Do No Harm by Lucy V. Hay @LucyVHayAuthor @OrendaBooks @annecater #blogtour #RandomThingsTours #DoNoHarm

Today, I’m delighted to join the blog tour for Do No Harm by Lucy V. Hay! My thanks to Karen Sullivan at Orenda for the review copy and to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for the invitation to join!

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Author : Lucy V. Hay
Title : Do No Harm
Pages : 300
Publisher : Orenda Books
Publication date : June 30, 2018 (ebook) | July 20, 2018 (UK Paperback)

aboutthebook

After leaving her marriage to jealous, possessive oncologist Maxwell, Lily and her six-year-old son have a second chance at happiness with teacher Sebastian. Kind but vulnerable, Sebastian is the polar opposite of Maxwell, and the perfect match for Lily.

After a whirlwind romance, they marry, and that’s when things start to go wrong. Maxwell returns to the scene, determined to win back his family, and events soon spiral out of control. Lily and Sebastian find themselves not only fighting for their relationship, but also their lives.

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Ah, newly wedded bliss. Joys of joys and all that. Or not, as Sebastian and Lily will find out soon enough.

Lily’s first marriage to successful oncologist, Maxwell, was a bit of a nightmare. But now Lily has found love again with Sebastian, who is the polar opposite of her first husband. After a whirlwind romance, we meet Sebastian and Lily on their wedding day but little do they know, there is trouble ahead.

Just because Lily is now marrying someone else, that doesn’t mean Maxwell’s obsessive and controlling behaviour has come to an end. He’s decided he wants his family back and he’ll do whatever it takes to make that happen.

The chapters alternate between Sebastian and Lily, giving the reader glimpses into what could possibly be going on while the characters remain clueless. While I was sometimes a little frustrated at their decisions and behaviour, it somehow all felt quite realistic and believable. It was fascinating to see how quickly trust, one of the foundations of a relationship, is blown to smithereens.

Now, I did figure out the “who”, but it didn’t ruin the reading experience for me one bit because I couldn’t at all predict their end game and there were still plenty of other twists to entertain me. Lucy Hay knows how to keep a reader hooked with intriguing characters and a scenario that will make you flip the pages faster as the tension builds up. And she most definitely knows how to set a scene, which always allows me to see things play out right in front of my eyes as if I was watching it on a screen.

Do No Harm is a devilish tale of manipulation and possessiveness with a disturbed and twisted individual calling the shots. Once again, Lucy Hay delivers a captivating, suspenseful and addictive page-turner that is sure to mess with your head!

Do No Harm is available to buy!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Bookdepository | Kobo | Wordery | Goodreads

abouttheauthor

Lucy V. Hay is a novelist, script editor and blogger who helps writers via her Bang2write consultancy. She is the associate producer of Brit Thrillers Deviation (2012) and Assassin(2015), both starring Danny Dyer. Lucy is also head reader for the London Screenwriters’ Festival and has written two non-fiction books, Writing & Selling Thriller Screenplays, plus its follow-up Drama Screenplays. Her critically acclaimed debut thriller The Other Twin was published in 2017.

Author links : Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

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The Emperor of Shoes by Spencer Wise @SpencerWise10 @annecater @noexitpress #blogtour #RandomThingsTours

It’s a real pleasure to welcome you all to my stop on the blog tour for The Emperor of Shoes by Spencer Wise today! My thanks to Anne Cater for the invitation to join and to the publisher for my review copy!

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Author : Spencer Wise
Title : The Emperor of Shoes
Pages : 312
Publisher : No Exit Press
Publication date : July 26, 2018

aboutthebook

Alex Cohen, a twenty-six-year-old Jewish Bostonian, is living in southern China, where his father runs their family-owned shoe factory. Alex reluctantly assumes the helm of the company, but as he explores the plant’s vast floors and assembly lines, he comes to a grim realization: employees are exploited, regulatory systems are corrupt and Alex’s own father is engaging in bribes to protect the bottom line. When Alex meets a seamstress named Ivy, his sympathies begin to shift. She is an embedded organizer of a pro-democratic Chinese party, secretly sowing dissonance among her fellow labourers. Will Alex remain loyal to his father and his heritage? Or will the sparks of revolution ignite?

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How often do we buy something that says Made in China? When we do, do we stop and wonder about the conditions of the people who made this pair of jeans, this phone in our hand or the shoes on our feet?

At twenty-six years of age, Alex Cohen hasn’t really been questioning these things either, despite the fact his father owns a shoe factory in China. It isn’t until Alex meets Ivy, a seamstress at the factory, that his sympathies begin to shift.

This novel is mainly centred around the relationship between Alex and his father. Alex is fiercely loyal and while he feels changes need to be made somehow, he’s wary of going against everything his father stands for. All he really wants is to make him happy and proud. But Fedor Cohen isn’t a particularly likeable character most of the time. He doesn’t care one iota for his workers, the conditions they work and live in and would like nothing more than to see his son follow in his footsteps. Yet, despite their relationship being quite complicated, it’s also rather wonderful. There’s mutual respect and also a lovely dose of humour.

And then there’s Alex’s relationship with Ivy. Ivy was present at the historical and unforgettable student protests at Tiananmen Square in 1989 and despite the devastating consequences, her desire for a democratic and better China hasn’t waned. Is she using Alex to push through changes, though?

I must admit I struggled with this novel a little bit at the start and wondered if literary fiction was perhaps a step too far for me. But at some point, things just clicked and I became quite engrossed. This is an incredibly thought-provoking novel that gives immense insight into the social issues that plague China and its population. The injustice and the corruption is really laid bare. But it’s not all doom and gloom as there are some quite funny moments too. Chinese proverbs do not translate well to English, for one, and there’s also an older factory worker who apparently learned the little knowledge of English she has through movies.

With wonderfully vivid descriptions of China and an eye-opening topic, this beautifully written and realistic novel about change in every shape or form is a powerful debut by Spencer Wise and I’m glad, that despite the initial struggle, I persevered.

Amazon US | Amazon UK | BookdepositoryKoboGoodreads

abouttheauthor

Spencer Wise is a graduate of Tufts University and the University of Texas at Austin. He recently won the 2017 Gulf Coast Prize in nonfiction. His work has appeared in Narrative magazine, Hayden’s Ferry Review, the Florida Review, and New Ohio Review. Wise teaches at Florida State University and lives in Tallahassee.

Author links : Twitter

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This Week in Books (July 18)

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Hosted by Lipsy Lost and Found, my Wednesday post gives you a taste of what I’m reading this week. A similar meme is run by Taking on a World of Words.

Last book I finished reading

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After leaving her marriage to jealous, possessive oncologist Maxwell, Lily and her six-year-old son have a second chance at happiness with teacher Sebastian. Kind but vulnerable, Sebastian is the polar opposite of Maxwell, and the perfect match for Lily.

After a whirlwind romance, they marry, and that’s when things start to go wrong. Maxwell returns to the scene, determined to win back his family, and events soon spiral out of control. Lily and Sebastian find themselves not only fighting for their relationship, but also their lives.

The book I’m currently reading

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We can’t choose the strangers we meet.

As the guests arrive at beautiful, remote Mitchell’s Inn, they’re all looking forward to a relaxing weekend deep in the forest, miles from anywhere. They watch their fellow guests with interest, from a polite distance.

Usually we can avoid the people who make us nervous, make us afraid.

With a violent storm raging, the group finds itself completely cut off from the outside world. Nobody can get in – or out. And then the first body is found . . . and the horrifying truth comes to light. There’s a killer among them – and nowhere to run.

Until we find ourselves in a situation we can’t escape. Trapped.

What I’m (probably) reading next

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When two young boys discover human bones buried beneath a tree in a trailer park, Detective Josie Quinn races to join her team at the scene. She used to play in those woods as a child, happier outside and away from her abusive mother, Belinda Rose.

Josie’s past crashes into her present when a rare dental condition confirms the bones belong to a teenage foster-child who was murdered thirty years ago. A girl named Belinda Rose…

Josie hasn’t seen her mother in years but, with an undeniable connection between her mother and the dead girl, does she dare try to track her down?

Just as Josie gets closer to uncovering a secret that will shatter her world forever, another body is uncovered. It’s suddenly clear that someone very close to Josie will stop at nothing to keep the truth buried forever.

As she battles the demons from her past, can Josie stop this killer before another precious life is taken?

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Anything here taking your fancy? What are you reading this week? Let me know!

Happy reading! xx

Pretty Ugly Lies by Pamela Crane @Bloodhoundbook #blogblitz #PrettyUglyLies

Welcome to my stop on the blog blitz for Pretty Ugly Lies by Pamela Crane! My thanks to Sarah Hardy at Bloodhound Books for the invitation to join! Author Pamela Crane visits the blog today and in true self-quiz style wonders :  what kind of psycho are you?

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Author : Pamela Crane
Title : Pretty Ugly Lies
Pages : 250
Publisher : Bloodhound Books
Publication date : July 18, 2018

aboutthebook

Jo’s idyllic life would make most people jealous. Until one day her daughter is abducted and the only way to find her is to unravel her dark past.

Ellie is a devoted wife… until she discovers the pain of betrayal. Now vengeance is all she can think about.

Party-girl Shayla knows how to hide her demons. But when she’s confronted with a life-shattering choice, it will cost her everything.

June knows suffering intimately, though the smile she wears keeps it hidden.

Soon the lives of these four women intersect and one of them is about to snap…

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Goodreads

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Self-Quiz: What Kind of Psycho Are You?
By Pamela Crane, USA Today best-selling thriller author

I love self-quizzes, don’t you? They used to be in every women’s magazine, and now you can find them all over Facebook. Well, here’s a new quiz for you.

How often have you asked yourself this question: What kind of psycho am I? If it’s been more than once, you may have bigger problems than I can help with.

I’m not referring to a Norman Bates kind of psycho. I’m talking about what kinds of struggles would cause you to freak out, to snap, to go psycho-chick. Maybe it’s the nitpicking husband who is impossible to please. Maybe it’s the piles of dirty laundry and sink full of dishes that never gets clean. Maybe it’s an endless barrage of fighting and whining from the kids. Maybe it’s your boss demanding too much. Maybe it’s your neighbor’s dog barking night and day. Maybe it’s financial strain that leaves your bank account empty…along with your food cupboard. Maybe it’s your newborn keeping you up all night with colicky cries, refusing to eat.

We all have triggers that bring out the “psycho” in us. I certainly do. When my autistic son goes into one of his meltdowns and the kids scream for no reason whatsoever, I start to lose my cool. Add to that a work deadline that keeps me up until two in the morning and a dog that makes a grunting noise beside my bed all night long, keeping me awake up until the kids come running into my bedroom the next morning demanding breakfast, watch out—because I’m about to snap.

Now that I’ve told you mine, what are yours?

My latest domestic thriller, PRETTY UGLY LIES, introduces four women loosely based on friends in my own life. They each have struggles…and one of these ladies is going to snap big-time. (Hint: yup, one of them gets murdery, so read the book to find out who!) They’re all great gals, but equally flawed in their own ways. Let’s meet the cast of the story and see what brings the psycho out in these everyday women…

Meet Jo, a mom whose life is perfect, husband gorgeous and successful, kids bright and obedient. She’s a gal who spends her days baking cookies and cuddling her kids at night after reading bedtime stories…and she actually enjoys every second of it. But when disaster strikes and she loses her child at the park one day, everything that made her strong crumbles. She’s unable to cope, and all sense of who she is shatters like broken glass. She can’t seem to recover from her upside-down world, and in the end, she turns on her family, her friends, herself. When everything goes exactly as planned, Jo is Wonder Woman. But when things spiral out of her control, she loses hope and can’t pull it together. Is this you?

Next we have Ellie, who has always struggled with motherhood. While she’s smart and capable, she gave up a thriving career to dote on the needs of her family as a stay-at-home mom—and gets little thanks in return. Her kids sense her lack of self-respect and prey on that, and her husband has long ago lost interest in her. While she’s brilliant and talented, she has lost who she is over the years. If only her kids would listen to her and her husband let her pursue her passion, she’d be happy. But as it is, she’s drowning in her misery and can’t seem to catch her breath. Can you relate to Ellie?

Shayla is more common that you might expect, a woman whose struggle with bipolar disorder has been buried for years. She’s energetic, fun, carefree…maybe a little too carefree. She’s got a great home life, but she bores easily and needs a dose of adrenaline to keep her happy—especially when she’s off her meds. That’s when straying outside her marriage starts to appeal…until her affair partner turns out crazier than she is. Now’s she’s in a pickle and her family turns against her. It’s the perfect recipe for sending her fragile mental state into a breakdown. Have you ever felt like Shayla?

June is a lot like me. Four kids, a special needs child among them, and some days feeling the weight of the world on her shoulders. She’s an empath and cares deeply for others, sometimes to her own disadvantage. But the daily needs become too much as she’s juggling work, a neglectful hubby (not based on my own amazingly awesome husband), a handful of kids, and too much background noise. A simple solution would be to ask for help, but she’s too prideful to lean on others, even when they offer. June’s doing too much and doesn’t see the toll it’s taking on her. If she keeps running in circles like this, she’s bound to lose her way…and her mind. Do you feel June’s pain?

Four different women, four different paths, four different triggers. Each has strengths, but each also has weaknesses. The thing is, it’s okay to not always wear the cape. We can’t always be superhuman. Sometimes we are simply just human. And with being a human comes moments where we lose our mind a little, lose ourselves even. But the key is to pick ourselves up at the end of each day and figure out our way through the hard parts of life, along the rocky terrain until we find clear prairies.

Social norms demand us to be smiley-faced emojis and comical memes. We’re supposed to be always agreeable, likeable, perfect. But that’s not reality, is it? I remember as a child when my mother would be yelling at us kids over something we’d done. We were always getting into something we shouldn’t, or fighting about stupid stuff—but I was never the instigator, I assure you (if my sister is reading this, I retract this statement). In the middle of Mom’s eardrum-bursting discipline, the phone would ring and she’d answer it with an ever-so-sweet “hello” so that the person on the other line had no idea she had nearly torn her vocal cords a moment earlier. In those moments Mom tucked an ugly reality in the corner while her public presence demonstrated nothing but a calm, happy mirage. (Mom, I totally get this now that I have kids!)

As PRETTY UGLY LIES uses a murder to reveal, life is full of lies, secrets, airing dirty laundry, betrayal, skeletons, pain, loss, frustration… Reality is enough to drive anyone mad. And that’s okay. You’re not alone, I’m not alone. “One day at a time,” Mom always told me. Sometimes one moment at a time is necessary.

So enjoy this self-quiz while you answer the question: What kind of psycho are you? Are you Jo, Ellie, Shayla, or June? And then give yourself a pat on the back for facing who you are without cringing. Hugs from one psycho to another!

[Reality is indeed enough to drive anyone crazy. Thank goodness for books! Thank you so much for stopping by, Pamela! Really enjoyed reading your post!]

abouttheauthor

Pamela Crane is a professional juggler. Not the type of juggler who can toss flaming torches in the air, but a juggler of four kids, a writing addiction, a horse rescuer, and a book editor by trade. She lives on the edge (ask her Arabian horse about that—he’ll tell you all about their wild adventures while trying to train him) and she writes on the edge. Writing murder mysteries is her escape from the real world of dirty diapers and cleaning horse stalls, and she bases her characters on real people, so be warned! She is a USA Today best-selling author of several award-winning thrillers, which you can find on her website at www.pamelacrane.com.

Author links : Facebook

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The Memories of Us by Vanessa Carnevale @v_carnevale @AvonBooksUK @Sabah_K #blogtour

Delighted to join the blog tour for The Memories of Us by Vanessa Carnevale today! My thanks to Sabah Khan at Avon UK for the invitation to join and the beautiful review copy!

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Author : Vanessa Carnevale
Title : The Memories of Us
Pages : 336
Publisher : Avon UK
Publication date : July 12, 2018

One moment can change your life.

When Gracie Ashcroft wakes after a crash with severe amnesia, she must choose whether to live a life through other people’s memories or to start a new life all her own.

Discovering her late mother left her an old flower farm, Gracie leaves her fiancé, best friend and the home full of forgotten memories behind, hoping to learn who she is now.

Torn between wishing she could remember and afraid of losing what she now has, Gracie starts to wonder: if you had your time over, would you live the same life twice?

If the past determines our present, what happens when we lose our memories of who we are? When you can’t remember what you like or love, from breakfast to the man you’re supposed to be marrying?

If memories are the delicate threads that knit our souls together and make us who we are, who can we be without them?

After being involved in a car accident, Gracie wakes up suffering from amnesia. She can’t remember her own name, her best friend or her fiancé. Gracie is adamant nobody should tell her anything about what her life was like. She wants to find things out on her own because suddenly her job as an interior designer, for instance, doesn’t sound so appealing. So with a clean slate, so to speak, will the choices Grace now makes bring her back to the life she used to have or will things turn out completely differently?

Gracie returns to the flower farm her mother used to own. A place that should feel familiar to her but does nothing of the sort. Yet, it’s through the language of flowers, the stunning power of Mother Nature, that Gracie finds out a bit more about herself and may even find love again. I must say, I really enjoyed spending time at Summerhill. The beautiful descriptions almost made it sound magical. I’d move there in a heartbeat!

The Memories of Us isn’t quite my typical sort of novel. But I was swayed by the beautiful cover and the intriguing description. I soon found myself completely immersed in Gracie’s circumstances and I think the author handled the issue of Retrograde Amnesia quite wonderfully. It was easy to sympathise with Gracie, to imagine what her life was now like, how frustrating it must be when you realise you can’t even remember how to tie your shoelaces. Of course, there’s a dash of romance. While this usually makes me cringe, I actually quite enjoyed this part of the story as well and found myself rooting for a happy ending.

A wonderfully warm and beautiful story about love, heartbreak and hope that even almost left me with a lump in my throat. Thoroughly enjoyed it!

The Memories of Us is available to buy!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Kobo | Goodreads

Vanessa Carnevale is a freelance writer based in Australia, who has contributed to The Green Parent, The Huffington Post, Muse, and Italy magazine, among others. Her debut novel, The Florentine Bridge, was published in 2017 by HQ in Australia. She was a finalist in the Best New Author category for the AusRom Today Readers Choice Awards 2017.

Vanessa is also the host of Your Beautiful Writing Life Retreats held in Tuscany and Australia.

Author links : Facebook | Twitter

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The Silent Sister by Shalini Boland @ShaliniBoland @bookouture #blogblitz #TheSilentSister

Good morning and welcome to my stop on the blog blitz for The Silent Sister. Happy publication day to Shalini Boland!

My thanks to Kim Nash at Bookouture for the invitation to join and the review copy, which I received via Netgalley.

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Author : Shalini Boland
Title : The Silent Sister
Pages : 304
Publisher : Bookouture
Publication date : July 16, 2018

When Lizzy Beresford discovers a threatening letter addressed to her, the words on the old, tattered paper chill her to the bone. But who sent it? Living in pretty cottage in a quiet country village, Lizzy’s never made any enemies in her life…

Except her sister.

Lizzy hasn’t spoken to Emma in years. Not since the argument which tore their relationship apart. Would her sister really want to cause her harm after all this time?

As Lizzy receives more disturbing messages, she begins to doubt those closest to her – her boyfriend, her best friend, her neighbours.

Because the mystery sender seems to know everything about her. And after a series of malicious incidents, it’s clear they won’t stop until they’ve destroyed her life.

Lizzy knows she must confront her sister. But can she trust her? And will she realise the shocking truth, before it’s too late?

Probably an odd way to start a review by mentioning the ending but I hereby declare Shalini Boland the “Queen of Epilogues” because every single time, she manages to put a spin on everything you’ve read on the pages preceding it! Makes me want to read the whole thing again to see how I missed the clues, if there are any.

Anywho, to the beginning.

Few things sound as scary to me as having a stalker. Someone who knows your every move, sometimes even seemingly before you do. Someone who taunts you and terrifies you, who makes you suspicious of everyone you meet. This is what happens to Lizzy when she starts receiving odd notes at home and at work. The police are no help at all and so it falls to Lizzy herself to figure out who wishes her harm. Could it be her sister, Emma? Her boyfriend, Joe? Her neighbours? Her boss/landlord? The cat?!

This is one of those stories where you are suspicious of just about everyone. Like me, you may find yourself zeroing in on a potential suspect, then double-guessing yourself, backtracking and getting utterly confused. Not helped by the fact that either someone is acting like a total creep or is too good to be true.

I found this one started out a bit slow but the tension did build up in the second part and true to form there are a few twists and turns I didn’t quite see coming. Even though, I thought I knew who the stalker was, I couldn’t at all figure out their connection to Lizzy, nor why they had it in for her as much as they did.

Shalini Boland is one of those authors who constantly delivers and I have no doubt fans of her previous books will enjoy this twisty tale of secrets, betrayal and revenge as well.

The Silent Sister will be published on July 16th and is available for pre-order!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Kobo | Goodreads

Shalini Boland is a USA Today bestselling author of psychological thrillers ‘THE GIRL FROM THE SEA’ (No 1, US Audible charts), ‘THE BEST FRIEND’ (No 2, US Audible charts), ‘THE MILLIONAIRE’S WIFE’ (No 9, UK Kindle charts), ‘THE SECRET MOTHER’ (No 2, US Kindle charts), THE CHILD NEXT DOOR (No 11, UK Kindle charts).

Shalini lives in Dorset, England with her husband, two children and their cheeky terrier cross. Before kids, she was signed to Universal Music Publishing as a singer/songwriter, but now she spends her days writing psychological thrillers (in between school runs and hanging out endless baskets of laundry).

She is also the author of two bestselling Young Adult series as well as an atmospheric WWII novel with a time-travel twist.

Author links : Facebook | Twitter | Website

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The Backstreets of Purgatory by Helen Taylor @TaylorHelen_M @unbounders @annecater #blogtour #RandomThingsTours #extract

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for The Backstreets of Purgatory by Helen Taylor!

Huge apologies to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours and to the author for posting this a day late.

I have an extract to share with you all but first, here is what the book is all about.

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Author : Helen Taylor
Title : The Backstreets of Purgatory
Pages : 496
Publisher : Unbound
Publication date : July 12, 2018

aboutthebook

Finn Garvie’s life is one spectacular mess. He spends most of his time fannying around a makeshift Glasgow studio, failing to paint his degree portfolio, while his girlfriend Lizzi treats him like one of her psychology patients, and his best friend Rob is convinced that the tattoos he designs are the height of artistic achievement.

To top it all, Finn is worried that some stinking bastard is hanging around, spying on him, laughing at his cock-ups and eating his leftover curry. Fortunately, he has plenty of techniques to distract him – tackling the church hall renovations with the help of his alcoholic neighbour; pining after Kassia, the splendidly stroppy au-pair; and re-reading that book on Caravaggio, his all-time hero.

Things take a turn for the strange when he finally encounters the person who’s been bugging him, and it seems to be none other than Caravaggio himself…

extract

Boy Peeling a Fruit

At much the same time as Finn was admiring young Davy’s nude torso at the Art School, across town, in a side street two up from Partick Cross, Tuesday McLaughlin was attempting to gain entry to a tattoo parlour that was owned by Finn’s best mate. The shop belonged to Rob Stevenson, a detail to which Tuesday was, for the moment, happily oblivious, intent as she was on finding a lawful way into the premises. The trouble was, from where she was standing, it didn’t look too promising. The sign quite clearly stated the place was open for another hour, but it was closed, no ques- tion. For about the seventh time, Tuesday rattled the locked door and, when it still wouldn’t open, shoved her face up against the window.

The shop was full of stuff she’d have been happy to offload given different circumstances: shelves lined with old medicine bottles and volumes of faded red and green hardbacks; a round mirror speckled with  age that would definitely make good money down the antique market; and, on the counter, gleaming under the protection of a fingerprint-free glass case, a set of brass weighing scales of a quality any dealer would happily pawn their weans for. But, as far as Tuesday could make out, if you were talking actual living breathing life, there was less than what you’d find in your average coffin-dodgers’ coach trip. The only hope of someone who might be able to do the business was the limp skeleton hanging from a scaffold by a screw in its baldy head who appeared to be guarding the till, or the baby alligator perched on top of the stationery cupboard with glassy eyes and a stupid grin on its face. Strictly, Tuesday knew she couldn’t complain if the shop was dead – it was the whole morbid thing it had going on that had made her choose it in the first place – but, frankly, if the sign said open, it should bloody well be open.

Frustrated, she rattled the door again. The lock was pretty flimsy, barely holding. If she still had her old ways about her, she might have considered it worth booting the door in and having a run-in with the skinny bloke at the till, if only for the scrap metal value of the chemical balance. Instead, as she left, she gave the door a half-hearted kick for old times’ sake, and immediately regretted it when she stubbed her middle toe. Once the numbness had passed, it started throbbing like a tadger.

She was hopping on the white line halfway across the main road, waiting for a break in the traffic, when she heard a shout.

‘Hey, missus.’ Rob was waving to her from under a streetlight at the corner of the side street. A big bloke with a shaved head and tats on his face was Tuesday’s take. Nobody she knew. Although with his steel toecaps and pumped-up muscles, she clocked him for the type who reckoned he was hard.

‘Aye, you with the skinny pins. Are you coming in or what?’

Rush-hour traffic was passing either side, coughing out blue exhaust fumes around her. Tuesday shook her head. She’d lost the motivation. The shut-up shop had floored her. Whatever the opposite of psyched-up, that was her. Psyched-down or something. It would be easier to dis- appear into the going-home crowd.

‘Nah, you missed your chance, doll.’

Mind made up, Tuesday waved Rob off, but before she managed to dive through the oncoming traffic, a black BMW came speeding up the main road. The driver was playing with his mobile, steering one-handed, swerving all over the place. For a second, Tuesday swithered on the mid- line, too late to make the dash. She couldn’t believe it. He was practically on top of her and he hadn’t seen a bone in her body. Fuck that. She wasn’t having it. She held her ground and pumped her bunched fist from her forehead. Dickhead. The car missed her by a sliver. The driver beeped, leaving his hand on the klax – a wanker’s lesson in road safety – and, as the car passed, the sound dropped a semi- tone and faded into the traffic hum.

‘You okay?’

‘Aye, fucking peachy,’ Tuesday said, even though she wasn’t. It did her head in, these fancy tossers who thought they were entitled to make her invisible because they lived inside their fuel-injection, leather-trimmed lives. But even though the near-miss had left her shaky, there was no way she was admitting as much to a bloke who wore his denims that tight.

‘Come on. I’ve put the kettle on.’

Tuesday pulled a face and crossed back over, following Rob past the overflowing bins in the darkened side street. At the shop, he waited for her, holding open the door.

‘Milk and three sugars,’ Tuesday said, as rudely as she could. She may have been quarter his size but it didn’t mean she wasn’t capable of opening a door. Not that she was one of those feminist nut-jobs who got offended by basic man- ners, but this chivalry business annoyed the tits off her. In normal life, the only time a man held open a door for her was when the door in question was attached to a police van.

She was still working out how best to slag him off when Rob bowed elaborately and offered her his arm. ‘Would the young lady care to enter my humble premises?’

Tuesday shoved his arm out of the way and pushed past him. ‘If you don’t mind me saying, pal, that’s no fucking normal.’

He laughed and followed her in.

Close up the shop looked even better than it had through the window. Tuesday glanced around, taking it all in. Pretty phenomenal. Without intending to, she let out a low whis- tle. Front of house, a computer and music speakers were the only evidence of the twenty-first century. Otherwise, the place was entirely kitted out as a Victorian consulting room, complete with microscopes, anatomy charts and pickled specimens. There was a waiting area under the window lit with pretend oil lamps, a travelling trunk in place of a table, and through the half-open door at the back of the shop, she could have sworn it was a full-on operating theatre walled by the industrial white glazed tiles familiar from the back courts of warehouses and workshops all around the city.

‘Some place,’ she said, unzipping her puffer jacket. ‘Lots of bottles.’

‘Indeed,’ Rob said. ‘As you can see, we have products to meet your every requirement. From the benign’ – he indi- cated a tin of Beecham’s Pills, another of Allenburys Throat Pastilles – ‘to – I hesitate to say ridiculous – let’s say safe-in- the-correct-hands . . .’ His hand swept past thick bottles with ground-glass stoppers and peeling labels. Tuesday had to strain to read names. Aquae camphorae, saltpetre.

‘. . . to the outright-hazardous-to-human-health.’ Mercurous chloride, belladonna.

‘Are thae ones poison too?’ Arsenic, she knew.

He frowned. ‘Well spotted. I’m probably meant to keep them behind bars. I ought to find out.’

‘Aye, you ought to,’ Tuesday sneered. He was doing that thing they did at the day centre. Feigning idiocy to get down to your level.

After a microsecond of hesitation, Rob finished his tour. ‘Finally, the favourite of poets and physicians alike . . .’ He made it sound like a big pronouncement, a fanfare, like Tuesday would guess what was coming before he said it.

‘Eh?’

‘Laudanum.’

Tuesday gawped as blankly as her irritation would allow. ‘Opium for the upper class,’ Rob clarified.

In response, Tuesday flashed him a look of contempt and pointed out that the bottle was empty.

He grinned at her inanely. ‘Aye, well at least I cannae get done for possession.’

The line of chat was boring her already, so to liven things up she asked why Rob had pickled his dick. Puzzled, he glanced over to see what she was talking about. ‘You mean the eel? I bought it in a supermarket in France when I bought the calf’s brain.’ He nodded at a jellied mushroom  in a jar. ‘It’s amazing what you can buy in the pre-packed aisle over there.’

‘I’ll take your word for it.’ In the last few years, the fur- thest Tuesday had been from Partick was the Underground station at Govan.

‘I’m no sure, though, that bunging it in neat formalde- hyde will stop it rotting.’ Rob lifted the specimen jar off the shelf and wiped the dust on its shoulders with a cloth from under the desk. The liquid around the jelly brain was snot- thick. ‘Maybe I should’ve consulted a taxidermist.’

‘Aye, mebbe you should’ve,’ Tuesday said, and wandered over to the travelling trunk to pick up one of the folders scattered on it.

‘I’m thinking about a tattoo,’ she said finally. ‘Well, you’ve come to the right place.’

Riled, she spun round, ready to match whatever aggro came her way. But straight off she registered Rob wasn’t taking the piss. He was nervous, she realised. She was making him nervous. She was beginning to wonder if, in fact, she had come to the right place.

Casually, she flicked through the folder. ‘These all yours?’ ‘Indeed. By my own dark hand.’ He did a weird thing with his fingers. ‘No kidding.’

‘Aye. Rule number one. Original artwork only.’ ‘No bad.’

‘Thanks.’ Under his tattoos, Rob blushed. Tuesday snig- gered. How awkward. The bloke clearly fancied himself as an artist. In what even to her was obvious as an abysmal effort to gloss past, Rob took the folder and opened the inside cover. The price list was stuck to the plastic. ‘It’s by the hour. A wee one will take an hour, max hour and a half. Big ones can take anything up to five or six. Longer for colour.’

Tuesday nodded. It was pricier than she had anticipated. ‘When can we start?’

‘Rule number two. First appointments strictly consults only. Don’t want to jeopardise my stats.’

She just looked at him. He laughed. Nervously.

‘My cadaver rate. It’s exceptionally low. If I don’t think someone’s up to it, I scare them off deliberately.’

‘Cadaver rate?’

‘You know, the jessies who take a whitey at the sight of a needle.’

‘Right.’

‘Talking of cadavers and the like, did you meet Lister?’ ‘The skelly? Aye.’ Tuesday didn’t like the way Rob was looking at her, kind of squinty-eyed and troubled, even as he held out the skeleton’s bony hand to shake hers. Sud- denly, she panicked that he was going to refuse her.

But all he said was, ‘We  know each other,  right?’

Tuesday breathed a sigh of relief. ‘To be honest, doll, I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen you before in my puff.’ She would have remembered. He had near enough a menagerie swimming, running, crawling around his neck, up his jaw, on to his cheek. ‘It’d be hard to forget a face like that.’

‘Fair point,’ he said. ‘I’m Rob, by the way. Short for Robin. But you knew that already, I take it, or you wouldna’ve come in fancy dress.’

She laughed. ‘Fuck off.’ The funny thing was, he wasn’t that far off. The red puffer jacket had been her latest Oxfam steal and the leggings belonged to the Somali lassie who did the cleaning in the B&B and who changed into her work overalls in the reception toilets. The boots were her own. Discount sheepskin, tide-marked and losing their glue.

‘What I usually do is give the client a tour of the treat- ment room, get them to read over the health questionnaire and consent form, and then we work up some designs together. Gie’s two secs to finish the autoclave check and we can get on to it. Don’t let anyone else in.’ Rob locked the front door. Before he disappeared through the back, he gawked at her again. ‘I swear I know you. Those cheek- bones. Unmistakable. You could chib someone.’

Tuesday chucked the folder back on to the trunk. There was something majorly warped, she reckoned – something your mother probably would have warned you against if she hadn’t been a junkie waste of space with not a drop of maternal instinct – about being locked in a shop full of poison with a guy six foot four and built like a brick shit- house. But if anyone was crapping it, it certainly wasn’t her. While Rob sorted whatever it was he had to do through the back, Tuesday decided to make herself comfy. The choice of seating was laid out in front of her like the kind of cheap personality test they were keen on at the clinic. The window seat padded with charcoal velvet cushions was obviously the easy option. Beside that, there was an antique oak and leather study chair which had the air of being the boss’s and which she reckoned it would be sensible to avoid if Rob was the one inflicting the pain later, or an old- fashioned wicker and wooden invalid’s chair with foldable foot rests and a stick to steer it. She chose the wheelchair.

No contest.

Rob came back a few minutes later with his desk diary. ‘Okay, what are we looking at? See anything you like?’

Tuesday flattened a scrap of paper she’d pulled from her coat pocket and handed it over. Rob studied it.

‘Ah, the midge. Diminutive scourge of the Highlands and unwitting accomplice of the nationalists. The few foolhardy tourists who brave the badlands rarely repeat their mistake. Nectar running in their English blood, I reckon. Unlike the acerbic locals.’

Tuesday rolled her eyes. ‘You’re a freak, doll. D’you know that?’

‘All your own work?’

‘What gave it away?’ She’d torn it from a textbook in the nature section in the library.

‘Only I usually—’

‘You gonnae do it or what?’

‘The thing is . . . okay, maybe this once, but don’t let on to the masses. Where d’you want it?’

Tuesday scrabbled to pull off her coat and pushed up the sleeve of her sweatshirt. ‘Here.’

Livid tracks radiated up her arm from the scarred veins at the crook of her elbow. She stared at him, daring him to challenge her. To her surprise, he didn’t flinch.

He opened the diary. ‘What about next week? Early Monday?’

‘Listen, doll,’ she said, ‘I’m no being funny, but I’m here now.’

Rob stroked his chin. ‘True enough. Still an hour or two to torture before beer time.’ He pulled out a printed sheet from the back of the binder and passed it to her. ‘Is there anything I should know?’

The whole time she studied the form – following the words with her fingertip, mouthing them silently – she could feel Rob’s eyes on her. When she reached the bottom of the page, she flung it back to him. ‘I’m no HIV, if that’s what you’re on about.’

‘Fair enough. Sign here.’

She scribbled her signature. He twisted his neck to read  it upside down.

‘Tuesday. Tuesday McLaughlin.’ He was grinning, laugh- ing, rubbing the back of his shaved head in surprise. ‘I was right. I do know you. It’s me. Rob Stevenson. I . . . we . . . were in your class at primary. Jed – Gerrard – my brother. Twins. Remember? Athletics club in secondary. We used to pal around together. Bloody hell. I cannae believe it. Tuesday McLaughlin.’

It was pretty astounding how quickly a perfectly reason- able idea could take on a hideous new shape. ‘You know what?’ Tuesday said, scrambling to her feet. ‘Something came up.’ The consent form fluttered to the floor.

‘Hey, hey. You’re no going, are you? Don’t go. Hey.

Come on.’

But there was no way she was hanging about. She snatched up her coat and hurdled the travelling trunk.

‘I wouldna’ve had you down for bottling it.’

‘Fuck off,’ Tuesday said, jiggling the key in the lock. ‘I’m no bottling it.’

‘If you say so.’

‘Aye, I fucking say so.’ She was pissed off now.

Rob unlocked the door and stepped outside. He was chuckling to himself.

‘What’s so funny?’ Tuesday could smell fireworks and burning Catholics on the winter air.

‘I was terrified of you when I was a nipper.’

‘So you should’ve been. You and your brother? Soft as.’ Even in primary, Tuesday was harder than the twins. And wilder. By the time they were teenagers, she was already pretty much a legend, her name earnt by the inability ever to make it to school on the first day of the week. While Rob and his brother and their mates spent their Saturday nights innocently getting bevved on Tennent’s lager (and leching over the less-than-appetising Lager Lovelies that decorated the tins in those medieval times), Tuesday was moving in altogether different circles, getting spannered on acid and vodka in weekend binges that lasted beyond Sunday and put to shame even the Jimmy-Choo-and-fake-tan brigade that hung out those days at the Arches and had slag fights in the street overlooked by police who’d been advised not to inter- vene unless they were wearing stab vests.

Rob grinned at her. ‘What do you say? Mates’ rates?’

She shrugged and went back in, making out like she was doing him a favour. He offered her whisky from his special stock through the back, but she went for tea, loading it with sugar from sachets that had come from the café up the road and, as there was no sign of a spoon, stirred it with the top end of the Biro she’d used to sign the form. Once she was settled back in the wheelchair, she blew on her tea, watching Rob over the top of the mug. He was peeling an apple with an army knife. The peel unravelled in a single spiral.

‘Are you some kinda weirdo health freak, by the way?’ ‘Aye,’ Rob said mildly, dangling the peel into his mouth. ‘Still into all that fitness malarkey?’

‘Aye.’ He cut slices from the apple. Ate them off the knife blade. ‘Yourself?’

‘Don’t be fucking stupid.’

The running club was probably the last place they had seen each other. Tuesday’s one and only attempt at a legitim- ate extra-curricular activity. In the winter, they’d run the laughably named cross-country through the schemes round Knightswood and the Drum, getting abuse from the local kids who were after their Adidas three stripes and cagoules. And in the summer, endless laps round the playing field while Campbell Spence sat in his camping chair, feet up on his cold box, thumb on his stopwatch.

‘Cannon Balls Spence, remember him?’ Rob said, reading her mind. ‘He had a thing for you.’

‘Course he did. I was the  talent.’

‘Whatever happened to Tuesday McLaughlin?’ he said, starting on a second apple. ‘You left the party early, did you no?’

‘Like anyone gave a fuck.’

Tuesday sipped her tea. Rob crunched on his apple slices.

The wicker chair squeaked underneath her.

‘Gie’s a break,’ Rob said eventually. ‘Twenty years is a lifetime ago.’

‘Eighteen,’ Tuesday said. She’d been counting.

‘Eighteen, eh? You’ve no changed.’

Tuesday bit the edge of her mug. The soft git probably meant it as a compliment. ‘Cannae say the same about you, Slimster. What’s the story? Anything new? Girlfriend? Boy- friend?’

Lister jiggled almost imperceptibly in the air current. Tuesday could feel the dust settling on the poison bottles, the calf brain decomposing in its tank. The baby gator gave a rictus grin.

‘Nah, nothing to speak of,’ Rob said sheepishly. ‘So, are we gonnae do this thing or what?

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If this extract has tickled your fancy, then you can go grab yourself a copy of The Backstreets of Purgatory right now!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Kobo | Goodreads

abouttheauthor

Helen Taylor is a writer living in France. The Backstreets of Purgatory is her first book.

Author link : Twitter

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Weekly Wrap-Up (July 15)

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At the risk of repeating myself : where the heck did this week go?!

Still quite warm here, this weekend especially so, and no rain in sight. Also, I think I may be a tad poorly as I bought my first ever pair of shorts. If the sun goes off to hide, feel free to blame my pale legs. Snow White has nothing on me! 🤣

With the World Cup Football winding down, I’m back to having lots more reading time. This totally counts as productivity in my book, no matter the state of my house. Just saying.


Books I’ve read this week

Yes, yes. Eight books AND one I didn’t finish. AND an incredibly teasing 6 chapters of The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelidis, which is to be published in February and I’m pretty sure it’s going to be huuuuuuge! Add it to your TBR right now!


Books I’ve bought this week

Oops. I knew it wouldn’t last. #notsorry


ARC’s received via Netgalley

One a “read now”, three for blog tours. Sadly, my request for the new Karin Slaughter was turned down 😭


On the blog this past week

Monday : Joined the blog tour for How Far We Fall by Jane Shemilt

Tuesday : Hosted a stop on the blog tour for No Further Questions by Gillian McAllister and I also shared my review for The Fifth To Die by J.D. Barker

Wednesday : Joined the blog blitz for Happily Never After by Emma Robinson, did a cover reveal for Brothers in Blood by Amer Anwar and posted My Week in Books.

Thursday : Shared my review for Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager

Friday : Posted an extract for my stop on the blog tour for Needle Song by Russell Day and shared my review for A Noise Downstairs by Linwood Barclay

Saturday : Suffered a wee mishap when I posted a blog tour review 12 days too early 😳

Sunday : Weekly wrap-up


Next week on Novel Deelights

What would my blog look like without tours, eh? I guess we won’t be finding out any time soon. 😂

Monday : Blog tour | Review | The Silent Sister by Shalini Boland.
Tuesday : Blog tour | Review | The Memories of Us by Vanessa Carnevale
Wednesday : Blog tour | Content | Pretty Ugly Lies by Pamela Crane
Thursday : Blog tour | Review | The Emperor of Shoes by Spencer Wise
Friday :  Blog tour | Review | Do No Harm by Lucy V. Hay
Saturday : Oooh, lookie here, a gap! How did that happen? 🤣

And that’s it for another wrap-up! Off to melt. Wishing you all a most wonderful week and lots off happy reading! xx

 

 

The Day I Lost You by Alex Sinclair @bookouture #blogblitz

It’s a real pleasure to welcome you all to the blog blitz for The Day I Lost You by Alex Sinclair. My thanks to Noelle Holten at Bookouture for the invitation to join and the review copy, which I received via Netgalley.

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Author : Alex Sinclair
Title : The Day I Lost You
Pages : 255
Publisher : Bookouture
Publication date : July 13, 2018

aboutthebook

You only let her go for a second… Now she’s gone.

Erika Rice is in an elevator with her four-year-old daughter Alice when all the lights go out. It jerks to a stop on a deserted floor of apartments and the little girl runs out into the corridor.

But before Erika can follow her the doors slam shut again. Now her daughter is nowhere to be seen.

Erika was about to take Alice away for a fresh start, far from her troubled past, when the child vanished. How could a four-year-old disappear into thin air?

And with no one to help her, will Erika ever find her daughter?

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Well now, if you think stories about missing children have been done to death, think again. Because Alex Sinclair has come up with quite the unique twist to every mother’s nightmare.

When visiting her ex-husband’s penthouse flat, Erika and her daughter get stuck in an elevator. With the doors slightly open, four year old Alice manages to get out but Erika is unable to follow her as the doors shut again. Now Alice has disappeared and in an apartment complex this massive, the search isn’t an easy one.

Now, I did feel the storyline was a tad far-fetched at times and required me to suspend belief a little bit but nevertheless, it was quite the gripping story. The search for Alice takes us all around the complex, with few people seemingly willing to help Erika look for her daughter. It’s a truly creepy place, I’d never want to live there and the suspicious nature of the residents really didn’t help.

Erika herself is the only character we really get to know and I couldn’t quite connect to her, although I can’t really explain why except I found her behaviour increasingly frustrating. Some flashback chapters give a fascinating insight into the marriage of Erika and her ex-husband Michael, but since Erika’s side of the story is the only one we hear, I couldn’t decide if I could rely on her version of events. These chapters had me hooked though and I found myself wishing for more of them.

I couldn’t at all figure out the reason behind Alice’s disappearance, who’d want to take her or why. Nor could I predict the outcome which was so incredibly unexpected I think I did one of those awkward fish impressions. Mouth open, mouth shut, repeat.

While I feel The Day I Lost You could have done with a bit more tension, a bit more “thrill” of the thriller variety, I did enjoy this one. It’s a relatively quick read that is a surefire way to spend an entertaining afternoon.

The Day I Lost You is available to buy!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Kobo | Goodreads

abouttheauthor

Alex Sinclair is a thirty-two-year-old psychological thriller author from a quiet country town outside of Melbourne, Australia. He currently works full-time for a small business and writes in the early hours of the morning before his daughter and wife wake up for the day.

Alex has a background in IT, bookkeeping, and 3D animation. He loves all things creative but especially loves writing. He is an avid reader of all genres, but loves psychological thrillers more than anything else. He also has a passion for good storytelling in all forms of media such as addictive TV shows and movies.

Author links : Facebook | Twitter | Website

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A Noise Downstairs by Linwood Barclay @linwood_barclay @RebeccaGray @orion_crime #mustread #20BooksofSummer

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Author : Linwood Barclay
Title : A Noise Downstairs
Pages : 336
Publisher : Orion
Publication date : July 12, 2018

aboutthebook

EVERY STEP…
Paul Davis forgets things – he gets confused, he has sudden panic attacks. But he wasn’t always like this.

TAKES YOU CLOSER…
Eight months ago, Paul found two dead bodies in the back of a co-worker’s car. He was attacked, left for dead, and has been slowly recovering ever since. His wife tries her best but fears the worst…

TO THE TRUTH…
Therapy helps during the days, but at night he hears things – impossible things – that no one else can. That nobody else believes. Either he’s losing his mind – or someone wants him to think he is.

Just because he’s paranoid doesn’t mean it’s not happening…

mythoughts

Oh, what a delightfully devilish tale this is!

I lost track of Linwood Barclay there for a while but I will not be making that mistake again because A Noise Downstairs is an absolutely fantastic stand-alone thriller that will make you paranoid and eye your inanimate objects suspiciously for weeks to come.

Eight months ago, Paul Davis was hit over the head with a shovel when he stumbled upon a co-worker with two dead bodies in his car. Paul’s recovery has been immensely slow. He has panic attacks, gets confused and forgets things. Therapy helps, as does his wife. But when Paul starts hearing a noise downstairs in the middle of the night, nobody believes him. Is he paranoid? Finally losing his mind? Or is something else going on?

Even though I thought I’d figured a wee something out, most likely because I’m immensely suspicious by nature and maybe read too much, when the pieces of the puzzle finally came together, I was completely thrown for a loop.  For once, there actually was a twist I didn’t see coming and the sheer unexpectedness filled me with glee and at the same time left me gobsmacked! It completely changed the storyline from something that could have been predictable to something that blew my little pea-sized brain to bits and turned the whole story upside down.

A Noise Downstairs is one of those books where I kept telling Myself “I’ll just read one more chapter”, which resulted in staying up way too late just so I could finish the novel in one go. The fast-paced and massively clever plot just lends itself to it and it’s impossible to put down!  So intelligently crafted and so brilliantly written. Compelling? Check! Engrossing? Check! Addictive page-turner? Absolutely check!

I’ve read quite a few books by Linwood Barclay over the years but this one is most definitely his best one yet. In stepping away from what he’s done before, A Noise Downstairs feels incredibly refreshing and I can’t wait to see what’s next! Go grab yourself a copy, devour it and enjoy it. You can thank me later. 😉

My thanks to Rebecca Gray at Orion for my review copy!

A Noise Downstairs is available to buy!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Bookdepository | Kobo | Wordery | Goodreads

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Book 7 on my 20 Books of Summer list.

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