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Nobody But Us by Laure Van Rensburg

Blog tour: 10 November to 12 December 2022

Synopsis

One couple. Two liars.

You’re a handsome, well-respected professor.

This weekend, you’re heading out of the city with your latest conquest. She’s young and eager to please. Just how you like them. But there’s something about this girl that’s different. You just can’t put your finger on it yet …

You’re a smart, hard-working student.

You’re excited to be whisked away by this experienced man to an isolated cabin. Far from disapproving eyes, you’re crossing boundaries. Which can be dangerous. But you know what you’re doing. Right?

Two lives. One twisted path. A game of cat and mouse.

But who is the hunter? And who is the prey?

My review

When Ellie Masterson and Steven Harding escape New York for a romantic getaway in Chesapeake Bay to celebrate their six-month anniversary, it sounds like the perfect weekend. It’s a chance for them to relax, spend some time together and get to know each other better. Ellie is a 23-year-old student and Steven is a college professor and 15 years her senior.

After a shocking and bloody prologue, the story is told from the perspectives of the couple, interspersed with flashback chapters in which we hear from another person who appears to know Steven and has had a relationship with him in the past.

The house they’re staying at is very modern with big windows but located in a forest and close to the ocean. It’s rather creepy and both Ellie and Steven are unnerved by the darkness and remoteness of the location and there’s a strong sense of foreboding and unease, right from the start. No phone signal – what could possibly go wrong?!

This is no ordinary short break and, before long, Ellie and Steven are both in danger, discovering things they didn’t know about each other and experiencing the weekend from hell! They’re hiding secrets and, as the truths come out, they’re left reeling and confused by the shocking discoveries.

Told over three days, the story is intense, intriguing and cleverly plotted, and the isolated cabin setting is atmospheric and perfect for the situation that unfolds, especially when the temperature drops and the snow begins to fall. The main protagonists are well described too – they’re rather unpleasant and I hated them both at times.

Nobody But Us is a twisted, torrid tale that had me gripped! Full of twists and turns and numerous revelations, it’s a tense, claustrophobic and terrifying read. I was constantly on edge as I frantically turned the pages, racing through the short chapters, never knowing what was going to happen next! What exactly is going on? Are either of them going to get out alive?

Overall, I really enjoyed this one and it had some important themes and definitely stayed in my mind after I’d finished it! I’m looking forward to reading the author’s next book.

Buy the book

Nobody But Us by Laure Van Rensburg can be purchased from Amazon on Kindle and in paperback, and as an eBook from Kobo and iBooks. See also Ethical Book Search.

About the author

Laure Van Rensburg is a French writer living in the UK and an Ink Academy alumna. Her stories have appeared in online magazines and anthologies such as Litro Magazine, Storgy Magazine, The Real Jazz Baby (2020 Best Anthology, Saboteur Awards 2020), and FIVE:2:ONE. She has also placed in competitions including 2018 and 2019 Bath Short Story Award.

Her debut novel, Nobody But Us (originally titled The Downfall) was shortlisted for the 2019 First Novel Prize, 2019 Novel London Competition and 2019 Flash 500 Novel Opening. It was published by Michael Joseph in April 2022 and has sold in 14 territories, including Germany, Italy, Norway and the United States.

Laure’s current work in progress, Eden Lost, was longlisted in 2019 Exeter Novel Prize and more recently shortlisted in the 2020 Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize.

Twitter: @Laure0901
Facebook: @LaureVanRensburgAuthor
Instagram: @laurevanrensburg
Website: www.laurevanrensburg.com

Blog tour

Thanks to Sriya Varadharajan at Michael Joseph Books for my copy of Nobody But Us and for my place on the blog tour.

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

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Don’t Talk by Ian Ridley

Blog tour: 15 to 25 November 2022

Synopsis

When catching a killer means betraying a code.

When investigative reporter Jan Mason discovers that a young woman found strangled to death in her Chelsea flat is the daughter of a prominent politician, she knows she has a big story on her hands.

What she doesn’t know yet is that a mystery man has just told a stunned Alcoholics Anonymous meeting nearby that he might have killed his partner in a drunken blackout. And that Jan’s old flame, Frank Phillips, the Metropolitan Police’s deputy head of counter terrorism and a recovering alcoholic himself, was in that meeting – bound by its confidentiality. Soon, a member of the AA meeting will also be found dead, strangled with the same scarf.

Resourceful, well-connected, and always one step ahead of the police, Jan is willing to put herself in harm’s way if it means catching a killer. And landing a front page exclusive.

My review

Set in London, Don’t Talk is the second book in the Jan Mason series and, right from the start, it’s a gripping read as we meet the two main characters – Jan Mason, chief reporter at large at a national newspaper, and her former flame, Frank Phillips, deputy head of counter terrorism at the Metropolitan Police and a recovering alcoholic of 15 years.

When Camilla Carew (38), the daughter of a well-known politician, Peter Carew, is found strangled in her Chelsea flat, Jan Mason receives a tip off from police and begins investigating her death, hoping to be able to break the news about key developments. She’s a great character – fearless, intelligent and never afraid to ask difficult questions and think outside the box. She leaves no angle uncovered and her calm, sympathetic and encouraging manner helps her to coax information from witnesses, sources and suspects alike.

Frank Phillips worked with Jan in the past and they had a short relationship but they haven’t been in touch for many years. Working in counter terrorism, he shouldn’t have any connection with the murder case but while attending an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, his group is shocked when a new member bursts into their meeting late and confesses he may have killed his girlfriend while suffering from an alcoholic blackout. Frank is bound by the anonymity and confidentiality of the AA meetings and their discussions and feels torn about telling police colleagues what happened that evening, despite the possible link to Camilla Carew’s murder. He really regrets this when another shocking murder is committed and the victim is a member of the AA group and has also been strangled.

As the investigation unfolds, we switch between Jan and Frank’s viewpoints and we also meet DS Deena Campbell, who seems very competent and good at her job. All three are good at bartering and exchanging key information.

I really liked Jan – she’s very relatable: passionate, determined and hard working but stretched in several different directions. She’s trying to date but her work takes up all her time; her mum is deteriorating quickly in a nursing home. It feels like she’s always trying to prove herself, despite past successes, and the threat of redundancy is now rearing its ugly head. She seems rather unlucky in love – not as discerning and switched on in her private life as she is with her work.

Deena was another interesting character and it feels like she is someone to watch in the future and could have a larger role to play in any subsequent novels.

Overall, I really enjoyed this cleverly plotted, engaging and well-written story. The different strands worked really well as we followed the investigation from different angles and Jan, Frank and the police grew closer to the truth, though not always coordinating in the best fashion! I’m sure they could have solved things quicker if they hadn’t been so cagey but that’s the nature of their jobs!

Don’t Talk was a fast-paced and entertaining read and I raced through it in a couple of days, eager to find out how everything was resolved.

With the victim having several past and current partners, there were plenty of motives for murder. I had a few theories about the identity of the killer but was never convinced that I’d sussed things out properly. There were some fascinating twists and turns as we got closer to the end and I was shocked by some of the revelations!

I haven’t read Ian Ridley’s first Jan Mason book, Outer Circle, but I’ve now bought it and I’m looking forward to checking it out! I really enjoyed Don’t Talk and I hope there will be another book in the series soon!

Buy the book

Don’t Talk by Ian Ridley can be purchased from Amazon on Kindle and in paperback. See also Ethical Book Search.

About the author

Ian Ridley is the author of 12 sports books, including the number one bestselling Addicted, with the former Arsenal and England captain Tony Adams, which was shortlisted for the William Hill Sports Book of the Year award. The follow-up book Sober was published in 2017, 20 years on. Three of his other books have also been nominated in the British Sports Book Awards. His latest is The Breath of Sadness: On love, grief and cricket, which is a poignant account of coping with the death of his wife Vikki Orvice, a trailblazing sports journalist.

Over a 40-year career, Ian has been a sports writer for The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, The Observer and the Mail on Sunday, for whom he was Chief Football Writer. He was named Sports Journalist of the Year in the 2007 British Press Awards and nominated on two other occasions.

Ian has also written for television, including more than 20 episodes of the Sky One drama series Dream Team, and currently has a film script optioned on the life story of the world champion boxer Darren Barker, based on the autobiography on which the two collaborated, A Dazzling Darkness.

His first novel, The Outer Circle, was published in 2018 and reissued in 2022 as Outer Circle, the first in the series of Jan Mason investigative journalist books.

Twitter: @IanRidley1
Twitter: @JanMasonJourno

Thanks to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for my copy of Don’t Talk and for my place on the blog tour.

Blog tour

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

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The Butcher and the Wren by Alaina Urquhart

Blog tour: 13 September to 31 October 2022

Synopsis

Wren was never afraid of the dark. Until she learned that some monsters are real …

In deep Louisiana, a serial killer with a taste for medical experimentation is completing his most ambitious project yet. The media call him ‘The Butcher’ – and, so far, he’s proved impossible to catch.

With her encyclopaedic knowledge of humanity’s darkest minds, and years of experience examining their victims, forensic pathologist Dr Wren Muller is the best there is. The longer the Butcher’s killing spree continues, the more determined she is to bring him to justice.

And yet, he continues to elude her.

As body after body piles up on Wren’s examination table, her obsession grows. Pressure to put an end to the slaughter mounts. And her enemy becomes more brazen.

How far is Wren willing to go to draw the Butcher into the light …?

An addictive read with straight-from-the-morgue details only an autopsy technician could provide, The Butcher and the Wren promises to ensnare all who enter.

My review

Set in the bayou (swamplands) of Louisiana, The Butcher and the Wren tells the story of a serial killer nicknamed ‘The Butcher’ and a forensic pathologist called Doctor Wren Muller, who we hear from in alternate chapters. This makes for fascinating reading and really helps to ramp up the tension as the cat and mouse chase hots up!

The story is quite fast paced with graphic and realistic descriptions of torture scenes and violence. Rather gruesome and stomach turning in parts! You can definitely tell the author works as an autopsy technician.

I was gripped by this intense and dramatic read and really liked the character of Wren Muller, who is tenacious, brave and determined. She has a good working relationship with the local police force, especially Detective John Leroux, and it’s fascinating to see them working together to try and hunt down The Butcher.

Things grew more frantic as Wren and the police got closer to discovering the truth and I was willing them to catch the serial killer, who was rather to full of his own intelligence and self-importance at times! It was interesting to see things from his point of view and learn how his mind worked and follow him on his awful journey.

The location was really well described and I could really imagine the damp, muggy and soggy atmosphere and environment, despite never having been anywhere similar.

Overall, I really enjoyed The Butcher and the Wren! The short snappy chapters were gripping and I was frantically turning the pages, desperate to see how it was all going to be resolved. The book was well written and cleverly plotted with some clever twists and turns. It was a chilling read at times and certain scenes had me gasping out loud!

I hope this is the start of a series and we get to hear more from the characters in this book. I’d love to get to know them better and find out more about their lives and pasts.

I hadn’t heard of Alaina Urquhart as I don’t usually listen to crime podcasts but my curiosity has been piqued so I’ll definitely check out Morbid and, hopefully, I can look forward to reading another book from the author soon!

Buy the book

The Butcher and the Wren by Alaina Urquhart can be purchased from Amazon on Kindle and in hardback, and as an eBook from Kobo and iBooks. See also Ethical Book Search.

About the author

Alaina Urquhart is the science-loving co-host of the chart-topping show Morbid: A true crime podcast. As an autopsy technician by trade, she offers a unique perspective from deep inside the morgue. Alaina hails from Boston, where she lives with her wonderful husband, John, their three amazing daughters and a ghost Puggle named Bailey.

She is about 75 per cent coffee and truly believes she and Agent Clarice Starling could be friends. Before writing her first psychological horror novel, she received degrees in criminal justice, psychology and biology.

When she isn’t hosting Morbid, she hosts the Parcast original show, Crime Countdown, and a horror movie podcast called Scream!. Her days are usually spent either recording or eviscerating. The way she sees it, when she hangs up her microphone for the day, it’s time to let the dead speak.

Instagram: @alainatothemax
Twitter: @AlainaToTheMax
Twitter: @AMorbidPodcast
Wondery: Morbid: A true crime podcast
Spotify: The Butcher and the Wren playlist

Blog tour

Thanks to Sriya Varadharajan at Michael Joseph for my copy of The Butcher and the Wren and for my place on the blog tour.

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

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The Prisoner by B.A. Paris

Blog tour: 20 October to 18 November 2022

Synopsis

THEN
Amelie has always been a survivor, from losing her parents as a child in Paris to making it on her own in London. As she builds a career for herself in the magazine industry, she meets, and agrees to marry, Ned Hawthorne.

NOW
Amelie wakes up in a pitch-black room, not knowing where she is. Why has she been taken? Who are her mysterious captors? And why does she soon feel safer here, imprisoned, than she had begun to feel with her husband Ned?

In true B.A. Paris style, The Prisoner is a gripping survival story, a twisted love story and at its dark heart a thriller to keep you up all night.

My review

I’m a big fan of B.A. Paris’ books and this was another gripping, twisty and cleverly plotted read! The Prisoner tells the story of Amelie Lamont, who is left all alone in the world following the death of her father from cancer when she’s only 16 years old. Her mother died when Amelie was seven. She bravely moves to London to find waitressing work and save money to go to law college. After a rough start, she finds a job with a lady called Carolyn who she meets in a cafe and the two become firm friends and then Amelie later moves to a role as an assistant on Exclusives magazine.

This story is told in the past and the present and opens with a terrifying current day scene in which Amelie has been kidnapped – her wrists are bound and a hood is thrown over her head and she’s dragged out of the house, thrown into the back seats of a car and whisked away to an unknown location and held captive in a dark room. A disturbing start and Amelie herself is confused about what’s going on, especially as her new husband, Ned Hawthorne, owner of Exclusives and the son of a billionaire philanthropist, is in the boot!

Right from the start, Amelie was very brave and resilient and handled situations well without crumbling. Admittedly, she was rather daft to get herself involved with the very unpleasant Ned, especially as she had no idea what type of man he was, but she was young and naïve.

Ned Hawthorne was a nasty character and used to getting his own way in his glamorous, privileged life. Some of the people he associated with were really shady too and definitely not to be trusted or crossed!

The storyline was rather unusual; a little far fetched but very intriguing and unpredictable with a dark sinister side. I liked the contrast between Amelie’s more humble beginnings and the completely different affluent world that Ned belonged to and which she later found herself a part of.

As the story unfolded, I had lots of theories as I tried to work out how Amelie had ended up in her current situation and who was responsible for her kidnapping and why! The kidnappers were treating her well but I was confused about what they wanted with her and Ned, especially as his father, Jethro, seemed reluctant to pay a ransom! It was fascinating to try and figure it all out and the reveals at the end were nicely done!

Overall, this was a fast-paced read with lots of twists and turns! Just when I thought I’d got things sussed out, there was another surprise! It was tense, entertaining and definitely a page turner with its short chapters, which I love in a book!

Buy the book

The Prisoner by B.A. Paris is released on Thursday 3 November and can be preordered from Amazon on Kindle and in hardback, and as an eBook from Kobo and iBooks. See also Ethical Book Search.

About the author

© Philippe Matsas

B.A. Paris is the internationally bestselling author of Behind Closed Doors, The Breakdown, Bring Me Back, The Dilemma and The Therapist. Having sold over 3.5 million copies worldwide, she is a New York Times and Sunday Times bestseller as well as a number one bestseller on Amazon and iBooks. Her novels have been translated into 40 languages, and film and TV rights to Behind Closed Doors have been optioned. She is currently based in the UK.

Twitter: @baparisauthor
Facebook: @baparisauthor
Instagram: @baparisauthor
Website: baparis.com

Blog tour

Thanks to Steven Cooper for my copy of The Prisoner and for my place on the blog tour.

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

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The Invisible by Peter Papathanasiou

Blog tour/social media splash: 5 September 2022

Synopsis

Burnt-out from policework, Detective Sergeant George Manolis flies from Australia to Greece for a holiday. Recently divorced and mourning the death of his father, who emigrated from the turbulent Prespes region which straddles the borders of Greece, Albania and North Macedonia, Manolis hopes to reconnect with his roots and heritage.

On arrival, Manolis learns of the disappearance of an ‘invisible’ – a local man who lives without a scrap of paperwork. The police and some locals believe the man’s disappearance was pre-planned, while others suspect foul play. Reluctantly, Manolis agrees to work undercover to find the invisible, and must navigate the complicated relationships of a tiny village where grudges run deep.

It soon becomes clear to Manolis that he may never locate a man who, for all intents and purposes, doesn’t exist. And with the clock ticking, the ghosts of the past continue to haunt the events of today as Manolis’s investigation leads him to uncover a dark and long-forgotten practice.

My review

After reading The Stoning, the author’s first book about DS George Manolis, last year, I was keen to read the next book in the series and I sped through it in a couple of days last week!

It was published on Thursday 1 September by MacLehose Press and is available in eBook, hardback and audiobook formats.

Look out for my blog tour review later!

Buy the book

The Invisible by Peter Papathanasiou can be purchased from Amazon on Kindle and in hardback, and as an eBook from Kobo and iBooks.

About the author

Peter Papathanasiou was born in northern Greece and adopted as a baby to an Australian family. His writing has been published internationally by The New York Times, Guardian, Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, The Canberra Times, Daily Telegraph, The ABC, SBS, Huffington Post. He also holds an MA in Creative Writing from City University, London, and a PhD in Biomedical Sciences from the Australian National University. His first book, a memoir, Son of Mine, was published in 2019 by Salt.

Twitter: @peteplastic
Facebook: @PeterPapathanasiouWriter
Instagram: @petepapathanasiou
Website: https://fromtheplasticpen.wordpress.com/about/

Blog tour

Thanks to Corinna Zifko at MacLehose Press (Quercus Books) for my copy of The Invisible and for my place on the blog tour.

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

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Once a Killer by Murray Bailey

Blog tour: 31 August to 16 September 2022

Synopsis

He changed his identity.
He moved to Hong Kong.
He changed his life.
But can he change who he really is?

Charles Balcombe, sophisticated, risk-taking lothario was a special investigator. He thinks that taking a PI job to find a missing boy will distract him from is urges. But once a killer …

My review

In this new series from Murray Bailey, set in Hong Kong in mid-December 1953, we meet Charles Balcombe (not his real name!) also known as the mysterious BlackJack, who has featured in the Ash Carter thriller series. It’s fascinating to get to know Balcombe, especially having read other books in which he played an intriguing role!

He moved to Hong Kong three months ago to escape his past, change his name and his life. He’s only 24 and a bit of a player and thinks nothing of seducing the local, older, married women and having regular liaisons with them in various locations! He enjoys gambling on the horses, is addicted to taking risks and has murderous urges that he struggles to control.

Balcombe tells his special ladies that he’s working undercover for the British government and also used to be a detective but pretends to others that he’s a successful investor on the stock market. In fact, he was a member of the elite Special Investigations Branch of the Royal Military Police and when he’s approached by Grace Toogood, who asks him to find her missing 20-year-old stepson, Roger, he reluctantly agrees to help search for the banker.

Balcombe is a nasty violent killer but also has a more caring side, as shown by his actions when confronted with a business selling young women, and he becomes friendly with a rickshaw driver called Albert, who he enlists to ferry him around.

Alongside Balcombe’s story, we also follow 40-year-old recently promoted Detective Inspector ‘Babyface’ Munro, who faces a tough start to his new role with lots of paperwork after some very suspicious deaths: a woman who was found dead in a pig cold-store room and a body in a laundry with the victim experiencing an unusual method of killing.

These two strands are separate but as various clues and elements are revealed, with red herrings and some clever misdirection along the way, we learn exactly how everything is linked as we come to the conclusion of the story. With a Murray Bailey book, you know it’s going to be a cleverly plotted ending that catches you by surprise!

Overall, Once a Killer is a well-written, action-packed and gripping read! It’s fast paced with lots of action, lots of tension and some terrifying twists and turns. There are startling revelations and some shocking and disturbing scenes, but all in keeping with the story. The characters are well drawn and both main protagonists are intelligent but also rather reckless at times, which adds to the excitement as you never know what they’re going to do next!

I enjoyed meeting Balcombe, in particular, and seeing the other side to his BlackJack character. There was definitely more to him than meets the eye!

As with other books from the author, the story is set in a rather tense and volatile time period and area. Various gangs add a sense of menace and danger and there are also military and police tensions and elements of corruption and abuse. It’s a clear case of trust no one and I was suspicious of all as I was reading – everyone seems to have their own agenda and is looking out for themselves and can’t be trusted.

Hong Kong, its culture and its various suburbs and areas are richly described and I could really picture the location and the contrast between the richer and poorer areas.

I really enjoyed the original Ash Carter thrillers and this follow-on series is gripping and entertaining but also a slightly different style to the others. It’s an excellent addition to the author’s list and I look forward to another book soon!

Buy the book

Once a Killer by Murray Bailey is available on Kindle and can also be bought in paperback and hardback from Amazon. See also Ethical Book Search.

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/

Blog tour

Thanks to Murray Bailey for my digital copy of Once a Killer and for my place on the blog tour.

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

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The It Girl by Ruth Ware

Blog tour: 4 to 19 August 2022

Synopsis

Everyone wanted her life
Someone wanted her dead

It was Hannah who found April’s body ten years ago.
It was Hannah who didn’t question what she saw that day.
Did her testimony put an innocent man in prison?

She needs to know the truth.

Even if it means questioning her own friends.
Even if it means putting her own life at risk.

Because if the killer wasn’t a stranger, it’s someone she knows …

My review

The It Girl tells the story of Hannah Jones and April Clarke-Cliveden, who met at Pelham College at Oxford University where they shared a sitting room (‘set’). Despite being complete opposites from vastly different backgrounds, the pair become firm friends.

In a horrific turn of events, Hannah discovers her roommate dead in their room one evening in the last week of term. April has been murdered and Hannah is a key witness in the subsequent murder trial.

The story is told in ‘Before’ chapters as Hannah starts at university in Oxford and meets the people (April, Emily, Hugh, Ryan and Will) who become her close friends. And ‘After’ chapters, set around 10 years later, in which Hannah is now married to Will de Chastaigne, living in Edinburgh, working in a bookshop, and expecting their first child. She has just discovered that the university porter, John Neville, who was convicted of April’s murder, has died of a heart attack in hospital.

Over the years, various reporters and investigators have approached Hannah to ask her to comment about April’s death but she has ignored them all. It’s only when a friend of Ryan’s, a reporter called Geraint Williams, gets in touch that Hannah starts to contemplate what happened and begins to wonder whether someone other than Neville was responsible for April’s death and a murderer is still walking free.

As long-repressed memories start to return and Hannah gets in touch with friends from the past, her husband, Will, gets more and more upset and concerned for their baby.

Overall, this was a well-written and gripping read and I was frantically turning the pages as the conclusion reached its dramatic end! There are lots of twists and turns and I hadn’t predicted how it would finish at all, despite the various clues scattered throughout the novel!

The story unfolded well and the setting of Oxford University was atmospheric and richly described and I could really feel its history and picture the fictitious Pelham College with its various quirks and traditions. I really enjoy a thriller in an academic setting and this was certainly an absorbing and intriguing tale.

The characters were well described and a good mix of personalities and flaws, which made for fascinating reading. The build up to the conclusion was steady but intense and the pacing worked well to keep me invested and unable to put the book down!

I’ve already enjoyed several of Ruth Ware’s books and she’s definitely a favourite author of mine. I haven’t read One by One yet so I must remedy that soon!

Buy the book

The It Girl by Ruth Ware can be purchased from Amazon on Kindle and in hardback, and as an eBook from Kobo and iBooks.

About the author

Ruth Ware is an international number one bestseller. Her thrillers, In a Dark, Dark WoodThe Woman in Cabin 10The Lying Game, The Death of Mrs Westaway, The Turn of the Key and One by One, have appeared on bestseller lists around the world, including The Sunday Times and The New York Times. Her books have been optioned for both film and TV, and she is published in more than 40 languages. Ruth lives near Brighton with her family.

Twitter: @RuthWareWriter
Facebook: @ruthwarewriter
Instagram: @ruthwarewriter
Website: ruthware.com

Blog tour

Thanks to Tracy Fenton for my digital copy of The It Girl and for my place on Anne Cater‘s Random Things Tours blog tour.

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

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Murder by the Sea by David Howard and Robin Jarossi

Blog tour: 11 to 22 July 2022

Synopsis

A beach read like no other.

Be prepared for a journey from where the land meets the sea, to where life meets death.

There is something sinister about a British seaside town. On the surface, they’re all funfairs and breezy promenades. Yet dig a little deeper in the sand and you soon uncover an underworld of murder, madness and mayhem …

This official companion book to the long-running true-crime documentary series on CBS Reality dives into some of the most extraordinary murder cases in Britain’s seaside towns.

Featuring 10 of the series’ most powerful and shocking cases, including extensive interviews with detectives, forensic psychologists, witnesses and relatives, as well as exclusive additional material and insights that could not be included in the original TV episodes.

My review

Based on the CBS Reality series, Murder by the Sea, this official companion book of the same name is an intriguing insight into a selection of the TV documentary episodes. It’s a fascinating read about 10 real-life murder cases in seaside resorts around England and Wales. The book contains additional information that wasn’t included in the original episodes of the series.

Murder by the Sea is well written and engaging and I found the cases very interesting and varied. They’re from 1953 to 2014 and the majority of the killers are male. The murders took place in Anglesey, Barry, Blackpool, Bournemouth, Isle of Man, Pembrokeshire, Southport and St Brides.

All the cases make for harrowing and disturbing reading but they’re also rather perplexing at times and it was interesting to read exclusive insights and analysis from detectives, forensic psychologists, witnesses and relatives, as they tried to figure out the motives behind the killings, some of which seemed incredibly senseless and tragic.

Real-life true-crime books can often be rather dry and dull but Murder by the Sea kept my interest throughout, with its variety of shocking murders, and I was gripped and couldn’t put it down, reading it in a couple of days. I do wish I hadn’t been reading case six, about the murder of poor 90-year-old Mabel Leyshon, while eating my lunch though! So awful.

I liked the format of the book with a map of the murders at the front and then each chapter/case had an image of the murderer with details of who they killed, when and where. There were also smaller images throughout the book of key people involved in the cases. It would have been good to see images of the victims though, as these weren’t always included.

I hadn’t heard of the true crime documentary series on which this book is based but will definitely be checking it out now! It sounds like I’ve got lots of catching up to do as the series was launched in 2018 and has been commissioned twice a year since then. The brand new series 7 launches in September 2022 with another in January 2023.

I thoroughly enjoyed (if that’s the right word!) Murder by the Sea and found it gripping and very compelling reading. I’d definitely recommend it to anyone who’s a fan of true crime stories. I hope there will be a volume two of this book very soon!

Buy the book

Murder by the Sea by David Howard and Robin Jarossi can be purchased from Amazon on Kindle, in paperback and audiobook. See also Bookshop.org, Hive, Waterstones and Ethical Book Search.

About the author

Robin Jarossi

David Howard is a documentary film maker and founder of the television production company Monster Films. A recipient of the Royal Television Society Award for journalism, his award-winning films include Interview with a Murderer (Channel 4) and Dark Son (BBC). He is the creator and director of the series Murder by the Sea. This is his first book.

Robin Jarossi is a freelance journalist and the author of The Hunt for the 60s’ Ripper. He is also an on-air contributor to true-crime documentaries on the BBC and CBS Reality, including Murder by the Sea.

Twitter: @RobinJarossi
Website: jarossi.com

Blog tour

Thanks to Mel Sambells at Mardle Books for my paperback copy of Murder by the Sea and for my place on the blog tour.

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

Featured

Cold Grave by Jenny O’Brien

Blog tour: 16 to 20 May 2022

Synopsis

It’s every parent’s worst nightmare …

Seventeen-year-old Bryony Lloyd’s father drops her off at a friend’s house to study – but when he returns to pick her up there’s no sign of her, and the woman who lives in the house swears she lives alone. Bryony has vanished into thin air, and her ‘friend’ doesn’t seem to exist.

DI Gaby Darin immediately sees similarities with another missing-persons case: seventeen-year-old Christy Taylor, who vanished without warning several months earlier. There’s nothing in the girls’ personal lives to suggest trouble at home – could someone have taken them both?

After a third case is linked, Gaby knows time is running out if she’s going to find Bryony and Christy alive. After going missing over a year ago, this girl’s just been found dead.

When a tragic accident means Gaby loses a vital member of her team, she distracts herself from her grief by throwing herself into finding the missing girls. Even if it means putting her whole career on the line …

My review

Cold Grave is the sixth book in the Detective Gaby Darin series and after enjoying others in the series (I haven’t got to the third one yet!), I was really keen to read this for the blog tour.

When Dr Lewis Lloyd goes to collect his 17-year-old daughter, Bryony, from her friend’s house in Mold, he’s horrified to discover that she was never there, especially as he’d dropped her off at the house for a study session only a few hours earlier. The homeowner phones the police after Dr Lloyd forces his way in, not believing her protestations that his daughter isn’t in the house and has never been inside.

DI Gaby Darin is put in charge of the case and she immediately sees similarities with another missing persons case; that of A-level student Christy Taylor, who went missing from a café in Llandudno five months before. The girls are studious and come from similar backgrounds and their disappearances are unexplained and totally out of character.

When a third missing woman is linked, Darin has her work cut out as there appear to be no direct similarities between the cases and no clues that could help solve the cases or locate all the teenagers, dead or alive.

Gaby Darin’s senior pathologist boyfriend, Rusty Mulholland, and his 12-year-old son, Conor, have recently moved into her house and things have become rather strained between them as they try to get used to living together. The couple also seem to have different views on a few issues within their relationship and this causes much friction.

Everything seems to be conspiring against Gaby in this book and she lurches from one traumatic event to another as she desperately tries to concentrate on the missing women and focus on her job.

I really enjoy this police procedural series – it’s well-written and cleverly plotted, with a good pace, and I raced through it in a couple of days, desperate to find out what happened next. The book was tense and emotional at times and the scenes involving the missing women were chilling and disturbing.

Cold Grave is a gripping and intriguing read and I was really shocked by some of the plot twists and unexpected events that the author had woven into this compelling novel. I even gasped out loud in disbelief a couple of times at the twists and turns!

The Detective Gaby Darin books can be read as standalones 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 and her life.

This was another entertaining and engaging read from Jenny O’Brien and I’m already looking forward to her next book!

Buy the book

Cold Grave by Jenny O’Brien can be purchased from Amazon on Kindle now (and is released on 21 July 2022 in paperback), and as an eBook from Kobo and iBooks. See also Ethical Book Search.

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 Alliya Bouyis at HQ Stories for my digital copy of Cold Grave and for my place on the blog tour.

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

Featured

The Last to Disappear by Jo Spain

Blog blast: Thursday 12 May 2022

Synopsis

A luxury resort. Three missing women. One body.

When young London professional Alex Evans is informed that his sister’s body has been pulled from an icy lake in Northern Lapland, he assumes his irresponsible sister accidentally drowned. He travels to the wealthy winter resort where Vicky worked as a tour-guide and meets Agatha Koskinen, the detective in charge. Agatha is a no-nonsense single mother of three who already thinks there’s more to Vicky’s case than meets the eye.

As the two form an unlikely alliance, Alex also begins to suspect the small town where his sister lived and died is harbouring secrets. It’s not long before he learns that three other women have gone missing from the area in the past and that his sister may have left him a message.

On the surface, Koppe, Lapland is a winter wonderland. But in this remote, frozen place, death seems only ever a heartbeat away.

Buy the book

The Last to Disappear by Jo Spain can be purchased from Amazon on Kindle and in hardback, and as an eBook from Kobo and iBooks. See also Ethical Book Search.

About the author

Jo Spain is the author of the bestselling Tom Reynolds detective series and several number one bestselling standalone thrillers. She began writing full-time when her first book, top 10 bestseller With Our Blessing, was chosen as one of seven finalists in the Richard and Judy Search for a Bestseller competition.

Jo is a full-time screenwriter. Her first show, critically-acclaimed crime series ‘Taken Down’, aired in 2018. In 2021, she co-wrote ‘Harry Wild’, starring Jane Seymour, with its creator, Emmy-award winning David Logan (to air 2022). She is currently working on several international productions, including adaptations of her own novels.

A graduate of Trinity College, Jo lives in Dublin with her husband and four children.

Twitter: @SpainJoanne
Facebook: @JoSpainAuthor

Blog tour

Thanks to Milly Reid at Quercus Books for my place on the blog blast.

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