Anything For Her by G.J. Minett @GJMinett @BonnierZaffre

** advanced copy received via Netgalley **


Author : G.J. Minett
Title : Anything For Her
Pages : 368
Publisher : Bonnier Zaffre
Publication date : November 30, 2017


When Billy Orr returns home to spend time with his dying sister, he bumps into his ex-girlfriend Aimi, the love of his life. He might not have seen her in eleven years, but Billy’s never forgotten her. He’d do anything for her then, and he’d do anything for her now.

When Aimi tells him that she wants to escape her abusive husband, Billy agrees to help her fake her own death. But is she still the Aimi that Billy remembers from all those years ago?

Once Aimi disappears, Billy has to face the possibility that perhaps she had different reasons for disappearing – reasons that might be more dangerous than she’s led him to believe . . .

Sometimes trusting the one you love is the wrong thing to do.


When Billy returns home to spend time with his sister, he bumps into his former girlfriend, Aimi. He may not have seen her since they were teenagers but he’s never forgotten her and his feelings for her are still as strong as they were back then. Aimi tells him she wants to leave her abusive husband and she needs Billy’s help to fake her own death. But can Aimi be trusted?

Wow, what a ride! G.J. Minett sure knows how to spin a web of deceit and lies. This is one of those stories where you can’t trust anyone. Every word that comes out of these characters’ mouths needs to be weighed up carefully and even then, it’s hard to know if what they say is the truth or not.

I really liked the way the author tackled this story. Anything For Her has an incredibly intricate plot which is brilliantly constructed. Yes, it takes a bit of concentration and focus as the storyline switches back and forth between various time periods but it also enables the author to end certain chapters on a bit of a cliffhanger, ensuring I was gripped and eager to find out more.

Joe is an incredibly fascinating character. You never quite know how he’s going to react to certain situations and he’s not the most reliable person either. Maybe you think it’s a tad weird that he’d go out of his way to help someone he’s not seen for so long. Or that he could possibly still be in love with her after all this time. But I think his backstory explains that quite well, when you realise at which point in his life he met her.

I’ve read all three of G.J. Minett’s books and I think this is his best one yet. Utterly compelling and absorbing throughout with the most satisfying conclusion. If you’ve not read anything by this author before, I heartily recommend you fix the error of your ways.

Many thanks to Bonnier Zaffre for the advanced copy, which I received via Netgalley and chose to review honestly!

Anything For Her is available in ebook format today. The paperback will be published in March.

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Goodreads

You’re Next by Michael Fowler @CarolineBookBit @caffeinenights #blogtour

Happy Hump Day and welcome to my stop on the blog tour for You’re Next by Michael Fowler! Many thanks to Caroline Vincent for the invitation and the ecopy!


Author : Michael Fowler
Title : You’re Next
Series : DS Scarlett Macey #2
Pages : 256
Publisher : Caffeine Nights Publishing
Publication date : November 9, 2017


It is the opening day of Detective Sergeant Scarlett Macey’s biggest case of her life – ‘The Lycra Rapist’ is standing trial for a series of brutal rapes. But things don’t go according to plan – the trial collapses – and James Green is freed. Scarlett is determined his freedom will not last long and immediately begins planning his downfall.

Meanwhile James Green has his own plans for revenge, and driven by feelings of hatred begins to pick out those who brought about his downfall – priming them for the kill.

Scarlett has faced many villains in the past, but never one quite as terrifying as James Green.


When Caroline asked me to join this blog tour, I signed up not realising You’re Next is the second book in the DS Scarlett Macey series. Now I’m sure by now you all know how I feel about starting a series anywhere else but with book one. (In case you don’t, it’s wrong 😜) Unfortunately for me, I didn’t have time to read the first one but luckily, I didn’t need to as this one reads perfectly well as a stand-alone. I didn’t feel I’d missed out on anything crucial. There’s enough background information to get the gist of what happened before without, I think, being too repetitive for those who did read the first book.

James Green is facing the court on a charge of multiple rapes. But on the very first day, the trial collapses and James is set free. DS Macey is determined to make sure he’ll get his comeuppance regardless and find evidence against him that will land him in prison, even though her bosses want her to stay well clear. Meanwhile, James has plans of his own though and none of them are good.

The focus isn’t entirely on this storyline though. Just like in real life, I would imagine, the team is working on various cases at once. They’re heartbreaking, shocking and frenzied and some will hit quite close to home. It’s quite clear that the author has experience with these sorts of things and doesn’t shy away from tackling the gruesome and brutal murders. This may not be quite your thing if you’re a tad faint-hearted.

Scarlett is a feisty red-head and makes for a fabulous main character. She’s determined in the face of adversity and will stop at nothing to prove James’ guilt. I also really enjoyed the way the author balances her time on the job with her personal life, complicated as that one may be. James on the other hand made me shudder to the core. He’s pure evil through and through.

This is a thoroughly entertaining (odd choice of words) crime fiction thriller. The short chapters make for a truly quick read, urging you on to flip the pages just that little bit faster. While I did feel that maybe things were a tad rushed at times, if you think your stomach can handle it, then I have no doubt you will enjoy this thrilling investigation!

You’re Next is available for purchase!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Goodreads


Following retirement, after thirty-two years as a police officer, working mainly as a detective, Michael returned to the deadly business of murder, as a writer. His past work brought him very close to some nasty characters, including psychopaths, and gruesome cases, and he draws on that experience to craft his novels: There is nothing gentle about Michael’s stories.

His landmark novel Heart of the Demon, published in 2012, introduced Detective Sergeant Hunter Kerr. Michael has since written five novels and a novella featuring Kerr.  He also released the first DS Scarlett Macey book in 2016. Michael is also the author of a stand-alone crime novella and a true crime thriller.

Michael has another side to his life – a passion for art, and has found considerable success as an artist, receiving numerous artistic accolades. Currently, his oil paintings can be found in the galleries of Spencer Coleman Fine Arts.

He is a member of the Crime Writers Association and International Thriller Writers.


You're Next - Michael Fowler - Blog Tour Poster

The Last Post by B.K. Duncan @BKDuncanwriter @Bloodhoundbook #blogtour

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for The Last Post by BK Duncan! Many thanks to Sarah Hardy at Bloodhound Books. My review will follow the all-important bookish information.


Author : B.K. Duncan
Title : The Last Post
Pages : 25
Publisher : Bloodhound Books
Publication day : November 11, 2017


It is April 1918. May Keaps is a twenty-year-old ambulance driver stationed at The Front. As if transporting hideously wounded soldiers, sleep deprivation and constant shell bombardment weren’t enough, she becomes unwittingly entangled in the untimely death of a young captain, Tobias Fairfax.

Newly-arrived in Northern France he was found with a discharged pistol by his side; rumours on the battlefield were that it wasn’t an accident and he had taken the coward’s way out, committing suicide.

Whatever the explanation, Tobias left a dangerous legacy that puts May in the line of fire. But she is not the only one with a reason to want to uncover the truth. And in a world where life can be extinguished in the blink of an eye, May might regret her search for answers…


The Last Post is a short novella that introduces us to May Keaps. When we meet May, she’s driving an ambulance during World War I, right in the thick of things. This already tells us quite a bit about her. She’s able to stay calm under pressure and keep her composure in the most terrifying circumstances as she drives injured soldiers from the Front to the medic station while bombardments go on all around her.

When she needs to find shelter during a bombardment, she stumbles upon a young man who is clearly upset about something and maybe even dangerous. Will May be able to help him?

It’s really hard to write a review about a story this short without giving anything away but suffice to say this packs quite the punch and really sets the tone for what promises to be a rather exciting new series. How the author managed to fit so much realism and emotional heartache into a mere 25 pages is utterly beyond me. I very much look forward to reading the first full novel starring May in a few weeks time and getting to know this character better.

The Last Post is currently free to download!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Goodreads


BK Duncan is the pen name Ruth Wade has adopted for the May Keaps series of historical crime novels.

Born on a steam railway and brought up on the South Coast of England, such beginnings were destined to leave BK Duncan with a love of vintage transport, crashing seas, and Art Deco architecture.

Following a career encompassing developmental learning and change-management consultancy she now combines producing her own work with lecturing part-time in creative writing in colleges and academies in Cambridge and Oxford. Her two great passions are longbow archery and the Argentine Tango. Sadly, she is not nearly as accomplished at either as she’d like.

BK Duncan also writes historical crime novels as Ruth Wade.



Her Best Friend by Sarah Wray @Sarah_Wray @bookouture #blogblitz

** advanced copy received via Netgalley **

It’s such a pleasure to host a stop on the blog blitz for Her Best Friend by Sarah Wray today! My thanks to Noelle at Bookouture! My review will follow the all-important book information.


Author : Sarah Wray
Title : Her Best Friend
Pages : 277
Publisher : Bookouture
Publication date : November 28, 2017


As a teenager, Sylvie Armstrong’s life was shattered when her best friend, Victoria Bland, was murdered. The killer has never been caught – and Sylvie has never spoken about what happened that day.

Now, two decades have gone by and after the death of her mother, Sylvie is forced to return to her home town, along with her newborn daughter – only to be confronted by the secrets that she has been running from for twenty years.

But then Sylvie receives the locket Victoria was wearing on the night she died – and it becomes clear that somebody knows what really happened to Victoria.

As Sylvie struggles to discover the truth behind the lies, she finds herself in increasing danger from those who will stop at nothing to keep their secrets. Someone who threatens not only Sylvie, but everything she loves…


Prepare to start reading, only to look up hours later and wonder where your afternoon has gone. This is one gripping and utterly unputdownable psychological thriller!

Twenty years ago, Sylvie’s best friend Victoria was found murdered in a lake. Shortly after that, Sylvie moved away and hasn’t been back since. Until now. At the same time, Sam is interested in making a documentary about Victoria’s murder, which is still unsolved. Sylvie will be forced to face the memories of that faithful summer in 1995. Will Victoria’s murder finally be solved?

Halfway through the book, I had to stop reading due to this pesky thing called sleep. But even while in bed, I couldn’t stop thinking about it as I tried to piece together what had happened. There were a few bits and bobs I figured out quite early on but I suspect that’s because a) I have a suspicious nature and b) I read too much. Be that as it may, it didn’t ruin the story for me at all and the ultimate reveal knocked me for six!

I thoroughly enjoyed the way the author tackled this story. The chapters switch back and forth between Sylvie in the present and the past but there are also chapters from Sam’s point of view. So not only do we gain insight into Sylvie and Victoria’s friendship back in the day but we also have an opportunity to follow Sam as he interviews various people for his documentary. It made me see connections where there weren’t any, making me change my mind about who I thought the culprit was, only to ultimately reverse back to my original thought and still get it wrong.

Her Best Friend is a truly compelling and engrossing read. It’s well-paced throughout, has some brilliant twists and turns, a fabulous cast of characters and builds up to quite the shocking ending. You will not be able to put this one down as it’s one fantastic page-turner!

Her Best Friend is published today!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Goodreads


Sarah Wray is originally from Yorkshire but now lives in Newcastle-upon-Tyne where she works as a technology writer and editor. She won a Northern Writers’ Award (Arvon Award) in 2015 for an early version of her first novel.

 Facebook | Twitter | Website


Her Best Friend - Blog Tour

Now You See Me by Kierney Scott @bookouture #blogblitz

** advanced copy received via Netgalley **

It’s a happy publication day to Kierney Scott and it’s my pleasure to welcome you to my stop on the blog blitz for Now You See Me! Many thanks to Noelle at Bookouture! I’ll be sharing my review right after I tell you what the book is about.


Author : Kierney Scott
Title : Now You See Me
Series : Detective Jessie Bishop #1
Pages : 318
Publisher : Bookouture
Publication date : November 27, 2017


When the dismembered body of Lydia Steiner is found washed up in the waters of a blisteringly hot Louisiana swamp, Detective Jess Bishop knows for certain this isn’t the murderer’s first kill.

Three other dismembered bodies have been found, all bearing the same marks. Marks that strike fear into Jess’s heart. They are identical to those from a case she’s spent her entire career trying to forget.

As Jess and her team try to link the victims, another body is discovered and they fear the serial killer is taunting them. They know it’s only a matter of time before he kills again.

As the body count rises, and the hunt goes cold, Jess knows she has to confront her past in order to catch the killer, even if that means making herself the bait…


I often tell myself I really don’t need a new series in my life but when one pops up that sounds as good as this one, I just can’t help myself. And I can already tell you right now that I’ll be keeping an eye on this one in future.

Now You See Me introduces us to Jess Bishop, who works for the FBI. That bit right there already sold it to me as I really enjoy all things FBI. Their investigations don’t stop at state borders, widening the scenery but also the suspect pool. In fact in this story, we go from Washington D.C with all its memorable buildings, to the bayou in Louisiana, where the dismembered body of Lydia Stein is found. She’s not the first woman to be found murdered like that so it’s obvious early on, we’re dealing with a serial killer here.

Jess has one of the most fascinating backstories I’ve ever read but I’m not going to tell you anything about that. To this day, it affects her in the choices and decisions she makes, her view on relationships, the way she sees things. She makes for one fantastic main character but the whole team is brilliant. It reminded me of the tv show “Criminal Minds”, without the profiling. A varied and diverse cast that somehow manages to work together to solve a case. There’s Jeanie, the boss, for instance. You never quite know what she’s thinking. Tina is the computer genius. Briggs has just returned from a stint undercover. Chan is sort of the funny one but also a bit of a troublemaker. And there’s even a psychologist.

As for chasing the serial killer, the investigation had me on the edge of my seat. Nothing links these women and there’s no way of knowing when the killer will strike again, or where, or where his next victim will be found. There is no doubt though that he will not stop on his own and he needs to be caught. And that’s all I’m saying about that too. I know, I’m a tease but really, you need to read this yourself and find yourself as engrossed as I was.

This is just a fabulous start to a new series. Utterly gripping and compelling! If this one is anything to go by, I have zero doubt this series is going to be an absolute corker and I can’t wait to read the next instalment!

Now You See Me is out today!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Goodreads


Originally from California, Kierney Scott lives in Edinburgh, Scotland with her husband and their daughter.

In her spare time she likes to read and invent new recipes. Her stuffed peppers are particularly popular with her family, as are her grain-free chocolate chip cookies. In an effort to convert her family to the joys of pumpkin, she created the Great Pumpkin Challenge. For the ten weeks before Thanksgiving, they tried a new pumpkin recipe every week. Pumpkin arancini and pumpkin queso were a big hit. She has promised her daughter to never again roast pumpkin and call them chips.

She loves hearing from readers. If you would like to get in touch, you can email her at or follow her on twitter @Kierney_S


Make sure you check out all these awesome bloggers on their stops!

Now You See Me - Blog Tour



Weekly Wrap-Up (November 26)


For the first time since I started blogging, I actually found myself in a bit of a reading slump near the end of the week. It was a bit odd as the book I was reading wasn’t even bad. I just kept thinking of other things I could be doing, which never happens and my concentration was shot to pieces. So I spent part of Friday and Saturday catching up on some tv shows and by late Saturday, I was back to my book and enjoying it. I guess I just needed a bit of a break.

I still managed to read 5 books so that’s perfectly okay. On the other hand, I fell behind on my blog tour reading again which is of the bad.

Books I read this week :

Books I bought this week :

Technically 6 but five of those go together and I’ve only received two so far so I’m keeping them under wraps until next week. 😄


ARC’s received via Netgalley

For blog tour purposes.


No book post this week so moving on!

On the blog this past week :

Monday : Joined the blog tour for The Silver Wolf by Rob Sinclair.

Tuesday : Joined the blog tour for The Prisoner’s Wife by Gerard MacDonald and shared an extract from DK Hood’s Don’t Tell A Soul

Wednesday : Joined the blog tour or We Have Lost The Chihuahuas by Paul Mathews

Thursday : I was on two blog tours. The first one was for Dying Breath by Helen Phifer and the second one for Mother by S.E. Lynes

Friday : Shared my review for the first case of Walden of Bermondsey by Peter Murphy and Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

Saturday : Hosted a stop on the blog tour for Whiteout by Ragnar Jónasson with a fabulous guest post from translator Quentin Bates.

Sunday : Weekly Wrap-Up

Next week on Novel Deelights :

I’ll be on the blog tours for Now You See Me, The Last Post, Her Best Friend, You’re Next, The Liar’s Promise and The Liverpool Girls. Yes, that cutting down on blog tours thing is working out really well! 😂

I’ll also be sharing my publication day review for Anything For Her by GJ Minett and my review for what might possibly be my book of the year. I promise.

Question of the week : Reading slumps. Are you familiar with them? If so, what do you do to get over them? Do you force yourself to keep going? Do you just pick up another book? Or do you take a break and do something else? What works for you?

That’s it for another week! See you next time! Happy reading! xx



Whiteout by Ragnar Jónasson @ragnarjo @graskeggur @OrendaBooks @annecater #blogtour #guestpost

It’s such an incredible pleasure to find myself hosting a stop on the blog tour for Whiteout by Ragnar Jonasson today! I am absolutely delighted to welcome translator Quentin Bates to the blog but first, here’s what Whiteout is all about.


Author : Ragnar Jónasson
Title : Whiteout
Series : Dark Iceland #5
Pages : 276
Publisher : Orenda Books
Publication date : November 1, 2017


Two days before Christmas, a young woman is found dead beneath the cliffs of the deserted village of Kálfshamarvík. Did she jump, or did something more sinister take place beneath the lighthouse and the abandoned old house on the remote rocky outcrop?

With winter closing in and the snow falling relentlessly, Ari Thór Arason discovers that the victim’s mother and young sister also lost their lives in this same spot, twenty-five years earlier.

As the dark history and its secrets of the village are unveiled, and the death toll begins to rise, the Siglufjordur detectives must race against the clock to find the killer, before another tragedy takes place.


Me and Ari Thór

The very first Iceland Noir, a one-day event organised on a wing and a prayer, and afterwards a bunch of us plotting to get Ragnar Jónasson published in English. Fast forward to Bloody Scotland, where Ragnar met Karen Sullivan of the fledgling Orenda Books on the football pitch. Add to that the guy who liked the challenge of translating someone else’s words – and we were all ready to roll.

It seemed only a few months later that Snowblind was published with a fanfare of the kind only the mighty Karen can rustle up, complete with those now legendary cupcakes. Then Snowblind briefly knocked the Girl on the Train off the top of the kindle chart. I know, because the normally imperturbable Ragnar called me at 2AM to let me know it had hit number 1.

It hasn’t always been an easy ride. Translation isn’t an exact science – or is it an art? Or something in between the two? What you see on the page isn’t a literal translation of Ragnar’s original. A word-for-word translation would be unreadable; there’s inevitably a level of interpretation in there.

A translation has to be flexible and occasionally the elastic needs to be stretched a long way, especially when dealing with the untranslatable idioms and plays-on-words that every language has. A joke is often the toughest translation challenge*, with the choice of a literal (and unfunny) translation or finding some elusive alternative that may well leave the original far behind but which remains faithful to the book by being amusing – which was the author’s intention to start with.

The translator has to come up with something that renders the book into a readable version of the original, while it’s the editor’s role to go at the text with a hammer and chisel before putting it all back together. Karen and West Camel have applied a great deal of rigour to the editing process, demanding signposts and discreet additional information where needed, shifting some of the furniture, pruning foliage and shaking things up to reshape the book to be the best it can be for a non-Icelandic readership unfamiliar with customs, mores, landscape, geography and everything else that an Icelandic reader can take for granted.

Since Snowblind there have been four more tales of Ari Thór’s adventures in and around Siglufjörður.

That’s five books, something over a quarter of a million words and a lot of hours over a laptop at the kitchen table during the couple of years we’ve lived in each other’s pockets. And now I’ve waved him off as he disappears into the distance.

I’ve heard it said that not even your spouse will get to know you as intimately as your translator. Only the most dedicated student will pore as minutely over a writer’s words as a translator does. After those three-hundred-and-something thousand words, I ought to know Ragnar fairly well. But I’m not certain that I do. He’s not a writer who strides across his own pages. He’s there, in the background somewhere, letting his characters have the limelight while his own presence is normally only felt if you know what to look out for.

So I feel I’ve got to know Ari Thór much better than I have his creator. It hasn’t always been a happy relationship. Would we have got on if we had met? Probably not.

There have been occasions when I’ve wanted shake him, yell at him to stop acting like a petulant child. There have been times when I’d have gladly punched him. I’ve also mentally cheered him on and willed him to notice what’s right in front of his eyes. More than once I’ve sadly shaken my head when he’s screwed things up with his girlfriend yet again.

So good-bye and good luck, Ari Thór. It’s been an interesting couple of years.

*Fortunately, Ragnar isn’t big on jokes. There’s only one in the Ari Thór series, and it took weeks to figure out a suitable alternative.


Massive thanks to Quentin Bates for taking the time to write this fabulous and insightful  piece and to Karen Sullivan and Anne Cater for the opportunity to join the Whiteout blog tour!

Whiteout was published on November 1st.

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Bookdepository | Goodreads


Ragnar Jónasson is author of the international bestselling Dark Iceland series. His debut Snowblind went to number one in the kindle charts shortly after publication, and Nightblind, Blackout and Rupture soon followed suit, hitting the number one spot in five countries, and the series being sold in 18 countries and for TV.

Ragnar was born in Reykjavik, Iceland, where he continues to work as a lawyer. From the age of 17, Ragnar translated 14 Agatha Christie novels into Icelandic. He has appeared on festival panels worldwide, and lives in Reykjavik with his wife and young daughters.


About Quentin Bates :

Quentin Bates made his escape from suburbia at the end of the seventies as a gap year turned into a gap decade spent in the north of Iceland. He worked ashore and at sea before returning to England and, once finally ashore for good, drifted by accident into journalism.

Finally the lure of fiction became too strong to resist. Sergeant Gunnhildur and the series of novels she features in have their origins in a deep affection for Iceland and its people, and an intimate knowledge of Icelandic society and its language, customs and quirks.

Today he divides his time between the north of Iceland and the south of England, translating books from Icelandic in addition to working on his own fiction.



Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie @HarperCollinsUK


Author : Agatha Christie
Title : Murder on the Orient Express
Series : Hercule Poirot #10
Pages : 240
Publisher : Harper Collins
Publication date : October 19, 2017 (first published in 1934)


Just after midnight, the famous Orient Express is stopped in its tracks by a snowdrift. By morning, the millionaire Samuel Edward Ratchett lies dead in his compartment, stabbed a dozen times, his door locked from the inside. Without a shred of doubt, one of his fellow passengers is the murderer. Isolated by the storm, detective Hercule Poirot must find the killer among a dozen of the dead man’s enemies, before the murderer decides to strike again.


Confession time. Deep breath. This is the very first time I’ve picked up a book by Agatha Christie. I know, as a crime fiction lover it’s an utter disgrace. And if it hadn’t been for the movie, it may still not have happened. Anyway, I have now corrected the error of my ways and I dare say this will not be the last Christie book I read.

We find ourselves on board the Orient Express when the train is forced to stop due to a snowdrift. When morning comes, one of the passengers is dead. Since nobody has boarded or left the train, the murderer is clearly still among the other passengers and it’s up to Hercule Poirot to figure out who the culprit is.

I thoroughly enjoyed this change of pace. While I do like my crime fiction a bit gruesome and full of gore sometimes, it’s nice to read something where the focus isn’t on the icky details but more on the investigation and interviews with potential suspects. And there are a lot of them here. Poirot obviously doesn’t have access to any nifty gadgets, google or databases but relies purely on his wit and powers of deduction.

It’s easy to see why Agatha Christie was, and still is, so popular. Or even why Hercule Poirot is the second most famous detective in the world. It seems to me that Christie was an excellent observer, based on the incredibly realistic and eccentric characters. This was a solid plot that had me guessing until the end. I couldn’t figure out at all whodunnit, nor even howdunnit. That’s totally a word, by the way. 😉

A short and quick read, this fabulous new edition of Murder on the Orient Express now stands proudly on my bookshelf and I know more will follow. I’m glad I finally got around to reading something by her.

Murder on the Orient Express was first published in 1934 and is available in various formats with various covers.

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Bookdepository | Goodreads


Walden of Bermondsey : Where There’s Smoke by Peter Murphy @noexitpress @KatherineSunde3

** copy received via publisher **


Author : Peter Murphy
Title : Walden of Bermondsey : Where There’s Smoke
Pages : n/a
Publisher : No Exit Press
Publication date : November 23, 2017


When Charlie Walden took on the job of Resident Judge of the Bermondsey Crown Court, he was hoping for a quiet life. But he soon finds himself struggling to keep the peace between three feisty fellow judges who have very different views about how to do their job, and about how Charlie should do his.

And as if that’s not enough, there’s the endless battle against the ‘Grey Smoothies’, the humourless grey-suited civil servants who seem determined to drown Charlie in paperwork and strip the court of its last vestiges of civilisation.

No hope of a quiet life then for Charlie, and there are times when his real job – trying the challenging criminal cases that come before him – actually seems like light relief.


This is probably going to be a short review but that’s okay, because the first case of Charlie Walden is a rather short and quick read as well as it’s a sample designed to give you a taster of what’s to come.

Where There’s Smoke is the first of six cases Resident Judge Walden will be working on. When Charlie took up this position, he was hoping for a quiet life. But that was not to be. Apart from trying to keep the peace between fellow judges, he’s also involved in a daily battle with the “Grey Smoothies”, the civil servants who drown Charlie in paperwork and make life as hard as possible.

The case in front of the judge seems straightforward but is it though? A young man is appearing in court, accused of starting a fire at the local church which results in the building being completely unusable. There’s a witness, Father Stringer, who saw the young man leave the scene of the crime. Case closed. Or not?

This is such a breath of fresh air. Not only does it involve some court action, which I thoroughly enjoy but Charlie and his colleagues are a cast of incredibly fun characters. Some are a little odd and eccentric maybe and it’s easy to see why they don’t always get along but they are all vastly entertaining. I suppose this story would fall into the cosy mystery category. What makes it stand out a bit are the fabulously witty moments and seeing a court through the eyes of a judge instead of a lawyer.

This was a wonderful change of pace from the usual books I tend to read and I really enjoyed meeting Charlie Walden. I’ll definitely be picking up the full novel to follow Charlie and his other cases.

Many thanks to Katherine at No Exit Press!

Walden of Bermondsey was published yesterday!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Goodreads

Mother by S.E. Lynes @bookouture #blogtour #extract

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Mother by S.E. Lynes! I have an extract to share with you but first here’s a little something about the book. Many thanks to Kim at Bookouture!


Author : S.E. Lynes
Title : Mother
Pages : 308
Publisher : Bookouture
Publication date : November 22, 2017


Christopher Harris is a lonely boy. A boy who has never fitted into his family. Who has always felt something was missing from his life. Until one day, when he discovers a suitcase in his family’s attic. And a secret about his mother that changes everything. What price would you pay for the perfect family?

Christopher finally has a chance at happiness. A happiness that he will do anything to protect.


Good Friday, 17 April 1981

Still the man thrashes against him, wild as a trapped animal. His arms flail; his shoes scuff against the damp gravel of the canalside. His feet gain purchase. His legs lock. His rigid torso thrusts into Billy’s chest. It’s a powerful blow and Billy staggers backwards at its force. They’ll both end up in the water at this rate, he thinks. But he must keep tight hold of the rope. This is his very life he’s holding onto; he’s come this far and nothing will make him let go now.

The man writhes, cries out – choked, desperate. He clutches at the rope to try to prise it from his failing throat. The twine chafes against Billy’s knuckles, sends blood slick across his aching white fists. The man gives a guttural cough, an internal retching that seems to come from Billy’s own chest. Together they lurch, wrestling twins, a two-headed beast, until the man’s scrabbling boots blanch under the street light. Billy freezes. They have left the cover of the bridge. Someone might see.

With a roar, he drags his raging victim back to the dark, heels scoring twin trails in the loose stone chippings until, to his relief, the shadow of the bridge slides over them once again. Billy’s nostrils flare; his mouth gapes. Not enough air; he must suck in all he can. Overhead comes the rubbery rhythm of cheap shoe soles on stone. One person only – the brisk, offended strut of a good-time girl who has heard one joke too many tonight. Soon there will be more people along this way. He must hurry.

The man bucks, his belly rounding like a bedsheet on the breeze. With all his strength, Billy pulls the rope. He has begun to cry, to sob with a kind of grief. It is all so wretched, but he has not been able to grasp the exact nature of the wretchedness until now. This is how it is to kill a man. This is how it feels.

His body is numbing with cold and pain. His nose is running; no hands free, he has to lick away the gritty trail of mucus from his upper lip. His wet hair falls into his left eye. He flicks his head to clear it, but it falls back. He blows it up, this stubborn lock, but it drops again as soon as his breath fails. It is so bloody awful, this business of death. It wasn’t meant to be this hard. It wasn’t meant to be this messy.

He yanks at the rope again, and this time, at last, the writhing stops. Billy could let go of the rope now, but no, it is not worth the risk. He will finish this, and after it is over, then will be the time for putting things right. Then will be the time for atonement.

‘I will do only good.’ His voice is little more than a croak; his biceps sear for lack of oxygen. ‘Only good from now on. I swear by Almighty God.’

He gives one last pull. The rope is in spasm, his hands in spasm with it. His teeth hurt; he fears he might press them into his gums. He cannot hold on.

The tang of urine fills his nostrils. The man collapses. His feet splay, his body heavy as a gravestone. Silence rushes under the bridge and stops there, filling the space with its terrible sound. Billy clutches the rope, but already the tension is gone.

‘Only good now,’ he says, and falls to his knees. ‘Only good from now on. Oh God.’

Footsteps overhead: clack, clack, clack – the whinny of tipsy female; the bass notes of the male who thinks his luck is in. Billy’s chest is a pump. The jagged path digs into his knees. If those above could see him here below: filthy and crying, snot-smeared and pitiful. What foul troll is that? they would ask themselves. What monster?

He sucks at the cold damp air, air that smells of moss and dirt. Monster. With his bloody hands he wipes his face but feels only mud and grit. Monster. He is still weeping: for this death, for his own saved life. If they could see him, if anyone could, oh God.

The pain of the evening’s exertions claws at his bones. He must rally. He hauls himself to his feet, tries to lift the body, but it is too heavy. He has to kneel again and push with all his remaining strength to roll it towards the water. It now. At the edge, he stops. He can feel the ugly set of his own disgusted mouth. His skin itches and cracks. He closes his eyes for a moment. He is already kneeling, as if the decision to pray has already been made for him.

‘Lord God,’ he whispers, closing his hands together, hoping he can remember at least some of the words. ‘As we commit the earthly remains of our brother to the earth… that is, to the water, grant him peace until he is raised to the glory of new life promised in the waters of baptism. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.’

A strong shove is all it takes to roll the body over the side. Barely half a second passes before the dull splash of oblivion breaks the quiet.Billy groans, lies full length on his stomach and stretches his hands into the water. Scooping up handfuls, he splashes his face clean. Baptism, he thinks. I baptise myself. I am born again.


How’s that for an opener?! 😲

Mother is available for purchase now!

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After graduating from Leeds University, S E Lynes lived in London before moving to Aberdeen to be with her husband. In Aberdeen, she worked as a producer at BBC Radio Scotland before moving with her husband and two young children to Rome. There, she began to write while her children attended nursery. After the birth of her third child and upon her return to the UK, she gained an MA in Creative Writing from Kingston University. She now combines writing with lecturing at Richmond Adult Community College and bringing up her three children. She lives in Teddington. Her first novel, Valentina, published by Blackbird Digital Books, came out in July 2016. Her follow up novel, Mother, is published by Bookouture.