The It Girl by Ruth Ware

Blog tour: 4 to 19 August 2022


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

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.


Murder by the Sea by David Howard and Robin Jarossi

Blog tour: 11 to 22 July 2022


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, 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

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.

Cold Grave by Jenny O’Brien

Blog tour: 16 to 20 May 2022


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

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.

The Last to Disappear by Jo Spain

Blog blast: Thursday 12 May 2022


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.

Last Seen Alive by Jane Bettany

Blog tour: 15 to 19 April 2022


When Anna Matheson fails to collect her son from the babysitter after a works party, the police are swiftly called. Anna is a stickler for time and a good mother – she would never abandon her baby. Her disappearance is totally out of character and DI Isabel Blood and her team soon suspect foul play.

CCTV footage shows Anna was last seen at precisely 11.11pm, as she collected her coat to leave the party. But the cameras outside the venue have failed to pick up her exit from the car park – how could she have vanished in plain sight?

Rumour has it that Anna was set to make big changes in the workplace, and Isabel can’t help but think someone wanted her out of the way.

Everyone at the party is a suspect, and all the clues point to murder…

My review

Last Seen Alive is the third instalment in the Detective Inspector (DI) Isabel Blood series and, after really enjoying the other two books, I couldn’t wait to get started on this one!

The series is set in the fictional Derbyshire town of Bainbridge and the novel’s main protagonist is DI Isabel Blood, wife of Nathan and mum to Kate (who lives in nearby Wirksworth), Ellie and son, Bailey.

When marketing manager, Anna Matheson, 36, is late to collect her five-month-old son, Benedict, after attending a 60th anniversary party at the sweet factory, Allwood Confectionary, where she works, her best friend and babysitter, Lauren Talbot, is very concerned and phones the police at 1am.

Anna is a single mum and drove to the work do as she doesn’t drink. She’s reliable and never late. She was due home at half 11 but there’s no sign of her anywhere and she hasn’t called and her mobile phone is switched off.

As the police investigate Anna’s private life and question her mum, friends and work colleagues, there’s still no sign of her and it’s beginning to look like the worst has happened. There are some interesting connections amongst the work force at Allwood and Anna is hiding some secrets herself.

This was another gripping and well-paced police procedural from the author and I really enjoyed the way the cleverly plotted investigation slowly unfolded, with its dead ends and confusing elements, before things eventually came together and the case was solved. It’s an engaging and satisfying read and I raced through it in a few hours.

The story was very entertaining, with some intriguing revelations and surprising twists and turns. I had several theories about what had happened, as we met various suspects and learnt more about their relationships to others, but didn’t predict how it would all turn out.

I really like Isabel Blood – she’s dedicated to her job, methodical and thorough, and seems quite normal for a police detective, with a lovely husband and children. She has an interesting past, which adds another dimension to her character’s story.

Overall, I’m really enjoying this series with its good old-fashioned police work and I hope it won’t be too long before there’s another case in Bainbridge to solve! I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next and how things develop with the main characters.

Buy the book

Last Seen Alive by Jane Bettany can be purchased from Amazon on Kindle now and in paperback on 23 June 2022, and as an eBook from Kobo and iBooks. See also Ethical Book Search.

About the author

Jane Bettany is the author of In Cold Blood, a crime novel featuring DI Isabel Blood and set in the fictional Derbyshire town of Bainbridge. The book won the 2019 Gransnet and HQ writing competition, which was for women writers over the age of 40 who had written a novel with a protagonist in the same age range.

In Cold Blood and Without a Trace were her first two novels, but she has been writing short stories and non-fiction articles for over 20 years, many of which have appeared in women’s magazines, literary magazines, newspapers and online.

She lives in Derby and has an MA in Creative Writing.

Twitter: @JaneBettany
Facebook: @JaneBettanyAuthor
Instagram: @bettanyjane

Blog tour

Thanks to Alliya Bouyis at HQ Stories for my digital copy of Last Seen Alive and for my place on the blog tour.

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

The Other Side of Fear by Eoghan Egan

Blog tour: 29 March to 5 April 2022


Nothing will ever be the same again.

Sharona Waters is determined to dig into loan shark Dessie Dolan’s business and see him brought to justice. But when a young woman she’s only briefly met goes missing, a much darker story emerges.

Pulled into the ruthless world of people trafficking – a world built on violent brutality and sudden death – Sharona finds herself caught between crime and conscience, pursued by powerful and ruthless criminals, and just one bad decision away from having her whole world crash down.

Sometimes, the only way forward is to risk everything, no matter the cost.

My review

This is the second book in the Ganestown trilogy and I haven’t read the first book, Hiding in Plain Sight, yet but will be remedying this soon! It’s currently only 99p on Kindle.

Right from the start, The Other Side of Fear is a powerful, shocking read and we’re thrown straight into a violent scene featuring loan shark, Dessie Dolan, and his minions as they torture and dispatch a man called Tommy Mellon.

Set in the Irish Midlands, in the fictional Ganestown, there are several threads to the story and it’s fascinating to try and work out how they all link together.

We meet 23-year-old Sharona Waters and her boyfriend, Ronan Lambe, who are trying to figure out why Dolan is running modelling competitions at his nightclub, Whispers. While there, Sharona meets a young woman called Rebecca Greenfield, who plays a key part in the story later on.

Investigative reporter Sharona is recovering after a recent incident in the previous book in which a man called Adam Styne, general manager of Hattinger’s Furniture, Fine Art and Antiques, abducted her after she uncovered his multi-million Euro art scam. Hugh Fallon and Ruth Lamero, a nurse, came to her rescue and Styne was sent to a local mental health hospital for assessment.

Boxing enthusiast Ferdia Hardiman, a sales manager and former colleague of Fallon, is brother-in-law to Charlie McGuire, owner of a local hardware store, who is mourning the death of his daughter, Ciara. She was murdered and Charlie suffered a minor stroke afterwards. Her brother, Malcolm, a gambler, is also in Dolan’s debt.

Hugh was made redundant from his regional manager job at Pharma-Continental and Hardiman helped him get a part-time job at the hardware store. Hugh is a carer for his mum, Kathleen, who is suffering from Alzheimer’s and he’s struggling to cope as her condition is rapidly changing and he feels helpless, resentful, guilty and irritable.

We’re introduced to lots of different people and I had to concentrate to remember who they all were but things became clearer quickly. There are some really intriguing, strong and nasty characters, who are all well drawn, and it was fascinating as the story unfolded and we learnt more about them all. I particularly liked Sharona and Rebecca who are both brave and courageous women.

Overall, I really enjoyed this gripping, disturbing and well-plotted novel, which was uncomfortable and difficult reading at times, with its themes of gang violence, loan sharks, drugs, human trafficking, dementia and more. It was a tense, terrifying and fast-paced read and I was frantically turning the pages and really rooting for various characters and hoping they’d survive as their lives flashed before their eyes! It’s a chilling and engaging read – I was thoroughly immersed in the story and could vividly picture some of the more horrible scenes.

There are lots of twists and turns and startling revelations, as well as some clever subplots that really added to the story too. I was desperately trying to put all the strands together to try and figure out how it would all be resolved and was shocked by what transpired at times!

When writing this review, I was surprised to look back and see that the story was set over the course of nine days as so much happened and it was all very intense and action packed! I’d definitely recommend this entertaining crime thriller if you’re looking for something a bit grittier and darker than your average read.

Buy the book

The Other Side of Fear by Eoghan Egan can be purchased from Amazon on Kindle and in hardback and paperback, and as an eBook from Kobo and Google Books. Purchase the hardback, paperback and eBook directly from the Red Dog Press online shop.

About the author

A native of Co. Roscommon, Ireland, Eoghan wrote his first story aged nine. At college, he studied computer programming, and he now works in sales management and marketing, but his passion for reading and writing remain.

Eoghan’s stories were shortlisted for the 2018 Bridport Short Story Prize, and Listowel’s 2019 Bryan McMahon Short Story Award Competition. Others have been published in various anthologies. He has also completed two crime fiction novels in a planned trilogy set in the Irish Midlands, and has started work on the third.

A graduate of Maynooth University’s creative writing curriculum and Curtis Brown’s Edit and Pitch Your Novel course, Eoghan divides his time between Roscommon and Dublin.

Eoghan constantly explores ways to increase his knowledge in the art of writing. He enjoys attending literary festivals and is excited about the prospect of getting back to face-to-face discussions with readers and writers. He’s also a heavy metal fan and, post Covid, can’t wait to headbang at a rock gig.

Twitter: @eoghanegan
Facebook: @eoghaneganwriter
Instagram: @eoghanegan

Blog tour

Thanks to Sean Coleman for my digital copy of The Other Side of Fear and for my place on the blog tour.

The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley

Blog tour: 3 to 25 March 2022


Welcome to No.12 Rue des Amants: a beautiful old apartment block, far from the glittering lights of the Eiffel Tower and the bustling banks of the Seine.

Where nothing goes unseen, and everyone has a story to unlock.

The watchful concierge
The scorned lover
The prying journalist
The naïve student
The unwanted guest

Something terrible happened here last night. A mystery lies behind the door of apartment three. Only you – and the killer – hold the key …

My review

It’s the end of October and, after losing her job at a bar in Brighton, Jess decides to visit her half-brother, Ben Daniels, in Paris, but she’s surprised to find no sign of him when she arrives. The block of apartments is located in the back streets of Montmartre and Ben has been living in a third floor apartment after an old friend from university offered him a place to stay. She’d only spoken to Ben the previous day to sort arrangements so he was expecting her but now he seems to have completely disappeared, leaving all his belongings behind.

The apartment building is very mysterious and contains a right mix of occupants. There’s Sophie and Jacques Meunier who live in the penthouse, flatmates Mimi and Camille (4th floor), Nick (2nd floor), Antoine and Dominique (ground floor), and a curious concierge who lives in the loge and spies on everyone and seems to knows everything that’s going on.

The characters are all hiding lots of secrets, even Jess and Ben. The story is told from the viewpoints of several of them and we get to know more about who they are and what’s going on. They’re a rather dysfunctional and flawed group of people.

The old apartment block itself is very atmospheric and creepy and seems to have a life of its own and be watching its residents – it’s old and has many hidden levels and areas. I was particularly fascinated by the dumbwaiter, a concept that always rather freaks me out as you never know what you’re going to be greeted with when you open it!

Jess is determined to discover what’s happened to Ben, who is an investigative journalist, but struggles with the language barrier and isn’t sure who she can trust. At times, I was really worried for her safety as she found herself in tight spots and had no idea what she was getting herself involved in!

The Paris Apartment is a gripping and tense read and there are some intriguing scenes as we discover what the occupants of 12 Rue des Amants are hiding. I had no idea what the connections between the characters were going to be and was shocked by the twists and turns and the various revelations.

The short and snappy chapters really help to move the story along and I was frantically turning the pages, desperate to find out how it was all going to reach its compelling conclusion and learn more about what happened to Ben.

This is the third thriller from the author that I’ve read and it was another entertaining and intriguing read. I must check out her other books now!

Buy the book

The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley 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

© Philippa Gedge

Lucy Foley is a number one Sunday Times bestselling author. Her contemporary murder mystery thrillers, The Hunting Party and The Guest List, have sold over a million copies worldwide and also hit the New York Times and Irish Times bestseller lists. The Guest List was a Waterstones Thriller of the Month selection, a Reese’s Book Club pick, it was chosen as one of The Times and Sunday Times Crime Books of the Year, and it won the Goodreads Choice Award for best mystery/thriller.

Lucy’s novels have been translated into multiple languages and her journalism has appeared in publications such as Sunday Times Style, Grazia, ES Magazine, Vogue US, Elle, Tatler and Marie Claire. Lucy lives in Brussels with her husband and their baby son.

Twitter: @lucyfoleytweets
Facebook: @LucyFoleyAuthor
Instagram: @lucyfoleyauthor

Blog tour

Thanks to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for my lovely hardback copy of The Paris Apartment and for my place on the blog tour.

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

Where Blood Runs Cold by Giles Kristian

Blog tour: 21 February to 8 March 2022


Erik Amdahl and his spirited daughter, Sofia, have embarked on a long-promised cross-country ski trip deep into Norway’s arctic circle. For Erik, it’s the chance to bond properly with his remaining daughter following a tragic accident. For Sofia, it’s the proof she needs that her father does care.

Then, far from home in this snowbound wilderness, with night falling and the mercury plummeting, an accident sends them in search of help – and shelter. Nearby is the home of a couple – members of Norway’s indigenous Sami people – who they’ve met before, and who welcome them in. Erik is relieved. He believes the worst is over. He thinks that Sofia is now safe. He could not be more wrong. He and Sofia are not the old couple’s only visitors that night – and soon he and Sofia will be running for their lives …

… and beneath the swirling light show of the Northern Lights, a desperate fight ensues – of man against man, of man against nature – a fight for survival that plays out across the snow and ice.

A story of endurance and of the desperate, instinctive will to survive, of a father’s love for his child, of knowing when to let go – and of a daughter’s determination to prove herself worthy of that love, Where Blood Runs Cold is a pulse-racing thriller from a master storyteller.

My review

After the sudden death of their older daughter 10 months ago, Erik and Elise Amdahl and their younger daughter, Sofia, are still devastated and struggling with their grief and decide to move to the Lyngen Alps to try and help them recover. Elise’s employer, Friends of the Earth Norwich, has helped her to get this posting, in which she will help the local Sami campaigners to fight the Novotroitsk Nickel mining company and stop them from destroying ancient reindeer grazing land. Erik is a carpenter but hasn’t worked recently.

Erik promised Sofia that he would take her on a cross-country ski trip across the mountainous Norwegian arctic circle when she turned 13 and that time has now come. After what happened with Emilie, he wants to postpone the trek and keep Sofia safe but she is desperate to go so he reluctantly agrees. The pair pack thoroughly for the journey and ensure that they have everything on their inventory in the pulk.

Sofia and her father have a lovely relationship and understand each other well. The trip is a great bonding experience for them. They make good progress and are skiing skilfully but, a few hours after they start their trip, Sofia has an accident and injures her hand. This sets off an unfortunate chain of events and leaves the pair digging deep in their battle to survive the harsh landscape.

Overall, I thought Where Blood Runs Cold was brilliant! It was action packed, gripping and terrifying and had me holding my breath at certain points, desperate for Erik and Sofia to escape and return to Elise. This gruelling adventure is filled with highs, lows, twists and turns and I loved every minute of it!

Just when you think the pair are safe, something else awful happens! I was on the edge of my seat! I think it would make a great film as I could really picture the scenery and the location was vividly described. It’s so remote and seems very dangerous; it’s very easy to make a fatal mistake and get into trouble, without any hope of being rescued.

This survival thriller is well written and fast paced and I was frantically turning the pages as the nightmare unfolded. Erik and Sofia are so courageous and try to keep going, even when things seem dire. It’s such a chilling read and very engaging – I was thoroughly immersed in the story.

I haven’t read any of Giles Kristian’s other books as they’re not my usual genre but I’m tempted now after enjoying this one so much.

Buy the book

Where Blood Runs Cold by Giles Kristian 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

Giles Kristian has sold over a million copies of his critically acclaimed Sunday Times bestselling historical novels, which have been translated into more than 20 languages and seen him dubbed the heir to Bernard Cornwell. He co-wrote the international no. 1 bestseller Golden Lion with Wilbur Smith and his Viking novel, God of Vengeance, was a Times Book of the Year. Having staked his claim in the historical fiction charts for over a decade, Where Blood Runs Cold is Giles’s first contemporary thriller.

Giles, who is half-Norwegian on his mother’s side, has himself skied and camped in the Norwegian mountains as Erik and Sofia do in the novel. In 2003 Giles went on a cross-country ski trip with his brother and a bunch of hardened Norwegians, skiing and building igloos to spend the night in. Despite being incredibly fit and having all the right gear, Giles and his brother realized they had bitten off more than they could chew and, halfway through the trip, they made a bid for civilization. But the expedition had sown the seeds of an idea for the story that would become Where Blood Runs Cold.

Twitter: @GilesKristian
Facebook: @GilesKristian
Instagram: @gileskristian

Blog tour

Thanks to Fiona Wong at Midas PR for my copy of Where Blood Runs Cold and for my place on the blog tour.

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

Man Down by Mark Pepper

Blog tour: 22 to 26 February 2022


All he has to do is step up.

Matt Spiller drives a souped-up taxi, suffers from SAD, and has a troublesome past.

It’s Christmas Eve, and one of his fares is about to become extremely problematic.

Helen Spiller still loves her husband, but can no longer live with his moods.

She’s a wonderful mum, with a screw quietly working loose in her head.

Now, their eldest daughter has hooked up with a very bad boyfriend.

Spiller thinks he has the skillset to handle all these problems.

He’s dead wrong.

My review

Man Down tells the story of 43-year-old taxi driver, Matt Spiller, who is rather struggling in life. He’s estranged from his wife, Helen, and misses his children, Samantha (17) and Sophie (6). He’s depressed, suffers from seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and is an insomniac.

It’s a snowy Christmas eve and Spiller picks up a fare who he later finds out is called Emma. He has a rather unconventional car as his taxi – an Audi S5 Sportback! He drops Emma off at a local park just before midnight and then has to intervene when she is approached by two youths wearing dark clothes, with their hoods up. He ends up teaching them a lesson!

The following morning, after a bad night’s sleep, as usual, Spiller heads to the former family home to see his children for a few hours on Christmas Day. He’s late and his wife isn’t amused, especially as their daughter, Sammy, is missing. She has a new, older boyfriend (of two weeks!) and hasn’t been home since the previous day.

When a tearful Sammy finally turns up a few days later, the police have already been informed and they tell Spiller that his daughter’s 28-year-old boyfriend, Callum Ward, is well known to them and big trouble.

And that’s all I’m going to say about the plot because you really need to read the book yourself to experience this action-packed story, which doesn’t let up! There are certainly some weird and wonderful moments, as well as some rather gory scenes!

I loved the main character, Matt Spiller, who has a great wry sense of humour and, despite the grittiness and violence, the book contains some very funny lines and comments! His wife, Helen, is an intriguing character with ‘a screw quietly working loose in her head’ and Sammy is brave and resilient despite experiencing a torrid time at the hands of her boyfriend.

Overall, I really enjoyed Man Down – it was entertaining, gripping and crazy, in a good way! The story was well written and cleverly plotted with some brilliant twists and turns and a few red herrings. It was unpredictable and fast paced, with lots of action and tension, and I never knew what was going to happen next! I was holding my breath at certain points, willing Spiller and his family to be safe!

When I began reading the book, I had no idea how it was all going to pan out and I could never have guessed the chain of events that would occur! There were a few strands to the story and it was interesting how they all intertwined, with Matt flitting between several groups of menacing and disturbing characters, trying to avoid getting harmed! Little does he know exactly what he’s involved in – there were definitely some startling revelations throughout the book!

Man Down was an excellent read and I’ve already purchased the author’s other novel, Veteran Avenue, which was republished by Red Dog Press in September 2021.

Buy the book

Man Down by Mark Pepper can be purchased from Amazon on Kindle and in hardback and paperback, and as an eBook from Kobo and Google Books. Purchase the hardback, paperback and eBook directly from the Red Dog Press online shop.

About the author

Mark lives in Manchester with his wife of 30 years, Jeannifer, and his daughter, Jade.

In his day job, Mark is an intelligence analyst for a financial regulator in Washington DC. He is a qualified secondary school drama teacher, and worked as an actor for 15 years, having graduated from RADA in 1990. 

His first two novels, The Short Cut and Man on a Murder Cycle, were published by Hodder & Stoughton, and his third, Veteran Avenue, originally published by Urbane and now by Red Dog Press. Veteran Avenue, is mainly set in LA, and is currently being developed as a TV series by the actor Warren Brown. 

Twitter: @PepSixSix
Facebook: Mark Pepper

Blog tour

Thanks to Sean Coleman at Red Dog Press for my digital copy of Man Down and for my place on the blog tour.

The Killing Crew by Murray Bailey

Blog tour: 15 to 28 February 2022


Ash Carter and Bill Wolfe are in Israel hunting a group of British Army deserters known as the Killing Crew. Some people think they were a myth, others believe they were the most hated of British soldiers.

In the newly formed state that’s at war with the Arab nations, hated by Jews and despised by Arabs, the two SIB officers think they face an uncomfortable task.

But when they become targets they realise this is more than just a job. It’s life or death.

My review

Set in the new state of Israel in the late 1940s, The Killing Crew is the second book in the Ash Carter Near East crime thriller series. The series is a prequel to the brilliant Ash Carter mystery thrillers, which are set in 1950s Singapore.

It’s June 1948 and Captain Ash Carter, who is in the British Army’s Royal Military Police (in the Special Investigations Branch), has been tasked with locating and arresting the group of pro-Arab British deserters known as the Killing Crew.

Ash Carter and Major Bill Wolfe are on official business and have authority from the Israeli government to search for the Killing Crew but they still need to be careful as the new state of Israel is at war and it’s a very dangerous place to be, especially as the British are now ‘despised and unwelcome’ and ‘seen by many as the enemy’.

After an encounter with a Hungarian refugee and Slovakian debt collectors, Carter finds himself in trouble straightaway and is lucky to escape with his life! It’s a thrilling and terrifying start and the pace of the book doesn’t let up from then on!

With the help of Bert Finney, an inexperienced but enthusiastic 20-year-old recruit, and a 19-year-old Jewish secretary called Sylvia Rom, Carter and Wolfe make some progress and investigate various leads and work their way through paperwork to try and pinpoint exactly who the deserters are. They are able to strike some people off the list, for various reasons, but aren’t really getting anywhere until a local informant helps them out. They then get a spot of good luck when Carter makes a connection after showing a photo to someone. It’s a difficult mission and there are lots of dead ends and twists and the team often find themselves in danger. Time is running out and they need to solve the case.

Carter has an interesting relationship with his German Jewish landlady, Erika Arnold. She’s not keen on the English after her husband was killed by a British bullet shortly after the war ended, but she has a begrudging friendship with Ash and they enjoy playing cards together in the evenings, and there seems to be a bit of a spark between them.

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

There are lots of military and political tensions in the period and area in which the book is set and it’s all very tense and volatile. I could really picture the location and found it well described. There’s such a sense of menace and danger and no one can be trusted, even those close to Carter. While reading, I was on edge the whole time, waiting for someone to be threatened or attacked!

I really enjoyed the original Ash Carter thrillers and this prequel series is intense and absorbing and an excellent addition to the author’s list.

Buy the book

The Killing Crew by Murray Bailey is released on 1 March and can be preordered from Amazon on Kindle and in paperback and hardback.

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 been moving south ever since. He now lives on the beautiful Dorset coast with his wife and family.

Twitter: @MurrayBaileybks
Facebook: @MurrayBaileyAuthor
Instagram: @murraybaileyauthor

Blog tour

Thanks to Murray Bailey for my digital copy of The Killing Crew and for my place on the blog tour.

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