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Arrowood and the Thames Corpses by Mick Finlay

Blog tour: 1 to 5 April 2020

Synopsis

South London, 1896.

William Arrowood, Victorian London’s less salubrious private detective, is paid a visit by Captain Moon, the owner of a pleasure steamer moored on the Thames. He complains that someone has been damaging his boat, putting his business in jeopardy.

Arrowood and his trusty sidekick Barnett suspect professional jealousy, but when a shocking discovery is pulled from the river, it seems like even fouler play is afoot.

It’s up to Arrowood and Barnett to solve the case, before any more corpses end up in the watery depths.

My review

In South London in 1896, private enquiry agent William Arrowood and his assistant, Norman Barnett are visited by Captain Moon and his daughter, Suzie, who run the little pleasure steamer, the Gravesend Queen, on the River Thames. They pick up passengers at Old Swan Pier by London Bridge and take them to Terrace Pier in Gravesend and have been doing this route for 13 or 14 years. They’ve been having trouble with a man called Polgreen who started up on the same route a year ago and is now trying to put them out of business by sabotaging their boat. They ask Arrowood and Barnett to help them out and gather evidence to prove that it is Polgreen who has been damaging their steamer.

At first, the case seems fairly straightforward but then, following an arson attack by a gang of masked men, a shocking discovery turns things on its head and the private detectives soon realise they’ve become embroiled in something far bigger and more dangerous than they were expecting.

As the story races along and the body count rises, we follow Arrowood and Barnett all over dirty, impoverished London to various areas and establishments as they try to get to the bottom of things and stay out of trouble, while struggling to survive on little money and, in Arrowood’s case, trying to support his sister, Ettie, and a baby. They both ending up pawning things just to have enough money to eat sometimes.

The two main protagonists work well together and have a good partnership. They each have their flaws but they look after, and bring out the best in, each other.

This was a fascinating historical read, with brilliant attention to detail, and vividly descriptive; I could almost smell the pungent and disgusting aromas of Victorian London. The story was rather gory and revolting at times but it definitely helped to create an atmospheric and graphic read. Everything and everyone seemed to be grimy, sweaty, greasy, bloody or oozing and there were rats and other nasties everywhere! I feel like I need a good wash after reading it!

There was a great cast of characters, with lovely names like ratcatcher Foulpipe Annie and cracksman Flatnose Fisher, from all walks of life, from the street urchin children to the violent thugs and the more distinguished individuals. The story was well researched and I really felt that I got to know all the types of people and the period of time in which the book is set.

There were several twists, turns and misdirections, as well as some shocking revelations, which I hadn’t seen coming! The story had a lot of depth and, at times, I was a little overwhelmed by the cast of characters and had to remind myself who was who.

Overall, I really enjoyed this cleverly plotted and well-written story. It’s not my usual genre but I found it really absorbing and loved the layering of the story and the way it built up a great picture of the horrors of the city at the time. I hadn’t realised this was the third book in the series but I’ll definitely be checking out the others, Arrowood and The Murder Pit, now!

Buy the book

Arrowood and the Thames Corpses by Mick Finlay can be purchased from Amazon on Kindle and in paperback, and as an eBook from Kobo and iBooks.

About the author

© Hannah Mornement

Mick Finlay was born in Glasgow and grew up in Canada and England. He now divides his time between Brighton and Cambridge. He teaches part-time in a psychology department, and has published research on political violence, persuasion, and verbal and non-verbal behaviour. Before becoming an academic, he ran a market stall on Portobello Road, and has worked as a tent-hand in a travelling circus, a butcher’s boy, a hotel porter, and in various jobs in the NHS and social services.

He writes historical crime fiction set in 1890’s South London. The first in the series, Arrowood, was published in 2017 by HQ (Harper Collins). The sequel, The Murder Pit, came out in January 2019 and Arrowood and the Thames Corpses is the third book.

Twitter: @mickfinlay2
Facebook: @mickfinlayauthor
Instagram: @mickfinlay_books
Website: https://mickfinlay.com

Blog tour

Thanks to Sian Baldwin at HQ Stories for my digital copy and proof copy of Arrowood and the Thames Corpses and for my place on the blog tour.

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

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The Authenticity Project by Clare Pooley

Blog tour: 2 to 16 April 2020

Synopsis

Everyone lies about their lives. What would happen if you shared the truth instead?

Julian Jessop is living a lie. He’s lonely but refuses to speak to his neighbours. He loved his wife when she was alive, but he didn’t tell her. (In fact, he wasn’t very kind to her at all.) He feels invisible to the world but he doesnt want to go out. But now he wants to be honest. So he writes his truth in a small green notebook and leaves it in his local café.

Monica gave up a high-flying career as a lawyer to open her own café, but it isn’t going as well as she hoped. On finding the notebook, she’s both inspired to write her own truth and to help Julian out of his loneliness.

Little does Julian know that his one small act is about to bring a whole group of people together as they discover the power, and the danger, of honesty.

My review

Julian Jessop is in his late seventies (or is it early eighties?!) and a flamboyant artist who has lived in the Chelsea Studios on Fulham Road for the last 57 years. He’s lonely and misses his wife (who he didn’t treat very well), their friends and active social life. He decides to write a few pages about his life in a pale green exercise book, which he entitles The Authenticity Project and leaves in his local café.

Monica is 37 and runs her own café called Monica’s Café, which is where the exercise book is left. She used to be a solicitor in a big City firm but then she realised she was single and that her life revolved around work, work parties and client entertaining. She became disillusioned by it all, quit her job and took over the lease on a derelict sweet shop and turned it into the café. She’s also lonely and still single and wants more than anything to have a husband and a baby. She’s a planner and hates the fact that she can’t make things happen and feels she’s running out of time.

Benji is in his mid-twenties and a red-headed Scot who works in the cafe. We meet his boyfriend Baz’s granny, Mrs Wu, who brings a great comedic element to the proceedings!

Timothy Hazard Ford (known as Hazard), aged 38, is an equity trader. He’s also an addict and behaves recklessly: drinking, taking drugs and regularly sleeping with different woman. He realises that he hates himself and something needs to change, which coincides with the exercise book making an appearance on his table in a fancy wine bar.

Alice Campbell is 26, married to Max and they have a little girl called Amelie (nicknamed Bunty). She’s an Instagram influencer and posts regularly about her experiences online. She’s struggling but feels like she has to keep up appearances and post about what a marvellous time they’re having, even though she feels like crying most of the time.

Riley is 30, Australian and has recently arrived in the UK from Thailand. He’s staying with friends in Earl’s Court while he explores London.

One by one, the characters are brought together by the exercise book, either directly, by finding it somewhere, or indirectly, as a result of someone else’s actions. At first, some of the main protagonists seem a bit shallow or horrible but, as we get to know them, we learn more about the secrets they’re hiding and realise why they behave the way they do.

The Authenticity Project was an engaging and thought-provoking read and I loved the concept of the green exercise book, which revealed people’s innermost thoughts and helped them tell their own truths. It brings them together and creates connections and a sense of community. There are some sad moments to the story but, generally, it’s an uplifting read and has some touching and perceptive moments, as well as some funny bits!

Overall, this was a lovely, heart-warming story and I really enjoyed getting to know all the characters in the book. They were a real mix of people and it was fun to see how they all interacted and ended up looking out for each other and forming lovely friendships. I’m looking forward to reading more from Clare Pooley and hoping she writes another book soon!

Buy the book

The Authenticity Project by Clare Pooley can be purchased from Amazon on Kindle and in hardback, and as an eBook from Kobo and iBooks.

About the author

Clare Pooley graduated from Cambridge and spent 20 years in the heady world of advertising before becoming a full-time mum. She is the author of the hugely popular blog, Mummy was a Secret Drinker, under the pseudonym ‘Sober Mummy’ and her memoir, The Sober Diaries, was published by Hodder in 2017 to critical acclaim.

Her blog has had over two million hits and she recently gave a TEDx talk titled ‘Making Sober Less Shameful’.

Clare’s debut novel, The Authenticity Project, is inspired by the time she spent in advertising, a world where the line between authenticity and fiction is constantly blurred, and by her own experience of exposing truth about her seemingly perfect life in her memoir.

Clare writes from her kitchen table in Fulham, London where she lives with her long-suffering husband, three children, dog and an African pygmy hedgehog.

Twitter: @cpooleywriter
Facebook: @SoberMummy
Instagram: @clare_pooley
Website: https://clarepooley.com

Blog tour

Thanks 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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Mine by Clare Empson

Blog tour: 16 March to 10 April 2020

Synopsis

‘Who am I? Why am I here? Why did my mother give me away?’

On the surface, Luke and his girlfriend Hannah seem to have a perfect life. He’s an A&R man, she’s an arts correspondent and they are devoted to their new-born son Samuel.

But beneath the gloss Luke has always felt like an outsider. So when he finds his birth mother Alice, the instant connection with her is a little like falling in love.

When Hannah goes back to work, Luke asks Alice to look after their son. But Alice – fuelled with grief from when her baby was taken from her 27 years ago – starts to fall in love with Samuel. And Luke won’t settle for his mother pushing him aside once again …

My review

Luke is 27 and works in the music industry as an artists and repertoire (A&R) man and runs his own record label, Epic, and his girlfriend, Hannah, also 27, is an arts correspondent for the culture section of The Sunday Times. They’ve recently had a baby, Samuel, who is three months old.

Luke was adopted and has always felt that he didn’t really belong anywhere. Becoming a father has made him think about his birth parents. When he tracks down his mother, Alice Garland, they meet up and there’s an instant connection. He learns more about Alice, who is now aged 47, single, has no other children and is an artist, and his father, Richard (Rick) Fields, who is a famous artist. Hannah is looking to go back to work, three days a week, and they’ve been unable to find a suitable au pair. Alice seems the ideal person to look after Samuel and she readily agrees.

As Luke and Hannah get to know Alice, and then Hannah goes back to work, things seem to be going well and Alice shares a great bond with baby Samuel, taking him to cafés, the library and the park, and having a great time. Luke, though, suffers from mixed emotions as he feels that he’s no closer to having a relationship with his biological mother and he’s jealous of her closeness with Samuel and also begins to become suspicious of her motives and behaviour and there are a few red flags that things aren’t right.

The story is told in two timelines: the ‘Now’ in 2000, which begins with Luke meeting Alice after all these years, and the ‘Then’ in 1972, where Alice and Rick are 18/19 years old and two of only 12 students on the fine arts degree at the Slade, the best arts school in the country.

We learn more about Alice’s past and the carefree but intense times she shared with friends and the relationship that defined her younger years, which all ended with the birth of Luke and subsequent act of giving him up for adoption.

At the beginning of Luke’s chapters, the paragraphs from Who Am I? The adoptee’s hidden trauma by Paul Harris, were an interesting insight into Luke and Alice’s emotions and feelings, and explained a lot of what they were experiencing. (I assume this is a fictional book as I couldn’t find it online.)

Mine was an intriguing and compelling story, with some great descriptions of music and art, and was cleverly written with a plot that built up nicely, with a great sense of tension, foreboding and fear. I felt that something bad was going to happen but I couldn’t quite put my finger on what!

Emotionally charged and beautifully written, Mine was an interesting look at the impact of adoption and how, for Luke, it defined him and had affected his whole life and relationships with others and meant that he had a sense of not belonging. Alice had also been deeply affected by giving up her son and had never got over it, which was equally sad.

Overall, I really enjoyed Mine; it was very thought provoking and emotional, and I liked the way the heartbreaking story unfolded and we got to know the real truth about the past, which several of the main protagonists had tried to hide in various ways. I’m really looking forward to reading Him now, which I bought over a year ago!

Buy the book

Mine by Clare Empson can be purchased from Amazon on Kindle and in paperback, and as an eBook from Kobo and iBooks.

About the author

Clare Empson worked as a staff writer on national newspapers, covering everything from collapsing merchant banks to tea with the late Barbara Cartland (everything pink including the cakes).

When she moved to the West Country, she founded the arts and lifestyle blog, countrycalling.co.uk. The idyllic setting inspired her first novel, Him, which reveals the darker side of paradise.

Clare lives on the Wiltshire/Dorset border with her husband and three children.

Twitter: @ClareEmpson2
Facebook: @clareempsonauthor
Website: https://www.clareempson.com

Blog tour

Thanks to Tracy Fenton at Compulsive Readers for my digital copy of Mine and for my place on the blog tour.

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

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Dark Corners by Darren O’Sullivan

Blog tour: 30 March to 3 April 2020

Synopsis

You thought you’d escaped your past
It’s been 20 years since Neve’s best friend Chloe went missing. Neve has never recovered and promised herself she’d never go back to that place.

But secrets can come back to haunt you
When Neve receives news that her first boyfriend Jamie has gone missing, she’s forced to return. Jamie has vanished without a trace in a disappearance that echoes the events of all those years ago. Somebody is watching and will stop at nothing until the truth about what took place that night is revealed …

My review

Dark Corners tells the story of Neve Chambers, in her late thirties, who lives near Brent Lodge Park in Hanwell, London and is the joint partner, with her university friend, Esther, of a coffee shop called The Tea Tree, which they’d set up three years before. Her fiance, Oliver, splits up with her after nearly seven years together and Neve starts drinking heavily and begins to let things slide at work. After an incident at the cafe, Neve decides that she needs to take control of her life and when she coincidentally hears from an old school friend, Holly, who says Neve’s first boyfriend, Jamie Hardman, is missing, she decides it’s the perfect time to get away for a while.

Neve hasn’t been home to the small, ex-mining village for several years. She left after the disappearance of her school friend, Chloe Lambert, over 21 years ago, and has only been back a couple of times to see her father, Sean, who used to be a miner.

There was a gang of seven of them from school, Baz, Chloe, Georgia, Holly, Jamie, Michael and Neve, who used to hang around together and they often met up in an old abandoned and boarded-up security hut near the mine. Chloe went missing in the summer of 1998 after exams, when they all turned 16, and was never found, despite numerous searches. A mysterious man who was nicknamed the Drifter was blamed for her disappearance as the gang had spotted him lurking at night around the village and near the mine, which had been closed the year before.

When Neve returns to the village, she gets a rather cold reaction from most people, especially her old friends, who were disappointed that she just upped and left straight after the tragedy, leaving them to deal with things, and never returned. Neve ran away to live with her mum who herself had left the village and her family, just before Chloe disappeared, and didn’t return.

Neve stays with her dad but even he is a bit off with her and is frail and seems to be suffering from memory problems as he keeps forgetting things and leaving the oven on. Him and Neve rarely spoke over the years, except on the phone occasionally, and they have to get to know each other again after all this time and everything that has happened.

Set in two timelines, June to August 1998 and November to January 2019, we learn about the events leading up to Chloe’s disappearance that summer. And the current day, with Neve reacquainting herself with old friends and trying to work out what has happened to Jamie while laying the ghosts of the pasts to rest. All of Chloe’s friends were deeply affected when she went missing and none of them have been able to put things behind them.

I really liked the atmospheric and dark setting of an old mining village for this intriguing tale; it was something a bit different and the mine’s headstocks and past seemed to cast a shadow over the whole area, even decades later, with many of the men who used to work there still struggling to move on after its closure in 1997.

The story was cleverly written with several twists and turns and I didn’t guess the truth of what had happened to Chloe and Jamie. There were definitely a few of the characters who were not to be trusted and I wasn’t sure exactly what was going to be revealed at the end!

I liked Neve’s friend, Esther, who was very supportive and kind despite being let down several times by Neve and having her own family, a two-year-old daughter, to look after. Neve didn’t have a very good relationship with her father as he felt that he’d failed her and her mum when he lost his job at the mine but it was good to see things between them improve as the story went on.

Overall, I really enjoyed this intriguing, absorbing mystery, which was well plotted and entertaining. I sped through it in my rush to work out exactly what secrets everyone was hiding and where the missing were. I already have the author’s other books, Our Little Secret, Close Your Eyes and Closer Than You Think, on my Kindle so will have to read them all soon!

Buy the book

Dark Corners by Darren O’Sullivan can be purchased from 2 April from Amazon on Kindle and in paperback, and as an eBook from Kobo and iBooks.

About the author

© Peterborough Presents

Darren O’Sullivan is the author of psychological thrillers, Our Little SecretClose Your Eyes and Closer Than You Think. He is a graduate of the Faber Academy and his debut novel, Our Little Secret, was a number one bestseller in the UK and bestseller in four countries.

He lives in Peterborough, Cambridgeshire where his days are spent either behind his laptop writing, in front of a group of actors directing theatre, or rolling around pretending to be a dinosaur with his young son.

Twitter: @darrensully
Facebook: @darrenosullivanauthor
Instagram: @darrensully

Blog tour

Thanks to Sian Baldwin at HQ Stories for my digital and paperback copies of Dark Corners and for my place on the blog tour.

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

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Containment by Vanda Symon

Blog tour: 1 to 31 March 2020

Synopsis

Chaos reigns in the sleepy village of Aramoana on the New Zealand coast, when a series of shipping containers wash up on the beach and looting begins.

Detective Constable Sam Shephard experiences the desperation of the scavengers first-hand, and ends up in an ambulance, nursing her wounds and puzzling over an assault that left her assailant for dead.

What appears to be a clear-cut case of a cargo ship running aground soon takes a more sinister turn when a skull is found in the sand, and the body of a diver is pulled from the sea … a diver who didn’t die of drowning …

As first officer at the scene, Sam is handed the case, much to the displeasure of her superiors, and she must put together an increasingly confusing series of clues to get to the bottom of a mystery that may still have more victims …

My review

The story begins with the rather dramatic event of a cargo ship, Lauretia Express, running aground in the harbour of the village of Aramoana, near the spit, and when the shipping containers wash up ashore, the scavenging locals rush to carry off as much loot as they can! Detective Constable Sam Shephard is one of the first officers on the scene and when she confronts two of the looters, she is assaulted and ends up unconscious and in an ambulance with the man who hurt her, who is in a bad way after being beaten up by the other man.

An old lady finds a skull in one of the boxes from the container ship and then, later on, a diver is discovered dead and DC Shephard, still battered and bruised with a pounding headache, is thrust headlong into a murder investigation. We get some great forensic descriptions of the state and smell of a nibbled, water-bloated body and the subsequent post-mortem, which both make gruesome reading.

Sam Shephard is great; she’s a feisty character and I love her no-nonsense attitude, sense of humour, confidence and directness. She has a difficult relationship with some of her work colleagues as she was fast tracked into the detective training programme and her boss, Detective Inspector ‘Dickhead’ Johns, is really unfair and treats her badly. He delights in giving her the most menial or demeaning tasks. She has a good relationship with her work partner and mentor, Detective Malcolm Smith (Smithy) and he looks out for Sam and stands up for her.

She has been with her boyfriend, Paul Frost, a detective in Gore, for several years but doesn’t let him get close and pushes him away when he suggests they move their long-distance relationship on a bit. I loved Sam’s flatmate; they have a great friendship and seem to understand each other well and Maggie knows exactly what to say to Sam, especially when discussing her relationship with Paul.

This was a suspenseful and cleverly plotted story with a few surprising twists, turns and misdirections. The investigation developed well and I hadn’t guessed in which direction it was going to go; there were some surprising revelations. We got to know a fair few interesting characters, dodgy and otherwise, and it was fun trying to work out whether they were connected or not and what linked the various threads of the story.

An entertaining and intriguing thriller, with some great descriptions of the New Zealand scenery, and I enjoyed getting to know Sam Shephard and her colleagues, friends and family.

I visited Dunedin when I was travelling round the South Island of New Zealand in over 10 years ago and I was fascinated to read about the city and surrounding area in this novel. It’s beautifully described and I could really picture the place. I’d love to visit again one day!

Containment is the third book in Vanda Symon’s Sam Shephard series and I’m ashamed to say it’s the first one I’ve read, despite having the other two, Overkill and The Ringmaster, on my Kindle! I’ll definitely be rectifying this now as I love a good police procedural and this was gripping, absorbing and really well written, and I raced through it!

Buy the book

Containment 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
Website: http://www.vandasymon.com

Blog tour

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

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

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The Codes of Love by Hannah Persaud

Blog tour: 20–26 March 2020

Synopsis

Ryan and Emily appear to have it all, successful jobs, a beautiful house and the secret to a happy marriage. A secret that involves certain ‘rules’.

Beneath the surface trouble is brewing in the shape of Ada. Whimsical, free spirited and beholden to no-one, she represents the freedom Emily’s been striving for, and the escape that Ryan didn’t know he wanted.

As they are separately, and secretly, drawn to her, things start to unravel. The ‘rules’ are still the rules, to be taken seriously, not to be broken …

My review

Beautifully written, The Codes of Love tells the intriguing story of married couple Ryan and Emily Bradshaw, who have a rather unconventional open marriage. They have been together 22 years and have two teenage sons, Tom and Sam. Ryan is a successful architect and Emily is a creative writing lecturer at University College London (UCL) and the family live in London.

The title of the book refers to the rules of an open marriage, all 25 of them, which are listed by chapter. When the couple married, Emily insisted that they should draw up some rules to try and save their marriage from failing. Ryan wasn’t quite so keen but he went along with it as he was so in love with Emily.

It’s certainly a different marriage, and then Adeline (Ada), a consultant on Ryan’s project, joins the mix and you’ve got a recipe for disaster, with the rules being challenged one by one. One of Emily’s students takes a liking to her too, causing further problems in her and Ryan’s relationship.

It’s a fascinating look at an unusual relationship and I felt almost voyeuristic reading about it from Ryan and Emily’s points of view. It’s compelling and absorbing and I was drawn into the story, especially the almost ethereal world of Ryan’s holiday cottage in Wales, which is beautifully described. I was curious to read that the cottage, named Cyfannedd Fach, was first mentioned by the author in a short story, which was published in 2016, and can be found on her blog.

Throughout the book, there’s a great sense of foreboding and tension. I kept expecting bad things to happen and there were a few instances of misdirection, which were cleverly done. It’s quite a haunting, disturbing tale and builds up well.

The main protagonists in the story were rather volatile and untrustworthy and all seemed to be hiding secrets and not revealing their true selves to each other. The passion and desire they were experiencing led to some rather rash decisions and feelings of being out of control and reckless. It made uncomfortable reading at times, almost like watching a car crash about to happen!

Overall, I really enjoyed this cleverly written story and I found it very absorbing and something a bit different from the norm. I’m already looking forward to reading the author’s next novel. And I can’t finish this review without mentioning that stunning and eye-catching rainbow-like cover! So vivid and bright, it deserves a closer look and will definitely stand out on the shelf.

Buy the book

The Codes of Love by Hannah Persaud can be purchased from Amazon on Kindle and in paperback, and as an eBook from Kobo and iBooks.

About the author

Hannah Persaud was born in Yorkshire and spent her childhood in Devon, before her family moved to South East Asia, where she lived in Kathmandu, Nepal and, later, India. She now lives in Stroud, Gloucestershire, with her husband, children and two boisterous cocker spaniels.

She spends much of her time freezing in a writing hut at the bottom of her garden, and writes short stories, poetry and novels. When not writing, Hannah is mainly wandering the woods with her dogs, wild swimming, running, reading and drinking wine (not simultaneously).

Hannah won the InkTears Short Story Contest with her story Cyfannedd Fach, and The Codes of Love, her debut novel, is based on the winning story. She is currently working on her second novel.

Twitter: @HPersaud
Website: http://www.hannahpersaud.com/

Blog tour

Thanks to Fiona Brownlee at Muswell Press for my digital copy and beautiful hard copy of The Codes of Love and for my place on the blog tour.

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

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The Prized Girl by Amy K. Green

Blog tour: 15 to 19 March 2020

Synopsis

It was always going to end in trouble. But how did it end in murder?

Jenny Kennedy appears to have it all. She’s the perfect daughter, the popular girl at school and a successful beauty queen. But then Jenny is found dead, in a murder that rocks the small town she grew up in to the core.

Her estranged half-sister Virginia finds herself thrust into the spotlight as the case dominates the news and is desperate to uncover who killed Jenny. But she soon realises that maybe Jenny’s life wasn’t so perfect after all. The truth is that Jenny has more than a few secrets of her own, and so do her neighbours …

What really happened that night?

My review

The Prized Girl tells the story of Jenny Kennedy, aged 13, and a former pageant queen who was found murdered in the woods bordering cornfields, near her home in Wrenton, New England. The police think they’ve got the killer, a man who is a fan and attended all her pageants, but her estranged half-sister, Virginia, who’s 13 years older, isn’t convinced and begins to do a bit of digging herself to try and find out the truth.

Jenny’s mum, Linda, adores her but pushes her to perform in the pageants. She eventually rebels, which sets off a chain of catastrophic events. Jenny shares a father, Calvin, with Virginia, who was 11 when her mum died.

Told in two timelines, before and after the murder, and from the points of view of Jenny and Virginia, we learn more about the secrets that both sisters are hiding and how things are connected between various people in the small town in which they live. Everyone seems to be mixed up in each other’s business to a large extent!

Virginia has her own demons, after a traumatic childhood, and she doesn’t get along with her father, stepmother or stepsister but she joins forces with the local cop, Detective Brandon Colsen, to investigate Jenny’s murder and together they uncover some new evidence, which sends the story in several different directions.

Neither of the main protagonists is very likeable but they were both rather misunderstood, abused and vulnerable. It’s a shame the two sisters weren’t closer as they were more similar than they realised and had both been mistreated by people around them.

The Prized Girl is well paced and secrets are slowly and intriguingly revealed until things come to a dramatic conclusion with several shocking revelations. It was twisty and cleverly plotted and I didn’t have a clue how it was all going to be concluded or work out who the killer actually was!

Overall, I really enjoyed this dark, chilling story and liked the various twists, turns and misdirection. Gripping reading at times. Just when I thought I knew who had done it, another thing was revealed by one of the sisters that sent me back to the drawing board! I’m looking forward to reading the author’s next book.

Buy the book

The Prized Girl by Amy K. Green can be purchased from Amazon on Kindle and in paperback, and as an eBook from Kobo and iBooks.

About the author

Amy K. Green was born and raised in a small New England town where she was once struck by lightning. She was a practicing CPA before leaving the corporate life to work in film production, write, and wear fewer high heels. She now lives in Los Angeles but spends as much time as she can in Boston.

Twitter: @amykgreen
Instagram: @amykgreen1

Blog tour

Thanks to Sian Baldwin at HQ Stories for my copy of The Prized Girl and for my place on the blog tour.

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