The Resident

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Author: David Jackson

Publisher: Viper Books

Publication Date: Out now

Available: Hardback/eBook/Audiobook

Thank you to Viper books for my eArc copy of the book and for having me on the blog tour for this fantastic read. My review is based on my experience of the book and any thoughts expressed here are solely mine alone.

Book Details:

THERE’S A SERIAL KILLER ON THE RUN

AND HE’S HIDING IN YOUR HOUSE

Thomas Brogan is a serial killer. With a trail of bodies in his wake and the police hot on his heels, it seems like Thomas has nowhere left to hide. That is until he breaks into an abandoned house at the end of a terrace on a quiet street. And when he climbs up into the loft, he realises that he can drop down into all the other houses through the shared attic space.

That’s when the real fun begins. Because the one thing that Thomas enjoys even more than killing is playing games with his victims – the lonely old woman, the bickering couple, the tempting young newlyweds. And his new neighbours have more than enough dark secrets to make this game his best one yet…

Do you fear The Resident? Soon you’ll be dying to meet him.

My Thoughts:

I am a big fan of Viper books, as they always publish books with bite and in the case of this book, it comes with flight, fight and a whole lot of bite.

Thomas Brogan is fleeing the scene of his latest murder, he will escape at any cost but the police are on his trail and so he opts to lie low until the heat dies down.

He ends up hiding in a deserted end of terrace house. With no way out, he hunkers down and asses his limited options, no food, light, heat or water, what is a killer to do… in this case, why not have a macabre chat with his inner demon, which is both warped, amusing and addictive to be a party to.

Brogan is trapped, until he discovers on exploration of the house, it has an attic hatch! Furthermore that the attics in this terrace are all conjoined and that now he has unlimited access to the other houses in the row and better still for his murderous intent, access to the occupants.

The idea of a serial killer hiding in your attic is a darkly deliciously & utterly deviant concept and for a woman who lives alone in a terraced house like me, down right terrifying!  On the plus side,  I don’t think I’m this killer’s type! Trust me, when I say I gave this idea considerable thought while lying awake at night. The mind games in this book are not confined to the pages of the story!

As the book continues, Brogan meticulously invades each of the houses, steals food, avails himself of the amenities and ferrets about uncovering the intimate secrets of its oblivious occupants. Brogan is a hunter and the inhabitants of the terrace are now his potential prey. To him killing is the ‘ultimate climax’ it is a game to be played, savoured, revelled in and nothing gives him more pleasure than the ‘ cold blooded disregard for society’s rules’.

There is a relentless and palpable tension throughout the book, will Brogan be discovered, will anyone notice food is missing, that objects have been moved, what might happen if anyone spots him? Instinctively you know that if he is found out, that the ramifications could be exceedingly bloody…or would they…that question has your attention doesn’t it?

As I continued to read this book, two notable incidents occur and I feel impact the trajectory of the story;  Brogan’s voyeurism leads him into an all-encompassing deluded fixation with newly married Colette Fairbright and the oddly vicious passion which stops him escaping the confines of the derelict house and drives him instead into plotting and enacting a series of escalating, malicious mind games, on her and her husband with ultimately dramatic results. However, the most fascinating incident for me, and this could be considered a spoiler, is that during one of his nightly escapades, he is discovered by 89 year old Elsie in her kitchen and this surprise interaction has far reaching and gloriously unexpected consequences!

David Jackson’s genius is in creating a protagonist who as a reader you abhor, whose psychopathic behaviours are deeply disturbing, aberrant and utterly gruesome. And as yet, you are compelled to look for reasons why Brogan is a killer, to examine the familiar question, is it nature or is it nurture that causes such emotive disassociation in a person. And yes there are some woeful reasons to Brogan’s psychopathy and just maybe you feel sorry for him but should pitiful circumstances allow you to forgive him for his violent trespass into the lives of others… any further examination of this idea is for you to explore.

The premise of this book and the fear it evokes in the reader’s imagination is really what makes this such a clever read. It is deeply disturbing on so many levels, darkly comic in parts, I especially liked the irony that a cold callus serial killer could be emotionally undone by something as unassuming as a chocolate cake.  The often brutal prose draws you into to a vortex of inappropriate laughter and abject revulsion at the killer’s crimes and the combination, certainly makes for irresistible reading. As the book draws to its cataclysmic end, there are some sharp, nifty twists that unfurl but obviously I am giving nothing away!

So bookophiles, I can only recommend that you read this sinister splendid book for yourselves, but be warned for your own sanity don’t read it at night and bolt your attic hatch!

About the Author

David Jackson is the author of nine crime novels, including the bestseller Cry Baby and the DS Nathan Cody series. When not murdering fictional people, David spends his days as a university academic in his birth city of Liverpool. He lives on the Wirral with his wife and two daughters.

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We Are All the Same in the Dark

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Author: Julia Heaberlin

Published: Michael Joseph

Publication Date: 6th August 2020

Available: Hardback /eBook

Thank you to Ella Watkins and Michael Joseph for my beautiful gifted copy and for the opportunity to be part of the blog tour for this glorious book. My review is based on my experience of the book and any thoughts expressed here are solely mine alone.

Book Details:

Ten years ago Trumanell Branson disappeared.

Her brother, Wyatt lives as pariah, cleared of any involvement but tried and sentenced in the court of public opinion. So when he finds a lost girl he believes she is a sign, someone to lead him to his sister and finally clear his name.

Instead she leads him to young police office Odette Tucker. She knows they must tread carefully – the town, still waiting for its missing girl to come home, is a tinderbox and this new arrival might just set it alight.

We Are All the Same in the Dark is a high concept, thrilling and creepy read packed with atmosphere and tension – with a fiendishly clever twist.

My Thoughts

What do you get if you cross the ambience of Twin Peaks, the social perception of John Steinbeck, the elegant prose and exquisite detail of ‘In Cold Blood’ by Truman Capote…this book would be your answer. The rosy red apple that is small town American, beautiful, shiny, and appealing but when you bite into it, you discover that it is rotting from the inside out…bite after bite takes you closer to its decaying core and so it is with this simply outstanding story.

Set in the unrelenting, vast, hot, flat state of Texas, in a small town community whose heart is changed forever on the night 7th June 2005.

The night 10 years ago that Home coming Queen Trumanell Branson went missing, also missing on this night is Frank Branson her tyrannical, philandering father. Two members of the same family have simply disappeared, which leads to the town’s residents persistent supposition about what may have happened. The only sinister clue that something dreadful has occurred, was a bloody hand print on a door frame of their home.

Wyatt Branson, brother and son to the missing pair and sole remaining resident of the Branson Farm, where memories of the past haunt him. Making him a tortured soul. Regardless of his losses, he is labelled the chief suspect, mainly due to his reticence to explain what happened that night and despite no evidence to confirm his guilt and even with the pasting years he is still the town’s focus of derision, suspicion and revulsion.

The book opens with Wyatt discovering the body of a child lying by the side of the road, surrounded by dandelions looking for all intents and purposes to be the victim of a serial killer. Until he realises she is alive! Reluctantly he takes her home with him. Given his reputation for being his own worst enemy when it comes to his interactions with young women. This is definitely a bad idea!

Enter Odette Tucker, his protector and former teenage sweetheart. Now a police officer, she has an established police pedigree as the daughter of the now deceased police chief. Odette returned to the town 5 years earlier, she is unorthodox, resilient, demanding, punchy, a survivor and she is stubbornly, obsessively determined to find out what happened to her friend Trumanell . The same night her life changed forever. Odette was at the Branson farm but fateful circumstances meant she has no knowledge about what happened and this not knowing drives her actions now. And why dandelions, snake skin boots and a Betty Crocker cookbook are all important clues that may provide the much sort after answers!

When Odette’s portion of this tale ends, Angel’s begins…Angel is the discarded girl, Wyatt Branson found by the roadside. The child who Odette removes from Wyatt’s house and places in the safe house run by her trusted cousin Maggie, daughter of the town’s fire and brimstone preacher. Angel’s story starts 5 years on from Odette’s and via her own dramatic story, becomes the conduit through which we as readers start to uncover the truths and startling revelations of what really happened on 7th June 2005 and begin to fathom its far reaching, devastating impact on all the character’s lives.

You may think I am being vague or cryptic about the many knotty details, the web of secrets and sublime twists in this book and absolutely I am. I refuse to spoil in anyway your experience of reading this exceptional tale…oh my goodness it is magnificent! I hope by now I have piqued your interest sufficiently and you have no idea how hard I am resisting the temptation to start chanting, buy it, buy it, buy this book now!

This story is beautifully crafted, Julia Heaberlin’ s creative genius has produced intricate, complex and flawed characters with mesmeric backstories, an assiduous plot reverberating with tension, everyone is suspected but nobody is a suspect. There is a persistant weight of expectation in every page…will we discover what happened to Trumanell, Is Wyatt her killer? Is she dead? Who is Angel really? And what about Odette? So many questions and I can’t wait until you get the answers…!

I can only whole heartily suggest that you cancel any and all plans you might have for next weekend and prepare to stay home and read this book.

About the Author

Julia Heaberlin is an award-winning journalist who has worked for the Forth Worth Star-Telegram, The Detroit News and The Dallas Morning News. She has edited numerous real-life thriller stories, including a series on the perplexing and tragic murders of girls buried in the Mexican desert and another on domestic violence. She lives with her husband and son in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, where she is a freelance writer and novelist. Black Eyed Susans was a Sunday Times top five bestseller.

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Miss Benson’s Beetle

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Author: Rachel Joyce

Publisher: Doubleday

Available in Hardback/eBook and audiobook

Publication date: 23rd July 2020

Thank you to Alison Barrow and Doubleday for my beautiful gifted copy. My review is based on my experience of the book and any thoughts expressed here are solely mine alone.

Book Details:

It is 1950 , two unlikely women set off on a hare-brained adventure to the other side of the world to try and find a beetle, and in doing so discover friendship and now to be their best of themselves. This is quintessential Joyce: at once poignant and playful with a huge heart and same resonance, truth and lightness of touch as her phenomenally successful debut, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry.

This is a novel that is less about what can be found than the belief it might be found, it is an intoxicating adventure story but it is also about what it means to be a woman and a tender exploration of a friendship that defies all boundaries.

My Thoughts

I finished this book in a day, it is a glorious read and echoes of the story remain with you long after you have turned the last page. On finishing it, I sat in an awed silence for about 30 minutes letting the story resonate in my head and now a day or so later, the characters and story are still with me. Rachel Joyce is superlative story teller. This is my first experience of reading one of her books and it won’t be the last (I couldn’t resist, I just bought two of them while writing this review).

This tale is a voyage of discovery, the discovery of truth, the discovery of self, the discovery of friendship, the discovery that any mountain can be conquered, quite literally as it turns out. Two women whose entire lives have been overshadowed and marginalised within the established patriarchy of the time (although their experiences are equally valid today).

The book begins in 1915 with a traumatic life altering moment in Margery Benson’s childhood and the consequences of this tragic moment thrust her onto a path of gentile middle class misery brightened only by her passion for entomology. When we catch up with Margery, she is a middle aged, disillusioned and downtrodden, a teacher uninspired by her task and one act of childish spite has unexpected consequences. Margery rebels and literally runs away from her suffocating job and embarks on her life’s dream. Starting with an advert in a newspaper for an assistant…Margery Benson is swapping the urban jungle for the unknown, unexplored jungle of New Caledonia in search of an undiscovered golden flower beetle.

Margery interviews her prospective assistants and picks the most suitable candidate and plans for the 10,000 mile adventure are made, which seems to involve lacrosse boots, a pith helmet, ethanol and a great deal of Spam. It is full steam ahead until at last minute when the suitable candidate declines to accompany Margery (due to her disapproval of Margery’s involvement with a stolen pair of lacrosse boots) and Margery having no other recourse invites the only available assistance left to join her odyssey. Enter Enid Pretty on the morning of the expedition, in a pink suit, a face full of makeup, pom pom sandals with a red valise and a plucky attitude. As you can imagine, Margery is unimpressed by her new companion and that is putting it mildly!

Margery and Enid could not be more different from each other, physically, intellectually, emotionally and now they are squashed together in a tiny compartment on a boat for 6 weeks on the first leg of their escapade! Margery within the first 12 hours of meeting Enid, ponders the idea of ‘killing her quickly’!!! And yes Enid is utterly irritating but yet, eminently practical, unorthodox in her resourcefulness and kind, she is the perfect foil and compliments, the studious, organised, determined and hapless awkward Margery.

As the story unfolds, their unlikely alliance develops and they learn to work together and begin to see and appreciate each other’s strengths and encourage each other’s missions and despite numerous obstacles they finally reach the wilds of the North of New Caledonia (where men fear to go!)…

Well what happens next, I hear you ask….a great deal and the following titbits are just a taste…missing luggage, unsavoury characters who try to derail Margery/Enid, a possible dark love triangle, beetle hunting in an untamed jungle, unsuitable shoes, a little white dog, a stalker, more spam, a great deal of trouble with hammocks, unexpected revelations, tropical storms and yet more spam with banana (yes really) and our protagonists face it all with hilarity, mild hysteria, friendship, fortitude and courage.

I encourage you to embark on this tale of two remarkable women, who like the beetles they are hunting are beautiful and varied in their characters yet societal expectation has had them pinned/entombed unable to fly free, until now. This book is their flight to freedom, their journey of survival, redemption, awakening, loyalty and friendship and copious pages full of gumption! But how does this tale end, well that is for me to know and for you to find out…I know I’m a huge book tease but it would be remiss of me to spoil this reading experience for you as it is an exceptional one.

About the Author

Rachel Joyce is the author of the Sunday Times and international best sellers The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry. Perfect, The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy, The Music Shop and a collection of interlinked short stories. A Snow Garden & other stories. Her books have been translated into thirty-six languages and tow are in development for film.

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Book prize and longlisted for the Man Booker Prize. Rachel was awarded the Specsavers national Book Awards ‘New Writer of the Year’ in December 2012 and shortlisted for the ‘UK Author of the Year’ 2014. Rachel was a Costa prize judge and University Big Read author in 2019.

She has also written over twenty original afternoon plays and adaptions of the classics for the BBC Radio 4, including all the Bronte novels. She moved to writing after a long career as an actor, performing leading roles for the RSC, the National Theatre and Cheek by Jowl. She lives with her family in Gloucestershire.

Never Forget

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Author: Michel Bussi

Publisher: Weidenfield & Nicolson

Available: In Hardback on 9th July, eBook and audiobook

Thank you to Alex Layt for my gifted copy and for having me on the blog tour for this book. My review is based on my experience of the book and any thoughts expressed here are solely mine alone.

Book Description:

Before

A Man running along a remote cliff top path on an icy-cold February morning.

A woman standing on the cliff’s edge

A red scarf on the ground between them.

After

The man is along on the cliff – adrenaline pumping through his veins.

The woman is on the beach below – dead

The red scarf is on the beach – beautifully (and impossibly) wrapped around the woman’s broken neck

What Happened?

Two lives colliding by chance

Or a revenge decades in the making

My Thoughts:

Never Forget is a book I will certainly never forget, nor would I wish to. It is an exceptional read and there are not enough superlative adjectives in my vocabulary to sing its praises highly enough.

Whatever other wonderful books you have on your TBL (to buy list). This one needs to be at the top, no fan of crime novels should be without it.

The book opens with a formal letter documenting the discovery of 3 skeletons after a costal landslide, the bodies are unidentifiable with no clothing, possessions or forms of ID found with them. The author of the letter is requesting urgent assistance in identifying the bodies.

Our main protagonist is Jamal Salaoui, Arab, Muslim, amputated left leg, runner, works in at therapy centre/mental asylum.

We first meet Jamal he is on his morning run along a costal path, when he spots a red scarf caught on a fence post, he retrieves it and continues on his way until he comes across a girl on the cliff edge wearing a torn evening dress, make up smeared across her face, obviously distressed. Jamal tries to engage with her and encourage her away from the edge, he goes as far as to get her to hold the end of the scarf but then she jumps…

Two witnesses on the beach see her fall/land, they all end up by her body on the beach and the police are called. A preliminary assessment is made, the girl was raped (no underwear and bruising) torn dress, facts apparent,  she was strangled, her skins is covered in salt (sea water) but her clothes are dry!

And the red scarf has ended up wound around her neck as if she had draped it there…how is this possible?

Jamal continues on his run, trying to absorb what he has witnessed. On arrival back at his hotel/B&B and he is receives a package containing press cuttings and information referring to the death/suicide/murder of 19 year old woman, except this woman died 10 years ago. The details of her death were eerily similar, she was attacked in the same way and was strangled with a red Burberry cashmere scarf, could there be a link between the two deaths?

Two similar girls, who died in near identical circumstances and why is someone sending information to Jamal, are they warning him or threatening him? The plot thickens as they say, a dawning realisation hits him while in the police station to provide his witness statement. The police do not believe he is an innocent bystander to this current event! Jamal is more than a little uneasy. His sparks of concern are pushed aside when he meets, Mona Salinas who is also at the police station. She waiting to get some paperwork rubber stamped so she can collect pebbles (relates to Silica) she is Post-doctoral fellow in experimental Chemistry and pebbles on this French coastline are the best quality in the world! Jamal and Mona, flirt and it seems they have chemistry too!

Further mysterious packages keep arriving for Jamal,  providing details and documents relating to the deaths of the two girls, only now it seems there is also third murdered girl, all the clues seem to suggest a serial killer! During his second interview with the police, the tide turns and not in his favour. He is in the frame, his DNA/finger prints are on the dead girl! How is this possible? Jamal reacts violently to the accusation and flees! I confess I considered the possibility that maybe, just maybe Jamal was not the innocent bystander he seems…

And it is at this stage of the book, its true genius starts to be revealed, the drama, the tension is building,  nothing and nobody are what they seem! Jamal is about to fall head first down the proverbial rabbit hole!

Are you intrigued, I hope so! Nothing I had read up to this point could prepare me for what happens next, what unfolds, or the concept of ‘The prisoner’s dilemma’ nor the lengths some people will go to in order to exact revenge! How I would love to provide you with more juicy details but to do so would ruin the delicious vortex of deviant deception you are about to experience and climatic events that bring this stunning book to its end but then this review would be submerged in spoiler alerts!

What I will reveal is that the cadence and tempo of this book combined with its magnificent plot twists are simply stratospheric. This is a bit of an odd comparison but the construction of this tale for me, is reminiscent of the mesmerising lyricism of Thomas Hardy’s environmental descriptions but they are married to the darkly vivid, heart stopping and enthralling compulsion of Stieg Larson’s Girl with a Dragon Tattoo series.

This book is a tour de force of psychological crime fiction and you absolutely need to read it…immediately. Literally run to the nearest bookshop and buy a copy and then please, please tell me what you think because I am dying to discuss the finer nuances of this story with you all! I am now off to see if I can find more of Mr Bussi’s books because my reading life will not be complete without them!

About the Author

Michel Bussi is the author of many bestselling novels, including After the Crash, Black Water Lilies, Don’t Let Go and Time is a Killer.

He is one of the most successful French authors of all time, with millions of copies sold internationally and over a quarter of a million copies in the UK alone.

never forget blog tour

NEON

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Author: GS Locke

Publisher: Orion Fiction

Available now: Paperback, eBook and audio

Thank you to Kate Morton and Orion Fiction for my gifted copy and for having me on the blog tour for this book. My review is based on my experience of the book and any thoughts expressed here are solely mine alone.

Book Description:

Killing Eve meets Jo Nesbo’s The Snowman in this character-led crime thriller, in which a suicidal detective and a desperate hit woman hunt a Neon-obsessed serial killer

A detective desperate for revenge. A Hit woman with one last job. A killer both on his list.

What follows is a thrilling game of cat & mouse between detective, assassin and serial killer. But when Jackson discovers it’s not a coincidence that their paths have crossed, he begins to question who the real target has been all along…

My Thoughts

Neon is as vivid and electric a book as its title implies, as soon as I saw the blurb for this book, I knew it would be right up my alley. I devour crime novels and this book is certainly entitled to a place in my library.

GS Locke, writes in direct, pithy and pacey manner and which makes for compelling reading, especially when coupled with a great plot and protagonists who are flawed, relentless and engaging and a killer who you really want them to catch!

DCI Matt Jackson the lead detective on the trail of the Neon serial killer, until that killer murder’s his wife Polly and life as he knows it unravels. Initially he is considered the primary suspect in his wife’s death and his clash with superiors, leading to him being suspended. Despite being cut off from the formal routes to catch a killer. He takes matters into his own hands, in order to stem the wave of grief and despair at the loss of his beloved wife.

Suicidal, enraged and exhausted, he arranges his own death. Enter the enigma that is Iris Palmer – hit woman, whose job it is to kill DCI Matt Jackson. Iris has issues of her own but the full extent of them remains elusive for most of the book, she is lone wolf, a professional killer, always prepared and works for the big hitters of the midlands crime underworld and yet only a big payday can help her now and why she needs the money, won’t be what you expect!

Their individual obsessions and desperation, leads to an awkward alliance between police man and a hit woman, who strike a deal and refocus their attentions on identifying and seeking vengeance on Neon, rather than submitting him to the traditional civic justice. Neon is serial killer with a penchant for turning his victims into focal points in neon illuminated works of art, always publically displayed for maximum horrifying impact. His kills are leading the police in a merry macabre dance. By telling the story from the perspectives of Jackson/Palmer and Neon as a reader are given insight into who the killer is, what motivates him and what his end game might be where as Jackson and Palmer can only follow his twisted trail and their assumptions could lead them astray, nothing is straight forward.

It is a pleasure for me, when reading a crime novel such as this one, to see the unexpected occur but never be left with elements of the story unexplained. This plot is detailed and well-crafted and there are subtle but tasty clues for a reader to follow. Locke provides a discerning and fascinating look at the world of neon art, which certainly gives this killer a unique approach to murder, and rounds out the villain as devious narcissist and a master of control and misdirection.

The first half of the book, very much establishes the  environment and back ground of each of the main protagonists and establishes links to the peripheral characters, which in turn neatly sets up the second half of the book, for the hunt. But who is hunting who and who will get caught in this web of revenge and deception, who will survive the illuminating show down!  I have no intention of revealing those secrets here, so you will have to read the book and find out for yourselves. There are some nifty little twists in this tale and it certainly didn’t end where I assumed it would, which made me nod and smile in appreciation. Reading this book was an excellent way to spend an afternoon, I think you might agree.

About the Author

GS Locke is a British crime writer whose routes lie in the Black country and an amateur classical pianist.

neon [2020] blog tour

Broken Flowers

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Author: Kate McQuaile

Publisher: Quercus Books

Out now: in Paperback and eBook

Thank you to Katya Ellis and Quercus Books for my gifted copy and for having me on the blog tour for this book. My review is based on my experience of the book and any thoughts expressed here are solely mine alone.

Book Description:

Your Mother. The one person you trust. What if you are wrong?

Widowed Nan is on her way to her beloved son’s wedding. She should be excited but she is dreading her return to Paradise Place – a tiny part of Notting Hill that she hasn’t dared set foot in for decades. Nan had arrived there as young girl in the late seventies, desperate for freedom and a career as an artist. But, drawn into a dark obsession that spun out of control, Nan was forced to flee.

And while the only thing seemly connecting her son’s wedding and her old secret life is Paradise Place. Nan quickly gets the impression that someone is watching her every move…someone she thought was dead.

My Thoughts

This book opens in dramatic fashion with a murder…a man violently bludgeoned…which as a reader leaves you both startled and intrigued, that could of course just be my reaction. The narrator’s voice isn’t malicious or vengeful more resigned and scared. Immediately, I though, well now what, as now I have a fairly good idea of ‘who done it’…so to speak…at least I thought I did…

This tale is one of obsession, secrets, lies and skewed perception and when these elements collide…BOOM! When I started reading this story, I was not convinced I would LOVE this book. I am annoyingly perceptive when it comes to figuring out plots within crime novels and I was convinced that I knew exactly where this story was going to go and casually assumed it was going to be an enjoyable but mildly predictable read.

Ha…I was totally and utterly wrong! I can’t impress on you enough fellow bookophiles, to stop what you are doing and go and get this book. You need to read this book, it is a complete firework…the sublime tension, the intriguing characters, the glorious plot, light the fuse and wait for the show. I am sitting here desperately trying to figure out how not to give anything away…it is psychological crime novel genius!

The story is told via two timelines, of Now and Then, with now being current and the Then being 40 years ago, late 1970s Notting hill, London.

We meet our main protagonist Nan in the first instance in the Now…she is grieving, careworn, burdened and fearful. She is travelling to London to attend her estranged son’s wedding, quite uncertain as to why she has been invited to attend the nuptials as she has not spoken to her son for over 2 years. Ever since the death of his father and a subsequent argument between them on the day of his funeral, the details of what transpired are unclear.

This journey is in complete contrast her first visit to London 40 years previously and her trepidation is only compounded when on her first night back, she invited to meet her son’s finance and her parents for dinner. Nan is returned to Paradise Place…the scene she fled from and never wanted to return to, at any cost, including her relationship with her son.

We then meet the, ‘THEN’  Nan who at 18 was craving change and excitement, young, naïve, talented. She came from a small town in the north of England, to study a foundation year at Art College. This dream is not approved of by her parents, who are  religious, northern, hard working folk with traditional expectations and little comprehension of why their daughter doesn’t want to be a secretary earn some money, get married and settle down. The very idea of this life is stultifying to Nan, fortunately her Art teacher steps in and offers to pay for Nan’s foundation year and with some persuasion her parents reluctantly agree and Nan’s London adventure starts with her father dropping her at a Catholic boarding house for women!

Nan at 18, is bambiesque and after a few weeks in her new London life, she becomes a little more worldly wise and the change and excitement she hopes for is a bit more jaded until one evening she meets Eddie Martin, a barman in The Rising Sun, her local pub.  They flirt and the seedlings of a possible new romance are sown. This interaction also draws her further away from her boyfriend from back home, the reliable and steadfast Chris, who she has been with since they were 15 and who Nan believes she is ready to leave behind but she won’t quite let him go. Yet in the Now, Chris is the husband she has lost in a tragic accident!

Got you hooked now, haven’t I and I can’t possibly say anymore on this subject.

This tale revolves around Paradise Place and the entire cast of characters has a connection to the house, which is the home of Hugo Bennett, who young Nan views as handsome, wealthy, cultured and educated. He completely different from the other men in her life, she is instantly infatuated with him. I read him in a very different way, to me, he is predatory, manipulative and lazily arrogant. He reminds me of the big bad wolf in the red riding hood fairy tale! What you see, is not what you get!

Eddie (the barman) who is overly keen on Nan, already knows Hugo and rents a room from him. Eddie introduces Nan to Hugo as a prospective tenant and with the desperate hope if Nan is close at hand, she must fall for his charms. In order to escape the confines of the Catholic boarding house will all its rules, Nan jumps at the chance to escape this environment and having met Hugo, wants to be closer to him, despite his blasé reticence towards her…well on the face of it anyhow!!! Remember what I said about skewed perspectives and we all know that there are always two sides to every story, a cliché though this might be…remember it!

Nan’s return to London despite the passing of time,  is fraught, her secret past all-consuming and now small subtly sinister things start to happen, her son’s mysterious benefactor has a portrait of her on his wall, red roses are sent to her hotel, silent phone calls…Yet still Nan cannot find it within herself to confide in her son and it is this failure that continues to alienate them! Nan’s refusal to elucidate, is just so gloriously frustrating, you almost want to shout at Nan yourself…

Throughout this book, my understanding of the truth was constantly blurred, as a reader the clues and suggestions lead you in a certain direction and just when you are comfortable with what you think you know about the characters, this perceived truth is completely changed.

Each character in this story has their own understanding of a version of the events that happened in the past and these assumptions colour the actions and reactions of the characters in the present. The supporting cast are sucked into the main protagonists’ vortex of obsession, secrets and lies. Now you may think I being pretty vague about how the plot develops and how the truth is revealed, and how this book catapult’s to its magnificent conclusion. This is entirely deliberate on my part  because I want you to have the same jaw dropping experience I did!

I consumed this book in 3 hours flat on Monday and I have been thinking about it ever since and there is only one other book that has left me feeling like this and that is BA Paris’ extraordinary novel – Behind Closed Doors…I say no more but I cannot stress how much I want you to read this book…I LOVED it

About the Author

Kate McQuaile’s debut novel, What She Never Told Me, was published by Quercus in March 2016. Her second novel, Without A Word, was released in October 2017. Broken Flowers was published, also by Quercus, in April 2020.

Born in Drogheda on Ireland’s east coast, the setting for much of What She Never Told Me, Kate lives in London, where she worked as a journalist for many years. She has received several international journalism awards for her energy coverage.

broken flowers blog tour poster

 

The Collector by John Maher

the collector john maher

Author: John Maher

Purchase Links:

Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/387vb5n

Amazon US: https://amzn.to/2VtLuEv

Publishing Information:

Published by Inkubator Books on 5th July 2020

Thank you

dpbt 2

Welcome to the Damppebbles blog tour and my turn for telling you all about  this amazing new book, which is out tomorrow. My review is based on my experience of the book and any thoughts expressed here are solely mine alone.

Thank you to Emma Welton, Inkubator and John Maher for my ecopy of this novel.

Book Details:

They say human life is the most precious thing. The Collector doesn’t agree.

When world renowned archaeologist Philip Carlton suddenly and unexpectedly commits suicide, the police are called to investigate. Heading up the investigation is Detective Lucy O’Hara, a Forensic Linguist – and she immediately sees something is wrong with the suicide note. In her gut, she knows this was cold-blooded murder.

Battling sceptical superiors and the Irish establishment, Lucy digs for the truth and begins to uncover a shadowy trade in ancient artefacts led by a mysterious figure known only as ‘The Collector’.

As Lucy works to uncover his identity, she soon realises she is up against a ruthless mastermind who is systematically eliminating anyone who might lead her to him. But Lucy won’t give up and soon The Collector turns his attention to her…

The Collector – the first in a gripping new series featuring Detective Lucy O’Hara.

My Thoughts

Last Saturday morning, I woke up early, way too early, so I made frothy coffee and snuggled up on my sofa with this book and I was hooked and only moved from my cosy spot to make more coffee and several bacon rolls..

The Collector opens with ailing Professor Philip Carlton on the cusp of revealing a long held secret, a specialist in the Boyne Valley Civilisation & early Celtic and pre-Celtic Ireland, he is at his temporary office located at a newly discovered henge site, it late, when he receives an unexpected visitor.

Enter Detective Lucy O’Hara, mother to Saoirse, ‘itinerate daughter of a former Senior Irish Ambassador to England, France, German & Egypt’. Lucy is a forensic linguist and lives in Ireland, as the book starts, she is sailing with her daughter enjoying a day out, when she receives a call from Superintendent George Reece, her boss. Asking her to attend a potentially suspicious death…

And so begins our adventure, the story is narrated from the points of view of both hero and villains. Every character has a detailed and distinct voice and a compelling backstory, our villain, is an educated man in his 70s, handy with a rifle, he is a suspicious, intolerant, secretive and with an greed for historical artefacts and known only as…The Collector

Lucy O’Hara our protagonist is whip-smart but has a tumulus past, her burgeoning career has been overshadowed by negative fallout from ‘the Bateman’ incident and from reoccurring memories of dreadful childhood trauma. Our first victim (yes there are more than one) is/ are all connected in some way to the Carlton family (who are compared to the infamous US Kennedy family) specifically the supposed curse that seems to effect both families and result in their unexplained and sudden demise.

The detailed & clever plot unfurls, the death of Philip Carlton  is considered to be a suicide, due to the manner of his death and a note left behind. But it is the suicide note that peaks Lucy’s professional linguistic interest, she doesn’t buy the suicide note. The language, lexis, syntax and style for a Professor is wrong/off and she is not convinced that it reads like something an academic would pen and it is this knowledge of linguistics that becomes a subtle yet dominant element of the story and how both the nuances of the spoken and written language can reveal vital clues. This component makes the story distinct from other crime novels I have previously enjoyed.

Personally, the sign of a great crime novel is all in the details: the depth of characters stories, the scope, span and development of the plot and the skill the author has in directing the reader towards an idea before unearthing further concepts or clues to confirm or deny that seeded thought.

This is a pacy, pithy and tension packed tale, it can be brutal on occasion but only to enhance the nefarious plot of our villain. Being able to ‘see’ the story from the villain’s perspective, ramped up the tempo of this book, knowing what was in store for our heroine, resulted in me spending considerable time warning my kindle of pending disaster not that these entreaties did an iota of good obviously. Lucy’s insight and determination, places her in The Collector’s cross hairs, more pieces of the puzzle slot into place, what is The Kilowatt Investigation, how far does the corruption reach…and oh so much more…but you will have to read it for yourself to find out.

As the story reaches its climax, all the pieces of this crime puzzle are uncovered and as the end game plays out… the sense of  awe and relief for us readers is palpable.  I tell you any more on this matter, I will be in need of a big spoiler alert banner on this review….

In case I haven’t made it clear, I loved this book and I couldn’t put it down. I only did so because I needed to recharge my kindle! I predict that Lucy O’Hara will become a firm favourite with many crime readers myself included. Author John Maher describes her at one point ‘Annie Oakley with a PhD’ which is eminently fitting as she is a shrewd, intrepid and memorable heroine. The ingredients of this book is in my opinion are reminiscent of MW Craven’s outstanding Poe & Tilly series, so if you loved those books, I believe this book is very much for you. Now all I have to do is await book 2…

About the Author:  John Maher

john maher

John Maher has published five novels and a collection of short stories. He has won national awards for radio play and short story with RTE in Ireland. His novel, The Luck Penny, was shortlisted for debut novel on BBC Radio 5.

A former teacher and lecturer, he holds a PhD from the School of Oriental and African Studies (London).

He lives in a small Irish village, between the Atlantic and the Irish Sea, from which he steals away, from time to time, to visit the world outside the island.

THE COLLECTOR will be his first novel published with Inkubator Books.

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COVER REVEAL – Not the Deaths Imagined by Anne Pettigrew

ntdi cover

I am very excited to be able to reveal the glorious cover for the new book by Annie Pettigrew. I will be part of the Damppebbles blog tour for this exciting read, so keep your eyes peeled my lovely bookophiles.

Below is a small taste of what you could be reading very soon and if you want to dive in and pre-order, personally I think you should. I am currently engrossed in Anne’s first book, Not the Life Imagined and I am hooked. Time to make your to be read lists just a little bit longer.

Book Details:

Ringwood Publishing

Paperback – 978-1-901514-77-3

Ebook – 978-1-901514-78-0

Book length – 362pp

Publication date – 1st August 2020

Pre-order Links:

Ringwood Publishing: https://bit.ly/2B0I0C2

Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/31eOqIC

Amazon US: https://amzn.to/2B4gMuk

About the Book

In a leafy Glasgow suburb, Dr Beth Semple is busy juggling motherhood and full-time GP work in the 90s NHS. But her life becomes even more problematic when she notices some odd deaths in her neighbourhood. Though Beth believes the stories don’t add up, the authorities remain stubbornly unconvinced.

Soon, Beth’s professional reputation is challenged. There follows a chilling campaign of harassment and she finds her professional reputation – and family – are put at risk.

Is a charming local GP actually a serial killer? Can Beth piece together the jigsaw of perplexing fatalities and perhaps save lives? And as events accelerate towards a dramatic conclusion, will the police intervene in time?

From the author of Not the Life Imagined, this slow-burning tartan noir novel from a Bloody Scotland Crime Spotlight author follows Beth on another quest for justice. Reflecting Pettigrew’s own medical expertise, Not The Deaths Imagined re-affirms the benefits of growing up in a loving family and the need for friends in hard times, while offering insight into the twisted development of a psychopathic mind.

About the Author

anne pettigrew

About Anne Pettigrew

Glasgow-born, 31 years a Greenock GP, graduate of University of Glasgow (Medicine 1974) and Oxford (MSc Medical Anthropology 2004). Worked also in psychiatry, women’s health, and  journalism (Herald, Pulse, Doctor, Channel 4). In retirement took Creative Writing tuition at Glasgow University aiming to pen novels about women doctors (rare in literature except as pathologists or in Mills & Boon). Runner-up in SAW Constable Award 2018, chosen as a 2019 Bloody Scotland Crime Spotlight Author – ‘one to watch.’ Member of several writers’ groups and a short story competition winner, she lives in Ayrshire and enjoys good books, good wine, and good company.

Social Media

Twitter: https://twitter.com/pettigrew_anne @pettigrew_anne

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/annepettigrewauthor/

Website: http://www.annepettigrew.co.uk/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/anne.pettigrew.author/

Blog: https://annepettigrew.literaryglobe.com/ & http://www.annepettigrew.co.uk/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Crossing in Time by DL Orton

crossing in time

 

Book One in the Between Two Evils Series

This my first blog tour with The Write Reads and I wanted to say a huge thank to Dave for forgiving me unreservedly for calling him Dan, which is not his name! I did this when sending a rather panicked email thinking I had missed my spot for this review. Thank you for being so lovely to a new blogger and thank you for my gifted copy of the book.

Book Details:

Audiobook narration: Noah Michael Levine & Erin de Ward

Publication Date: April 2015

Publisher: Rocky Mountain Press

Book Description – Amazon

When offered a one-way trip to the past, Iz sacrifices everything for a chance to change her dystopian future—and see her murdered lover one last time.

After a perilous journey through a black hole, she wakes up on a tropical beach, buck naked and mortally wounded—but twenty years younger! With only hours to live, she must convince an enraptured but sceptical twenty-something guy to fix their future relationship and thereby save the planet (no one is quite sure why.)

But it’s easier said than done, as success means losing him to a brainy, smart-mouthed bombshell (her younger self), and that’s a heartbreaker, save the world or not.

Across the infinite expanse of space and time, love endures…

(Unfortunately, it’s not going to be enough.)

FALL INTO THIS EDGY, action-packed, darkly comedic, dystopian love story, and be prepared to encounter a finicky time machine, a mysterious seashell, and a very clever dog (some sex, some swearing, some violence, but no vampires and absolutely no ditzes.)

My Thoughts:

There is/ was a distinct sense of the surreal when I started to read/listen to this book. It is an odd sensation to be reading a work of fiction that includes a global pandemic that is killing people. When our current reality is exactly this…we are all locked down in our homes because of a global virus that is killing people, my mind is somewhat blown by the concept.

I confess, it has been a long time since I ventured into the pages of a science fiction/ romance novel and I forgot how inclusive a genre it is and this book would suit  any reader and despite the oddly similar circumstances between fiction and reality at this present time. This story offers exquisite escapism, which I loved.

The book begins with Iz in post-apocalyptic environment, trading spices for a gun and bullets…food is short and people are dead and dying.

We flash back several months,  Iz & Diego our main characters,  rekindle their acquaintance over a lost shoe, which leads to the first of many conversations in this story,  filled with quick repartee, a common and amusing trait throughout this book. This first meeting leads to our protagonists having dinner date, which leads to a kitten, a series of explosion in down town Denver and a rapid descent towards the end of the world…not the usual direction for a story to take after a semi-romantic dinner…but that idea in itself made me smile.

After Diego rescues Iz from their disaster filled dinner date (trying not to spoil anything here)…their relationship hots up (and yes it does get rather steamy) and for most books at this point the story will leads us via a few hiccups to the point where our characters probably go on to live happily ever after…not a chance here!

Recovering from her injuries…we meet her ex-husband (avaricious creep and as a reader you really want to start booing when he appears) and through his character, we learn what Iz’s area of scientific speciality is (genetics) & that Diego is Software whizz. Their chosen careers will indeed have an impact on this tale…but why is not revealed to us.

The title of this book is Crossing in Time and this concept is a key element of the story and I confess I did get a bit lost as to which character was where and at what point in time, past, future or present but what was abundantly clear and made my heart a little sad, was our lovers were torn apart and in different times. As readers we are given hope that they might be reunited. When Iz is given the chance to return to Diego, although it will be 20 years before this time and he won’t know her then as he does now, but this journey is in order to change the actions they both take after the break down of their relationship the first time, which will have a lasting impact on the future (it is not clear why)…and yes there is even a secret government mountain bunker (think Area 51 folks) and a time machine!

Despite my not having read a book like this for a long while, the story and its characters were addictive, heart breaking in parts and overall joy to listen to and be immersed in. I can’t wait to see what happens in book 2.

About the Author

DL Orton, The bestselling author of the Between Two Evils series, lives in the foothills of the Rockies where she and her husband are raising three boys, a golden retriever, two Siberian cats and an extremely long-lived Triops.

In her spare time, she is building a time machine so that someone can go back and do the laundry.

Website: http://www.DLOrton.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Light Keeper by Cole Moreton

The Light Keeper Paper Back Cover

Book Details:

Published by: Marylebone House Books

Out in Hardback, Paperback and eBook from all good bookshops and online sellers.

Thank you to Rhoda Hardie for my gifted copy.

Book Description:

Sarah Stands on the brink, arms open wide as if to let the wind carry her away.

She has come to the high cliffs to be alone, to face the truth about her life, to work out what to do.Her partner Jack is desperate to find her before it is too late. But Sarah does not want to be found. She has run away to be alone, to face a moment of truth that will mean life or death.

And someone else is seeking answers up here on the high cliffs near Beachy Head, where the sea birds soar: a man known only as the Keeper, living in an old light house right on the cusp of a four-hundred foot drop. He is also discovering that love sometimes takes you to the edge…

Cole Moreton’s debut is a powerful, evocative exploration of grief and longing, heartache and infertility, lost dreams and long-hidden secrets and life and death.

My Thoughts

“The stories we tell define us, so do the ones we do not tell and the ones we never finish”… this line does not appear early in the book, but it resonated with me and I think the ethos of these words defines this novel. This book revolves around the stories or lives of  3 main characters, perhaps this sounds like a rather obvious thing to write, especially I am reviewing a book! But please bear with me as I explain or try to…

Young married couple Sarah & Jack,  both have their own individual, complicated, wounded and relatable back stories, which the author explores in order to establish, the reason the current situation they are in has occurred, an unopened letter and an unacknowledged existence are key factors.

It is clear from the opening chapters of the story, Sarah has left, has run away from her life and husband in London and fled to the south coast. To a coastal area of the UK that has the unfortunate reputation for being the suicide capital of England. I immediately found myself thinking,  is this chaotic flight of Sarah’s by design or by accident?   My assumption or conclusions to my own questions caused a sensation in the pit of my stomach, a sense of apprehension that started to unfurl. Especially as the book opens with her standing on a cliff edge and as a reader you think you have this story all worked out, that you know where this story is going to travel….but trust me you haven’t, because I did exactly the same thing.

Consider instead, what has caused her to flee…and that as they say is the game changer…I will provide a small clue, the couple have been trying for a baby and have resorted to using the expensive wonder that is IVF but as miraculous as this medical technique is, there are no guarantees, there is always an end to the experience…now remember the line I quoted at the beginning about stories defining us, well that concept is certainly applicable to this element of the book…I shall leave you explore this further for yourselves.

The other character known for most of the book as The Keeper, as he lives in a light house at the top of the cliffs. He is the keeper of a light house without a light, this is intended literally but also in terms of the dominating emotion of The Keeper, his light has gone, it has been destroyed, taken away. We glean details of his life, as a former war correspondent and the events that led him to this point, eventually we find out his name (but I consider that revelation a spoiler, so I shall say no more)…and slowly along side  Jack & Sarah’s story, his tragedy is fully revealed to the reader although throughout the reader’s interaction with this character, you are painfully aware that the worst thing has happened to him…but what those exact circumstances are, comes in a slow boil,  and I promise, it is well worth reading on for.

For over half the book, the lives of our protagonists run parallel until both Jack and Sarah separately end up at the light house and meet the Keeper. Their interactions with him couldn’t be more different, Jack’s interaction with the Keeper is aggressive, violent and panicked. While Sarah, breaks-in to the Keeper’s lighthouse home and is found asleep by him and yet their meeting is no less dramatic or emotionally visceral. At this point, story is  building to its climax and I found my presumption regarding the characters, their dramatic actions and myriad of emotions was completely flawed, and the route I assumed the book would take was dispelled, replaced instead with sense of awe at the story’s trajectory.

As the story spirals to its ending, the pace and atmosphere of the prose reminded me of being caught in a storm, albeit a literary one, with a maelstrom of words, a plot that is intense and riveting and just when you think the worst outcome will occur…there is salvation and resolution of a sort.  I almost clapped at the end of the book in relief/surprise/exhaustion and despite the often melancholy tones of the story,  the final lines of the book offer a shard of optimism.

Cole Moreston’s style of expression reminds me very much of Jon McGregor’s book Reservoir 13, both books have a melodic mournful quality,  the literary rhythms of the writing echo the subject of grief that is at the core of this book, grief for a life not fully lived, grief for decisions beyond our control, grief for a life not yet conceived, grief for what could or should have been….

Reading this story is not an easy emotional journey but it is an exceptional one. This book is a tornado of words, emotions, thoughts and fears captured on the page. It was only on reflection and when writing down my reactions for this review,  I realised how incredible a read this book truly was/is…definitely put this one on your to purchase list this month, you will not be disappointed.

 

About the Author

cole 3

Cole Moreton is an award-winning writer and broadcaster who makes documentaries for BBC Radio 4 and wash named Interviewer of the Year for his work with the mail on Sunday. He also writes for other publications including The Guardian and The Telegraph. Cole lives near Beachy Head on the south coast of England, the real-life setting for his debut novel The Light Keeper. Cole is available for interview, to write articles and speak at events linked to this rich multi-layered literary tour de force.

 

 

 

 

 

The Fallen Librarian

img_5538Welcome bookophiles to my new adventure, I confess to being scared witless about attempting to blog about my grand passion, books

For over 20 years (yes I really am that old) I have been a Librarian, information professional, Knowledge Navigator.  I was a Legal & Business Librarian in the city of London and I moved sideways in to being a trainer, teaching lawyers how to locate information and how to ulitilse the vast number of databases available.  In 2013 I was made redundant from this role, this was the 4th time as a Librarian that I lost my job, hence the reason, I am calling my blog, The Fallen Librarian…

I have always love books and reading, since my dad started reading to me & my sister when I was 5 years old, The slug & the caterpiller was a firm favourite and when we were older moving on to Little Women (we all cried over that one). I think I was 8 when I really started to read on my own and I devoured Enid Blyton and fell in love with Anne of Green Gables (a red headed heroine) and I wanted to be brave and intrepid like Laura Ingalls Wilder.

I am really lucky because I read really fast, about 100 -150 pages an hour, it is my secret superpower and the flipside to my inability to write a sentence containing punctuation (so you may have to bear with me on that front). At 15 it was discovered that I was dyslexic (really helpful when I was a year into my GCSEs) Now it is a common misconception that ALL dyslexics struggle with reading, because I don’t. I struggle with numbers especially sequences (so remembering the pin number to my current account has been a life long struggle). I also struggle to write, part of this is fear, frustration and panic as writing takes me a long time and then I forget punctuation and I can’t differenciate vowel sounds either. Oh and I can’t always read correctly what I’ve written, so if you can forgive me for the errors I am likely to make. Then I will continue…

At the begining of 2019 I had my Alice in Wonderland moment, I found or fell into book twitter and found my tribe. Other people who loved books, reading them, talking about them, spreading the book love…I slowly joined in…and now I seem to have over 3000 followers on twitter…which is astonishing to me.

2020 came around quickly, so this year I decided that I would try and blog, it would be my challenge and see if I could conquer my fears…or at least have some fun trying, as writting has never been fun for me but this year it might be, no pressure. Just telling you what I enjoyed and why.