See the banner below for more stops on the #blogtour.

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Until Next Weekend by Rachel Marks

Blog tour: 29 April to 9 June 2021

Synopsis

Noah and Kate were meant to be together forever.

Married with two gorgeous sons, it looked like they’d got their happy ever after.

But marriage isn’t easy. And one day, Kate left, taking their two boys with her.

These days, Noah is a weekend dad – and it breaks his heart. He misses the chaotic mealtimes, the bedtime stories, the early mornings and the late homework.

Suddenly, he decides enough is enough – he has to win his family back. Starting with Kate.

The only problem?

In six weeks’ time, Kate is getting married to someone else …

My review

I read and really enjoyed the author’s debut, Saturdays at Noon, for the blog tour last year and was keen to get my hands on this one!

Noah Carlton (30) is a primary school teacher and dad to eight-year-old Gabriel and four-year-old Finn. He’s divorced from their mum, Kate (28). Noah and Kate met as teenagers and were married at aged 20 and 18 respectively and together for 11 years in total. They’ve now been split up for nearly two years after Noah let Kate and the boys down one too many times. She’s now living with her partner of a year, Jerry Sedgeway, in his three-storey mansion.

Noah still has feelings for Kate and doesn’t like boring and sensible Jerry. He can’t resist regularly making little jibes and comments about the situation and Jerry. He hates being Weekend Dad and only seeing the boys every other weekend, and misses the mundane elements of family life like meals, bath time and putting the boys to bed.

While knocking back the drinks most nights, Noah chats to the new barmaid, Amelia (Mimi) Thomas, at his local pub and she gives him advice about his situation and plots to help him win Kate back before her wedding to Jerry takes place.

As the story progresses, we learn more about Noah and his family history and we discover why he’s acting the way he is.

At first, I found myself rather frustrated with Noah as he spent most of his spare time in the local pub, where he drank himself into oblivion regularly and often took random women home. He lets his sons down by not being there and not looking after them when he should have done. He’s obviously still hurting after the break up with Kate but he’s unreliable, immature and selfish. He seems to be self-destructing and feeling sorry for himself rather than thinking about Gabe and Finn. He also lets the children at school down by turning up to work with hangovers.

Despite their various flaws, the characters are all relatable and likeable, even Noah and Jerry, and I liked Noah’s brother, Ben, and his wife, as well as Kate and Mimi. Noah has a good rapport with the children at school and there’s one in particular who he ends up helping after difficulties at home.

Overall, I really enjoyed Until Next Weekend – it was well written and engaging and, despite being 400 pages long, I flew through it and was really captivated by the characters and storyline. The story was hard hitting in places and some rather serious and sensitive topics were discussed but it was also amusing and heart warming. I had tears in my eyes at a few emotional and touching moments.

The novel was cleverly plotted and I was never quite sure how things were going to pan out. There were a few twists and turns, and I was surprised by certain elements of the story. It was a fascinating look at a difficult family situation.

This was another excellent, thought-provoking read from the author and I’m already looking forward to her next book!

Buy the book

Until Next Weekend by Rachel Marks can be purchased from Amazon on Kindle and in paperback, and as an eBook from Kobo and iBooks.

About the author

Rachel Marks studied English at Exeter University before becoming a primary school teacher. Despite always loving to write, it wasn’t until she gained a place on the 2016 Curtis Brown Creative online novel writing course that she started to believe it could be anything more than a much-loved hobby.

Her inspiration for her first book, Saturdays at Noon, came from the challenges she faced with her eldest son – testing and fascinating in equal measure – and the research she did to try to understand him better.

She lives in Gloucestershire with her husband and two young sons. When not writing, she loves travelling, snowboarding and photography.

Twitter: @Rache1Marks
Instagram: @rachelmarksauthor

Blog tour

Thanks to Chrissie Antoniou at Michael Joseph Books for my proof copy of Until Next Weekend and for my place on the blog tour.

See the banner below for more stops on the #blogtour.

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The Whole Truth by Cara Hunter

Blog tour: 27 April to 28 May 2021

Synopsis

She has everything at stake; he has everything to lose. But one of them is lying, all the same.

When an Oxford student accuses one of the university’s professors of sexual assault, DI Adam Fawley’s team think they’ve heard it all before. But they couldn’t be more wrong.

Because this time, the predator is a woman and the shining star of the department, and the student a six-foot male rugby player.

Soon DI Fawley and his team are up against the clock to figure out the truth. What they don’t realise is that someone is watching.

And they have a plan to put Fawley out of action for good …

My review

The Whole Truth is the fifth book in the DI Adam Fawley series and is set in Oxford. Until now, I’d only read the first book, Close to Home, but this series can be read as standalone stories so I was really looking forward to reading this one.

It’s July 2018 and the novel begins with the disturbing accusation of a sexual assault at Edith Launceleve College in Oxford. What makes it even more shocking is that the victim is a 22-year-old male mathematics student called Caleb Morgan and the accused is a 42-year-old female academic, and his supervisor, Professor Marina Fisher, an expert in artificial intelligence. The incident took place at Professor Fisher’s Georgian town house after a university fundraising dinner at which she was a keynote speaker.

DI Adam Fawley’s 44-year-old wife, Alex, is 35 weeks pregnant and exhausted – she’s struggling with the heat and her emotions. The last thing Fawley needs is a complicated case involving gender and university politics, with familial links to key figures in various fields.

Fawley was involved in an investigation in which a man called Gavin Parrie was convicted of the rape and attempted rape of seven young women in Oxford in 1998. As he was led away to serve a minimum of 15 years in prison, Parrie made death threats against Fawley and now, 10 years later and out on licence with a tag, Alex is concerned that Parrie will seek out the family and carry out his threats.

While embroiled in the ‘he said, she said’ Morgan and Fisher case, the team are asked to look into the disappearance of a woman and, before long, both investigations are stretching police resources and having far-reaching and shocking repercussions for certain members of the team! I certainly didn’t see that coming!

The story is cleverly told using text messages, emails, social media posts, newspaper articles, podcast and phone call transcripts, handwritten notes, official police interviews and paperwork, as well as from the points of view of various characters. This works very well and enables the reader to follow the story and all the evidence for themselves and gain a bird’s eye view of the investigations as they unfold.

I loved the way the author kindly included a useful table at the beginning of the novel as an aide-mémoire for those who’d read previous books and also for those who hadn’t! It was very handy and gave me a quick summary of the key members of the team and some background information.

Overall, I really enjoyed this cleverly plotted and well-written police procedural. There were some startling revelations in the novel and some great twists and turns, as well as a few red herrings, which I totally fell for! The book had a great pace and tension to it and it kept my attention throughout, with never a dull moment. Just when you thought things were calming down, something else dramatic would happen!

It’s a gripping and compelling read and I raced through it in a couple of days, frantically turning the pages as things got worse and worse for various characters! The story is action packed and engaging – I became fully immersed in the cases myself and nearly started making notes!

This is an excellent series and I’m looking forward to going back and reading the earlier books in the series: In the Dark, No Way Out and All the Rage.

Buy the book

The Whole Truth by Cara Hunter can be purchased from Amazon on Kindle and in paperback, and as an eBook from Kobo and iBooks.

About the author

Cara Hunter is the author of The Sunday Times bestselling crime novels Close to Home, In the Dark, No Way Out and All the Rage, all featuring DI Adam Fawley and his Oxford-based police team. Close to Home was a Richard and Judy Book Club pick and was shortlisted for Crime Book of the Year in the British Book Awards 2019. No Way Out was selected by the Sunday Times as one of the 100 best crime novels since 1945.

Cara’s novels have sold more than a million copies worldwide, and the TV rights to the series have now been acquired by the Fremantle group. She lives in Oxford, on a street not unlike those featured in her books.

Twitter: @CaraHunterBooks
Instagram: @carahunterauthor

Blog tour

Thanks to Ellie Hudson and Georgia Taylor at Penguin Books for my copy of The Whole Truth and for my place on the blog tour.

See the banner below for more stops on the #blogtour.

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Lost Souls by Jenny O’Brien

Blog tour: 19 to 25 May 2021

Synopsis

A missing girl. A race against time.

Ten-year-old Elodie Fry vanishes overnight, along with a rucksack filled with her meagre belongings. Acting DI Gaby Darin and her team are fighting the clock to reunite Elodie with her distraught mother – but was Elodie kidnapped or did she run?

Later that day, a local undertaker uncovers a nasty surprise: the remains of an unidentified second adult among a late pensioner’s ashes. Torn between the two investigations, Gaby decides the gruesome discovery at the crematorium must wait – the team are desperate to find Elodie before they lose her trail.

But as she follows the evidence, Gaby realises the two cases have a sinister connection … and there’s a killer on the loose.

Can Gaby find the missing girl alive… or is she already too late?

My review

Lost Souls is the fourth book in the Detective Gaby Darin series and after enjoying the first two books (I haven’t go to the third one yet!), I was really keen to read it for the blog tour!

The story begins in Colwyn Bay, one Friday lunchtime at the end of July, with 10-year-old Elodie (Ellie) Fry making a shocking discovery in the shed while her mum is cleaning the house. A few days after this nasty experience, Elodie decides to run away from home, taking a rucksack of supplies with her.

Acting Detective Inspector (DI) Gabrielle (Gaby) Darin is part of the North Wales Major Incident Team and gets the call about the missing girl and arranges to meet DC Jax Williams and family liaison officer, DS Amy Potter, at the family home to speak to Ellie’s mum, Anita. Ellie is an only child and doesn’t know her father but Anita, who works as a cleaner, has done her best to provide for her daughter. She’s shocked by Ellie’s disappearance and can’t understand why she would have run away from home.

Meanwhile, DC Owen Bates, who is just returning from paternity leave and has a week-old baby daughter, speaks to a man called Martin Penrose from the Welsh Hills Memorial Gardens in Colwyn Bay who has come to the police station at St Asaph to report a crime. Penrose works at the crematorium and, while cleaning out the furnace, he found three prosthetic hip joints, a rather surprising discovery because, as he says, ‘How many people do you know with three legs?’!

We also meet a character from a previous novel, the reclusive 18-year-old Ronan Stevens, who is currently sleeping rough in a cave on the headland of the Great Orme in Llandudno and he ends up playing a key part in this story.

The novel is set over the course of a week as Gaby Darin frantically juggles several investigations, instructing her colleagues to follow many different lines of enquiries and tries to solve the curious cases. Poor PC Diane Carbone ends up reviewing hours of CCTV footage in the hopes of spotting Ellie. She comes up with some intelligent suggestions/observations so I hope she’ll feature more in future books.

The story can be read as a standalone but there are a few passing mentions of previous cases and events so it’s probably best to read the series in order to get the full experience and learn more about Gaby Darin and her life. She has a good working relationship with her colleagues and manages to support and encourage them while getting the best out of her team and successfully solving cases. I also enjoyed seeing Gaby’s tentative relationship with resident pathologist, Rusty Mulholland, continuing to develop, despite a few obstacles and uncertainties.

This was another excellent, compelling read from Jenny O’Brien, with some astute police work, and I really enjoyed this cleverly plotted and gripping police procedural. The puzzling storyline was well written with some good twists and turns and it had me frantically turning the pages, curious to see how all was going to be resolved. I had a few theories but couldn’t put all the pieces of the jigsaw together and was rather surprised by the conclusion!

The Detective Gaby Darin series is very engaging and entertaining, with a good pace, as well as a fascinating team dynamic and intriguing character development, and it makes for satisfying reading. I can’t wait for the next book!

Buy the book

Lost Souls by Jenny O’Brien can be purchased from Amazon on Kindle now and in paperback on 22 July, and as an eBook from Kobo and iBooks.

About the author

Born in Dublin, Jenny O’Brien moved to Wales and then Guernsey, where she tries to find time to write in between working as a nurse and ferrying around three teenagers.

She’s an avid reader and book blogger, in addition to being a previous Romantic Novel Awards (RoNA) judge.

In her spare time, she can be found frowning at her wonky cakes and even wonkier breads. You’ll be pleased to note she won’t be entering The Great British Bake Off. She’s also an all-year-round sea swimmer.

Twitter: @ScribblerJB
Facebook: @JennyOBrienWriter
Instagram: @scribblerjb
Website: https://jennyobrienwriter.wordpress.com

Blog tour

Thanks to Rachel’s Random Resources for my place on the blog tour.

See the banner below for more stops on the #blogtour.

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The Perfect Lie by Jo Spain

Blog tour blast: 11 May 2021

Synopsis

He jumped to his death in front of witnesses. Now his wife is charged with murder.

Five years ago, Erin Kennedy moved to New York following a family tragedy. She now lives happily with her detective husband in the scenic seaside town of Newport, Long Island. When Erin answers the door to Danny’s police colleagues one morning, it’s the start of an ordinary day. But behind her, Danny walks to the window of their fourth-floor apartment and jumps to his death.

Eighteen months later, Erin is in court, charged with her husband’s murder. Over that year and a half, Erin has learned things about Danny she could never have imagined. She thought he was perfect. She thought their life was perfect.

But it was all built on the perfect lie.

My review

Erin Kennedy, 32, an editor in a publishing house, lives in Newport, Suffolk County on Long Island with her detective husband of less than two years, Daniel (Danny) Ryan, 33. Erin is from Ireland originally but moved to New York five years ago after a family tragedy.

It’s nearly 7.15 on a Tuesday morning in July and there’s a firm knock on the door of their fourth-floor apartment and, straightaway, Erin knows that it’s her husband’s police colleagues. She’s a bit confused but lets the three officers in and that’s when Danny takes one look at his partner, Ben Mitchell, walks to the French windows and jumps to his death from their balcony.

It’s a disturbing beginning and really had me wondering what had made Danny do that! Poor Erin is very shocked and horrified and can’t believe that she didn’t realise Danny was feeling so distraught. She feels very alone – she has a few friends in New York but her family are back home in Ireland and the police don’t seem to be looking out for Erin like you’d expect after the death of one of their own.

Erin is determined to uncover the truth about Danny and what he was involved in and she slowly discovers some shocking facts and the story takes some very intriguing turns!

The book is set in three parts: The Lie, The Truth and The Whole Truth, and there are three time periods: Then (July 2019), Now (December 2020) and Harvard (December 2016). The strands of the story all combine well to create a fiendishly puzzling crime thriller!

At first, I was a bit confused by the Harvard sections and how they related to the rest of the story and also couldn’t believe that Erin was being charged with the murder of her husband. It all seemed rather baffling! All sorts of thoughts were running through my mind and I was considering several different theories but the author had me bewildered until right near the end, when I eventually worked most of it out!

Overall, I really enjoyed The Perfect Lie – it was a gripping and entertaining read, which moved along at a great pace, and I raced through it in less than a day, desperate to uncover all the lies and truths! The characters were well drawn with some intriguing personalities, and also some rather unpleasant protagonists, and it was fascinating to learn about the pasts of various people and how they all fitted into the story.

The book contained some great twists and turns, along with some fantastic elements of misdirection – I was shocked by numerous revelations throughout! This was a great story, which was well plotted and cleverly written.

I must read some of the author’s other books soon – I already have Dirty Little Secrets and The Confession waiting to be read, as well as the first in the Inspector Tom Reynolds series, With Our Blessing.

Buy the book

The Perfect Lie by Jo Spain is published on Thursday 13 May and can be preordered from Amazon on Kindle and in hardback, and as an eBook from Kobo and iBooks.

About the author

Jo Spain is a full-time writer and screenwriter. Her first novel, With Our Blessing, was one of seven books shortlisted in the Richard and Judy Search for a Bestseller competition and her first psychological thriller, The Confession, was a number one bestseller in Ireland. Jo co-wrote the ground-breaking television series Taken Down, which first broadcast in Ireland in 2018. She’s now working on multiple European television projects.

A politics graduate of Trinity College Dublin, Jo formerly worked as a parliamentary advisor on the economy and as vice chair of the business body, Intertrade Ireland.

She lives in Dublin with her husband and their four young children.

Twitter: @SpainJoanne
Facebook: @JoSpainAuthor
Instagram: @jospainauthor
Website: https://www.independenttalent.com/writers/jo-spain

Blog tour

Thanks to Milly Reid at Quercus Books for my copy of The Perfect Lie and for my place on the blog blast.

See the banner below for more stops on the #blogblast.

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Geiger by Gustaf Skördeman

Blog tour: 26 April to 8 May 2021

Synopsis

The landline rings as Agneta is waving off her grandchildren. Just one word comes out of the receiver: ‘Geiger’.

For decades, Agneta has always known that this moment would come, but she is shaken. She knows what it means.

Retrieving her weapon from its hiding place, she attaches the silencer and creeps up behind her husband before pressing the barrel to his temple.

Then she squeezes the trigger and disappears – leaving behind her wallet and keys.

The extraordinary murder is not Sara Nowak’s case. But she was once close to those affected and, defying regulations, she joins the investigation. What Sara doesn’t know is that the mysterious codeword is just the first piece in the puzzle of an intricate and devastating plot fifty years in the making …

My review

Set in a hot summer in Bromma, Sweden, Geiger begins with a pleasant family scene as sisters, Malin and Lotta, and their husbands, Christian and Petter, return from a holiday in France to collect their children from the grandparents, Stellan (85) and Agneta Broman (69), who have been looking after them for a week in the family home.

As the two families head home and Agneta waves them off, she receives a phone call on the landline and hears a codeword: ‘Geiger’. Things take a dramatic and shocking turn as she takes her gun from its hiding place and shoots her husband in the head. She takes a few items then quickly heads off, taking care not to be seen by anyone. Agneta has been waiting 50 years for this moment. What has caused this horrific act? Is this the event that starts a chain reaction and ends in more deaths?

A police officer called Sara Nowak (44) receives a phone call from Detective Inspector Anna Torhall, her old friend at the police academy, who now works in homicide, telling her about Stellan’s murder. Sara works in street prostitution but, when she was growing up, she was friends with Malin and Lotta and used to spend lots of time at the Broman home, in the days when ‘Uncle Stellan’ was a famous Swedish TV personality who loved entertaining important people at his regular parties. Sara’s mother, Jane, was also a cook and cleaner at the house.

Although it’s not her case, Sara feels compelled to investigate and uncovers information about Stellan from various sources. Sara tries to tell Anna about her suspicions of Stellan’s involvement as a Cold War spy but Anna is dismissive as the police are concentrating their efforts on finding the missing Agneta, who is feared abducted or injured.

Operatives in the intelligence service are also aware Geiger has been activated and that things are starting to kick off after years of inactivity. Something big is happening.

There were some disturbing revelations and the action-packed story zipped along at a fair pace, although I did get a bit confused about some of the Cold War details and the history behind the current events. There’s lots of interesting historical background information and I enjoyed searching online about that and the various Swedish locations mentioned.

I preferred the scenes with Agneta on the run to the more personal and slower scenes with Sara, where we learnt more about her family: husband, Martin, 19-year-old daughter, Ebba, and 14-year-old son, Olle. Sara was a rather volatile character at times and used aggression and violence to get her point across, especially when she confronts the abusive clients of the city’s prostitutes while doing her best to try and protect the women.

The book contains some shocking scenes – violence, torture, rape and sexual imagery – so won’t be for everyone but I felt it was all relevant to the story, if a bit too graphic at times.

Overall, I enjoyed Geiger – the well-plotted story is rather meaty and entertaining and there’s lots of information to get your head around. It’s a fascinating read, full of intrigue and mystery, and lots of secrets, lies and classified information. The characters are well drawn but most of them were rather unlikeable!

I haven’t read a spy thriller for years but I’m not sure why. This was a tense and gripping read, with lots of twists and turns, and I would love to see it on the big screen! I’ve read that it may be the first in a series too so I will eagerly await another book.

Buy the book

Geiger by Gustaf Skördeman can be purchased from Amazon on Kindle and in hardback, and as an eBook from Kobo and iBooks.

About the author

Gustaf Skördeman was born in 1965 in Sweden and is a screenwriter, director and producer. Geiger, his thriller debut, is published in 24 countries, and film rights have been optioned by Monumental Pictures.

Blog tour

Thanks to Tracy Fenton at Compulsive Readers for my place on the blog tour.

See the banner below for more stops on the #blogtour.

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Another Life by Jodie Chapman

Blog tour: 29 March to 2 May 2021

Synopsis

Nick and Anna work the same summer job at their local cinema. Anna is mysterious, beautiful, and from a very different world to Nick. She’s grown up preparing for the end of days, in a tightly controlled existence where Christmas, getting drunk and sex before marriage are all off limits.

When Nick comes into her life, Anna falls passionately in love. Their shared world burns with poetry and music, cigarettes and conversation – hints of the people they hope to become.

But Anna, on the cusp of adulthood, is afraid to give up everything she’s ever believed in, and everyone she’s ever loved. She walks away, and Nick doesn’t stop her.

Years later, a tragedy draws Anna back into Nick’s life. But rekindling their relationship leaves Anna and Nick facing a terrible choice: between a love that’s endured decades, and the promises they’ve made to others along the way.

Another Life is a stunningly written novel, examining the devastating choice between the familiar and real, and your only choice at a great love.

My review

Another Life tells the poignant story of Nick Mendoza, 22, and Anna, 19, who meet in the feverishly hot summer of 2003 in Ashford. They’re both working at their local cinema and spend an intense and sultry month together while Anna is waiting for her boyfriend to return from Australia. They’re very dissimilar and from different backgrounds but are drawn to each other.

Anna follows a religion that’s not directly named but the reader assumes she is a Jehovah’s Witness. As a result, her values and beliefs are very different to Nick’s and the pair struggle to suss each other out in the beginning. She often rejects and discourages him as she is afraid of what her strict family would think about her fraternisation with a non-believer.

We also meet Nick’s mum (Louise), dad (Paul) and brother, Salvatore, as well as his aunt, Stella, and it’s fascinating to see how each of them play their part in this heart-wrenching story.

The novel takes the form of snippets of memories across the years, from the late 1980s and early 1990s to that summer in 2003, various periods in between, and the present day (2020). Nick narrates his experiences alongside emails and poems from Anna and letters from others, with some short and snappy chapters, which just encouraged me to keep reading as the story unfolded and some heartbreaking and distressing moments were revealed.

Another Life is a fascinating portrayal of love, life and loss and I found it moving and emotional. I was also rather frustrated with the main characters at times – they didn’t talk enough, wouldn’t tell each other how they felt and kept putting obstacles in their own way and self-sabotaging themselves! And Nick, in particular, managed to hurt others by not being honest about his feelings for Anna.

This was an eventful novel with some shocking twists and turns at times – poor Nick and his family had more than their fair share of bad luck and trauma, which had devastating and long-lasting consequences for all.

Although Nick and Anna were only together for a few short weeks, this intense and passionate month affects them both for the rest of their lives and they are unable to let go and move on, and their paths seem to keep crossing every so often.

This coming-of-age novel is a captivating and intense read – it certainly gave me lots to think about and I experienced a range of emotions during the will they, won’t they storyline. I think it’s a book that it would be good to reread, so that I can pick out all the little hints and clues about the story that are mentioned in the various time periods.

Overall, I really enjoyed Another Life and I can’t wait to see what Jodie Chapman writes next!

Buy the book

Another Life by Jodie Chapman can be purchased from Amazon on Kindle and in hardback, and as an eBook from Kobo and iBooks.

About the author

©Lee Robbins

Author Jodie Chapman was raised as a practising Jehovah’s Witness, but left the faith in recent years when her doubts about the way of life became too big to ignore, and now, with her own family, she was conscious of the impact on her three children. Many of her immediate family are still practising.

While Another Life is not autobiographical, Jodie’s personal experiences have had an impact on her writing, her creativity, her approach to voice, and her creation of the character of Anna and her relationship with Nick.

Author Jodie Chapman has spent 12 years working as a photographer and lives in Kent. In 2016, Jodie was accepted on the Curtis Brown Creative novel writing course. Another Life is her first novel.

Twitter: @jodiechapman
Facebook: @jodiechapmanwriter
Instagram: @jodiechapman
Website: jodiechapman.co.uk

Blog tour

Thanks to Ella Watkins at Michael Joseph Books for my hardback copy of Another Life and for my place on the blog tour.

See the banner below for more stops on the #blogtour.

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When They Find Her by Lia Middleton

Blog tour: 25 March to 21 April 2021

Synopsis

Naomi always wanted to be a mother.

But three years ago, her husband left, taking their child with him.

Now, her daughter has come to stay, and Naomi knows it’s her one chance to re-build her family. But the night ends in a terrible accident. And Naomi tells a lie she can never take back.

Naomi reports her daughter missing.

Within hours, her home is invaded. Journalists crowd the driveway. Police search the woods at the foot of the garden. Her ex-husband paces the hall.

And Naomi can’t look away. Because the only thing worse than her lie is the truth.

Naomi has no memory of what really happened that night.

My review

Naomi Williams thought she had the perfect life with an adoring husband, Aiden, a group of lovely friends and a beautiful baby daughter, Freya. But, three years ago, her world fell apart and Aiden left, taking Freya with him.

When Naomi is finally trusted to have four-year-old Freya overnight, one November evening, she can’t wait to spend some time with her and be a mum and do the things that she’s missed out on, like giving her a bath and showing Freya her redecorated room.

Sadly, the sleepover ends tragically when Naomi wakes up in the morning and is horrified to discover there’s been a terrible accident. Rather than telling the truth about what has happened, she lies and reports Freya missing to ex-husband, Aiden, her boyfriend, Rupert, and to the police.

The police arrive, and so do Aiden and his wife, and everyone springs into action in the frantic rush to find Freya before it’s too late. Naomi is thrown into a nightmare and she loses her chance to confess about what has actually happened, and becomes embroiled in more and more lies as she tries to hide the truth.

The story is action packed and goes at a fast and compelling pace. In flashbacks to previous years, we begin to learn what took place in the past and discover why Naomi and Aiden’s relationship broke down and why Aiden ended up looking after Freya.

Naomi is a complex and flawed character and I wondered how reliable she was as a narrator. I was shocked by her actions and disapproved of things she’d done in the past but was also sympathetic to her and felt that she’d had a tough time with her mental health, even before the shocking incident at her house, and hadn’t been supported enough by her family, friends and professionals. I really went through the full range of emotions with Naomi and felt frustrated and upset for her, and with her, as events progressed.

The setting for the novel is very atmospheric and chilling – the large farmhouse was Naomi’s childhood home, and it backs onto the woods and is surrounded by fields and has barns and an orchard. Plenty of land (50 acres) in which a small child can disappear. When snow starts to fall, it seems even more bleak and frightening.

Overall, I really enjoyed When They Find Her – it was cleverly plotted, well written and gripping. I couldn’t put it down and read it in two sittings, totally absorbed by the story. There were lots of twists and turns and some clever misdirection, and I was very surprised by some of the revelations as the novel progressed! It was certainly a tense and traumatic read at times! I liked the way the flashbacks to the past were woven into the story – they enabled the reader to put all the pieces of the jigsaw together and learn how things had worked out so badly for Naomi.

This was a great read and I’m already looking forward to the author’s next book, which appears to be out the day before my birthday in August!

Buy the book

When They Find Her by Lia Middleton can be purchased from Amazon on Kindle now for 99p in the monthly deals and in hardback on 13 May, and as an eBook from Kobo and iBooks.

About the author

Lia Middleton is a barrister who specialises in crime and offender management. She graduated in drama and theatre studies before transferring to a legal career, which she practises alongside her lifelong love for writing.

When she isn’t writing, Lia enjoys reading, travelling, and discovering new food markets and festivals. She lives with her husband and two young children in Buckinghamshire.

Twitter: @liamiddlet0n
Instagram: @liamiddletonauthor

Blog tour

Thanks to Chrissie Antoniou at Michael Joseph Books for my proof copy of When They Find Her and for my place on the blog tour.

See the banner below for more stops on the #blogtour.

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Trust Me by T.M. Logan

Blog tour: 15 March to 10 April 2021

Synopsis

Two strangers, a child, and a split second choice that will change everything …

Ellen was just trying to help a stranger. That was how it started: giving a few minutes respite to a flustered young mother sitting opposite her on the train. A few minutes holding her baby while the mother makes an urgent call. The weight of the child in her arms making Ellen’s heart ache for what she can never have.

Five minutes pass.
Ten.

The train pulls into a station and Ellen is stunned to see the mother hurrying away down the platform, without looking back. Leaving her baby behind. Ellen is about to raise the alarm when she discovers a note in the baby’s bag, three desperate lines scrawled hastily on a piece of paper:

Please protect Mia
Don’t trust the police
Don’t trust anyone

Why would a mother abandon her child to a stranger? Ellen is about to discover that the baby in her arms might hold the key to an unspeakable crime. And doing the right thing might just cost her everything …

My review

I’m a big fan of T.M. Logan since reading 29 Seconds and have enjoyed all his subsequent books, so I was excited to join the blog tour for Trust Me.

Ellen Devlin, 41, a project manager for an aerospace company, is travelling home to South Greenford on the train after an appointment at a fertility clinic when she learns via Instagram that her ex-husband, Richard, is expecting a baby with his new partner. Ellen received more upsetting news at the clinic and is devastated that he’s going to be a father after they tried for a baby, with numerous cycles of IVF, for several years without success. They’ve only been separated for three months.

A woman with a young baby gets on the train – the last thing that Ellen wants to see. She ends up sitting opposite Ellen and introduces herself as Kathryn and her three-month-old baby as Mia. The baby is very sweet and smiley and Ellen can’t help but smile back.

When Kathryn’s mobile phone rings, she asks Ellen to hold Mia while she takes the call and walks to the area between the two carriages, by the doors. A few minutes later, the train stops at the small station of Seer Green and Jordans, the last stop before Marylebone, and Ellen, who is still holding baby Mia, is shocked to see Kathryn outside the train and hurrying past her window!

Ellen is confused but tries to stay calm and checks Mia’s change bag, where she discovers a hastily scrawled note, addressed to her, which says ‘Please protect Mia. Don’t trust the police. Don’t trust anyone.’ She isn’t sure what to do but, straightaway, she’s suspicious of everyone on the train!

When the train arrives at Marylebone, Ellen makes a decision that ends up embroiling her in some scary incidents! She has no idea what she’s getting herself involved in but she soon learns that no one can be trusted.

This book had some great twists and turns and I was frantically turning the pages as Ellen did one crazy thing after another and put herself in danger! She was involved to such an extent that it seemed like things could only end in an awful way.

Ellen was a great character and seemed very brave and determined, and also a bit reckless! She was pretty fearless when faced with some frightening men in very dangerous situations, but knew exactly how to handle things.

Overall, I really enjoyed this exciting and gripping read and I raced through it in a few hours, desperate to learn how everything was going to be resolved. It was cleverly plotted, with plenty of red herrings and misdirection.

The story was told from several different points of view and I was never really sure if I’d sussed things out or not, but I did guess who was the baddie towards the end!

The book had a great pace and tension to it and it kept my attention throughout, with never a dull moment. Just when you thought things were calming down, something else dramatic would happen!

T.M. Logan gets better with each book and I can’t wait to read his next one! I must also go back and read his debut, Lies, which I still haven’t read! If you haven’t read any books from this author before, I’d definitely recommend his action-packed and tense thrillers! Great stuff!

Buy the book

Trust Me by T.M. Logan can be purchased from Amazon on Kindle and in hardback, and as an eBook from Kobo and iBooks.

About the author

T.M. Logan‘s thrillers have sold more than 900,000 copies in the UK and are published in 18 countries around the world. His novel, The Holiday, was a Richard and Judy Book Club pick and became a Sunday Times bestseller in paperback. Formerly a national newspaper journalist, he now writes full time and lives in Nottinghamshire with his wife and two children.

Twitter: @TMLoganAuthor
Facebook: @TMLoganAuthor
Instagram: @tmloganauthor
Website: https://www.tmlogan.com

Blog tour

Thanks to Zaffre Books for my proof copy of Trust Me and to Tracy Fenton at Compulsive Readers for my place on the blog tour.

See the banner below for more stops on the #blogtour.

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Blackstoke by Rob Parker

Blog tour: 23 March to 4 April 2021

Synopsis

Wealth. Security. Prosperity. None of it matters in the dark.

In a quiet cul-de-sac on the newly opened, much-sought-after Blackstoke housing development, the first handful of families are moving in. These neighbours, thrown together for the first time, are looking forward to settling into their bright new lives – with varying degrees of enthusiasm. The estate couldn’t be nicer, but it’s a big change for everyone.

Then things start to happen. Bad things. As if something doesn’t want them there.

As the new residents try to make sense of events, the buried history of the area makes itself suddenly, deeply apparent – with a series of shocking, violent escalations.

Soon, no one is safe, as the original powers of Blackstoke return to reclaim their territory and birth right in a final night of dark revelations, gore and bloodshed.

My review

The new housing development of the Blackstoke Estate near Warrington is the setting for this action-packed and chilling horror story! Five families are the first residents of the exclusive estate with its impressive houses: Peter West (42), his wife, Pam (41), and their children, Alice (15) and Jacob; David and Christian Lyon and their adopted baby daughter, Olivia; Fletcher and Joyce Adams and their teenage twin boys, Boyd and Burnett; Grace Milligan and her Irish wolfhound, Dewey; and retired couple, Quint and Wendy Fenchurch.

The northeast corner of the estate is the first to be finished, with 200 properties to eventually be built, but for now there are just five houses in a quiet cul-de-sac. As the neighbours slowly become acquainted, there are a few fractious moments as they try to suss each other out and decide their pecking order of importance!

Retired policeman, Quint, husband of former head nurse, Wendy, is rather dismissive of young lawyer Grace – how has she afforded her smart new house? – and everyone is unimpressed with sleazy MP Fletcher, who is a dirty stopout and spends his evenings at The Sin Bin strip club. Peter works for a PR firm and has rather overstretched himself to buy their Blackstoke house after a promotion at work, which left his wife hinting they needed to upgrade their property. David works in sales and Christian in marketing and the couple met at university.

Right from the start, the gated estate seems rather creepy and isolated and there’s been no sightings of the round-the-clock security guard who’s supposed to be patrolling the site. An unpleasant smell and the lack of a mobile phone mast also adds to the general disappointment with the swanky new estate, which promised luxury at affordable prices, and it feels like corners have been cut in the haste to start building and now the developers (COMUDEV) have probably run out money!

When worrying, unexplained things start happening, the residents begin to feel uneasy and wonder what’s going on. Events go from bad to worse with a shocking incident that took me by surprise and everything ramps up from then on, culminating in a night of terror and a wild ride involving all the residents.

Overall, this was a chilling and creepy read, which developed at a cleverly unsettling pace, with lots of suspense. Things didn’t seem right on the estate at the beginning and I was waiting, full of anticipation, for things to kick off, but wasn’t sure exactly how it was all going to play out. There was a great sense of foreboding and menacing hints that someone was after the families and I couldn’t work out if it was one of the new residents or an unknown culprit. The frightening, gruesome events that followed, with some awful, gory scenes, made me rather regret reading the book so late at night!

There was an interesting mix of characters in the story and they all had their part to play. Some were definitely more likeable than others! I particularly liked the fearless and courageous Grace and her huge, hairy and adorable hound, Dewey! Several of the other women, as well as the teenagers, also showed their bravery when faced with adversity.

The setting of the estate was well described and I could really picture it in my mind and all the action that took place there. I hope I don’t have nightmares tonight after some of those vivid images and graphic violent scenes!

I don’t read many horrors but I’m glad I picked this one up – it was disturbing but engaging and gripping! I haven’t read any of Rob Parker’s books before so I look forward to checking out his Ben Bracken series.

Buy the book

Blackstoke by Rob Parker can be purchased from Amazon on Kindle and in hardback and paperback, and as an eBook from Kobo. Or purchase the hardback or paperback directly from the Red Dog Press online shop.

About the author

Rob Parker is a married father of three, who lives in Warrington, UK. The author of the Ben Bracken thrillers, Crook’s Hollow and the #1 Audible bestseller, Far From the Tree, he enjoys a rural life, writing horrible things between school runs. Rob writes full time, attends various author events across the UK, and boxes regularly for charity. He spends a lot of time in schools across the north, encouraging literacy, storytelling and creative writing, and somehow squeezes in time to co-host the For Your Reconsideration film podcast, appear regularly on The Blood Brothers Crime Podcast, and is a member of the Northern Crime Syndicate.

Twitter: @robparkerauthor
Facebook: @robparkerauthor
Instagram: @robparkerauthor
Website: https://robparkerauthor.com

Blog tour

Thanks to Meggy Roussel at Red Dog Press for my digital copy of Blackstoke and for my place on the blog tour.

See the banner below for more stops on the #blogtour.

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Dead in the Water by Chris McDonald

Blog tour: 27 March to 4 April 2021

Synopsis

The Stonebridge Regatta is looming. The town’s annual face-off against neighbouring Meadowfield is usually a weekend filled with sunshine, laughter and camaraderie.

This year is different.

A week before the race, the body of Stonebridge team captain Matthew Henderson is found dead in the water. The police file his passing as a tragic accident however, his grieving widow disagrees and suspects foul play is involved. She enlists the help of Adam and Colin, the town’s amateur (self-proclaimed) private detectives to unearth the truth.

Did Matthew simply slip and fall into the water, or is there more to his death below the surface?

My review

I really enjoyed the first novella in The Stonebridge Mysteries series, The Curious Dispatch of Daniel Costello, and was excited to read this one and keen to join the blog tour!

Set in Stonebridge, a small town on the north coast of Northern Ireland, and following on a month after the previous book, we catch up with best friends Colin McLaughlin, who works at the local retirement home, and Adam Whyte, who’s now set up his own garden maintenance business.

When Elena Henderson’s husband, Matthew, is found drowned on rocks at the bottom of a cliff near the golf club, two days after a rather fractious rowing team practice session, she enlists the help of Adam and Colin to investigate his death, which the police presume is a tragic accident.

The men carry out their own unofficial investigation and speak to some of the other residents of the town, including members of the rival Stonebridge and Meadowfield rowing teams. Matthew Henderson was the captain of the Stonebridge team and they were weeks away from the annual Stonebridge Regatta weekend, the winners of which take home £5000.

As Adam and Colin work undercover and infiltrate various areas, they put themselves in danger and seem to be no closer to discovering what happened to Matthew. What they need is a lucky break so they can put all the pieces of the puzzle together!

Dead in the Water is a quick read, at around 100 pages, but it’s entertaining, action packed and full of intrigue and suspense. The story is well paced and cleverly plotted and there are some witty lines. I especially liked the amusing chapter titles, which gave a little insight into what was to come!

The plot develops well and there are lots of twists and turns and several potential suspects. I had fun trying to guess how the story was going to unfold and who could be the murderer.

I like both main characters and their amateur sleuthing and they seem to be growing up a bit in this story, with Colin buying a house and Adam running his own business. I’m really enjoying this engaging, well-written series and I’m curious to see what happens in the next instalment!

Buy the book

Dead in the Water by Chris McDonald can be purchased from Amazon on Kindle and in paperback. Or purchase the paperback directly from the Red Dog Press online shop.

About the author

Originally hailing from the north coast of Northern Ireland and now residing in south Manchester, Chris McDonald has always been a reader. At primary school, the Hardy Boys inspired his love of adventure before his reading world was opened up by Chuck Palahniuk and the gritty world of crime.

A Wash of Black was his first attempt at writing a book. He came up with the initial idea whilst feeding his baby in the middle of the night, which may not be the best thing to admit, considering the content. Whispers in the Dark is the second instalment in the DI Erika Piper series. The Curious Dispatch of Daniel Costello is the first book in the Stonebridge Mysteries series of cosy crime novellas.

He is a fan of 5-a-side football, heavy metal and dogs.

Twitter: @cmacwritescrime
Facebook: @cmacwritescrime
Website: https://macsbookreview.wordpress.com
Instagram: @cmacwritescrime

Blog tour

Thanks to Meggy Roussel at Red Dog Press for my digital copy of Dead in the Water and for my place on the blog tour.

See the banner below for more stops on the #blogtour.

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The Passenger by Daniel Hurst

Blog tour: 25 to 31 March 2021

Synopsis

She takes the same train every day. But this is a journey she’ll never forget.

Amanda is a hardworking single mum, completely focused on her job and her daughter, Louise. She’s been saving for years and now, finally, she can afford to give up work and chase her dream.

But then, on her commute home from London to Brighton, she meets a charming stranger – who seems to know everything about her.

He delivers an ultimatum. She needs to give him the code for the safe where she keeps her savings before the train reaches Brighton – or she’ll never see Louise again.

Convinced that the threat is real, Amanda is stunned, horrified. She knows she should give him the code, but she can’t. Because she also knows there is a terrible secret in that safe which will destroy her life and Louise’s too …

The Passenger – the stunning psychological thriller with a nerve-shredding climax. Perfect for fans of Mark Edwards, K.L. Slater, Miranda Rijks.

My review

I’ve been a fan of Daniel Hurst’s writing since his debut novella, 20 Minutes on the Tube, which I found a fascinating read, and I was hooked by his books and have been keeping an eye out for this prolific writer ever since! I love the 20 Minute series and his psychological thrillers, and the Influencing trilogy is great too. When I found out he’d signed with Inkubator Books, I was keen to read The Passenger and take part in the damppebbles blog tour.

With a dramatic prologue involving a gruesome death, you’re flung straight into the action in this tense and gripping book, and I couldn’t wait to discover what on earth was happening!

Amanda Abbott is 37 years old and a single mum to 17-year-old daughter, Louise. They live in a small two-bedroom flat in Brighton. Amanda is bored of her life and the routine of her daily hour-long commute into London and back. Every day is the same and she has no love life or social life. She’s saved a good amount of money and decides to quit her job as a purchasing administrator and follow her dreams and become a writer. She hands in her notice and is just seeing out the last few days of work before her new life as an author begins.

What Amanda doesn’t realise is that she’s being watched and has been targeted by a handsome stranger, who knows that her money is kept in a safe at her flat, rather than being deposited at the bank. One evening, when her train home is delayed, the man decides to make his move and put his plan into action and threaten Louise (and her daughter) to get his hands on her savings.

Amanda is hard working whereas her daughter is rather lazy and refuses to get a job and expects her mum to provide for her. They’re both hiding secrets from each other and, from the beginning, there are intriguing hints that there’s more to the story and there are some surprises ahead for all concerned!

The story is told from the viewpoints of Amanda, Louise and the stranger and this works well as we switch between them and the tension rises as the deadline nears and the train approaches Brighton!

Overall, I really enjoyed this well-plotted and tense thriller. There were lots of twists and turns and just when I thought I’d sussed things out, there’d be another revelation and then another one! The story is fast paced and gripping and I sped through it in a couple of sittings, desperate to find out if Amanda and Louise would survive.

As ever, I’m keen to see what Daniel Hurst writes next. He’s a very speedy writer and I’m still working my way through the 20 Minute series and have a couple of his other thrillers to read too!

Buy the book

The Passenger by Daniel Hurst is released on 28 March and can be preordered from Amazon on Kindle.

About the author

Daniel Hurst writes psychological thrillers and loves to tell tales about unusual things happening to normal people. He has written all his life, making the progression from handing scribbled stories to his parents as a boy to writing full-length novels in his thirties. He lives in the north west of England and when he isn’t writing, he is usually watching a game of football in a pub where his wife can’t find him.

Twitter: @dhurstbooks
Facebook: @danielhurstbooks
Instagram: @danielhurstbooks
Website: https://www.danielhurstbooks.com

Blog tour

Thanks to Inkubator Books for my digital copy of The Passenger and to Emma Welton at damppebbles blog tours for my place on the blog tour.

See the banner below for more stops on the #blogtour.

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Backstories by Simon Van der Velde

Review: 25 March 2021

Blurb

Dreamers, singers, heroes and killers, they can dazzle with their beauty or their talent or their unmitigated evil, yet inside themselves, they are as frail and desperate as the rest of us. But can you see them? Can you unravel the truth?

These are people you know, but not as you know them. Peel back the mask and see.

Can you find the famous person hidden in every story?

Synopsis

Backstories is a unique collection of stories each told from the point of view of a famous (or notorious) person at a pivotal moment in their lives. The writing is literary but accessible and the voices vividly real. The settings are mostly 60’s and 70’s UK and USA, and the driving themes are inclusion, social justice and of course, nostalgia – but the real key to these stories is that the protagonists’ identities are withheld. This means that your job is to find them, leading to that Eureka moment when you realise whose mind you’ve been inhabiting for the last 20 minutes.

My review

Happy publication day to Simon Van der Velde for Backstories!

When I was approached by the author to review his book, I thought it sounded a fascinating and intriguing concept – 14 short narratives described as ‘intimate stories about people you think you know’.

We meet various ‘dreamers, singers, heroes and killers’ at key moments in their lives and the book makes for addictive reading as you try and work out who is being described. Often, the person isn’t revealed till the end of the story or you’re left to guess who it is, which I was rubbish at!

There’s an intriguing cast of famous, infamous, villainous and unpleasant characters, a real mixed bag, including musicians, actors, politicians and criminals, and it makes for compelling and – when you can’t work out who it is – frustrating reading!

There are subtle little clues scattered throughout each story but, sometimes, they only become obvious on a second read through when you know who the person is!

The stories are shocking, powerful and hard hitting in parts and make you think. The author doesn’t sugercoat the people’s experiences or shy away from telling things how they were.

I read through all the stories once in a couple of sittings but I plan on reading them again now that I know who most of the people are. There are a few that I’m still unsure about and I need to do a bit more research … or plead with the author for the answers!

It’s the type of book that would be good as a buddy or book club read – it would be fun to discuss it with other people and bounce ideas off each other and think about things from different angles. Sometimes, there’s that little clue you might miss initially that, when checked on Google or with someone else, confirms who the story is about.

Overall, I really enjoyed this short story collection, with its vivid, colourful and eye-catching cover! It’s cleverly written, well researched and thought provoking. I’ve definitely learnt a few things about the past that I wasn’t aware of. It’s also something a bit different and I was pleased to hear that there’s going to be another volume soon!

Buy the book

Backstories by Simon Van der Velde can be purchased from Amazon on Kindle, in paperback and on audio.

About the author

Simon Van der Velde has worked variously as a barman, labourer, teacher, caterer and lawyer, as well as travelling throughout Europe and South America collecting characters and insights for his award-winning stories. Since completing a creative writing MA (with distinction) in 2010, Simon’s work has won and been shortlisted for numerous awards including The Yeovil Literary Prize (twice), The Wasafiri New Writing Prize, The Luke Bitmead Bursary, The Frome Shortstory Prize, The Harry Bowling Prize, The Henshaw Press Short Story Competition and The National Association of Writers’ Groups Open Competition – establishing him as one of the UK’s foremost short-story writers.

Simon now lives in Newcastle upon Tyne, England, with his wife, Nicola, their labradoodle, Barney, and two tyrannical children.

Twitter: @SimonVdVwriter
Facebook: @simonvdvelde
Instagram: @simonvdvwriter
Website: simonvandervelde.com

Thanks

Thanks very much to the author for my digital copy of Backstories.

Featured

Bound by Vanda Symon

Blog tour: 1 to 31 March 2021

Synopsis

The passionate, young police officer Sam Shephard returns in a taut, atmospheric and compelling police procedural, which sees her take matters into her own hands when the official investigation into the murder of a local businessman fails to add up …

The New Zealand city of Dunedin is rocked when a wealthy and apparently respectable businessman is murdered in his luxurious home while his wife is bound and gagged, and forced to watch. But when Detective Sam Shephard and her team start investigating the case, they discover that the victim had links with some dubious characters.

The case seems cut and dried, but Sam has other ideas. Weighed down by her dad’s terminal cancer diagnosis, and by complications in her relationship with Paul, she needs a distraction, and launches her own investigation. And when another murder throws the official case into chaos, it’s up to Sam to prove that the killer is someone no one could ever suspect.

My review

After reading the third book in the Sam Shephard series, Containment, last year for the blog tour, I was very keen to read this next instalment! I love a good police procedural and this is certainly an addictive series!

The story begins with 17-year-old Declan Henderson returning home one evening after band practice with friends to the shocking and gruesome discovery that his dad, John, has been horrifically murdered and his mum, Jill, who was bound, gagged and injured, was forced to watch the whole distressing event.

Detective Sam Shephard, Detective Paul Frost (her boyfriend) and several other members of their team are first on the rather remote scene, which is close to the eerie site of the former Seacliff Mental Hospital, where 37 women were killed in a fire in the 1940s. The wealthy Henderson family’s house is large and secluded with a long driveway and expensive-looking gates and there’s no sign of forced entry.

When Sam speaks to Mrs Henderson at the hospital, she is distraught and traumatised and says that her husband opened the door to two masked men who rushed their way into the property, shot him at point-blank range and then tied her to a chair.

John Henderson was thought to be a respectable businessman at a company called Eros Global, selling and distributing vitamin-type supplements and sexual enhancers, but it turns out that he’s involved in some rather dodgy stuff on the side and has several rather unsavoury characters as close business acquaintances.

When evidence is found that links two of these dubious characters to the crime scene, all the pieces of the jigsaw seem to be fitting together remarkably easily! Sam isn’t so sure and despite her colleagues’ misgivings – they’re convinced it’s an open-and-shut case – she is determined to get to the bottom of the investigation and discover who killed John Henderson.

In her private life, Sam’s dad is terminally ill and she has a rather fractious relationship with her mum and they’ve never really got on. She hates seeing her strong farmer father deteriorating and would rather throw herself into work than watch him slowly die.

Overall, I really enjoyed this well-crafted and cleverly plotted novel. The storyline was gripping with plenty of action, lots of misdirection and some surprising revelations and the short, snappy chapters encouraged me to read on so I flew through the book in less than a day!

Despite being a police procedural, Bound contained some great humour and, throughout the book, there were several lines and observations that made me chuckle. It was amusing as well as being entertaining, tense and intriguing!

I love the main character, Sam Shephard, as she’s feisty, clever, has a no-nonsense attitude, confidence, good sense of humour and she doesn’t give up easily, even when her boss, Detective Inspector ‘Dickhead’ Johns, is being his usual nasty self and hauling her over the coals for no apparent reason!

Sam’s flatmate, Maggie, is great and it’s a shame she didn’t feature more in this book as the pair have a great rapport. I enjoyed the developments in Sam’s relationship with Paul – they seem to be getting on really well and are much closer now!

Bound has a great sense of place – I loved all the descriptions of Dunedin and the surrounding areas, especially as I visited the city when I was travelling round the South Island of New Zealand over 10 years ago.

I understand that this is the fourth book in a series that was originally written in New Zealand between 2007 and 2011 so I hope that’s not the end and we get to meet Sam Shephard again soon! I do have the first two books, Overkill and The Ringmaster, still to read so I’ll definitely be getting round to them very soon!

Buy the book

Bound by Vanda Symon can be purchased from Amazon on Kindle and in paperback, and as an eBook from Kobo and iBooks.

About the author

Vanda Symon is a crime writer, TV presenter and radio host from Dunedin, New Zealand, and the chair of the Otago Southland branch of the New Zealand Society of Authors. The Sam Shephard series has climbed to number one on the New Zealand bestseller list, and also been shortlisted for the Ngaio Marsh Award for best crime novel. She currently lives in Dunedin, with her husband and two sons.

Twitter: @vandasymon
Facebook: @vandasymonauthor
Instagram: @vandasymon
Website: http://www.vandasymon.com

Blog tour

Thanks to Orenda Books and Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for my digital copy of Bound and for my place on the blog tour.

See the banner below for more stops on the #blogtour.

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Safe and Sound by Philippa East

Blog tour: 18 to 22 February 2021

Synopsis

Home can be the most dangerous place …

In a small London bedsit, a radio is playing. A small dining table is set for three, and curled up on the sofa is a body …

Jenn is the one who discovers the woman, along with the bailiffs. All indications suggest that the tenant – Sarah Jones – was pretty, charismatic and full of life.

So how is it possible that her body has lain undiscovered for ten whole months?

My review

Jennifer (Jenn) Arden, 31, is a housing manager at the housing authority in Brixton, south London, and single mum to Charlie, aged eight. Jenn is rather protective of her son, always fearing that he is ill or suffering from some disorder or disability, and we learn that there was an incident last year at school that she’s still getting over. Jenn also has a distant and difficult relationship with her parents, especially her mum, and something has happened in the past to create this rift.

A tenant has fallen three months behind with their rent and has completely ignored all attempts at communication, so Jenn has booked the bailiffs to help speak to the woman and try to arrange a payment plan. When they all arrive at the flat, which is tiny and hidden under the stairs, Jenn peers through the letterbox and is concerned when she spots piles of mail blocking the front door. There’s also an unusual odour. She decides to call the police and when they finally arrive, everyone is shocked when they find the body of a woman, Sarah Jones, and she has obviously been dead for a few months, despite the fact the radio is still playing Capital FM.

Jenn feels guilty about what’s happened as she was having difficulties with her mental health the previous year and she cut corners at work and ticked off annual inspections when they hadn’t been done.

She becomes deeply affected by Sarah Jones’ death and can’t understand how someone can just pass away without anyone else noticing. She’s determined to uncover the truth and becomes obsessed with finding out about Sarah and her family and friends.

It begins to affect her life and she loses weight and becomes more paranoid and worried about her son and his health. It was disturbing to read as Jenn got more and more obsessed with looking into Sarah’s past and she was behaving rather erratically in all areas of her life but, being a single mum and not having any close friends, no one seemed to be really picking up on what was going on. In some ways, Jenn was rather similar to Sarah and she found this quite disturbing to consider.

The story is told mainly from Jenn’s viewpoint in the current day but sometime in the past (‘back then’), we also hear from a nine-year-old girl called Prin whose seven-year-old cousin, Jane, comes to live with her and her parents during the summer holidays. Prin’s mum and dad don’t explain why Jane is staying with them and Jane doesn’t discuss things either. Something awful has obviously happened as she keeps having flashbacks and nightmares.

Safe and Sound is very intriguing and full of suspense. It was fascinating as Jenn met people connected with Sarah Jones and little bits of information and clues were slowly revealed. I was also very curious to see how cousins Prin and Jane tied into the story and I had several theories, which were all wrong!

I really enjoyed this gripping and tense psychological thriller. It was well plotted and cleverly written and I was never quite sure whether Jenn and Prin were reliable narrators or not. I had numerous thoughts about whether they were telling the truth as the story progressed and was also suspicious of many of the other characters in the book, who all seemed to be acting strangely at various points!

Overall, this was a really enjoyable and compelling read and I consumed it in a couple of sittings, frantically turning the pages, desperate to see how it was all going to be resolved. I’m keen to read the author’s other book, Little White Lies, now and will definitely be checking out her next book!

Buy the book

Safe and Sound by Philippa East can be purchased from Amazon on Kindle and in paperback, and as an eBook from Kobo and iBooks.

About the author

Philippa East is a fiction writer with HQ/HarperCollins and she also works as a clinical psychologist.

Philippa grew up in Scotland before moving to Oxford and then London to complete her clinical psychology training. A few years ago, she left the NHS to set up her own part-time practice and dedicate more hours to writing. The result was her debut novel, Little White Lies, which was longlisted for The Guardian’s Not-The-Booker Prize and shortlisted for the CWA New Blood Award 2020.

Philippa now lives in the beautiful Lincolnshire countryside with her husband and cat. She loves reading (of course!) and long country walks, and she also performs in a local folk duo called The Miracle Cure. Alongside her writing, Philippa continues to work as a psychologist and therapist.

Twitter: @philippa_east
Facebook: @philippa.east
Instagram: @philippa_east_author

Blog tour

Thanks to Sian Baldwin at HQ Stories for my digital copy of Safe and Sound and for my place on the blog tour.

See the banner below for more stops on the #blogtour.

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Singapore Fire by Murray Bailey

Blog tour: 17 February to 1 March 2021

Synopsis

She wants to escape
He wants to save her
But nothing is what it seems

Singapore 1954 and once again, private investigator, Ash Carter is caught between the government and the criminal gangs. It’s time for Carter to choose.

Escape now or stand and fight?

My review

Set in Singapore in the 1950s, Singapore Fire is the sixth and final book in the mystery-thriller Ash Carter series. After reading and enjoying the fifth book, Singapore Killer, last year, I was excited to see how the series would reach its conclusion, and I wasn’t disappointed!

It’s February 1954 and the story begins with a dramatic and shocking scene in an old factory where we meet businessman and head of a Chinese secret society, Andrew Yipp, 64, and three of his henchmen, including Wang, his lieutenant, who thinks nothing of killing a man they’ve been torturing for information. The dead man told them that Yipp’s assistant and mistress, Su Ling Yong, had visited the head of the second-largest secret society, Christian Chen. Yipp is not impressed by this supposed betrayal and tells Wang to find her and then mentions Ash Carter’s name …

Captain Ash Carter was in the British Army’s Royal Military Police (in the Special Investigations Branch) and then worked for the internal security secretary of the Singapore government and a private protection force in Malaya. He’s now been an independent investigator for six months (alongside providing support to the military police, 200 Provost) and a Chinese lady called Madam Chau, who we met in the previous book, is still his secretary/receptionist.

Madam Chau is a great character: hard working and very loyal to Ash but he’s rather rude and describes her as ‘extremely unattractive, with a flat face that was permanently fixed with a sour expression.’ He comments, ‘With so many beautiful girls on the island, I’d deliberately chosen one who wouldn’t appeal to me.’

Ash has had several liaisons with Su Ling during his time in Singapore. We learn, through flashbacks, that Andrew Yipp is Su Ling’s uncle and he has been abusing her since she was a young teenager. She is now Yipp’s assistant and mistress, roles that her mother used to carry out until she went missing when Su Ling was 11, which meant that Yipp and his wife adopted their niece. It turns out that Ash Carter has been having an affair with Su Ling and, as a result, he’s on very dangerous ground with Yipp!

Ash and Su Ling decide that in order for them to both keep safe, they need to escape to the Philippines during the New Year’s parade and pageant via a boat, with the help of Arthur Pope, a wealthy businessman who deals in Japanese goods and artefacts. Unfortunately, Secretary for Internal Security Philip Norris is aware of Carter and Su Ling’s relationship and he tells Carter that Yipp is funding a political group called the People’s Action Party and orders him to investigate Yipp and find some way for him to be arrested or he threatens that he will arrest Su Ling.

Yipp is definitely up to something and involved in various dodgy dealings but Ash is struggling to work out what and can’t pin anything illegal on him. There are several different strands to the story, from a Chinese gold case that Ash Carter was investigating with Chief Inspector George McNaughton of the Kuala Lumpur police around the time of the BlackJack murders (from the previous book), to a case involving the Housing Planning and Development department’s programme of renewal (re-appropriation), which is being overseen by Major Rupert Lamb and consists of people being removed from their homes as they are living in crumbling old buildings. I found it really interesting to try and work out how these elements of the story were all linked, if at all, to Yipp and his business and political interests. There were lots of different characters and, at times, I had to look back to remember who was who.

Singapore Fire is a well-plotted, gripping thriller with lots of twists and turns, tense moments and some scenes of violence. It’s an action-packed and fast-paced read with some startling revelations! Over the eight days in which the story is set, Ash Carter covers many miles in his quest to keep Su Ling safe while trying to discover what Yipp is up to and resolve all the other cases he’s working on, with the help of various acquaintances.

There are lots of political tensions in Singapore in the period in which the book is set and it seems a very volatile and tense situation, and one that’s fraught with danger; you’re never quite sure who you can trust and who’s lurking round the corner ready to attack and dispatch you, without asking any questions first! Even the police and respected government officials seem to be corrupt. Ash Carter is brave but also rather reckless at times as he dashes into situations without really being sure of what’s facing him on the other side of the door!

Overall, I really enjoyed Singapore Fire – it was an intense and absorbing story, with great descriptions of 1950s Singapore and the culture, as well as the elements of corruption and abuse. It was good to get to know Ash Carter in more urban settings and learn a bit more about him. Although I’ve read Singapore Killer, I haven’t read any of the first four books in the series but I didn’t feel like I was missing out on lots of earlier back stories. The book works fine as a standalone but I’d recommend reading the rest first. Now that the series has reached its conclusion, I’ll have to go back and read Singapore 52, Singapore Girl, Singapore Boxer and Singapore Ghost to see what I’ve missed out on!

Buy the book

Singapore Fire (Ash Carter, book 6) by Murray Bailey is released on 1 March and can be preordered from Amazon on Kindle and in paperback.

About the author

Murray Bailey got his first taste of success when he was published in The Times at 18 and in his local newspaper. Although he went on to pursue a different career, he continued to write and edit and became the editor of an international magazine and editor of four technical books.

His first work of fiction, I Dare You, was published in 2016 and The Lost Pharaoh continues the ancient Egyptian story glimpsed in Map of the Dead and is his ninth title.

Murray was born in Greater Manchester, England and has being moving south ever since. He now lives on the beautiful Dorset coast with his wife and family.

Twitter: @MurrayBaileybks
Facebook: @MurrayBaileyAuthor
Instagram: @murraybaileyauthor
Website: https://murraybaileybooks.com/

Blog tour

Thanks to Murray Bailey for my digital copy of Singapore Fire and for my place on the blog tour.

See the banner below for more stops on the #blogtour.

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The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot by Marianne Cronin

Blog tour: 18 to 28 February 2021

Synopsis

An extraordinary friendship. A lifetime of stories. Their last one begins here.

Life is short. No-one knows that better than seventeen-year-old Lenni living on the terminal ward. But as she is about to learn, it’s not only what you make of life that matters, but who you share it with.

Dodging doctor’s orders, she joins an art class where she bumps into fellow patient Margot, a rebel-hearted eight-three-year-old from the next ward. Their bond is instant as they realize that together they have lived an astonishing one hundred years.

To celebrate their shared century, they decide to paint their life stories: of growing old and staying young, of giving joy, of receiving kindness, of losing love, of finding the person who is everything.

As their extraordinary friendship deepens, it becomes vividly clear that life is not done with Lenni and Margot yet.

Fiercely alive, disarmingly funny and brimming with tenderness, The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot unwraps the extraordinary gift of life even when it is about to be taken away, and revels in our infinite capacity for friendship and love when we need them most.

My review

Lenni Pettersson is 17 and suffering from a life-limiting condition. She’s on the terminal ward at the Glasgow Princess Royal Hospital. She’s not sure how long she’s got left but she’s determined to make the most of it.

Lenni attends an art therapy class in the Rose Room at the hospital after bumping into the lady who set it up and it’s there that she meets another patient, 83-year-old Margot Macrae, who is from a nearby ward. The pair realise that together they have lived 100 years and decide to celebrate this by painting their memories of their years alive and sharing their stories with each other. It’s a brilliant idea and the pair enthusiastically get to work!

Lenni also becomes friendly with the priest at the hospital chapel, Father Arthur, and shares some lovely moments with him as she tries to work out the meaning of life and what it’s all about. At first, he’s not sure quite what to make of her as she’s quite opinionated and says what she thinks!

Margot’s story is intriguing and we build up a picture of her past from the little snippets of time that she shares with Lenni. It’s fascinating to put the pieces of the jigsaw together and discover that she’s had a full life with great moments of happiness, joy and love but there have also been dark, sad times of loss too.

Lenni is amazing! Despite her awful predicament, she tries to stay positive and has a very refreshing and humorous approach to life. I loved her little quips and observations. She was often funny in her youthful and innocent way without really meaning to be.

Lenni has such a profound effect on everyone she meets and, despite the big age gaps, it’s moving to see her friendships with Margot and Father Arthur develop. She doesn’t have any family support and she could be depressed and maudlin but she’s actually the opposite and tries to see the beauty in life and keep busy.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book! It was poignant, thought-provoking and sad but also amusing with a positive message about life. It was fascinating to learn more about Lenni and Margot’s pasts and see how they’d got to their current point in life. Although Lenni’s life was tragically cut short, she’d filled her life and had many special memories to look back on. She had a great impact on others at the hospital in the short amount of time they spent with her.

In spite of the sad topic, the book isn’t mawkish or depressing; the opposite in fact! In the beautiful friendship between Lenni and Margot, we see a celebration of life – the good and the bad – and the story shows us not to fear the future, even if it is uncertain.

The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot is a beautiful, heart-wrenching read and one that I’m still thinking about several days later. This is a special read and all of the characters, even the supporting ones, are memorable and inspiring in their own way. I’ll definitely be buying a hard copy – with that gorgeous, colourful and simple but eye-catching cover – to keep and reread.

Buy the book

The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot by Marianne Cronin can be purchased from Amazon on Kindle and in hardback, and as an eBook from Kobo and iBooks.

About the author

Marianne Cronin was born in 1990. She studied English and Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning a PhD in applied linguistics from the University of Birmingham. She now spends most of her time writing, with her newly-adopted rescue cat sleeping under her desk. When she’s not writing, Marianne can be found performing improv and stand up in the West Midlands, where she lives.

Her debut novel, The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot, is to be published around the world and is being adapted into a feature film by Sony/Columbia Pictures. It has been sold in 25 territories to date.

Twitter: @itsmcronin
Instagram: @itsmariannecronin

Blog tour

Thanks to Hana Sparkes at Transworld Books for my digital copy of The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot and to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for my place on the blog tour.

See the banner below for more stops on the #blogtour.

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An Eye for an Eye by Carol Wyer

Blog tour: 1 to 10 February 2021

Synopsis

A killer running rings around the police. A detective spiralling out of control.

DI Kate Young is on leave. She’s the force’s best detective, but her bosses know she’s under pressure, on medication and overcoming trauma. So after her bad judgement call leads to a narrowly averted public disaster, they’re sure all she needs is a rest.

But when Staffordshire Police summon her back to work on a murder case, it’s a harder, more suspicious Kate Young who returns. With a new ruthlessness, she sets about tracking down a clinical, calculating serial killer who is torturing victims and leaving clues to taunt the police. Spurred on by her reporter husband, Young begins to suspect that the murderer might be closer than she ever imagined.

As she works to uncover the truth, Young unravels a network of secrets and lies, with even those closest to her having something to hide. But with her own competence – and her grip on reality – called into question, can she unmask the killer before they strike again?

My review

An Eye for an Eye is the first in a new series from Carol Wyer. Set in Staffordshire, it features Detective Inspector Kate Young, 34, who started 2021 in traumatic fashion when there was a shocking incident and she was first on the scene. Afterwards, she took some sick leave but then returned to work too soon after and has resorted to prescription pills to try and overcome the trauma of that day, which she keeps seeing in regular flashbacks.

After being commended for her actions on that awful afternoon at a special event, she’s on a train with her boss, Superintendent John Dickson, when she suffers a flashback and a kind of panic attack and reacts instinctively and nearly hurts someone. Dickson is concerned and advises her to take extended leave to try and recover.

Three months later, Detective Chief Inspector William Chase visits Kate and tells her that Dickson wants her to return to work to head up a three-person team to look into the nasty killing of a local businessman, Alex Corby, who has been tortured at his home. He runs Corby International, a British food export company, and has a wife, Fiona, and two children, Hugh and Jacob, who were on holiday at their villa in the south of France at the time of the murder.

Kate teams up with Detective Sergeant (DS) Emma Donaldson, 23, and DS Morgan Meredith, 24, to investigate the murder and they combine well as they begin working on the complicated case, in which everyone connected seems to be lying about something and the police struggle to confirm their movements and alibis.

When another man is found murdered in similarly nasty circumstances, the police must work hard to try and uncover the links between the two victims before the next grisly killing occurs.

DI Kate Young is obviously a very traumatised and troubled character but she really digs deep to try and hold it together and be strong and a good leader to her team. Her colleagues, Emma and Morgan, are very concerned about her behaviour at times, as she talks to herself and acts strangely, and they’re aware that she is taking medication for her stress and anxiety.

Kate’s husband, Chris, 38, is a journalist and very supportive; he regularly chips in with helpful comments and advice as she struggles to work out what’s going on in this complex case.

Overall, I really enjoyed this well-written and cleverly plotted police procedural. There were lots of twists and turns, red herrings and elements of misdirection, and I had my suspicions about a few people as the investigation unfolded and more clues were revealed. There were several culprits, with various motives and opportunities to murder.

The investigation unravels well and there were several breakthroughs at key moments, as well as moments of frustration when the team didn’t seem to be getting anywhere and Kate was being hassled by her rather unsympathetic boss, Dickson. She is suspicious of his motives as he seems to be hampering her case at times.

I’m a big fan of police procedural novels and this was an excellent read! The story is gripping, engaging and satisfyingly well paced. It’s also very tense and entertaining and I read it in a couple of days, frantically turning the pages to see what was going to happen next! There were quite a few revelations that I was surprised by and I hadn’t worked out how all the pieces of the puzzle were going to fit together.

Despite having several of the author’s books in Kindle and paper format, this is the first one that I’ve read so I’ll definitely be rectifying that soon and reading some more! I can’t wait for the next instalment of the Detective Kate Young series, A Cut for a Cut, which is out in June, and I’m looking forward to finding out more about this complex character.

Buy the book

An Eye for an Eye by Carol Wyer can be purchased from Amazon on Kindle and in paperback.

About the author

USA Today bestselling author and winner of The People’s Book Prize Award, Carol Wyer writes feel-good comedies and gripping crime fiction.

A move from humour to the ‘dark side’ in 2017, saw the introduction of popular DI Robyn Carter in Little Girl Lost and demonstrated that stand-up comedian Carol had found her true niche.

To date, her crime novels have sold over 750,000 copies and been translated for various overseas markets.

Carol has been interviewed on numerous radio shows discussing irritable male syndrome and ageing disgracefully and on BBC Breakfast television. She has had articles published in national magazine, Woman’s Weekly, featured in Take A Break, Choice, Yours and Woman’s Own magazines and the Huffington Post.

She currently lives on a windy hill in rural Staffordshire with her husband Mr Grumpy … who is very, very grumpy.

When she is not plotting devious murders, she can be found performing her comedy routine, Smile While You Still Have Teeth.

Twitter: @carolewyer
Facebook: @AuthorCarolEWyer
Instagram: @carolwyer
Website: www.carolwyer.co.uk
Blog: www.carolwyer.com
YouTube: @CarolEWyer

Blog tour

Thanks to Emma Welton at damppebbles blog tours for my digital copy of An Eye for an Eye and for my place on the blog tour.

See the banner below for more stops on the #blogtour.

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The Burning Girls by C.J. Tudor

Blog tour: 15 January to 12 February 2021

Synopsis

500 years ago: eight martyrs were burnt to death
30 years ago: two teenagers vanished without trace
Two months ago: the vicar committed suicide

Welcome to Chapel Croft.

For Rev Jack Brooks and teenage daughter Flo it’s supposed to be a fresh start. New job, new home. But, as Jack knows, the past isn’t easily forgotten.

And in a close-knit community where the residents seem as proud as they are haunted by Chapel Croft’s history, Jack must tread carefully. Ancient superstitions as well as a mistrust of outsiders will be hard to overcome.

Yet right away Jack has more frightening concerns.

Why is Flo plagued by visions of burning girls?
Who’s sending them sinister, threatening messages?
And why did no one mention that the last vicar killed himself?

Chapel Croft’s secrets lie deep and dark as the tomb. Jack wouldn’t touch them if not for Flo – anything to protect Flo.

But the past is catching up with Chapel Croft – and with Jack. For old ghosts with scores to settle will never rest …

My review

The Burning Girls is set in the small Sussex village of Chapel Croft, which has an intriguing and disturbing history. On 17 September 1556, eight villagers, including two young girls, were burnt to death at the stake during Queen Mary’s purge of the Protestants (the Marian Persecutions). Every year, on the anniversary of this terrible event, little twig dolls (burning girls) are set on fire to signify the martyrs who were killed.

Also, in mid-May 1990, two local teenagers, Joy Harris and Merry Lane, both aged 15, went missing, a week apart, and were never found. It was assumed that they’d run away together and the police never really investigated their disappearance properly.

After problems at their parish in Nottingham, Reverend Jack Brooks and 15-year-old daughter, Florence (Flo), are transferred to Chapel Croft. The village needs an interim vicar after the sudden death of the previous priest, Reverend Matthew Fletcher.

A week later, the pair arrive at the rather creepy chapel and the nearby tiny vicar’s cottage where they’re going to be living. It’s August and the ramshackle cottage is cramped and stuffy. They’ve only just arrived but, straightaway, they’re greeted by a rather frightening sight when they find a little girl who seems injured.

Someone leaves a welcome gift for Jack at the chapel and, when opened, it turns out to be an exorcism kit! Then threatening messages and symbols are left on the doorstep and Jack and Flo both start to see strange visions in the chapel and wonder what on earth they’re letting themselves in for.

This is an atmospheric and tense creepy read and there are lots of chilling secrets to be revealed in this close-knit village with its macabre traditions and superstitions. All the characters seem to be hiding things, even Reverend Jack. The secrets are bubbling beneath the surface and everyone seemed suspicious and untrustworthy at one point or another.

There are some strong characters, especially Jack and Flo, as well as the rather wily 85-year-old Joan Hartman. There’s some violent and intense imagery throughout the novel and the descriptions of what happens within the chapel and derelict house are particularly vivid and disturbing.

There are some supernatural elements to the story, which I’m not usually a fan of, but they really added to the creepiness and suspense in the novel.

Overall, The Burning Girls was a gripping, fast-paced read, with lots of twists and turns, and it had me on the edge of my seat, frantically turning the pages, desperate to see what was going to happen. The book is entertaining and enthralling with lots of action! It’s well written and very cleverly plotted – I had a few suspicions but was very surprised by how everything was resolved. There are several threads to the story but they’re woven together well, though I did have to have a think about everything at the end and put it all together. I almost want to reread straightaway to see all the hints and clues that I missed!

This was actually the first book of C.J. Tudor’s that I’ve read but I’ve got The Chalk Man, The Taking of Annie Thorn and The Other People on my shelves so I’m looking forward to catching up!

Buy the book

The Burning Girls by C.J. Tudor can be purchased from Amazon on Kindle and in hardback, and as an eBook from Kobo and iBooks.

About the author

C.J. Tudor‘s love of writing, especially the dark and macabre, started young. When her peers were reading Judy Blume, she was devouring Stephen King and James Herbert.

Her first novel, The Chalk Man, was a Sunday Times bestseller and has sold in over 40 countries. Her second novel, The Taking of Annie Thorne, was also a Sunday Times bestseller, as was her third novel, The Other People.

Over the years, she has worked as a copywriter, television presenter, voiceover and dog walker. She is now thrilled to be able to write full time, and doesn’t miss chasing wet dogs through muddy fields all that much. She lives in Sussex with her family.

Twitter: @cjtudor
Facebook: @CJTudorOfficial
Instagram: @cjtudorauthor

Blog tour

Thanks to Gaby Young at Michael Joseph Books for my digital copy of The Burning Girls and for my place on the blog tour.

See the banner below for more stops on the #blogtour.

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Our Little Cruelties by Liz Nugent

Blog tour: 11 January to 12 February 2021

Synopsis

Three brothers are at the funeral.
One lies in the coffin.

Will, Brian and Luke grow up competing for their mother’s unequal love. As men, the competition continues – for status, money, fame, women …

They each betray one another, over and over, until one of them is murdered.

But which one?

My review

Told from the viewpoints of three brothers, William, Brian and Luke, Our Little Cruelties is a fascinating look at the disturbing dynamics of the Drumm family. The novel tells the story of the brothers from early childhood in 1976 to the untimely death of one of the men in March 2018. We know from the funeral scene at the beginning of the book that one brother has come to a nasty end, but we don’t know which one.

We first hear from the oldest brother, William, who has his own film production company, a wife called Susan and a daughter, Daisy. Next up is Luke, a singer in a band, who is also an addict and has lots of mental health problems. As a child, he got very into religion and behaved quite strangely and has a difficult relationship with his mother. Brian is the middle brother and the more non-descript one – he bounces between William and Luke, trying to stay involved in their lives and syphon money off them where he can.

The boys’ mother, Melissa, was 15 years younger than their father (who died when the boys were in their mid/late teens), and she was a showband singer and actress and even years after the peak of her career, she still expected people to know who she was. She’s quite selfish and self-absorbed, and has been affected by events in her past.

The brothers are all really close in age: Brian was born 14 months after William and their mother was pregnant with Luke two months after that. As a result, they’ve always battled for their parents’ affections, particularly from their mother, who doesn’t treat them all the same. The brothers are all rather selfish and take each other for granted. They’re jealous and competitive and always trying to outdo each other, often in a nasty way.

The timeline hops about and, as the story progressed, I found myself flicking back to earlier sections to compare each brother’s view of what had happened. It was interesting to see the same events from each of their perspectives as things often varied wildly! I imagine the truth was a combination of the experiences of all three! I’m curious to know the logic to the timeline and the order of the chapters – I couldn’t figure out how it all fitted together but it worked very well!

Overall, I really enjoyed this fascinating character-driven novel about a rather dysfunctional family, none of whom seemed to actually like each other very much! The family dynamics are very intriguing and they all seem to have very unhealthy relationships with each other and with other people. The brothers are unpleasant and all damaged to some extent and it makes uncomfortable reading at times, especially their treatment of women and Luke’s mental health issues.

This was an intriguing, well-layered and cleverly plotted novel. It’s like a jigsaw puzzle where you have to try and put all the pieces together but they don’t always fit! We’re only told a third of the story each time, from a specific angle. The truth is somewhere in the middle of the recollections of all three men. It makes for a compelling, if disturbing, read. I almost feel like going back to the beginning and start the book again, to see how everything plays out once I know what actually happens.

This was the first book by Liz Nugent that I’ve read but I’ve got all her others on my shelves so will definitely be picking up another one soon!

Buy the book

Our Little Cruelties by Liz Nugent can be purchased from Amazon on Kindle and in paperback, and as an eBook from Kobo and iBooks.

About the author

Before becoming a full-time writer, Liz Nugent worked in Irish film, theatre and television. Her four novels – Our Little Cruelties, Unravelling Oliver, Lying in Wait and Skin Deep – have each been number one bestsellers in Ireland and she has won four Irish book awards (two for Skin Deep). She lives in Dublin with her husband.

Twitter: @lizzienugent
Instagram: @liznugentwriter
Website: http://www.liznugent.ie

Blog tour

Thanks to Ellie Hudson at Viking Books for my copy of Our Little Cruelties and for my place on the blog tour.

See the banners below for more stops on the #blogtour.

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The Captive by Deborah O’Connor

Blog tour: 4 to 24 January 2021

Synopsis

The cage is installed in Hannah’s kitchen. Small, the size of a shopping centre parking space. A bed, a basin, a table and chair. A hatch and metal drawer through which to exchange food and other items.

Then there’s him. Always there on the edges of her vision, no matter how hard she tries to block him out. Every day, the same thoughts run through Hannah’s mind:

What if he speaks to me?
What if he hurts me?
What if he gets out?

In a near-future justice system Jem, the murderer of Hannah’s husband, arrives at her home to serve out his twenty-year sentence in a cell. There it’s hoped he will learn the true cost of his terrible crime.

But Jem tells Hannah he’s innocent, and not only that, her husband had been lying to her. Soon Hannah begins to question everything she thought she knew. Was Jem wrongly convicted? Or is he simply a desperate man, willing to say and do anything that might grant his freedom?

Only he can unlock the truth. Only she can set him free.

Extract

I’m delighted to share an extract of The Captive with you today.


‘The worst prison would be a closed heart’

Pope John Paul II

‘Restore is an Old Norse term. It means, literally, to raise once more the
wooden stocks, staur, that have fallen down … to rebuild the house’

Professor Nils Christie, A Suitable Amount of Crime


Hannah

The man who had murdered Hannah’s husband was due to arrive at midday.

Half an hour, and her home would no longer be her own.

She’d tried to keep busy all morning – cleaning, washing up, doing laundry – anything to take her mind off what was about to happen. Now though, she found herself adrift, stranded in a corner of the kitchen with nothing to do but wait.

She curled her hands in on themselves, tightening and squeezing. Still, they trembled.

I do not want him here.

The urge to scream was overwhelming.

Slowly, she approached the barred cage now fixed to the wall in the middle of the room. The cell was small, the same footprint as a shopping centre parking space, and yet they’d managed to cram in a bed, basin, screened toilet, cupboard and a table and chair. A hatch and metal drawer through which to exchange food, dirty dishes, commissary items and any post the prisoner might receive had been incorporated into a section to the left of the cell door.

The prisoner.

No one could be sure why he did it – he’d entered a not guilty plea – but the consensus in court was that it had been a mugging gone wrong.

She ran her fingers across the steel bars. A harsh metallic noise ricocheted around the room. Heart jittering, she considered the door. Despite regular practice, she’d yet to master the lock. It was strange. She was expert at fashioning the tiny sugar-paste flowers and fondant animal figures that sat atop the bespoke cakes she made for a living but this, a key so large it looked like it had been found at the bottom of a prop drawer and a bulky government issue deadbolt, had her beat. Fear, it turned out, could do that to a person.

She wafted her apron and leaned toward the fan. It was the last week in September but the heat was oppressive, the temperature in the high twenties and set to rise. It had been the same for weeks, London looped into a nightmarish summer that showed no intention of ending any time soon. The cherry blossoms that lined her street had re-bloomed, the flowers pinking their way through crumbly autumn leaves, and everywhere you looked, confused daffodils lurched from the soil.

She steadied her fingers as best she could and grabbed the key. She wanted to try to get it right at least once before the prisoner arrived.

Technically, her ineptitude wasn’t a problem. The lock was electromechanical and operated remotely via the device she now had to wear on a rope round her neck. The deadbolt was nothing more than a fail-safe. A backup in the event of a power cut. It didn’t matter if it took her two or even ten times to get it right because she would be doing it with the prisoner already secure in his cell. For Hannah though, being able to operate the lock was important. She’d spent time on message boards in preparation for today and one of the things the more experienced Hosts talked about was how critical it was to show the prisoner you were in control right from the off. ‘This is your house,’ said Malorie21, who’d hosted her burglar in the box room of her 1930s semi for the last nine months, ‘your space. Make sure they know it. Take ownership.’

For Hannah ownership meant having the knack. Only she knew how to waggle the handle on the washing machine whenever it refused to open or how long to leave the bathroom tap before it ran hot. She wanted the cell door to be no different.

She lined the key up to the slot and was about to give it another go when she sensed someone behind her.

‘You’ll be quite safe.’

She jumped and the key clattered to the floor.

Mr Dalgleish. Hannah’s Domestic Liaison Officer (DLO). He’d been doing a final survey of the house and must have come back down to the basement without her noticing. Tall with a ‘hup-two’ posture hardwired during his military service, Mr Dalgleish refused to tell Hannah his first name (‘Helps keep things proper’) and was working full time despite being two months into chemotherapy for bowel cancer.

He picked up the key and passed it to her.

‘Just checking,’ she said, trying to keep her voice steady.

He smiled sympathetically as though he knew something about her she had yet to realise, then stopped, noticing the row of sponge cakes on the side. She’d made them the night before.

‘You better not have baked a file into one of those,’ he said, wagging a finger.

‘They’re for a client. A christening,’ said Hannah, so on edge she failed to register the joke. ‘I had to do the bases yesterday otherwise I wouldn’t have enough time to ice.’

‘I was kidding, obviously.’ He sniffed and brushed a piece of lint from his shoulder. ‘You’re the last person who’d want to help him escape.’

Hannah looked again at the cakes, each one sealed inside a glass cloche. She’d agreed to the job because she couldn’t afford to turn down new clients, no matter how inconvenient. John’s death in service pay had gone toward what had turned out to be his surprisingly large credit card debt and her police widow’s pension amounted to eight grand per annum. Not nearly enough to cover the bills, let alone her rent.

Now though she was struck by a horrible thought. Would the prisoner think she’d made the cakes for him, to welcome him? There’d been some Hosts on the message boards who believed wholeheartedly in the merits of the system. They had talked of preparing a special meal for their inmate’s first night. A lasagne, a roast chicken. One person had made a strawberry trifle for dessert.

She took the top of her dungarees between her fingers. At least there was no chance of him thinking she’d gone to any effort with her appearance. The denim was frayed, a hole forming in the right knee, her apron raggedy, its blue and white daisy pattern blotched with stains. The rest of her was no better. Her hair was the kind of white blond that emboldened strangers to come up to her on the Tube, cock their head to one side and say, ‘Swedish?’ but she hadn’t felt much like washing it this last week and so today it was more of a dirty straw colour, tied into a lank bun that lolled from side to side. No, she looked quite plain. The only thing of note was her amber pendant – a gift from John – and she’d tucked it out of sight down the front of her vest.

John was always getting her things, whether it be a daisy he’d found growing in a pavement crack on his way home, the underside of its petals tinged pink, a new Thermomix when her old one broke down, or a pain au chocolat, still warm, from the bakery at the bottom of their street. He always said that the manner of giving was worth more than any gift, that – his offerings to her aside – the most generous thing you could give someone was something they had no idea was a gift in the first place. He was fifteen years older than Hannah and his hair had been thick and white, having gone that way in his twenties, and sometimes when he went without shaving, Hannah would tease that he looked more like Santa Claus than a Met detective.

She felt for the nub of amber beneath her vest. The pendant wasn’t to her usual taste; she preferred delicate jewellery – frail strings of gold or thin bracelets of silver, tasselled with tiny charms – but she figured John had chosen it because of the way the stone matched the streak of tannin in her eyes. Like so many objects she’d once paid no mind – the bottle of hot sauce on the top shelf of the fridge that John added to everything from scrambled eggs to shepherd’s pie, the Billie Holiday vinyl they’d liked to slow-dance to before bed – the necklace helped her feel as though John was still around, that any minute now he’d walk through the front door and tell her this had all been a terrible mistake.

A beep. Mr Dalgleish’s phone. He checked the screen.

‘Oh.’

He seemed disappointed.

For a moment Hannah was visited by an impossible hope. There’d been a change of plan. The prisoner wouldn’t be coming after all.

‘Better finish up.’ He smiled reluctantly, as though he’d just conceded a point in an argument. ‘They’re two minutes away.’

A crush of disappointment and then Hannah’s head began to ring with the same questions that had haunted her since the guilty verdict.

What if he gets out?

What if he tries to hurt me?

During her Host training Mr Dalgleish had reassured her again and again that the system was secure, that the protocols would protect her, that she’d soon relax into it. But Hannah had heard the stories; she knew she couldn’t let her guard down, not for one second.

He performed a final lap of the kitchen, checking for objects the prisoner might be able to get at through the bars. His hair was black and dead straight, worn in a dashing Clark Gable sideparting. As he walked he rubbed absent-mindedly at a point just above the nape and a clump came loose and drifted to the floor. The first time Hannah had seen this happen they’d been midway through one of their training sessions. Mr Dalgleish’s face had crumpled and, after picking it up with a monogrammed handkerchief, he’d told her about his cancer and how he’d decided to continue working during the treatment, partly because he wanted to but also because he needed the money. Then he’d parcelled the hair inside the handkerchief and placed it in his pocket, a look of such naked humiliation on his face that Hannah had had to turn away.

Since then, whenever a tuft fell out Hannah would either pretend not to notice or, if he didn’t see, she would, with a sideswipe of her foot, discreetly shift the hair out of view. She did this now. Later, when he was gone, she’d sweep it into the bin.

Hannah clocked her wedding rings, still on the side by the sink. She’d taken them off to wash up. She replaced her gold band and was about to put on her engagement ring when she heard the growl of a van pulling up outside.

A thump on the front door.

What if he gets out?

What if he tries to hurt me?

‘Here we go,’ said Mr Dalgleish. He grabbed the white oval round his neck, identical to her own. ‘Black button to lock up, red in case he causes you any trouble. Remember, if you press the red one we’ll send someone out to check on you within half an hour.’ He made eye contact and held it. ‘It needs to be second nature, you understand?’

Hannah nodded, then followed him toward the stairs that led from the basement kitchen to the hall. He reached the front door and went to open it but, as usual, the Yale lock refused to play ball. He fudged it twice before Hannah placed a hand on his shoulder.

‘This is my house,’ she said, loud enough for the people on the other side of the door to hear. She stepped forward. ‘Let me.’

Buy the book

The Captive by Deborah O’Connor can be purchased from Amazon on Kindle and in hardback, and as an eBook from Kobo and iBooks.

About the author

Deborah O’Connor is a writer and TV producer responsible for well-loved programmes such as ‘Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds’ and ‘A League of Their Own’. She lives in North Yorkshire with her husband and daughter. Deborah’s first novel was the bestseller, My Husband’s Son, and she followed this with The Dangerous Kind.

Twitter: @deboc77
Instagram: @deborahleighoconnor

Blog tour

Thanks to Clare Kelly at Bonnier Books for my copy of The Captive and to Tracy Fenton at Compulsive Readers for my place on the blog tour.

See the banner below for more stops on the #blogtour.

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The Marlow Murder Club by Robot Thorogood

Blog tour: 18 to 22 January 2021

Synopsis

To solve an impossible murder, you need an impossible hero …

Judith Potts is seventy-seven years old and blissfully happy. She lives on her own in a faded mansion just outside Marlow, there’s no man in her life to tell her what to do or how much whisky to drink, and to keep herself busy she sets crosswords for The Times newspaper.

One evening, while out swimming in the Thames, Judith witnesses a brutal murder. The local police don’t believe her story, so she decides to investigate for herself, and is soon joined in her quest by Suzie, a salt-of-the-earth dog-walker, and Becks, the prim and proper wife of the local Vicar.

Together, they are the Marlow Murder Club.

When another body turns up, they realise they have a real-life serial killer on their hands. And the puzzle they set out to solve has become a trap from which they might never escape …

My review

One evening, while swimming in the Thames near her mansion, which was inherited from her great aunt, 77-year-old Judith Potts is horrified to hear the noise of a gunshot coming from the garden opposite, where her neighbour, Stefan Dunwoody, lives. She’s not sure what’s going on so swims home quickly and phones the police.

When a police officer arrives half an hour later, takes a cursory glance around and drives off, Judith is annoyed and, after speaking to Detective Sergeant Tanika Malik, who rather dismisses her fears that art gallery owner Stefan has come to harm, Judith stews on things and decides to punt across the river and investigate for herself.

Even after Judith makes the shocking discovery of Stefan’s body in the river, the police still don’t take her seriously and claim it could be a terrible accident or suicide. She’s determined and has a clever mind – she compiles cryptic crosswords for national newspapers – and she begins to carry out her own investigations about the circumstances surrounding Mr Dunwoody’s death, carefully piecing together clues and snippets of information that she discovers.

Judith meets the vicar’s wife, Rebecca (Becks) Starling, in slightly strange circumstances at the church, and then, after a second person is murdered, she tracks down a woman who was filmed leaving the house of the victim. This woman is Suzie Harris, a local dog walker, and after some persuasion from Judith, the trio eventually join forces to try and solve the murders, which are causing a big stir in Marlow.

Judith is feisty, unflappable, nosy and not afraid to get involved in police matters. She cleverly gathers information from DS Malik every time she asks her how the case is going! In her dark grey, woollen cape, Judith is rather eccentric and a big hoarder but she’s also intelligent, methodical and likable, with a wry sense of humour.

The other characters are well rounded and also have hidden depths, which we discovered as they got to know each other better. I liked the vicar’s wife, Becks, who isn’t as meek as she seems and Suzie is an unusual character who’s difficult to get the measure of. There are some very funny moments as the women try to gather evidence to solve the crimes. Acting senior investigating officer, DS Malik, seems well and truly out of her depth but ends up making some bold decisions too!

Overall, I really enjoyed The Marlow Murder Club and I raced through it in a few hours, desperate to find out whodunnit! It’s an entertaining and engaging murder mystery story, well written and cleverly plotted. I didn’t have a clue who the murderer was and there were some clever twists and turns, which had me totally flummoxed!

Judith, especially, is intriguing with a curious past and back story. She reminds me of Jessica Fletcher from the TV series, Murder She Wrote, or Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple! I’m looking forward to finding out more about her in the next book in this cosy crime series. I’ll have to check out books from the author’s Death in Paradise series too.

Buy the book

The Marlow Murder Club by Robert Thorogood can be purchased from Amazon on Kindle and in hardback, and as an eBook from Kobo and iBooks. Or order using one of these links.

About the author

Robert Thorogood is an English screenwriter and novelist. He is best known as the creator of the internationally acclaimed BBC murder mystery series Death in Paradise, and has written a series of spin-off novels featuring Detective Inspector Richard Poole.

After graduating from Cambridge University, he spent many years supporting his writing career with a variety of temporary jobs, including dressing up in a full bear costume to taunt the then Prime Minister, John Major; being a magician at Hamley’s; and being employed to change the batteries in the remote controls for a minor branch of the Saudi Royal Family.

He’s been an avid fan of murder mysteries since he read his first Agatha Christie novel, Peril at End House, at the age of 10. So far, he has written four Death in Paradise mystery novels.

He now lives in Marlow in Buckinghamshire with his wife, children and two whippets called Wally and Evie.

Twitter: @robthor

Blog tour

Thanks to Sian Baldwin at HQ Stories for my digital copy of The Marlow Murder Club and for my place on the blog tour.

See the banner below for more stops on the #blogtour.

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Rescue Me by Sarra Manning

Blog tour: 1 to 31 January 2021

Synopsis

Margot doesn’t have time for love.

Will is afraid to love.

And neither of them are expecting to fall in love with Blossom: a gentle Staffy with a tragic past, a belly made for rubbing and a head the size of a football.

After their first meeting at the rescue centre, both Margot and Will want to adopt Blossom so reluctantly agree to share custody. But Will’s obsession for micro-managing and clear-cut boundaries and Margot’s need to smother Blossom with affection, means that soon they have a very confused and badly behaved dog on their hands.

Can they put their differences aside to become successful ‘co-pawrents’ and maybe even friends? And meanwhile, does Blossom have plans of her own?

My review

After the break-up of her two-year relationship and having to give up her cantankerous cat, Percy, Margot Millwood, 36, decides to adopt a dog from the local rehoming shelter. She goes there with her friend, Tracy, originally from New Zealand, who she’s known for 18 years since they were at fashion college together.

Will has spent the last 20 years working in Boston, Berlin, Paris, Hong Kong and New York for a couple of investment banks but takes a year’s sabbatical from work after the pressure gets too much and moves back home to help with the family florist business in Muswell Hill. He’s been having therapy for the last year but hasn’t had a panic attack for months and has stopped taking antidepressants and feels a lot happier. After an off-the-cuff comment about his avoidance of emotional connections by his therapist, Will decides to volunteer at a rescue kennel.

Margot looks at a few dogs and then sees the timid and cowering Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Blossom, aged about three, and falls in love with her. She bursts into tears when told she can’t reserve the dog because she’s away with work for a week. This is where Will steps in and he offers to foster Blossom.

After a rather stressful week where Will wonders what he’s let himself in for, he realises that he can’t give up Blossom and him and Margot come to an arrangement whereby they’ll become co-pawrents and alternate looking after the dog for a week at a time.

At first, Will and Margot clash about Blossom’s care and try to outdo each other for her affections. Not helped by them both saying one thing and doing another with regards to her food, treats and sleeping arrangements! After one particularly traumatic walk, they decide to enrol Blossom in doggy training classes to sort out her behavioural issues as she’s basically acting like a small child and playing them off against each other!

As the trio get closer and learn more about other, what follows is a journey of discovery for them all, and they learn to trust each other, with Will and Margot eventually opening up about their pasts. The pair are both complicated characters and quite stubborn. They both had difficult childhoods but for very different reasons. It was emotional to read about what happened to them both.

Margot is a bit of a funny woman – she’s too chatty, interrupts people when they’re talking, analyses everything far too much and says her daily affirmations! But she’s lovely and kind and caring and always says the right things to people. She also has a great sense of humour and made me chuckle at some of the things she came out with. Margot has lovely relationships with her friends, who are very caring and protective of her.

Will was a bit harder to read and I wasn’t sure about him at first. It wasn’t until I got a bit further into the story that I realised why he acted the way he did. Will’s family are lovely, cheerful and welcoming, despite facing various traumas over the years.

Blossom is adorable! I’m not really much of a dog fan but she regularly tugged at my heart strings and I loved her antics! She’d obviously had a hard start to life but her bravery and lovely little character shone through!

Overall, I really enjoyed Rescue Me! It’s a lovely light-hearted story but also has some darker elements to it and a hidden depth. The novel was well written and engaging and I liked the way the story developed. It’s a heart-warming tale of a damaged little dog who brings together two people who are also damaged by their life experiences, and left me feeling all warm and fuzzy! A perfect antidote for these troubled times!

Buy the book

Rescue Me by Sarra Manning can be purchased from Amazon on Kindle and in hardback, and as an eBook from Kobo and iBooks.

About the author

© Charlie Hopkinson

Sarra Manning has been a voracious reader for over 40 years and a prolific author and journalist for 25 years.

Her seven novels, which have been translated into 15 different languages, include Unsticky, You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me, The House of Secrets and The Rise and Fall of Becky Sharp.

She started her writing career on Melody Maker and Just Seventeen, has been editor of ElleGirl and What To Wear and has also contributed to The Guardian, ELLE, Grazia, Stylist, Fabulous, Stella, You Magazine, Harper’s Bazaar and is currently the Literary Editor of Red magazine.

Sarra has also written over 15 young adult novels, and light-hearted romantic comedies under a pseudonym. She has also been a Costa Book Awards judge and has been nominated for various writing awards herself.

She lives in London surrounded by piles and piles of books.

Twitter: @sarramanning
Facebook: @sarramanningbooks
Instagram: @sarra_manning

Blog tour

Thanks to Niamh Anderson at Hodder & Stoughton for my copy of Rescue Me and for my place on the blog tour.

See the banner below for more stops on the #blogtour.

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The Curious Dispatch of Daniel Costello by Chris McDonald

Blog tour: 12 to 25 January 2021

Synopsis

Wedding bells are chiming in the idyllic, coastal town of Stonebridge. For Sam and Emily, it should be the happiest day of their lives. But on the morning of the ceremony, the best man is found dead. The police quickly write his death off as a tragic accident, but something doesn’t seem right to wedding guest and groomsman, Adam Whyte.

Armed with an encyclopaedic, but ultimately ridiculous knowledge of television detective shows and an unwarranted confidence in his own abilities, Adam and his best friend (and willing Watson) Colin, set out to uncover what actually happened to Daniel Costello.

My review

After really enjoying Chris McDonald’s DI Erika Piper series, I was excited to read The Curious Dispatch of Daniel Costello, which is the first in The Stonebridge Mysteries series of cosy crime novellas.

A month after his stag do in Ibiza, it’s time for Sam McMullan’s wedding to Emily Campbell, which will take place at the exclusive Milton Manor in Stonebridge, on the north coast of Northern Ireland.

Adam Whyte is one of the groomsmen and he still lives with his mum after a failed attempt to earn a psychology degree at Queens University in Belfast. He’s looking forward to the wedding weekend, especially as his best friend since primary school, Colin McLaughlin, will be there.

On the first night, everyone has rather too much to drink and there are a few flashpoints as the twentysomethings, who know each other from school or uni, fill up on lager, spirits and shots, and attempt to strut their stuff on the dancefloor.

At breakfast the next morning, most people are feeling a bit worse for wear and there’s no sign of the best man, Daniel (Danny) Costello. The groom, Sam, asks Adam if he’s seen Danny. Adam is struggling not to throw up and offers to head off to see if he can find him.

After entering Danny’s hotel room, he’s horrified to find him lying dead in the bed. Adam holds it together long enough to phone the police then throws up outside in a bush.

It’s the Twelfth weekend, a busy time of the year for the local police, and the few officers who do eventually arrive soon proclaim that the death isn’t suspicious and head off, leaving Danny’s body in the hotel room. Adam and Colin aren’t so sure and decide to carry out their own unofficial investigation and speak to some of the other wedding guests.

What follows is an amusing amateur detecting session (with some highly lucky breaks!) as the two men style themselves as Sherlock Holmes (Adam) and Dr Watson (Colin) and get to work on trying to solve the murder of their friend.

At just under 100 pages, this is a quick read and it’s a shame it wasn’t a little longer, with even more twists and turns and backstory, but it’s great fun and cleverly written. It’s an entertaining novella and well plotted, with some amusing moments throughout. I particularly liked the chapter titles, which gave a great insight into what was to come! The story unfolded well and, looking back, there were clues scattered throughout the pages but I think I missed most of them!

The main characters of Adam and Colin are well described and I enjoyed following their amateur sleuthing as they tried to figure out who would want to kill Daniel and why. I had a few suspects as the novel unfolded but I was surprised by the big reveal! It’s a good job I wasn’t helping out!

I really enjoyed this well-paced novella and I’m already looking forward to book two and seeing how this series develops! Great stuff!

Buy the book

The Curious Dispatch of Daniel Costello by Chris McDonald can be purchased from Amazon on Kindle and in paperback, and as an eBook from Kobo. Or purchase the paperback directly from the Red Dog Press online shop.

About the author

Originally hailing from the north coast of Northern Ireland and now residing in south Manchester, Chris McDonald has always been a reader. At primary school, the Hardy Boys inspired his love of adventure before his reading world was opened up by Chuck Palahniuk and the gritty world of crime.

A Wash of Black was his first attempt at writing a book. He came up with the initial idea whilst feeding his baby in the middle of the night, which may not be the best thing to admit, considering the content. Whispers in the Dark is the second instalment in the DI Erika Piper series.

He is a fan of 5-a-side football, heavy metal and dogs.

Twitter: @cmacwritescrime
Facebook: @cmacwritescrime
Website: https://macsbookreview.wordpress.com
Instagram: @cmacwritescrime

Blog tour

Thanks to Meggy Roussel at Red Dog Press for my digital copy of The Curious Dispatch of Daniel Costello and for my place on the blog tour.

See the banner below for more stops on the #blogtour.

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In the Sweep of the Bay by Cath Barton

Blog tour: 19 November to 3 December 2020

Synopsis

This warm-hearted tale explores marriage, love, and longing, set against the majestic backdrop of Morecambe Bay, the Lakeland Fells, and the faded splendour of the Midland Hotel.

Ted Marshall meets Rene in the dancehalls of Morecambe and they marry during the frail optimism of the 1950s. They adopt the roles expected of man and wife at the time: he the breadwinner at the family ceramics firm, and she the loyal housewife. But as the years go by, they find themselves wishing for more …

After Ted survives a heart attack, both see it as a new beginning … but can a faded love like theirs ever be rekindled?

My review

Set mainly in Morecambe, in the period from the 1950s to the New Millennium, In the Sweep of the Bay tells the story of a couple called Edward (Ted) and Irene (Rene) Marshall. We find out more about their courting days, their wedding, bringing up two children and their twilight years, and all the little battles and struggles, high points and lows, that they experience over the years.

It was a way of showing she loved him. She wished she could say it, wished they could say it to one another, like they did in the early days. She didn’t know what had happened to the words, why they wouldn’t come out.

Ted works for the family ceramics firm, S. & L. Marshall, leaving school aged 15 to be an apprentice and eventually taking over as head of the firm. Rene did have an office job but gave this up when they got married. The couple still love each other but have forgotten how to communicate and have slowly drifted apart. They just need to reach out to each other and show that they care.

They forgot the happiness. Or rather, they pushed it away. But it was there, all their lives, waiting to surprise them. Now and again it did.

We also meet a street sweeper who looks after the Eric Morecambe statue, learn more about a couple called Vincenzo and Henry and their relationship/friendship, and we also get to know Rene and Ted’s daughters, Margaret (Peg) and Dorothy (Dot), their granddaughter, Cecily, and Ted’s young personal assistant, 20 years his junior, Madge Turner.

The story includes little snippets of life and put together they create a rich tapestry of life and all its elements: relationships, marriage, children, work and death.

This is a poignant and touching read, and beautifully written with simple but pertinent observations. At times, sad, but also with moments of joy when the characters are enjoying the simple pleasures of life. I also liked the lovely descriptions of the town with its Eric Morecambe statue!

A reminder of happiness to ease the sorrowful times.

It’s a cleverly observed novella and touches upon the negative elements of life and marriage: apathy, boredom, complacency, niggles, taking each other for granted and a lack of communication, effort and intimacy. It also shows the defined and expected roles of couples in the 1950s and 1960s and the sacrifices that women were expected to make. Rene gave up her job to be Ted’s wife and a mother, and their daughter had to forfeit a place at university too.

Realising how little we know of other people’s lives, even our own parents. Perhaps especially our own parents.

It’s a thought-provoking and touching read and there were some lovely phrases and observations in the book – I’ve quoted a few above – and I will definitely be rereading In the Sweep of the Bay again at some point soon. I look forward to checking out the author’s other novella, The Plankton Collector, and reading her work in the future.

Buy the book

In the Sweep of the Bay by Cath Barton can be purchased from Amazon on Kindle and in paperback, and as an eBook from Kobo and iBooks. It’s also available to buy as an eBook and paperback from the Louise Walters Books bookshop.

About the author

© Toril Brancher

Cath Barton lives in Abergavenny, Wales. She won the New Welsh Writing AmeriCymru Prize for the Novella in 2017 for The Plankton Collector, which was published in September 2018 by New Welsh Review under their Rarebyte imprint. She also writes short stories and flash fiction and, with her critical writing, is a regular contributor to Wales Arts Review.

Twitter: @CathBarton1
Website: https://cathbarton.com
Louise Walters Books: https://www.louisewaltersbooks.co.uk/cath-barton

Blog tour

Thanks to Louise Walters Books for my digital copy of In the Sweep of the Bay and to Emma Welton at damppebbles blog tours for my place on the blog tour.

See the banner below for more stops on the #blogtour.

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Foul Play: Murder mystery card game

Blog tour: 2 to 11 December 2020

Game details

Foul Play: The Manor House Murder

Welcome to Edwardian England. The Lord of the Manor is dead! The servants are our lead suspects and it’s up to you to unearth the evidence, seek out the suspects and catch the culprit in order to scupper the other sleuths, and win this game of murder!

There’s more than one way to catch a killer though. So what’s it gonna be? Good Cop or Bad Cop? These two game versions come with their own set of rules and tactics to crack the case and finger your suspect, but will you use fair play or FOUL PLAY?

The game is afoot! Playing as detective, you’ll need to find the three evidence cards that point to a specific suspect in order to catch a killer in this crazy criminal caper. Will you uncover them in the crime scene? Could the other detectives be willing to collaborate and share their findings? Or will you resort to more tricky tactics, and plunder the proof you need to solve this crime?

A game for 2–5 players | Age 14 +
£8.95 + p&p

My review

Foul Play by After Dark Murder Mystery Events is a fun murder mystery card game for two to five players (aged 14 plus) and I was excited to take part in the blog tour and be one of the first to try it out!

The Lord of the Manor, Lord D’Arque, has been murdered and there are eight suspects to the crime: the servants of the manor. They are Mortimer Throttle (chauffeur), Frau Vermuten (governess), Harry Hemlock (gardener), Lilith Lynch (housekeeper), Ivy Smothers (maid), Cillian Lynch (stablehand), Olive Mangle (cook) and Mason Smothers (butler). Each suspect has various distinguishing features, is wearing various items of clothing/jewellery and carrying a potential murder weapon, and some of them are related.

Foul Play consists of a pack of 52 game cards and four instruction cards. The cards are red, blue, green and purple and there are 13 of each. The red cards include cards for the eight suspects and various action cards (block, crime scene, fair play, foul play, full cooperation, interrogate and red herring). There are five blue Evidence A cards, five green Evidence B cards, five purple Evidence C cards and various action cards.

Both games need to be set up in the formation shown:

You can play the game as good cops or bad cops and there are a set of instructions for each method of play. The Good Cop game is shorter and there is only one set of evidence (A, B, C) cards, whereas the Bad Cop game takes longer and the evidence changes. You must have three evidence cards and a suspect card in your possession to win the Bad Cop game but, as long as you’ve seen all three evidence cards, you just need the card for the person you want to accuse in the Good Cop game.

I have to admit that we struggled to work out what to do initially and were a little confused by the evidence cards and how to set up the game, so we checked out the instructions online. We started by trying to play the Bad Cop game but I’d recommend starting with the Good Cop one as it’s shorter and it give you a good overview of the game techniques; it’s simpler as the evidence remains the same. It would be good if there was a walkthrough video on the website showing you how to set up each game, just to get people started. We were also a little confused about playing the action cards and whether we needed to pick up a replacement card or not, but I’m sure this will become clearer as we explore the game even more.

I played the game with my husband, Mark, and once we’d got in the swing of things, we had great fun doing the Good Cop game and attempting to pull our best poker faces! In one of the games we played, I was convinced that I had the correct suspect card (Cillian Lynch) but Mark pulled a win out of the bag by revealing that he’d seen the third and final evidence card and the murderer was actually Mason Smothers! Denied!

My husband got annoyed when I kept using the foul play action to steal his cards so we agreed not to use those in order not to force the end of the game as the case has gone cold!

The game is quite varied, with two different techniques of play required for the Bad Cop and Good Cop versions, and we had fun trying to work out how and when to use the action cards. A few times I thought I’d played a good card but it actually didn’t work out that way! It’s definitely a game you need to play a few times to identify the best strategies!

The Bad Cop game is a bit trickier to play with two people and lasts longer as all 52 cards are in play. We need to spend a bit more time getting the hang of this one and learning how to play it properly.

The game is different every time as the evidence and suspect changes and I liked the fact there were two games in one, adding to the variety. It can even be played with more than five players if you purchase extra decks.

Overall, once we knew what we were doing, we had great fun playing this entertaining game! The game play is varied and the logic is good. I can imagine us playing it lots over Christmas with other family members and maybe trying to adapt it so that our children (aged 4 and 6) can play too. It would be good to play with more people and increase the competitiveness!

There’s scope for the creators to bring out different versions too and it would be fun to play the game if it was set in another location and with an alternative cast of characters!

For more information about the game, including the rules of play, action and suspect cards, and FAQs, visit the Foul Play website.

Buy the game

Foul Play: The Manor House Murder, the murder mystery card game, can be purchased online from the Foul Play shop for £8.95 plus postage.

About the creators

Game concept: Ben and Lee Cooper-Muir
Character design and illustration: James Lawrence
Graphic design: Ian Robinson

Twitter: @afterdarkmurder
Facebook: @afterdarkmystery
Instagram: @afterdarkmurder
Website: https://www.afterdarkmurder.co.uk

Blog tour

Thanks very much to After Dark Murder Mystery Events for my Foul Play card game pack and to Emma Welton at damppebbles blog tours for my place on the blog tour.

See the banner below for more stops on the #blogtour.

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Sins of the Father by Sharon Bairden

Publication day blitz

Synopsis

Lucas Findlay thinks he has struck gold when he marries Rebecca, but she married him for one reason only – to destroy him.

Trauma runs deep

When her past comes back to haunt her, Rebecca begins to disconnect from herself and the world around her. As secrets are unearthed, she begins to fear for her sanity … and her life.

Truth will out

With her world unravelling around her, Rebecca clings to her determination to make Lucas pay, whatever the cost.

Forgive his sins

But someone must pay for the sins of the father …

Buy the book

Sins of the Father by Sharon Bairden can be purchased from Amazon on Kindle and in paperback. Or purchase a copy directly from the Red Dog Press online shop.

About the author

By day, Sharon Bairden is the services manager in a small, local independent advocacy service and has a passion for human rights; by night, she has a passion for all things criminal. She blogs about books at Chapterinmylife and is delighted to be crossing over to the other side of the fence to become a writer.

Sharon lives on the outskirts of Glasgow, has two grown up children, a grandson, a Golden Labrador and a cat. She spends most of her spare time doing all things bookish, from reading to attending as many book festivals and launches as she can. She has been known to step out of her comfort zone on the odd occasion and has walked over burning coals and broken glass – but not at the same time!

Twitter: @sbairden

Thanks

Thanks to Meggy Roussel at Red Dog Press for the publicity materials for the Sins of the Father publication day blitz.

Featured

33 Women by Isabel Ashdown

Blog tour: 23 to 27 November 2020

Synopsis

33 women … one big secret

When sisters Celine and Pip get a call telling them their reclusive mother has died, the women are reunited. But someone is missing – their middle sister, Vanessa, murdered years ago and the victim of an unsolved case.

The discovery of another body in similar circumstances raises questions about Vanessa’s death. What do the mysterious residents of Two Cross Farm, the women’s commune, have to do with it? What secrets are lurking behind their locked gates? And what is the significance of the number 33?

My review

After the death of their estranged mother, Delilah Murphy, sisters Celine and Pip (and her daughters, Olive and Beebee) head to her rather grand house (called Belle France) in Arundel, West Sussex, where she’s lived for over 17 years. Their mother’s old friend and their ‘auntie’, Una, 57, is the executor of the will and is helping the women to arrange her funeral. Pip, her husband, Stefan, and their children live in the old family home in Kingston and Una still lives next door.

While sorting Delilah’s belongings for charity, the women are paid a visit by the police who tell them that a 24-year-old American chef called Robyn Siegle has been found dead, in suspicious circumstances, on the river bank a mile away. The police think she was a resident of the woman’s commune, Two Cross Farm, which is a big gated property down the road from Belle France.

Celine and Pip’s sister, Vanessa, died in March 2005, aged 20, and her body was discovered on Brighton pier, which is 20 miles away. It was thought that her boyfriend, Jem Falmer, murdered her but he disappeared and his whereabouts are unknown. The women believe there is a connection between the two deaths and Una, a former detective at Scotland Yard, speaks to an old colleague, Detective Inspector Dave Aston of Sussex Police, to see if the 15-year-old case can be reopened.

The short, snappy chapters alternate between the present day (May 2020), which tells Celine’s story, and various periods of time (mid-1970s, 1990s and the present day) at Two Cross Farm, which are told from a woman called Bramble’s viewpoint.

Two Cross Farm was set up in 1976 by the six Founding Sisters, Bramble, Fern, Kathy, Regine, Susan and later, Seed, who is the current leader. It is a place of sanctuary and ‘a shelter from oppression, a place women can settle, free of their chains of enslavement, where they may never fear the raised hand of violence again’. Fern believes in the power of numbers and selected 33, the highest of the master numbers, as the maximum number of women who may stay at the farm at any one time. There is a code of conduct of 12 rules that all the women must abide by.

Seed is rather mysterious and intense and seems to be hiding numerous secrets: her own and that of the farm. All the women are rather secretive and reluctant to talk about things. Various incidents have obviously happened at Two Cross Farm over the years – nearly 400 women have stayed there since it was opened – but everyone is keeping quiet.

As Celine, Pip and Una look into the deaths of both women, with the help of DI Aston, and pay a visit to the commune to speak to Seed, things start to unravel at Two Cross Farm and they get nearer to discovering the truth about what happened to Vanessa and Robyn, and uncovering other well-hidden secrets.

Overall, I really enjoyed 33 Women – it was an intriguing and tense read with a well-plotted and gripping storyline. I had several theories as the story progressed but the twists and turns kept me guessing about exactly what was going on. The short, alternating chapters cleverly disclosed key elements of the plot and we found out more revealing details about various characters.

The descriptions of all the characters were good and I enjoyed getting to know Celine, Pip and Una. The sisters were obviously damaged by their upbringing but had pulled together to support each other and Una is a strong mother figure who cared deeply for the girls.

Two Cross Farm was also well described – very mysterious and atmospheric – and seemed a rather troubled and dubious place to live. The 12 rules were quite severe and women had to give up a lot to join the commune and conform to its way of life. It all made me feel rather uncomfortable, uneasy and suspicious!

The pacing of the story was good with lots of suspense and misdirection and, in several places, I was frantically turning the pages to see what was going to happen. It was compelling and engaging and there were some shocking revelations, which I hadn’t expected!

I already have several of the author’s other books on my Kindle and I look forward to reading them soon and checking out her future novels.

Buy the book

33 Women by Isabel Ashdown is released on 26 November and can be preordered from Amazon on Kindle and in paperback, and as an eBook from Kobo and iBooks.

About the author

With several critically-acclaimed novels already to her name, Isabel Ashdown first burst onto the thriller scene in 2017 with her Amazon bestseller, Little Sister. She has since seen two of her thrillers shortlisted in the prestigious Dead Good Reader Awards, and her dark family dramas continue to hook readers across the globe. 33 Women is her eighth unmissable novel.

Isabel was born in London and grew up on the south coast, where she now lives with her family and their two dogs, Charlie and Leonard. She is a full-time novelist, a Royal Literary Fund associate, and a regular creative writing host at the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate.

Twitter: @IsabelAshdown
Facebook: @IsabelAshdownBooks
Instagram: @isabelashdown_writer
Website: https://isabelashdown.com

Blog tour

Thanks to Alainna Hadjigeorgiou at Orion Publishing for my copy of 33 Women and for my place on the blog tour.

See the banner below for more stops on the #blogtour.

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Whispers in the Dark by Chris McDonald

Blog tour: 9 to 25 November 2020

Synopsis

Who will heed the call when Death comes whispering?

Small time drug dealer, Marcus Sharpe and DCI Clive Burston had never met until one night in August. By the end of that night, both had been shot dead in a small bedroom in the heart of gang territory. DI Erika Piper is called to the scene but is at a loss to explain what’s happened. How did these two even meet, let alone end up dead in what appears to be a strange murder-suicide?

As Erika leads the investigation, another two bodies are found, killed in a similar fashion. One murder, one suicide. But who is controlling this macabre puppet show? As Erika delves deeper into the lives of the dead, the pieces begin to fit together and a number of nefarious characters crawl out of the woodwork – one of whom is almost certainly pulling the strings.

A catastrophic event and a personal miracle threaten to derail the investigation. Erika must find the strength to continue, before the whispers catch up with her too …

My review

After really enjoying the first book in the Erika Piper series, A Wash of Black, I couldn’t wait to read the second instalment, Whispers in the Dark.

Set six months later, in August 2019, the story opens with Detective Inspector Erika Piper attending the wedding of her colleague, Detective Sergeant Liam Sutton. As most of their team are also at the reception, her boss, Detective Chief Inspector Bob Lovatt, has asked her to be on call in case there’s an emergency. Towards the end of the evening, just when she thinks she can relax, Erika receives a phone call requesting her help.

She heads a few miles down the road to a residential street where she discovers not one but two dead bodies waiting for her in the bedroom of a terraced house. The dead men are drug dealer and Bennett Street Rebels gang member, Marcus Sharpe, and, shockingly, DCI Clive Burston, who was on gardening leave after misplacing evidence, which lead to a suspect walking free.

Erika and the rest of the team investigate possible connections between the two men, coming up with all kinds of theories, and look into whether Sharpe’s dealing had got him into trouble with a rival gang called the Longsight Lunatics and their leader, Olly Pilkington.

While enjoying a meal at the Italian restaurant in Marple village in Manchester with her boyfriend, Tom, a former policeman and now security guard, she receives a call to say another two bodies have been found at St Peter and the Light Anglican church, which is next to the street where the other two men were discovered. One of the victims is another Bennett Street Rebels gang member, while the other is a woman this time.

The circumstances of the killings are bizarre and the police are now following a murder–suicide line of enquiry for both cases but are still completely confused about what’s going on, except for the fact that there is obviously a gang connection. Things are spiralling out of control! Will Erika and the team figure it all out before the killer or killers carry out more murders?

Whispers in the Dark is another superb read from the author and I flew through it in a few hours, frantically turning the pages to see how everything was going to be resolved! The pacing was good with lots of intrigue and tension to keep me entertained. There were several twists and turns and red herrings, as well as some shocking revelations, which I didn’t see coming at all.

Although the book is part of a series, I think it could be read as a standalone as events in the first book were mentioned in passing, to set the scene. I definitely recommend reading A Wash of Black first though as it helps you to get to know the characters and see the lovely rapport that Erika and Liam have.

I really enjoyed this gripping, action-packed and cleverly plotted police procedural. It was compelling, engaging and well put together, with great descriptions and attention to detail. I enjoyed spending more time with the main protagonist, DI Erika Piper, who yet again had an eventful time of it, and I hope we see her in another book soon!

Buy the book

Whispers in the Dark by Chris McDonald is released on 14 November and can be preordered from Amazon on Kindle and in hardback. Or purchase paperback and hardback editions directly from the Red Dog Press online shop.

About the author

Originally hailing from the north coast of Northern Ireland and now residing in south Manchester, Chris McDonald has always been a reader. At primary school, the Hardy Boys inspired his love of adventure before his reading world was opened up by Chuck Palahniuk and the gritty world of crime.

A Wash of Black was his first attempt at writing a book. He came up with the initial idea whilst feeding his baby in the middle of the night, which may not be the best thing to admit, considering the content. Whispers in the Dark is the second instalment in the DI Erika Piper series, and Chris is currently working on his latest series, The Stonebridge Mysteries, to be published by Red Dog Press in 2021.

He is a fan of 5-a-side football, heavy metal and dogs.

Twitter: @cmacwritescrime
Facebook: @cmacwritescrime
Website: https://macsbookreview.wordpress.com
Instagram: @cmacwritescrime

Blog tour

Thanks to Meggy Roussel at Red Dog Press for my digital copy of Whispers in the Dark and for my place on the blog tour.

See the banner below for more stops on the #blogtour.

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Street Cat Blues by Alison O’Leary

Publication day blitz

Synopsis

A quiet life for Aubrey?

After spending several months banged up in Sunny Banks rescue centre, Aubrey, a large tabby cat, has finally found his forever home with Molly and Jeremy Goodman, and life is looking good.

However, all that changes when a serial killer begins to target elderly victims in the neighbourhood.

Aubrey wasn’t particularly upset by the death of some of the previous victims, including Miss Jenkins whom Aubrey recalls as a vinegar-lipped bitch of an old woman who enjoyed throwing stones at cats, but Mr Telling was different.

Mr Telling was a mate …

Please note: this is a revised second edition, which is being re-released ahead of the rest of the series.

Competition

Do you have a cat? Do you love cats?

Tweet a picture of your little terror to @RedDogTweets with the hashtag #CatWithABite and you will be entered in the cat hat to win a signed paperback copy of Street Cat Blues!

The competition is UK only and ends at midnight on Wednesday 4 November.

Buy the book

Street Cat Blues by Alison O’Leary can be purchased from Amazon on Kindle and in paperback, and as an eBook from Kobo and Google Books. Or purchase a copy directly from the Red Dog Press online shop.

About the author

Alison O’Leary was born in London and, during her teenage years in Hertfordshire, she spent large amounts of time reading novels, watching daytime television and avoiding school. Failing to gain any qualifications in science whatsoever, the dream of being a forensic scientist collided with reality when a careers teacher suggested that she might like to work in a shop. Alison doesn’t think she meant Harrods. Later studying law, she decided to teach rather than go into practice and has spent many years teaching mainly criminal law and criminology to young people and adults.

Alison enjoys reading crime novels, doing crosswords, and drinking wine. Not necessarily in that order.

Twitter: @alisonoleary81
Website: https://www.alisonoleary.co.uk

Thanks

Thanks to Meggy Roussel at Red Dog Press for the publicity materials for the Street Cat Blues publication day blitz.

Featured

Inside Out by Chris McGeorge

Blog tour: 26 to 30 October 2020

Synopsis

She was sent down …
Cara Lockhart has just commenced a life sentence in HMP North Fern – the newest maximum security women’s prison in the country. She was convicted of a crime she is adamant she didn’t commit.

She was set up …
One morning she wakes up to find her cellmate murdered – shot in the head with a gun that is missing. The door was locked all night, which makes Cara the only suspect.

But that was just the beginning.
Cara needs to clear her name, unravelling an impossible case, with an investigation governed by a prison timetable.

But as Cara starts to learn more about North Fern and the predicament she is in, she finds connections between the past and present that she never could have imagined.

Indeed it seems that her conviction and her current situation might be linked in very strange ways …

My review

When Cara-Jane Lockhart, a 23-year-old prisoner serving a life sentence, is transferred from New Hall prison in Wakefield to North Fern in Buckinghamshire, she’s rather surprised to find herself at a new, futuristic prison that has its own rules and regulations.

At North Fern, prisoners wear Cuffs, which are like ID cards with a built-in tracker and allow them access to some areas and restrict where they can go. If the prisoners stray somewhere they shouldn’t, they get an electric shock. The prison guards also wear Cuffs.

The prison has impressive, state-of-the-art facilities and, rather than actual windows, there are multiple screens on the ceiling that show images of the sky. There are no clocks or any indication of time passing. Rather than time outside, the women have periods of illumination where the natural light system is turned on. The exercise yard is actually indoors and like a sports hall with mats and equipment, a wooden floor and gym equipment. It all feels like a bizarre social experiment.

The women aren’t allowed to have visitors, due to the seriousness of their crimes, but they can receive letters and small parcels from their families and friends. Movie night on Saturdays is compulsory and a rather repetitive event.

Cara was nicknamed ‘The Butcher’ at New Hall and her reputation has followed her to North Fern. She’s very wary of the other women and has a few run ins but soon makes friends with her cellmate, Stephanie Barnard, and the two women get into a routine and support each other.

When she wakes up one morning to find her cellmate dead, with a bullet hole in her forehead, Cara is horrified and protests her innocence. It seems futile with the overwhelming evidence against her – the pair were in a locked cell together and, despite a 12-second blank period in the camera feed, the systems prove that no one else had any access to the room.

As Cara is marched into an isolation cell, she’s left alone with her thoughts and decides that she needs to be strong and work out exactly what’s going on. There’s something really off about the prison but she has to remain calm and not give up, and work out the whys and hows of the situation and find the murder weapon if she has any hope of proving her innocence.

At first, there seems to be no reason why Cara has been set up but, as we learn more about past events, everything becomes clearer and there were some good twists and turns and a few aha moments!

I’m a big fan of books set in prisons and this was certainly a bit different and even more claustrophobic than your average establishment. Cara seemed the ultimate unreliable narrator – I was never sure if she was imagining things, lying or telling the truth. I wanted to like her but the crime she was convicted of was horrific and she seemed strangely detached from reality at times.

Overall, I really enjoyed Inside Out – it was entertaining, cleverly plotted and had a gripping storyline. Once I’d got into the story, I was frantically turning the pages to see how the main protagonist was going to get out of her impossible predicament. There were some interesting characters and I was never really sure who could be trusted. I had to suspend belief at times but that was all part of the charm!

I’ve already got the author’s other books, Guess Who and Now You See Me, on my Kindle and I’ll be checking them out soon!

Buy the book

Inside Out by Chris McGeorge can be purchased from Amazon on Kindle and in paperback, and as an eBook from Kobo and iBooks.

About the author

Chris McGeorge is a graduate of MA Creative Writing (crime/thriller) from City University London where he wrote debut thriller, Guess Who, as his thesis. He told stories from an early age, writing and drawing comics and then scripts and finally novels. He loves Golden Age crime and gets incredibly excited about anything a little out of the ordinary. In his spare time, he is an actor with Durham Dramatic Society.

He lives in Durham with his hamster, Agatha Christie.

Twitter: @crmcgeorge
Facebook: @chris.mcgeorge.1

Blog tour

Thanks to Alainna Hadjigeorgiou at Orion Publishing for my copy of Inside Out and for my place on the blog tour.

See the banner below for more stops on the #blogtour.

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Say Goodbye When I’m Gone by Stephen J. Golds

Blog tour: 21 to 27 October 2020

Synopsis

1949: Rudy, a Jewish New Yorker snatches a briefcase of cash from a dead man in Los Angeles and runs away from his old life, into the arms of the Boston mob.

1966: Hinako, a young Japanese girl runs away from what she thought was the suffocating conformity of a life in Japan. Aiming to make a fresh start in America, she falls into the grip of a Hawaiian gang dubbed ‘The Company’.

1967: Rudy and Hinako’s lives collide in the city of Honolulu, where there is nowhere left for either of them to run, and only blood to redeem them.

My review

Spanning nearly 20 years from 1950, Say Goodbye When I’m Gone skips back and forth in time and location as we follow the two main protagonists and their stories and eventually find out how they become associated.

Rudy is married to Maggie and they have six children. The family are Jewish and live in New York. The couple met aged 13 when they both lived in Hell’s Kitchen, Manhattan. One evening in July 1950, Rudy, Maggie and three of their children are at a restaurant for their oldest daughter Grace’s 16th birthday when Rudy’s past catches up with him and a shocking event occurs.

In Nagoya, Japan, it’s December 1966 and Hinako, aged 16, lives with her mother in a small one-bedroom apartment. Her father no longer lives with them. Hinako works in a ramen shop and is desperate to escape her claustrophobic, restricted and boring life and move to America in the next few years. When she sees a flyer on a pillar for maids and waitresses for new Japanese hotels in the United States, with flights and accommodation, she can’t believe her luck and naively thinks all her prayers will be answered if she gets the job. Sadly, she has no idea what she’s getting herself into.

We also learn more about another character who was a child in Seoul in 1951 during the Korean war and had to fend for himself after the deaths of his parents. He did what he had to do to survive and this time has a profound effect on the boy and turns him into a disturbed individual who is confused about right and wrong and carries out some dreadful acts.

At first, there seems to be no link between any of the three but all becomes clear as more of the story is revealed. It’s cleverly done and helps to build up a good picture of each of their lives, with lots of shocking and pertinent moments, which explain what was to follow.

With themes of torture, murder, sexual abuse and rape, among others, with graphic violent scenes, this book won’t be for everyone but I found the descriptions were in keeping with the novel and not at all gratuitous.

Overall, I really enjoyed this well-plotted, cleverly written and action-packed novel. It’s a bit different from the norm and the story is engaging and gripping as we move between different timelines and countries and learn more about Rudy and Hinako and how they come to meet in an antiques shop in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Despite the fact that he’s a criminal with a rather chequered history, I felt a lot of sympathy for Rudy. He’s a family man who desperately loves his wife and children and wants to support them and do his best for them. There’s good in him but he’s caught up in this line of work; it’s difficult for him to escape due to the constant fear of retaliation.

Hinako’s story is heart breaking – she doesn’t really relate to her mother and feels trapped and constrained by her life and the constant pressure to conform. She wants the freedom to find herself and experience individuality. What she actually experiences in America is one of the worst nightmares you can imagine and she has no life or even freedom. It’s terrifying and tragic.

Say Goodbye When I’m Gone is a gritty, shocking, dramatic and violent book but it’s also gripping, intense and poignant. I found myself caring for Rudy, Hinako and others, like Irishman Joey McCarthy, and hoping that they’d all survive and have happy futures. An entertaining read and one which definitely sticks in the mind! I’m looking forward to seeing what the author writes next. And I can’t finish this review without mentioning that gorgeous blood-splattered cover, which looks like a slightly worn postcard! I’m definitely going to order a copy of the book so I can see it in the flesh!

Buy the book

Say Goodbye When I’m Gone by Stephen J. Golds can be purchased from Amazon on Kindle and in paperback, and as an eBook from Kobo. Or purchase a copy directly from the Red Dog Press online shop.

About the author

Stephen J. Golds was born in London, but has lived in Japan for most of his adult life. He enjoys spending time with his daughters, reading books, travelling, boxing and listening to old Soul LPs. His novel, Say Goodbye When I’m Gone, will be released by Red Dog Press in October 2020 and another novel, Always the Dead, will be released by Close to the Bone Press January 2021.

Twitter: @SteveGone58

Blog tour

Thanks to Meggy Roussel at Red Dog Press for my digital copy of Say Goodbye When I’m Gone and for my place on the blog tour.

See the banner below for more stops on the #blogtour.

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When You Were Mine by Kate Hewitt

Blog tour: 19 to 21 October 2020

Synopsis

‘Dylan …’ I croak, but my little boy doesn’t even look at me. ‘Dylan!’ My voice is louder now, and my gaze stays locked with my son’s as the car pulls away from the curb and drives away, taking my very life with her.

Single mother Beth loves her seven-year-old son Dylan with all her heart. He’s her world. So when a terrible series of events lead Dylan to be taken into foster care, she is determined to do whatever she can to get him back.

Mother of two, Ally has always dreamed of fostering – it feels like her chance to give back when she has been so lucky in life. But when Dylan joins their family, Ally finds herself struggling to balance his needs with those of her own children and husband – something Beth can’t help but witness when she visits.

Beth wants nothing more than to find a way to bring her beloved child home. But when she also sees Dylan bonding with Ally, she has to ask herself – where is the right home for Dylan? She wants to believe it is with her … But does a mother always know what’s best for her child?

A beautiful, powerful and ultimately hopeful story of the heartbreaking power of a mother’s love, for fans of Diane Chamberlain, Jodi Picoult and Jojo Moyes.

My review

With their children soon to fly the nest – Emma, 18, is headed to college and Josh, 16, is a junior in high school – Ally, 46, and Nick Fielding decide to look into fostering. They attend a 10-week course and, before they know, it have been allocated a child called Dylan.

Beth McBride is a single mum to seven-year-old Dylan. She has no family support, few friends and Dylan’s dad no longer sees him. Her son is selectively mute and has behavioural and anxiety issues. Beth loves Dylan desperately but their relationship is rather intense, obsessive and unhealthy and she’s terrified of him having tantrums and screaming in public. He often has meltdowns if he’s in an unfamiliar place so Beth restricts what they do and keeps to certain routines and places like the library, parks and the supermarket. He hasn’t attended preschool or kindergarten and doesn’t go to school either.

One particularly trying day, Dylan has a screaming episode in a shop over sweets and Beth shouts at him and grabs his arm. Someone phones the hotline for Connecticut’s Department of Children and Families (DCF), whose radar the family have been on since Dylan was two when his father, Marco, called them and asked for a ‘voluntary relinquishment’ of his son. Susan from DCF speaks to Beth about what has been happening over the past five years and decides that she needs help and Beth reluctantly agrees to give up her son for a fostering placement for three months.

When Ally and Nick take on Dylan’s care, life is going well for the family with Emma about to start at Harvard and Josh doing well at high school, especially at sports. They own a beautiful house and have good jobs – Nick is a financial analyst for a large insurance company and Ally works as a part-time bookkeeper. Before long, cracks start to appear and soon their perfect life is anything but. Looking after Dylan is challenging and hard work, and most of his care seems to fall to Ally, but it seems easy compared to the other problems that the family face.

Having some time away from her son is really distressing for Beth but gives her the chance to evaluate her relationship with Dylan and others. They’ve had an isolated existence, which hasn’t been healthy for either of them. Beth has sacrificed her own life, relationships and friendships to look after Dylan and something needed to give because it’s no existence for either mother or son.

The story is told in alternating chapters, from the viewpoints of Beth and Ally, and we really get to know both women and their innermost thoughts and feelings. I felt for Beth and later Ally as her own life imploded. They’re both trying to do their best but, for differing reasons, things don’t work out and the women are struggling to hold their lives together. They’ve been put on opposing sides as carers of Dylan and neither of them is sure how to react around the other – you can feel their tension and unease, and Beth’s hostility and hurt.

Beth wants her son back but feels completely disengaged from Dylan and like she’s not good enough to take care of him. Ally is worried about her own family and is shocked how things have deteriorated over a matter of months.

Overall, I really enjoyed When You Were Mine – it’s an emotional and heart-wrenching read and the story develops well, with some surprising revelations. It’s engaging and sensitively written and I really cared about all the characters, especially Beth and Ally. I was rooting for them both to have a happy ending but wasn’t sure if that would be possible for either. It’s a gripping and thought-provoking novel and I was keen to find out how it was all going to be resolved.

This is the first book of the author’s that I’ve read but I’ve got a few of her others on my Kindle and will definitely be checking them out soon.

Buy the book

When You Were Mine by Kate Hewitt can be purchased from Amazon on Kindle and in paperback, and as an eBook from KoboiBooks and Google.

About the author

Kate Hewitt is the author of many romance and women’s fiction novels. A former New Yorker and now an American ex-pat, she lives in a small town on the Welsh border with her husband, five children and their overly affectionate Golden Retriever. Whatever the genre, she enjoys telling stories that tackle real issues and touch people’s lives.

Twitter: @author_kate
Facebook: @KateHewittAuthor
Instagram: @katehewitt1
Website: http://kate-hewitt.com

Blog tour

Thanks to Sarah Hardy at Bookouture for my digital copy of When You Were Mine and for my place on the blog tour.

See the banner below for more stops on the #blogtour.

Featured

First Date by Sue Watson

Blog tour: 16 to 19 October 2020

Synopsis

She’s been waiting her whole life to meet a man like Alex. But he’s been waiting too. And once he has her, he’ll never let her go …

Hannah has done everything to make sure her life is safe and secure. A long way from her unstable childhood growing up in foster care, she’s content with her sweet, little, messy apartment and her satisfying job as a social worker. She quietly worries that, aged 36, she might never fall in love. But otherwise her life is where she wants it to be.

Until, encouraged by her best friend to join a dating app, she meets Alex. He’s irresistibly handsome. He loves the same music as her. The same food as well. They both dream of travelling the world but agree they’d be equally happy escaping to a cottage by the beach in Devon. Both of them would love to own a Labrador one day. It’s like he’s made for her. It’s like he’s too good to be true.

Hannah’s friends aren’t so sure about him. But Hannah thinks he’s perfect.

Which is good. Because Alex knows she’s perfect for him too. In fact, she’s exactly the girl he’s been looking for …

And nothing Hannah’s done to make her life safe will ever be enough.

A gripping and suspenseful psychological thriller about dark obsession and internet dating. Fans of The Wife Between Us, Friend Request and Gone Girl will adore this unputdownable twisted love story.

My review

When Hannah Weston, a 36-year-old social worker, meets Alex Higham, a solicitor, online via Meet your Match, she thinks she’s found the perfect man. They have so much in common and want the same things, right down to the number of children (three), the Labrador and the holidays in Devon.

Alex is handsome, charming and really keen on Hannah. Her friends at work aren’t so sure about him as she’s prone to falling in love easily and getting infatuated. They’re worried that history is being repeated and she doesn’t really know him at all. She’s clever but a bit naive and easily persuaded and distracted.

Things were tricky after she split up with her ex, Tom, as he didn’t take it very well, and as she begins a whirlwind romance with Alex, strange events happen, which Hannah is convinced Tom is responsible for.

Hannah had a difficult childhood and moved into a foster home aged nine when her mum couldn’t cope. Alex also had a unhappy time as a child and things were tough with his parents. The couple are both vulnerable after lacking this parental support and drawn to each other by all their similarities.

The story is tense and builds well as Hannah completely misses all the red flags that are waving and it’s like watching a car crash about to happen as she ignores the advice from her boss and best friend, Jasmine (Jas), 42, and constantly justifies all the overbearing and worrying things that Alex says and does. He’s creepy and dotes on her far too much and wants her to be with him all the time.

At times, I was shaking my head and felt like shouting at Hannah as she blindly ignored his obsessive, intense and controlling behaviour. Alex begins to alienate her from her friends and says that they don’t have her best interests at heart or they fancy her, in the case of a male colleague. The relationship gets more and more unhealthy as the story progresses and they both lose control of life and reality in different ways. Things have to come to a head in one way or another, and they certainly do!

Overall, I really enjoyed First Date – it was well written and cleverly plotted and kept me entertained throughout, just revealing enough of the story to leave me wanting more. The gripping story was claustrophobic and intense and had me frantically turning the pages in horror. There are some good twists and turns, red herrings and moments of misdirection and I was shocked by some of the reveals later in the book!

This is the first book by the author that I’ve read but I’ve got several of her other psychological thrillers on my Kindle and will definitely be checking out another one soon!

Buy the book

First Date by Sue Watson can be purchased from Amazon on Kindle and in paperback, and as an eBook from KoboiBooks and Google.

About the author

Sue Watson was a TV producer at the BBC until she wrote her first book and was hooked.

Now a USA Today bestselling author, Sue has written 16 novels, and many have been translated into several languages. She is now exploring the darker side of life with her latest thrillers: Our Little Lies, The Woman Next Door, The Empty Nest and The Sister-in-Law.

Originally from Manchester, Sue now lives with her family in Worcestershire where much of her day is spent writing – okay, procrastinating, eating too much confectionery, and watching ‘My 600lb Life,’ on the sofa.

Twitter: @suewatsonwriter
Facebook: @suewatsonbooks
Instagram: @suewatsonbooks
Website: http://www.suewatsonbooks.com

Blog tour

Thanks to Sarah Hardy at Bookouture for my digital copy of First Date and for my place on the blog tour.

See the banner below for more stops on the #blogtour.

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Singapore Killer by Murray Bailey

Blog tour: 14 to 31 May 2020

Synopsis

A helicopter crash results in the pilot and a military policeman burned to death. It’s unclear what they were doing, but this was no accident and the name BlackJack is found at the scene.

Ash Carter knew that the Special Investigations Branch were tracking a killer, and when a faceless body is found in Perak, and he loses contact with the SIB, he races to north-east Malaya to help. There Carter discovers a mysterious town that the locals won’t talk about.

With no sign of his contact and a mounting body count, Carter is drawn into a dark case from which there seems no escape.

This is the fifth book of the series. The sixth and final book is called Singapore Fire and will be released in 2021.

My review

Set in Singapore in the 1950s, Singapore Killer continues the exciting Ash Carter series. The book begins with an explosive start: a helicopter dramatically crashes and catches fire, with the death of the pilot and a military policeman.

Ash Carter was in the British Army’s Royal Military Police and then worked for the internal security secretary of the Singapore government and a private protection force in Malaya. He’s now an independent investigator and is called in to help the Special Investigations Branch (SIB) look into the helicopter accident.

From the evidence, Carter discovers that the silvery grey Sikorsky S-51 didn’t crash as a result of the pilot losing control due to mechanical error and that the training helicopter was set on fire after it came down. The hunt is on for the killer after a metal dog tag with the word ‘BlackJack’ on it is discovered in the helicopter’s fuel pipe.

When Carter set up as an independent investigator, he recruited a Chinese lady, Madam Chau, as a secretary/receptionist. She sounds an amazing character – she’s described as being ‘as wily as a fox and as bad-tempered as a baited bear’ and with a ‘face that was so flat that it looked like she’d been struck with a frying pan’. She reminds Carter of ‘a basset hound – an ugly one’!

Madam Chau is great at helping him to weed out the timewasters – he receives lots of letters asking for assistance, often from women who are pregnant by soldiers who have now disappeared – and she is an excellent translator. Carter investigates the death of a greengrocer who was bitten by a snake and also looks into the disappearance of a dog! Rather different cases from his SIB days!

When Scott ‘Slugger’ Stevenson, head of the Perak Protection Force and Carter’s friend, phones up about a mutilated body, Ash takes on the case and drives to Batu Gajah in Perak, Malaya to investigate.

Two SIB men, Captain John Harwood and Lieutenant Joe Jenkins, are working on classified missions, and Carter checks their recent reports and begins to make connections between his various cases and realises there’s a serial killer on the loose who’s targeting military personnel. After one of the men doesn’t check in, Carter heads to the small town of Bandar Permaisuri, near Terengganu, where he was last seen and, after a tip off from a young waitress, Carter heads to a town called Bandar Putih (‘white town’), which was built by a white man called Jeremiah and has a big fence around it.

Carter joins the rather mysterious commune and cult, which the residents call Shangri-La, and meets the ex-military men who run the place and the women who look after them. As Carter realises that the men are involved in a gold pipeline (trading) and linked in with his hunt for BlackJack, he lays low and tried to work out exactly what’s going on, with help from another of his contacts. This is where things get even more exciting and there are numerous unexpected and disturbing events as Carter gets deeper into the weird cult and BlackJack taunts him and leaves more clues behind.

This was an action-packed, fast-paced read and I really enjoyed following Ash Carter as he attempted to track down BlackJack. There were several sections written from BlackJack’s point of view and it was intriguing to read his evil thoughts.

Singapore Killer was a well-plotted, gripping thriller with some rather gruesome descriptions of murder scenes, as well as several really tense moments that had me holding my breath and frantically turning the pages to see who was going to be taken out next! It had lots of great twists and turns!

There were several strands to the story and lots of characters – it was fun to try and guess the connections and how everything was going to come together. At times, I had to refer back to remember who the characters were and how they were linked but I do have a particularly bad memory for names!!

I haven’t read any of the other four books in the series but I didn’t feel like I was missing out on lots of back stories – there were a few mentions of past events but I didn’t feel confused.

Overall, I really enjoyed Singapore Killer – it was an intense and absorbing read with some fascinating descriptions of military investigations and 1950s Singapore and Malaya and I loved the character of Madam Chau. I’ll have to go back and read Singapore 52, Singapore Girl, Singapore Boxer and Singapore Ghost to get to know Ash Carter better before the final book, Singapore Fire, is released next year!

Buy the book

Singapore Killer (Ash Carter, book 5) by Murray Bailey is released on 1 June and can be preordered from Amazon on Kindle and in paperback.

About the author

Murray Bailey got his first taste of success when he was published in The Times at 18 and in his local newspaper. Although he went on to pursue a different career, he continued to write and edit and became the editor of an international magazine and editor of four technical books.

His first work of fiction, I Dare You, was published in 2016 and The Lost Pharaoh continues the ancient Egyptian story glimpsed in Map of the Dead and is his ninth title.

Murray was born in Greater Manchester, England and has being moving south ever since. He now lives on the beautiful Dorset coast with his wife and family.

Twitter: @MurrayBaileybks
Facebook: @MurrayBaileyAuthor
Website: https://murraybaileybooks.com/

Blog tour

Thanks to Murray Bailey for my digital copy of Singapore Killer and for my place on the blog tour.

See the banner below for more stops on the #blogtour.