This Week in Books (February 28)

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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 two long years spent in a secret British prison, Nadia Laksheva is suddenly granted her freedom. Yet there is a dangerous price to pay for her release: she must retrieve the Russian nuclear warhead stolen by her deadliest enemy, a powerful and ruthless terrorist known only as The Client.

But her mysterious nemesis is always one step ahead and the clock is ticking. In 37 hours, the warhead will explode, reducing the city of London to a pile of ash. Only this time, Nadia is prepared to pull the trigger at any cost…

The deadly trail will take her from crowded Moscow to the silent streets of Chernobyl, but will Nadia find what she is looking for before the clock hits zero?

The book I’m currently reading

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February, 1946. World War Two is over, but the recovery from the most intimate of its horrors has only just begun for Annaliese Lange, a German ballerina desperate to escape her past, and Simone Deveraux, the wronged daughter of a French Resistance spy.

Now the two women are joining hundreds of other European war brides aboard the renowned RMS Queen Mary to cross the Atlantic and be reunited with their American husbands. Their new lives in the United States brightly beckon until their tightly-held secrets are laid bare in their shared stateroom. When the voyage ends at New York Harbor, only one of them will disembark…

Present day. Facing a crossroads in her own life, Brette Caslake visits the famously haunted Queen Mary at the request of an old friend. What she finds will set her on a course to solve a seventy-year-old tragedy that will draw her into the heartaches and triumphs of the courageous war brides and will ultimately lead her to reconsider what she has to sacrifice to achieve her own deepest longings.

What I’m reading next

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Late one night, outside Stockholm, Mikael Kohler-Frost is found wandering. Thirteen years earlier, he went missing along with his younger sister. They were long thought to have been victims of Sweden’s most notorious serial killer, Jurek Walter, now serving a life sentence in a maximum security psychiatric hospital. Now Mikael tells the police that his sister is still alive and being held by someone he knows only as the Sandman.

Years ago, Detective Inspector Joona Linna made an excruciating personal sacrifice to ensure Jurek’s capture. He is keenly aware of what this killer is capable of, and now he is certain that Jurek has an accomplice. He knows that any chance of rescuing Mikael’s sister depends on getting Jurek to talk, and that the only agent capable of this is Inspector Saga Bauer, a twenty-seven-year-old prodigy. She will have to go under deep cover in the psychiatric ward where Jurek is imprisoned, and she will have to find a way to get to the psychopath before it’s too late–and before he gets inside her head.

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What are you reading this week? Let me know! Happy reading! xx

The Liar’s Girl by Catherine Ryan Howard @CorvusBooks

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Author : Catherine Ryan Howard
Title : The Liar’s Girl
Pages : 304
Publisher : Corvus
Publication date : March 1, 2018

aboutthebook

Will Hurley was an attractive, charming, and impressive student at Dublin’s elite St. John’s College-and Ireland’s most prolific serial killer. Having stalked his four young victims, he drowned them in the muddy waters of the Grand Canal. Sentenced to life imprisonment when he was just nineteen, Will is locked away in the city’s Central Psychiatric Hospital.

Freshman Alison Smith moved to the Big Smoke to enrol in St. John’s and soon fell hard for Will Hurley. Her world bloomed … and then imploded when Liz, her best friend, became the latest victim of the Canal Killer – and the Canal Killer turned out to be the boy who’d been sleeping in her bed. Alison fled to the Netherlands and, in ten years, has never once looked back.

When a young woman’s body is found in the Grand Canal, Garda detectives visit Will to see if he can assist them in solving what looks like a copycat killing. Instead, Will tells them he has something new to confess – but there’s only one person he’s prepared to confess it to. The last thing Alison wants is to be pulled back into the past she’s worked so hard to leave behind. Reluctantly, she returns to the city she hasn’t set foot in for more than a decade to face the man who murdered the woman she was supposed to become.

Only to discover that, until now, Will has left out the worst part of all.

mythoughts

Ten years ago, Alison’s boyfriend Will was arrested for the murders of four young women. Embarrassed and unable to deal with the fact that she didn’t realise she was sleeping with a killer, Alison moves to the Netherlands. But now, there is a new spate of murders. Since Will has been locked up in a psychiatric institution for the past ten years, it obviously can’t be him this time around. Is there a copycat? Or was Will innocent all along? Alison is forced to return to Ireland and face her past and the man she thought she’d spend the rest of her life with.

I think it’s fair to say this is a psychological thriller with a difference, which isn’t a bad thing. But if you’re looking for a thrill a minute with twists and turns at every available opportunity, you may end up a tad disappointed. The Liar’s Girl is rather slow-paced and has reveals rather than twists. Although I must admit there was one that completely threw me for a loop but it took a long time coming.

Being suspicious by nature, I kept wondering about the motives of the characters involved and seeing connections where there weren’t any. If Will was innocent, why did he keep his mouth shut for ten years? Did the Gardaí make mistakes? Was there just the one killer or was there a team of two? Or is Will just a really accomplished liar?

The story is told through Alison’s perspective, in the now and the past where she revisits her friendship with Liz and her relationship with Will. I do so enjoy a story set up like this where the past may just give you tiny clues. Although I must admit if there were any, I completely missed them. I must also say I utterly disliked the character of Liz and even her excuse for acting the way she did didn’t make me sympathise with her.

The Liar’s Girl is a thoroughly enjoyable and well-crafted slow burner of a psychological thriller. I really enjoy Catherine Ryan Howard’s writing and in this case, her ability to take a topic that’s been done numerous times and give it a refreshing makeover. This is the second book I’ve read by her, the first one being Distress Signals which I also really enjoyed, and I look forward to much more!

The Liar’s Girl will be published on March 1st.

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Bookdepository | Kobo | WorderyGoodreads

 

Found Drowned by B.K. Duncan @BKDuncanwriter@Bloodhoundbook #blogblitz #guestpost

Welcome to my stop on the blog blitz for Found Drowned by B.K. Duncan! My thanks to Sarah Hardy at Bloodhound Books for the opportunity to join. Today, I have a fabulous guest post to share with you but first, here is what the book is all about.

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Author : B.K. Duncan
Title : Found Drowned
Series : May Keaps #2
Pages : 353
Publisher : Bloodhound Books
Publication date : February 27, 2018

aboutthebook

Smuggling. Prostitution. Murder.

London. 1920 and coroner’s officer May Keaps is tasked with solving the mystery that surrounds the death of a young boy, found drowned in The Thames.

But was it murder or an accident?

May knows that when children go missing, the reason is often linked to money but she is in danger of underestimating the corrupting influence of power . . .

On streets where poverty and exploitation walk hand-in-hand everyone has a price. And some are more valuable dead than alive. But who is pulling the strings?

May must journey into the dark underbelly of London to find the answers.

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Goodreads

guestpost

I READ, THEREFORE I AM by BK DUNCAN

One of the most common questions an author is asked is why they write. It is second only to where we get our ideas from (I’ll come on to that one later). My answer is as simple as it is all-encompassing. I write because it opens up new worlds to me. Worlds that I only half understood before I began to explore them, or worlds I didn’t even know existed before research laid them at my feet. Worlds in which I am able to taste something of other people’s lives through memories bequeathed us; where I can – for a brief moment at least – imagine what life might be like if I hadn’t been born in the time and place I was. If I wasn’t me. And that sets you free. Free to pretend to be someone else; free to dance to the beat of a different drum. Free to escape the ordinariness of everyday life and forget the worries and stresses of the moment.

But spending time living vicariously is accompanied by being unable to avoid illuminating aspects of your true, deep personality. Sometimes discovering things that are startling or unsettling; things that rock the real world you inhabit and send tremors through the person you will be tomorrow. Shakespeare knew a thing or two about writing, and when he had Hamlet say of acting: ‘. . . the purpose of playing, whose end, both at the first and now, was and is, to hold, as t’were a mirror up to nature . . .’ he could have been giving his job description as a playwright.

I write because, by doing so, I learn.

The May Keaps series explores the East End of London during the 1920s in the immediate aftermath of The Great War – with the prequel short story The Last Post set at the Western Front in 1918. The ongoing Centenary Commemorations have augmented my research with television programmes, radio dramas, and numerous websites where a click will unveil vivid first-hand accounts. All have enriched my understanding of self as I try to walk in the shoes of the people who endured the horrors of a worst nightmare. How would it have affected me? Surviving it would certainly have damaged me physically, psychologically or emotionally. What must it have been like to face a future that had been irrevocably altered by a cataclysmic event, the ramifications of which we, with rolling news and frontline reportage, can’t possibly comprehend? Can you imagine coming back from the trenches to a Britain flooded with a sort of collective amnesia that turned a blind eye to deny on-going suffering? Bear in mind that Wilfred Owen wrote his poems of remembrance, not for us, but to awaken his contemporaries. He bore witness to the world around him and, in doing so, left a legacy that shapes our world today.

I write because I read.

I had something to write about in Foul Trade because others have broadened my knowledge through the written word. The number of sails on a ship running the trade winds from China? I’ll find it in a book. What woods and spices came through West India Docks and what time of year could they be expected to arrive? The labels on the exhibits in the cabinets at the Museum of London Docklands told me that. How much food could a 1920 East End family buy per week and what would it cost? A contemporary newspaper article cross-referenced with the tables at the back of a volume of The New Survey of London Life and Labour put me straight. Whittaker’s Almanac of 1919 is stuffed full of facts such as the number of postal deliveries a day (four); and the names of the police commissioners, judges, coroners, Home Office pathologists and everyone else with professional relevance to the world I was attempting to recreate. Do you care that a two-wheel horse drawn Hackney Carriage cost 2/6 (12p) to hire in 1920? You would if you were wondering if one of the characters in your story could afford to take one as a means of escape. My point in subjecting you to the sources of all this useless information is that it is only useless if you don’t need it, and if you need it, the only way to cure your ignorance is by reading.

I write because you read.

If I didn’t know you were reading this, then I wouldn’t be spending my Sunday writing it. Writing and reading is to give and to receive. Writing something down is to preserve experience and grant knowledge. Reading is to acquire and assimilate that knowledge; to learn and grow as a consequence. If we can’t read then the worlds open to us are limited and unvaried. If the person we become is a product of the combination of our inner and outer worlds, then by being unable to read we are, by definition, restricting our potential. There are too many people in England today who can only read sufficiently well to get by. The National Literacy Trust gives the figure of 16% or 5.2 million adults who have the literacy levels at or below those expected of an 11-year-old. Such an appalling statistic in 2017 matters. It matters because if you can’t read proficiently enough to enjoy it, then you’re only ever going to read what you need to know (remember my 1920 cab fares above?) and miss out on everything else. It matters, because so much of the everyday experience of ordinary people of the past was lost when they couldn’t write down their thoughts and feelings in letters or diaries. Nor, I suspect, will any of England’s 5.2 million, however unique or fascinating their lives. It matters because one of the fundamental things human beings do is communicate with each other. No reading equals no texts, emails, blogs, books, magazines, newspapers, Wikipedia . . . And as a result our individual and collective world-pictures are painted in less bright colours.

So I read to write, and I write to be read. I write to be who I am. To make myself into the person I want to be. To make a difference (no matter if only in causing you think twice about Wilfred Owen) to who you are. Oh, I nearly forgot. Where does a writer get their ideas? From opening their eyes to the world around them because every story there has ever been in the history of human thought and deed is out there, writ large. You just need to be able to read the signs.

abouttheauthor

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.

Twitter | Website

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B L O G B L I T Z

Silent Victim by Caroline Mitchell @Caroline_writes @ThomasMercerUK

** advanced copy received via author **

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Author : Caroline Mitchell
Title : Silent Victim
Pages : 325
Publisher : Thomas & Mercer
Publication date : March 1, 2018

aboutthebook

Emma is a loving wife, a devoted mother…and an involuntary killer. For years she’s been hiding the dead body of the teacher who seduced her as a teen.

It’s a secret that might have stayed buried if only her life had been less perfect. A promotion for Emma’s husband, Alex, means they can finally move to a bigger home with their young son. But with a buyer lined up for their old house, Emma can’t leave without destroying every last trace of her final revenge…

Returning to the shallow grave in the garden, she finds it empty. The body is gone.

Panicked, Emma confesses to her husband. But this is only the beginning. Soon, Alex will discover things about her he’ll wish he’d learned sooner. And others he’ll long to forget.

mythoughts

I’ve never been on a rollercoaster ride but I imagine coming off it, feels a little something like I felt when I finished reading Silent Victim : a little dizzy, maybe a tad nauseous and with legs like jelly.

Emma hasn’t had an easy time but now she has a loving husband and a wonderful son. Things are looking up until her husband gets a job opportunity in Leeds and is set on moving and selling their house. Because the field at the back of their house hides a secret. It’s where Emma buried the body of a teacher who seduced her when she was a teenager. Desperate to hide the traces of what she’s done, Emma returns to the grave only to find the body is gone.

This brilliant plot had me guessing until the very end, scratching my head in confusion. Full of secret and lies, I found it hard to figure out who could be trusted or not, or even if Emma was a reliable narrator. I enjoyed the alternating chapters between her and her husband, Alex, as it showed quite clearly what it would have felt like to have been in his shoes.

I was gripped from the very beginning. At times, I felt quite uncomfortable. Any story involving grooming is tough to read but I feel the author tackled it brilliantly. It’s frightening, haunting and heartbreaking but also incredibly engrossing. Silent Victim is a truly compelling read with some twists and turns and a red herring here and there. It held my attention throughout.

As a huge fan of the Ruby Preston series, I was somewhat sad to see that coming to an end but if it means Caroline Mitchell is coming up with stories like this one, I really can’t complain. This is a psychological thriller with all the right ingredients. I thoroughly enjoyed it and I highly recommend you pick up a copy as soon as you possibly can.

My thanks to author Caroline Mitchell for the advanced copy, which I chose to review honestly!

Murder Victim will be published on March 1st.

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Goodreads

Hiding by Jenny Morton-Potts @jmortonpotts @rararesources #blogtour #spotlight #giveaway #win

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Hiding. I’ll be telling you a bit more about the book and its author Jenny Morton-Potts and you can also enter a giveaway to win an ecopy!

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Author : Jenny Morton-Potts
Title : Hiding
Pages : 258
Publisher : Cahoots Publishing
Publication date : February 1, 2018

aboutthebook

Keller Baye and Rebecca Brown live on different sides of the Atlantic. Until she falls in love with him, Rebecca knows nothing of Keller. But he’s known about her for a very long time, and now he wants to destroy her.

This is the story of two families. One living under the threat of execution in North Carolina. The other caught up in a dark mystery in the Scottish Highlands. The families’ paths are destined to cross. But why? And can anything save them when that happens?

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Goodreads

abouttheauthor

Jenny is a novelist, screenplay writer and playwright. After a series of ‘proper jobs’, she realised she was living someone else’s life and escaped to Gascony to make gîtes. Knee deep in cement and pregnant, Jenny was happy. Then autism and a distracted spine surgeon wiped out the order. Returned to wonderful England, to write her socks off.

Jenny would like to see the Northern Lights but worries that’s the best bit and should be saved till last. Very happily, and gratefully, settled with family. She tries not to take herself too seriously.

Facebook | Twitter | Website

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GIVEAWAY

Win 3 x e-copies of Hiding by Jenny Morton Potts (Open Internationally) 

Enter on rafflecopter

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Weekly Wrap-Up (February 25)

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One word : freezing! I may have gotten a little excited when I noticed flowers in my garden and thought Spring was around the corner. So what does the universe do? Send Arctic winds and temperatures. 🙄

The Winter Olympics continued to hold my attention and interfered with my reading time like crazy. Thankfully, they’re now finished and things can go back to normal 😄


Books I’ve read this week

I read four books this week. Slightly sad but at least I’m still ahead on my schedule for the next few weeks so I can’t really complain.

Books I’ve bought this week

Again, none. This is becoming a little worrying. 😂

ARC’s received via Netgalley

Bookpost that landed on my doorstep this past week

I’ve been a very spoilt and lucky blogger this past week. Look at all these pretties! 😍
(Yes, Janel, three are for blog tours 😜)

On the blog this past week

Monday : Joined the blog tour for Blue Night by Simone Buchholz

Tuesday : Hosted a stop on the blog tour for Killed by Thomas Enger

Wednesday : I shared an extract from The Meal of Fortune by Philip Brady and joined the blitz for The Scent of Guilt by Tony J. Forder

Thursday : Took the day off 😄

Friday : Reviewed the brilliant The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

Saturday : Joined the blog blitz for Cut The Threads by Robin Roughley

Sunday : Weekly wrap-up

Next week on Novel Deelights

Busy week coming up on the blog. I’ll be hosting stops on five (I know. Shut up. 😄) blog tours and I’ll also be sharing my reviews for The Silent Victim by Caroline Mitchell and The Liar’s Girls by Catherine Ryan Howard.

In other news : This past week marked my first blogiversary! My wee blog is one year old! How the heck did that happen?! I have no idea where the time has gone but what a fabulously wild ride it’s been so far!

So many highlights I never expected. I was nominated for Best Newcomer at the Blogger Bash Awards, which blew my mind. I’ve been quoted in books and just recently, on the cover of one as well. I found my name listed among so many brilliant bloggers in acknowledgments. I never realised how awesome that would feel. It’s rather addictive 😄

I must thank Karen for holding my hand, for the support and her endless patience when I continuously ruined her day by asking stupid questions 😉. Also, thank you to Emma, Sarah, Noelle and Anne for taking a chance on a newbie and inviting me on blog tours. There are so many other people I want to thank but I’m too afraid I’ll leave someone out. Massive thanks to all the publishers and authors who entrusted me with their books. To my fellow bloggers, who welcomed me into their community so warmly. I’ve made some amazing new friends. And last but certainly not least, to you, follower and reader of this blog.

So, I thought I’d might run a wee giveaway. All you have to do is leave a comment and tell me which book you’ve read or bought based on a review I’ve written this past year. It’s as simple as that. This giveaway is open internationally to those who have been following this blog prior to today, as long as the Book Depository ships to your country. An innocent hand will draw two names. The first one will be able to choose books to the value of 20€, the second to the value of 10€. You must of course be willing to share your details with me so the books can be sent off to you. Good luck!

I think that’s it for this week. I think. I have this annoying feeling that I forgot something. Oh well.

Wishing you all a fabulous week and lots of happy reading! xx

 

Cut The Threads by Robin Roughley @Bloodhoundbook #blogblitz #CutTheThreads

Happy Saturday and welcome to my stop on the blog blitz for Cut The Threads by Robin Roughley! My thanks to Sarah Hardy at Bloodhound Books!

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Author : Robin Roughley
Title : Cut The Threads
Series : DS Marnie Hammond #2
Pages : 431
Publisher : Bloodhound Books
Publication day : February 22, 2018

aboutthebook

When the mutilated remains of local hard man, Tam Whitlow, are found tied to a chair, in a dilapidated building, Marnie Hammond and the team believe the murder could be gang-related. Whitlow worked for Jimmy Rae, a man who hides behind the facade of local businessman but whose empire has been built on fear and extortion. However, it appears that someone is trying to take over from Rae, someone who is willing to  commit horrific killings to achieve their goal.

Meanwhile, Tom Conway is looking for his oldest friend, John Hall, who is missing along with his young daughter, Rowan.  As Conway starts to ask questions he finds himself in grave danger. Is there a link between the missing man and the spate of murders? Will Tom or Marnie discover the truth before it is too late?

As the body count rises, Marnie realises that there is someone in the shadows, someone who will never rest until they have had their revenge.

mythoughts

Cut The Threads is the second book in the DS Marnie Hammond series. Events in this book directly relate to the first one in the series so I do feel you should read “Keep You Near” first as there’s quite a bit of background you’d be missing out on otherwise.

In this one though, there’s a whole cast of rather despicable characters who seem to be vying for the “worst bad guy award”. With some gruesome murders (think machete), fights, grooming and prostitution, it’s easy to find yourself completely engrossed in the world of gangs and criminal kingpin Jimmy Rae. But Jimmy’s empire is falling apart at the seams as it seems someone else has rolled into town who’s pulling the strings but who and why?

Meanwhile Tom Conway is looking for his oldest friend John, who’s gone missing with his young daughter. Being ex-army, Tom is most definitely on a mission and he’s utterly ruthless in his quest to find the truth. Despite maybe not going about things the right way, I couldn’t help but sympathise with him.

DS Marnie Hammond remains as fierce and determined as ever. She’s not afraid to break the rules from to time if she thinks this may lead to a breakthrough but more than anything, she wants to know what happened to her sister. It’s why she joined the force in the first place after all. But is teaming up with a killer taking things a step too far?

There are various threads running through this story, which may or may not be connected in some way. I enjoyed the variety in characters. Some you root for, some you’d quite happily take a machete to yourself. Cut The Threads is tense and suspenseful and a thrilling addition to the series. It kept me guessing until the end and I look forward to seeing what’s in store for Marnie next.

Cut The Threads was published on February 22nd.

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Goodreads

abouttheauthor

Robin Roughley hails from the town of Wigan in the North-West of England and is the author of the hugely popular DS Lasser crime series.

On March 9th 2017, Rob released the first book in the  DS Marnie Hammond series, Keep You Near, published by Bloodhound.  DS Marnie Hammond hails from Lancashire, in the fictional town of Kirkhead.  Like all good detectives, Marnie comes with her own unique set of crime-solving skills.

When not writing, which amounts to roughly two days a year, he can be found walking the canal towpaths of Wigan, sorting out plot lines and looking for ideas, with an assortment of dogs in tow.

So, next time you see a shaven-headed, middle-aged man wandering about, scratching his head, looking bewildered and taking random pictures it is Rob hoping for divine inspiration.

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The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton @stu_turton @BloomsburyRaven

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Author : Stuart Turton
Title : The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle
Pages : 512
Publisher :  Raven Books
Publication date : February 8, 2018

aboutthebook

How do you stop a murder that’s already happened?

At a gala party thrown by her parents, Evelyn Hardcastle will be killed–again. She’s been murdered hundreds of times, and each day, Aiden Bishop is too late to save her. Doomed to repeat the same day over and over, Aiden’s only escape is to solve Evelyn Hardcastle’s murder and conquer the shadows of an enemy he struggles to even comprehend–but nothing and no one are quite what they seem.

mythoughts

Bloody hell. I have no idea how I’m supposed to review this!

At its base, The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is a murder mystery set in a mansion. However, Evelyn Hardcastle will die again and again, until her murder is solved. Her final day keeps repeating itself and it’s up to Aiden Bishop to find the clues that will save her. However, Aiden starts each day in someone else’s body! I mean, what now?!

While I was reading this, I dubbed it “Agatha Christie on crack” and I’m totally sticking with that. It left me confused, intrigued, made my head hurt in the best way possible and I loved every minute of it! There are twists and turns, reveals that just blew me away and a whole lot of weird stuff. I had an incredibly hard time putting this book down.

At more than 500 pages, this isn’t exactly a quickie so you may need to carve out some serious reading time if you want to truly get stuck into it. There’s very little I can say without giving anything away but suffice to say this story is utterly engrossing and addictive, making your head spin faster than the tallest rollercoaster ride. I woke up in the middle of the night, thinking about it, trying to figure things out and failing miserably.

Fabulously original, brilliantly written and utterly genius, this wicked and deliciously weird tale has shot its way straight onto my top list of books of the year. Yes, I’m aware it’s only February but it’s going to take something insanely special to top this one for me. Highly, highly recommended!

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

The Scent of Guilt by Tony J. Forder @TonyJForder @Bloodhoundbook #blogblitz #TheScentofGuilt

It’s a pleasure to welcome you all to my stop on the blog blitz for The Scent of Guilt by Tony J. Forder. My thanks to Sarah Hardy and Bloodhound Books for the opportunity and my review copy.

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Author : Tony J. Forder
Title : The Scent of Guilt
Series : DI Bliss #2
Pages : 379
Publisher : Bloodhound Books
Publication date : February 17, 2018

aboutthebook

Twelve years after he left Peterborough under a cloud, DI Bliss returns to the city and the major crimes team. Having spent years policing organised crime, Bliss is plunged straight into the heart of a serial murder investigation.

Meanwhile, Penny Chandler has been promoted to DS and has been working in London on the Met’s sexual crimes team. But when two rapes are reported on her old patch in Peterborough, Chandler volunteers to interview the victims.

Chandler joins the hunt for the attacker and soon notices a possible link between the rapes and Bliss’s murder investigation. Could the same man be responsible?

Just as both cases seem to stall, a call comes in from an ex-policeman who knows of unsolved cases in the USA with a similar MO. Bliss finds himself travelling to California to hunt for a killer whose reach may have stretched further than anyone could possibly imagine.

But in order to catch the murderer, Bliss must discover the killer’s motive. A motive which should have remained buried in the past.

mythoughts

Twelve years after leaving Peterborough and the Major Crimes Team, DI Bliss is back in familiar surroundings. On his first day, he’s thrown head first into what looks to be a serial killer investigation when the body of an elderly woman is found. Meanwhile, DI Bliss’s former colleague DS Chandler has been working on rape investigations. When her most recent case leads her back to Peterborough, she thinks there may be a connection between the rapes and the murders. Their search for the killer will lead them to America and back again.

As far as this murder investigation goes, The Scent of Guilt reads perfectly well as a stand-alone but I do feel you’d miss out on quite a bit of background regarding, for instance, DI Bliss’s health, which is explained in the first book in this series Bad To The Bone. I’m glad I managed to squeeze that one in before I read this one, even though I must admit the twelve year gap threw me off a little bit in the beginning and I thought I’d missed a book somewhere. Things have obviously changed in the last twelve years and some of the people DI Bliss used to work with have been replaced. Not all of them are happy to see him return and it’s not all plain sailing.

The chase for the serial killer is incredibly thrilling. The detectives quite quickly zero in on a potential suspect but are they right in doing so? Is there a rapist and a killer? Or is there only one person responsible for both vile acts? What is the motivation behind these attacks and why now? All these questions must be answered, preferably before there’s another victim. But when DI Bliss jets off to America, is he putting his own investigation into jeopardy? I didn’t have a clue but I really enjoyed trying to figure it out.

I love that part of this book is set in America. Cold cases are always fascinating to me and having the chance to work on this puzzle alongside Bliss, trying to find some kind of connection to what’s happening back in the UK, really held my attention throughout. The Scent of Guilt is a well plotted and suspenseful crime thriller. The pace starts off a little slow but ramps up as you go along and ultimately ends with a most satisfying conclusion.  Another great addition to this series and I hope Bliss and Chandler will return soon!

The Scent of Guilt is available for purchase.

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Bookdepository | Wordery | Goodreads

abouttheauthor

Tony J Forder is the author of the critically acclaimed crime thriller Bad to the Bone, the first in a series featuring DI Jimmy Bliss and DC Penny Chandler. The sequel, The Scent of Guilt, is available from 17 February 2018. A third book in the series is currently in progress.

Tony’s dark, psychological crime thriller, Degrees of Darkness, featuring ex-detective Frank Rogers, was also published by Bloodhound Books. This was intended to be a stand-alone novel, but Tony is now considering the possibility of a follow-up.

One book that will definitely see a sequel is Scream Blue Murder. This was published in November 2017, and received praise from many, including fellow authors Mason Cross and Matt Hilton.

Some years ago, Tony won a short story competition judged by an editor from Pan Books. The story, Gino’s Bar and Grille, went on to be published in Dark Voices 2, part of the celebrated Pan Book of Horror series. Three further short story sales followed: Book End, published in Dark Voices 4, Character Role, in FEAR magazine, and finally A Grim Story, which featured in A Rattler’s Tale. It was the start of Tony’s publishing journey.

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The Meal of Fortune by Philip Brady @philbradyUK @annecater #blogtour #extract #MealofFortune

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for The Meal of Fortune by Philip Brady. I have an extract to share with you today but first, here’s what the book is all about.

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Author : Philip Brady
Title : The Meal of Fortune
Pages : 384
Publisher : Unbound
Publication date : November 14, 2017

aboutthebook

The worlds of arms dealing, espionage and TV cookery collide in this fast moving comedy caper.

Failing celebrity agent Dermot Jack thinks his luck might have turned when a mysterious Russian oligarch hires him to represent his pop star daughter.

Disaffected MI5 officer Anna Preston is just as happy to be handed the chance to resurrect her own career. Little do they know that their paths are about to cross again after seventeen years as they’re thrown together in a desperate attempt to lure a notorious arms dealer into a highly unusual trap.

Hard enough without having to deal with the lecherous celebrity chef trying to save his daytime TV career or the diminutive mafia enforcer who definitely has his own agenda. Then there’s the very impatient loan shark who ‘just wants his money back’.

And Anna’s bosses are hardly playing it straight either. But one thing’s for sure. There’ll be winners and losers when the Meal of Fortune finally stops spinning. Oh, and another thing, Anna and Dermot are absolutely not about to fall in love again. That’s never going to happen, OK?

extract

Chapter 1

Every Thursday the music would start in Dermot’s head the moment the bell sounded. And even before he got to the front door he’d be dancing inside. The little girl would already be out of the car, running up the path, one hand tucking a lock of long dark hair behind her ear, the other clutching the bag filled with a whole week’s worth of things she’d bought to show him. She’d always be laughing.

The music inside could be anything: that year’s big feel-good summer hit or some long-forgotten guilty pleasure with a heavy synth bass and cheesy samples. It didn’t matter; it always got him dancing inside.

And every Thursday the little girl would sit up at the kitchen counter to do the homework her mother had so thoughtfully saved up for her one night with Daddy. Still, a little help here and there and they soon had it out of the way. Then it would be time for the bag to reveal its contents. Sometimes one by one, more often all at the same time. Pictures she’d drawn as well as other random (and often unidentifiable) works of art. Stickers (what was it with kids and stickers?) and various little bits and bobs she’d collected along the way. Dermot would laugh and smile while he made her beans on toast. It wasn’t that he couldn’t cook (OK!). But Thursday was Molly’s night and it was her favourite. At bedtime ‘Just one more story’ ended up being three or four as they eked out every last minute of their time together. Their current record stood at eight.

And all the time the dance went on inside his head as the music carried on playing. Shaking, twisting and jiving. Sometimes a little breakdance or maybe even the disco strut.

As a younger man he’d got away with real dancing; at home, in the street, in the lobby of many an overpriced hotel. Just about anywhere. A few steps here, a spin or two there, maybe the odd little whoop. Amazing the allowances people made when you were young and all they wanted was their little own piece of you. But Dermot had learned long ago to keep it inside. The music, the dancing and a few other things besides.

‘The train will soon be arriving in London King’s Cross…’

He slipped out of his daydream to find the green of the countryside had given way to the dirty greys and dull browns of the city he’d always called home. So why did it feel like home was 400-odd miles behind him with an eight-year-old girl who still called him Daddy? Just. Little wonder the music inside didn’t play anymore.

Dermot stayed seated as the train slid to a halt, letting all the other passengers jostle their way off first. Only when the carriage was empty did he reach up and grab his small case from the overhead rail and head for the door.

Scotland, for God’s sake. Actually no: he was going to get it right. Scotland, for fuck’s sake.Not that he had any particular beef with the country. He’d just rather his ex-wife hadn’t taken his daughter to live there. With a man called Wayne. Wanker.

Come on… A Silicon Glen entrepreneur who’d made his first million at about the age of 12, then cashed it all in before the crash to become an organic cheese-maker.

Dermot gave the train a last look of lingering resentment as he stepped down to the platform and headed for the ticket barrier. He shouldn’t even have been on the sodding thing in the first place. Sarah’s phone call the previous Tuesday had changed that. ‘Erm, you see, the thing is…

That was the thing about his ex-wife. There was always some sort of ‘thing’. This time it was the work deadline that would make it ‘just impossible’ for her to bring Molly down to London for half term. As bloody discussed, agreed and promised. Sarah was happy enough for him to come up to Scotland to see Molly. Not to stay with them but there was no reason why he couldn’t take his daughter to Edinburgh for a couple of days. It was a safe enough offer for Sarah to make, knowing he wouldn’t be able to drop everything at work or afford the hotel. Well this time she’d be wrong. On both counts.

‘Great, I’ll book the train tomorrow.’

‘I mean… If you’re sure.’ A delicious note of doubt had crept into her voice.

‘It’s fine.’

After weeks of delays Marcus Diesel’s new contract was finally edging its way past the collection of pedants and timewasters that the TV-production company insisted on referring to as its legal department. But any further questions the lawyers concocted could be answered easily enough by phone or email.

With no way to un-invite him, Sarah had dialled the breeziness back up. ‘In that case, Molly’s got a surprise. You’ll never guess…’

‘Daddy, Daddy!’ Molly had come charging through the door of the mock Scottish castle she now called home and down the path towards him. Sarah had stayed in the doorway, the scowl she saved exclusively for Dermot doing little to hide how good she looked. Her blonde hair had been expensively cut into a shiny new bob and she’d lost weight too – something she’d never bothered with when she was with Dermot. But then he could hardly…

Maybe best not to go over all that again.

Wayne at least had shown enough tact to stay well out of sight, no doubt lurking in one of the large feasting halls of what, on closer inspection, appeared to be a genuine Scottish castle. Not such a wanker after all then? Although Dermot didn’t plan to let that count in the man’s favour. Molly had wrapped her arms around him in one of those special eight-year-old-hugs that promised to go on forever. Then she let go and looked up at him with her best smile.

‘Wayne bought me a pony.’

Of course he had. That would be the surprise Sarah had mentioned. And yes, she’d been right: he’d never have guessed. Not long ago Dermot had bought his daughter ice creams when there’d been something to celebrate. Now another man was buying her horses. Wayne’s ‘tact’ in making himself scarce was nothing more than good old-fashioned fear of a punch in the head. Dermot knew he’d been right to avoid a hasty reappraisal of the man’s wanker status.

‘He’s called Nugget. I get to ride him every day.’ The words tumbled out as if they were never going to stop. ‘And he’s got his own special bit of the stable too. It’s bigger than your whole flat, Daddy.’

Yeah cheers for that, Mol. Was it so wrong to wish the beast a nasty hoof infection or a fatal cheese-churning accident on Wayne?

Two days in Edinburgh had done much to close up the gap driven between Dermot and his daughter by the three months’ long separation and the arrival of the bloody horse. Molly had chatted away about old times as they’d done the zoo, the castle, the shops, plenty of cafés and then the zoo again (zoos were a big thing for her). It was all his Thursday nights rolled into one. The horse barely got a look in after first day. But all too soon he’d found himself back at Chateau Fromage.

‘Bye, darling. I’ll see you soon.’

‘Bye-bye, Daddy.’ She’d said it with a sad little smile. But it had only been little and not really that sad. Then she’d turned away, asking Sarah whether it was too late to have a ride on Nugget.

Dermot had been left to head back to the waiting taxi, wondering if the driver might know where to buy voodoo horse dolls in Edinburgh. And extra-long pins. But then he’d had a far better idea.

The station concourse was busy and Dermot dodged through the crowds, weighing up the choice of taxi or underground for the trip across London and home to Chiswick. The station clock read 4.29pm. So, with an hour of the working day left, he plumped for a taxi. Plenty of time to get on the phone to the production-company lawyers and ask why the bloody hell they were still stalling on Marcus Diesel’s contract.

The taxi queue moved with a swiftness that was as unexpected as it was welcome and five minutes later he was in a cab heading along Euston Road, his sleek black phone nestling snugly in his hand. The little device was no ordinary phone though. It was the lightsabre to his Luke Skywalker. In his hands it could be a weapon of almost unimaginable might. All his power (well, all his contacts) dwelled inside the neat glass-and-metal shell. With it he could unleash the force and battle the evil legion of Sith (talentless, wannabe celebs and over-paid fuckwit lawyers). He was looking at the home screen when the Jedi weapon sprang to life, the name of the dark lord of TV cookery himself written large across the screen. The thought of speaking to Marcus made Dermot’s whole face hurt on the best of days. It wasn’t for nothing that the man had been voted TV’s most annoying man three years on the spin. And that was by a viewing public who only had to watch his show rather than speak to him at least six times a day.

‘Marcus, hi.’ He took the call reluctantly, trying his hardest to keep the sigh from his voice.

‘Dermot what the—’

The rest of what Marcus had to say was drowned out by the siren of a passing fire engine. Not that it mattered; most of it would have been one or other derivative of the word ‘fuck’.

‘Come again?’

But all Dermot caught were a couple more ‘fuck’s and maybe a ‘bastard’ before another fire engine roared by.

‘Marcus, I can’t hear—’

But the chef had already hung up, presumably happy he’d got his message across. A combination of poor mobile reception, more emergency vehicles and an overly stubborn receptionist at the production company meant he was well past Shepherd’s Bush before he finally got through to the lawyer he needed to speak to. Then the signal went and he lost the call. Dermot looked at the lightsabre lying useless in his hand and decided to give it up for the day.

Fifteen minutes later he was closing the front door of his flat behind him and dumping his case in the narrow hallway as he headed for the sitting room. For five long years the flat had been his sanctuary, coming alive with the sound of Molly’s laughter every Thursday night and second weekend. Now it just felt cold and desolate; the scratched dining table and scruffy green sofas with their mismatched cushions were too big for the undersized sitting room. He tried not to think about that bastard horse lounging about in the comfort of its vast executive stable.

Without Molly’s regular visits to the flat he’d decided to forgo the cost of a cleaner and it was starting to show. Then there was the smell drifting from the kitchen, carrying more than a suggestion that he’d forgotten to put the dishwasher on before heading to Scotland. Dermot took in the mess of papers and used coffee cups on his desk as he thought about fighting his way through the stale stench to tackle the dishwasher. But the prospect of a pint and a pie in his local was always going to win that debate. His stomach was already grumbling as he headed back down the hall and pulled the front door open, only to find someone standing in his way.

‘Ah, Mr Jack, hello. My name is Yegor Koslov.’

The man wore an expensive suit and a cheap haircut. The hair was thinning and blond (possibly dyed) and quite a bit too long on top; what the uncharitable might have described as a comb-over. At six foot four he could have pulled it off but at five foot five and a bit he didn’t stand a chance.

‘You are a very hard man to track down.’

Jesus, that accent; like the first baddie to die in a low-rent spy movie. But when he looked down into the little man’s eyes he saw something hard and cold there, something that suggested it would be foolish to underestimate him. Dermot took a step backwards, ready to close the door. Because, well… It wasn’t every day a real-life Russian gangster came calling. The Russian bit he wasn’t quite so sure of, although the name and the accent were pretty big clues.

But gangster?

When you’d spend half your life scratching the fleshy underbelly of the entertainment business you knew a crook when you saw one.

‘I have a message for you from my employer.’ The man smiled, the chill never quite leaving his eyes.

Shit… Mulrooney.

‘Look, I can…’ Repaying the money he owed the big loan shark wasn’t going to be a problem. It just wouldn’t be happening today. Or that week even. The ‘better idea’ that had trumped the voodoo horse doll had also proved a lot more costly. The deposit and three months’ rent he’d forked out for a flat in Edinburgh meant he’d be able to go to Scotland and see Molly whenever he liked. But it also meant that he was skint again.

‘Tell him—’ Dermot took another step backwards. It didn’t look like he’d be getting that pie and pint after all. But the little fella wouldn’t look quite so tough with a face full of front door. He shoved as hard as he could with his shoulder.

‘That’s not very friendly, Mr Jack.’ Somehow Yegor Koslov had stepped backward and still managed to force his foot between the closing door and frame, moving surprisingly quickly for such a little man. ‘Not very friendly at all.’

Then the Russian started to push the door back open. Turned out that he was surprisingly strong for a little man as well.

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abouttheauthor

I was first inspired to write when I read Lord of The Rings as a child. Back then the ambition was to create a whole fantasy world with dragons and sword fights. Sadly George RR Martin seems to have cornered that market, so I now try to comedy thrillers set in the (almost) real world instead. These feature spies, gangsters, vicious (if feckless) criminals, washed-up private detectives and daytime TV presenters. The Meal of Fortune is my first published novel. It is the first in a planned trilogy of comedy thrillers parodying society’s obsession with celebrity.

The follow-up, Tinker Tailor Solider Chef, sees the characters reunited in an attempt to foil a plot by the world’s most secretive intelligence agency (The Belgians) to bring the UK economy to its knees. The final book, centres on a referendum in Wales to decide whether the country should sell itself to an international technology giant for use as a conveniently located tax haven. It will be loosely based on the hilarious 80s film Local Hero.

My main rule in life is to never let tomato ketchup touch any food that is green. I am yet to work out any deep meaning behind this and suspect it is not the soundest of principles by which to live your life. But it’s better than quite a few I’ve come across down the years. Best not to get started on that one though.

I live in London with my fantastic wife and two remarkable children and didn’t vote for BREXIT.

Twitter @philbradyuk

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