Weekly Wrap-Up (March 31)

And just like that, we’re on the last day of March. How the hell did that happen?!

Spring has finally sprung! So have the weeds, so I’ve been outside doing a spot of gardening and enjoying the sunshine to the fullest. During a somewhat odd burst of energy, I even tackled my windows. Completely overdid it so also spent some time on my sofa like some eighty year old granny. But at least the windows are clean so there’s that. One more final word about the arrival of Spring : achoo! Bloody hay fever 🙄

Reading-wise, I’ve had a weird kind of week. My concentration levels apparently decided to take some time off and while I felt I was reading up a storm, there were days where I managed about 30 pages in the space of two hours, which really isn’t productive.

| BOOKS I READ THIS WEEK |

Hm. That’s not too bad, I suppose. When I wrote this wrap-up, there were only four. But I managed to squeeze in a fifth one late last night. Still, must do better! By the way, great reads! And one of them may just find its way onto my list of “books of the year”.

| BOOKS I BOUGHT THIS WEEK |

None! Totally nailed it! But I have my eye on lots of goodies that are published on April 4th so don’t get too excited! 😂

| BOOK POST THAT LANDED ON MY DOORSTEP THIS WEEK |

With thanks to Penguin and Headline!

| ON THE BLOG THIS PAST WEEK |

Monday : Took the day off

Tuesday : Hosted a stop on the blog tour for Nobody’s Wife by Laura Pearson

Wednesday : This Week in Books

Thursday : Shared my review for Whatever Happened to Betsy Blake by David B. Lyons

Friday : Joined the blog tour for She Lies in Wait by Gytha Hodge

Saturday : Took the day off

Sunday : Weekly Wrap-Up

| NEXT WEEK ON NOVEL DEELIGHTS |

Monday : Review | Run Away by Harlan Coben

Tuesday : Blog tour | Review | The Killer in Me by Olivia Kiernan

Wednesday : This Week in Books

Thursday : Publication blast |Review | Finding Dorothy by Elizabeth Letts

Friday : Don’t know yet. Maybe nothing. Maybe something.

Saturday : Once again taking the day off

Sunday : Weekly Wrap-Up

This week shall be known as the quiet before the storm because I had a look at my schedule for April and I’m not entirely sure what happened, but it’s just slightly out of control. 😳

Things what annoyed me this week : authors and thank you’s. Getting acknowledged by an author for a review you wrote is of course fantastic. Are they obliged to thank you? No, they’re not. But I’m sure we all appreciate it when they do.

What annoys me are the authors who cherry-pick. Especially on a blog tour. Personally, I feel you either thank everyone individually, post a blanket thank you for everyone or just not thank anyone at all. But to pick and choose and ignore others, I don’t think that’s right. We’ve read this author’s book, we’ve posted our review, we are sharing it like mad all over on a tour that’s all about promoting the author and their book. And when they ignore a review, it’s hard not to take it personally. Someone tweeted something last week about being kind and supportive to authors. I think that works both ways.

Thoughts?

I may make this a regular thing. Things (and people) often annoy me 🤔. It’s good to get it out, right?

Time to get to grips with some reviews. Wishing you all a fabulous week and I’ll see you next time . Happy reading! xx

She Lies in Wait by Gytha Hodge | @MichaelJBooks @JennyPlatt90 | #blogtour #SheLiesInWait

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for She Lies in Wait by Gytha Hodge! My thanks to Jenny Platt at Michael Joseph for the invitation to join and for the review copy!

Author : Gytha Hodge
Title : She Lies in Wait
Series : DCI Jonah Sheens #1
Pages : 384
Publisher : Michael Joseph
Publication date : March 21, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

On a hot July night in 1983, six school friends go camping in the forest. Bright and brilliant, they are destined for great things, and young Aurora Jackson is dazzled to be allowed to tag along.

Thirty years later, a body is discovered. DCI Sheens is called to the scene, but he already knows what’s waiting for him: Aurora Jackson, found at long last.

But that’s not all. The friends have all maintained their innocence, but the body is found in a hideaway only the six of them knew about.

It seems the killer has always lurked very close to home…

| MY THOUGHTS |

Thirty years ago, fourteen year old Aurora went missing from a camp site in the forest. She was never found. Now a dog walker (it’s always the poor dog walkers, isn’t it?) stumbles across a body. DCI Sheens is called to the scene but he already knows what will be waiting there for him. Aurora has been found at last but the place where she was found, raises a multitude of other questions. Her body is found in a hideaway only her six friends could have known about. Is one of them the killer?

There is something I find extremely fascinating about cold case investigations. I’m one of those people who can barely remember what she did last week, never mind thirty years ago. Although I suppose a night where someone goes missing would be memorable enough not to forget. But the details however are another thing. Especially when alcohol has been consumed. Are the memories you have really that reliable? Surely things have become somewhat muddled? Maybe misremembered or misinterpreted?

These six friends have gone on to be hugely successful and they have a lot to lose. While they have maintained their innocence all these years, DCI Sheens is convinced one of them knows a lot more than they’re saying. Now you’d think that with only six suspects, you’d be able to figure things out easily, don’t you? That was not the case for me. I didn’t have a clue and kept wondering if I’d missed something obvious along the way. As it happens, I was completely on the wrong track and I do so enjoy it when an author can take me by surprise like that.

This isn’t an action-packed story and its pace is rather slow but it is full of intriguing characters and quite gripping. There’s a lot of interviewing and re-interviewing suspects, trying to uncover the lies and deceit these six friends have been hiding behind for so long and I found that rather refreshing for a change. It also gives the reader the opportunity to somehow join in in this investigation as opposed to detectives miraculously finding all the answers in a computer database, for instance. Added to that are the four members that make up DCI Sheen’s team. They’re all remarkably different, each with their own set of skills and one or two may just have an interesting background story.

I thoroughly enjoyed this first instalment in the DCI Sheens series and I look forward to seeing where Gytha Lodge takes him and his team next.

She Lies in Wait is available to buy!

Affiliate link : Bookdepository
Other retailers : Amazon US | Amazon UK | Kobo | Waterstones | Wordery

| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

Gytha Lodge is a multi-award-winning playwright, novelist and writer for video games and screen. She is also a single parent who blogs about the ridiculousness of bringing up a mega-nerd small boy. 

She has a profound addiction to tea, crosswords and awful puns. When not writing, she heads up a copywriting team at a global translation firm, where she generally tries to keep all the video-game writing to herself. 

She studied English at Cambridge, where she became known quite quickly for her brand of twisty, dark yet entertaining drama. She later took the Creative Writing MA at UEA. 

She has signed with Penguin Random House worldwide for the first three books in her crime series featuring DCI Jonah Sheens.

Whatever Happened To Betsy Blake by David B. Lyons | @TheOpenAuthor

Author : David B. Lyons
Title : Whatever Happened To Betsy Blake
Pages : 305
Publisher : n/a
Publication date : March 27, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

Betsy Blake was only four years old when she vanished outside her family home in Dublin. 

Her father – wracked with guilt for the past seventeen years – still can’t bring himself to admit the search is over, despite the fact his wife has moved on and police have closed off the investigation. 

When he is informed he must undergo major heart surgery that he only has a fifty percent chance of surviving, Gordon Blake hires a local PI to give the investigation one last try. 

But surely rookie PI Lenny Moon – who has little or no experience in such high-profile investigating – doesn’t have what it takes to make a breakthrough in this case before Gordon is put to sleep. 

…or does he? 

The clock is ticking… 

| MY THOUGHTS |

David B. Lyon’s previous book, Midday, was one of the most surprising books I read last year. So when I was approached to read his next book, I didn’t hesitate, fully expecting another clever and tense plot and that is exactly what I got!

Seventeen years ago, four year old Betsy Blake disappeared. She was never found. Now, her father Gordon is in hospital awaiting surgery. His odds of surviving aren’t exactly great. Gordon’s biggest fear is dying on the operating table, not knowing what happened to his daughter. So he hires a private investigator, Lenny Moon, who has exactly five hours to find out whatever happened to Betsy Blake. Can Lenny achieve what police have failed to do?

The clock is ticking. For real. David B. Lyons manages to ratchet up the tension by having his characters check the time on a regular basis, constantly keeping the reader on the edge of their seat. I can just imagine watching this on tv, with a countdown slowly but surely ticking away the minutes in the corner of my screen.

Some of the chapters are incredibly harrowing and haunting. I often felt quite unsettled and went through a whole gamut of emotions, from anger to sheer sadness. Luckily, there are also a few chuckles along the way. Lenny doesn’t exactly ooze confidence. As a PI whose jobs mostly come from insurance companies trying to catch out frauds, he’s very much out of his depth and it shows. But he’s also extremely likeable and against all the odds, you can’t help but root for him. Gordon too is someone to sympathise with and root for. I can’t even begin to imagine the endless nightmare parents have to live with when their child goes missing.

This is one of those books that has me desperate to read it again because I just know I missed clues left, right and centre! That’s not a bad thing, obviously, because I was left completely blindsided and reeling at the end of it all. David B. Lyons has an uncanny knack for coming up with clever and refreshing plots, in this instance taking something like the disappearance of a child, which has obviously been done before, and turning it completely onto its head. And once again, he managed to pull the rug right from under my feet! Whatever Happened to Betsy Blake is a compelling and addictive story with a few surprises in store and I can’t wait to see what the author comes up with next!

Huge thanks to the author for my review copy!

Whatever Happened to Betsy Blake is available to buy!

 Amazon US | Amazon UK

This Week in Books (March 27)

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 |

Death is no stranger to Detective Chief Superintendent Frankie Sheehan, but she isn’t the only one from her small, coastal suburb to be intimately acquainted with it.

Years ago, teenager Seán Hennessey shocked the tight-knit community when he was convicted of the brutal murder of his parents and attempted slaying of his sister, though he always maintained his innocence. Now, Seán is finally being released from prison—but when his newfound freedom coincides with the discovery of two bodies, the alleged connection between the cases only serves to pull Frankie further from answers even as it draws her closer to her town’s hidden darkness.

With a television documentary revisiting Seán’s sentence pushing the public’s sympathies into conflict on a weekly basis, a rabid media pressuring the police like never before, and a rising body count, Frankie will need all of her resources if she is not only to catch a killer, but put to rest what really happened all those years ago.

| THE BOOK I’M CURRENTLY READING |

Maud Gage Baum, widow of the author of the book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, met Judy Garland, the young actress playing the role of Dorothy on the set of The Wizard of Oz in 1939. At the time, Maud was seventy-eight and Judy was sixteen. In spite of their age difference, Maud immediately connected to Judy–especially when Maud heard her sing “Over the Rainbow,” a song whose yearning brought to mind the tough years in South Dakota when Maud and her husband struggled to make a living–until Frank Baum’s book became a national sensation.

This wonderfully evocative two-stranded story recreates Maud’s youth as the rebellious daughter of a leading suffragette, and the prairie years of Maud and Frank’s early days when they lived among the people–especially young Dorothy–who would inspire Frank’s masterpiece. Woven into this past story is one set in 1939, describing the high-pressured days on The Wizard of Oz film set where Judy is being badgered by the director, producer, and her ambitious stage mother to lose weight, bind her breasts, and laugh, cry, and act terrified on command. As Maud had promised to protect the original Dorothy back in Aberdeen, she now takes on the job of protecting young Judy.

| WHAT I’M (PROBABLY) READING NEXT |

Fourteen-year-old Dita is one of the many imprisoned by the Nazis at Auschwitz. Taken, along with her mother and father, from the Terezín ghetto in Prague, Dita is adjusting to the constant terror that is life in the camp. When Jewish leader Freddy Hirsch asks Dita to take charge of the eight precious books the prisoners have managed to smuggle past the guards, she agrees. And so Dita becomes the secret librarian of Auschwitz, responsible for the safekeeping of the small collection of titles, as well as the ‘living books’ – prisoners of Auschwitz who know certain books so well, they too can be ‘borrowed’ to educate the children in the camp.

But books are extremely dangerous. They make people think. And nowhere are they more dangerous than in Block 31 of Auschwitz, the children’s block, where the slightest transgression can result in execution, no matter how young the transgressor… 

I don’t know about you but I’m thinking my week is looking mighty awesome again! Any of these catching your eye? What are you reading this week? Let me know! Happy reading, guys! xx

Nobody’s Wife by Laura Pearson | @LauraPAuthor @AgoraBooksLDN @TheyCallMePeyto | #blogtour #NobodysWife

Delighted to join the blog tour for Nobody’s Wife by Laura Pearson today! My thanks to Peyton at Agora Books for the invitation to join and the wonderful review copy!

Author : Laura Pearson
Title : Nobody’s Wife
Pages : 267
Publisher : Agora Books
Publication date : March 28, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

‘Of the four of them, only three remained. And there was no going backwards from there.’ 

Emily and Josephine have always shared everything. They’re sisters, flatmates, and best friends. It’s the two of them against the world.

When Emily has the perfect wedding, and Josephine finds the perfect man, they know things will change forever. But nothing can prepare them for what, or who, one of them is willing to give up for love.

Four people. Three couples. Two sisters. One unforgivable betrayal.

| MY THOUGHTS |

I absolutely loved Laura Pearson’s debut Missing Pieces, even though it left me in bits. So I was quite eager to read Nobody’s Wife, wondering if I would once again be reaching for the tissues.

Sisters Emily and Josephine have always been close but their bond has only become stronger since their mother moved to the other side of the world. Now Emily is getting married and Josephine may have found “the one” as well. Naturally, changes are afoot as they both embark on a new adventure in their lives. But neither one is prepared for what happens next.

From the very beginning, Laura Pearson managed to draw me in with realistic and believable characters in relatable situations. While Emma has doubts and suffers from nerves on her wedding day, Josephine tries to figure out the sometimes complicated beginnings of a new relationship. But everything soon starts to fall apart.

It’s obvious from the prologue that something has happened that affects these characters’ lives and the what, how, why, who is slowly revealed throughout the storyline. Laura Pearson’s writing is extremely beautiful and the characters evoked quite a few emotions from me. I felt angry and frustrated at some of their decisions, saddened as well and I became completely caught up in their lives, feeling for everyone involved and having this sense of impending doom.

Nobody’s Wife is an emotional story of love, obsession and betrayal that has devastating consequences. Life often does not come wrapped up in a tiny little bow. In case you wondered, no, no tissues required this time around but I did have problems swallowing past the lump in my throat. Because no matter how I felt about these characters and their actions, or lack thereof, at times it seemed as if I was right there next to them, feeling their pain.

There seems to be something almost effortless about the way Laura Pearson writes. Everything flows quite naturally and it’s always touching and moving, without the distraction of bells and whistles, reaching down into your very core, leaving you wanting to hug those closest to you really tight and never let them go. I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next.

Nobody’s Wife will be available to buy on March 28th.

 Amazon US | Amazon UK

| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

Laura Pearson has an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Chichester. She spent a decade living in London and working as a copywriter and editor for QVC, Expedia, Net a Porter, EE, and The Ministry of Justice. Now, she lives in Leicestershire, where she writes novels, blogs about her experience of breast cancer (www.breastcancerandbaby.com), runs The Motherload Book Club, and tries to work out how to raise her two children.

Weekly Wrap-Up (March 24)

This has been one of those weeks that went by in a flash and I can’t remember a single thing about it. Apart from a gloriously sunny day on Friday and feeling like just maybe Spring has indeed finally arrived.

Other than that though, I’ve got nothing. I lead such an exciting life. 😂

So, on to the books. That’s why we’re all here anyway, right.

| BOOKS I READ THIS WEEK |

Not bad, eh? Look at me squeezing in books from my own TBR. I’m also almost halfway through the new Harlan Coben and have finally started the C.J. Sansom series in between. I’m also listening to an audiobook over breakfast each morning. Slow going but it works for me as one or two chapters is apparently as far as my attention span will stretch.

| BOOKS I BOUGHT THIS WEEK |

Why yes, I am collecting Harlan Coben books. Why do you ask? 😉

I’m also not buying any more books until April 4th. Really. After that, all bets are off.

| BOOK POST THAT LANDED ON MY DOORSTEP THIS WEEK |

So excited about these. All for blog tours and as you can see up above, already read one of them. Huge thanks to Riverrun, Quercus and Simon & Schuster.

| ON THE BLOG THIS PAST WEEK |

Monday : Took the day off

Tuesday : Joined the blog tour for Mama’s Gone by Leopold Borstinski

Wednesday : Hosted a stop on the blog blitz for A Body in the Lakes by Graham Smith and shared My Week in Books

Thursday : Joined the blog blitz for Toys in the Dust by N.M. Brown

Friday : Shared my review for Beautiful Bad by Annie Ward

Saturday : Took another day off

Sunday : Weekly Wrap-Up

Two reviews per week? I can live with this. 😂

| NEXT WEEK ON NOVEL DEELIGHTS |

Monday : Nothing planned

Tuesday : Blog tour | Review | Nobody’s Wife by Laura Pearson

Wednesday : This Week in Books

Thursday : Review | Whatever Happened to Betsy Blake by David B. Lyons

Friday : Blog tour | Review | She Lies in Wait by Gytha Lodge

Saturday : Nothing planned

Sunday : Weekly Wrap-Up

For once, I’m actually ahead. I have one of these reviews still to write but other than that, I’m totally winning! 😂

I had a huge rant planned for today but I don’t have the time to write it up anymore so maybe another time. My in-laws are on their way over for a fun an entertaining afternoon (note the sarcasm, people). I should probably get ready.

Hope everyone has a fabulous week! See you next time. Happy reading! xx

Beautiful Bad by Annie Ward

Author : Annie Ward
Title : Beautiful Bad
Pages : 368
Publisher : Quercus
Publication date : March 21, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

Maddie and Ian’s romance began with a chance encounter at a party overseas; he was serving in the British army and she was a travel writer visiting her best friend, Jo. Now almost two decades later, married with a beautiful son, Charlie, they are living the perfect suburban life in middle America. But when a camping accident leaves Maddie badly scarred, she begins attending writing therapy, where she gradually reveals her fears about Ian’s PTSD, her concerns for the safety of their young son, Charlie, and the couple’s tangled and tumultuous past with Jo.

From the Balkans to England, Iraq to Manhattan, and finally to an ordinary family home in Kansas, 16 years of love and fear, adventure and suspicion culminate in The Day of the Killing, when a frantic 9-1-1 call summons the police to the scene of a shocking crime.

But what in this beautiful home has gone so terribly bad? 

| MY THOUGHTS |

If you’re looking for a book full of damaged characters, then look no further. We’re not talking a wee baggage here but huge truckloads of it. In fact, these are probably some of the most damaged characters I’ve ever encountered.

Maggie and Ian first met decades ago at a party in the middle of the war ravaged Balkans. Maggie was a travel writer, visiting her best friend, and Ian was in the military. Now, they are married, parents to Charlie and living a seemingly perfect suburban life. Until a frantic call to 911. What happened behind closed doors?

These characters aren’t particularly likeable, nor could I find any way to relate to them. I luckily have no experience whatsoever with the situations they found themselves in throughout their lives but it was however relatively easy to imagine the impact certain events had on both Maggie and Ian. PTSD is not something to be underestimated and the author makes that very clear.

Admittedly, I found the first hundred pages or so rather on the slow side and I struggled quite a bit. I was in that place where I was just desperately waiting for something to happen. Fortunately, things did pick up a tad afterwards and despite my initial struggle, I’m glad I stuck with it because seeing the pieces come together was quite fascinating.

For me, this book comes in two parts. The first part being the one where most of the scene is set, the background into Maggie and Ian’s relationship and Maggie and Jo’s friendship, giving the reader the opportunity to see where these characters are coming from. This part was relatively slow-paced and read more like a drama than anything else. The aspect of what I define as a psychological thriller didn’t really appear until the second half of the book and this was definitely the part I enjoyed the most.

With multiple points of view, a lot of back and forth in time and intriguing characters there should be plenty here to grab your attention if you go in with an open mind. Slowly but surely you’ll discover the bad behind the beautiful and what really happened on “the day of the killing”.

Beautiful Bad is available to buy!

Affiliate link : Bookdepository
Other retailers : Amazon US | Amazon UK | Kobo | Wordery

Toys in the Dust by N.M. Brown | @normthewriter @Bloodhoundbook | #blogtour #guestpost #extract

It’s a real pleasure to welcome author N.M. Brown to the blog today to talk about what inspired him to write his latest book, Toys in the Dust! I’ll also be sharing a teaser but first, let’s see what his new book is all about.

Author : N.M. Brown
Title : Toys in the Dust
Series : Leighton Jones #3
Pages : 252
Publisher : Bloodhound Books
Publication date : March 20, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

Two seven-year-old girls, Tina and Suzy, are playing in a dusty creek when a stranger appears and strikes up a conversation. He is sad that he doesn’t have a doll to play with like the girls do, so Suzy hurries home to fetch one. When she returns, Suzy discovers both Tina and the stranger have vanished. 

A short while later, traffic officer Leighton Jones, who is fighting his own demons, is driving home from the scene of a near-fatal accident. When Leighton sees a young girl race out in front of his car and vanish into the countryside, he reports the sighting. Unfortunately, his superiors, who are increasingly concerned about Leighton’s mental health, doubt the child exists. 

But after Tina’s mother confirms her daughter’s disappearance, Leighton risks his job by pursuing his own investigation of the case.

Meanwhile, in the Californian countryside, a child killer is relentlessly searching for the one who got away. 

Leighton has his work cut out. But can he prove his sanity and find Tina before the stranger does?

Affiliate link : Bookdepository
Other retailers : Amazon US | Amazon UK | Wordery

| EXTRACT |

The loss had broken him; as a man and a husband he had failed. His wife had drifted out of existence, and he felt that he had allowed it to happen. This left his daughter without a mother, and stuck with a dysfunctional father. And yet this single fact – his sole responsibility – made it necessary for him to somehow make things okay for Annie. If it had been his fault that things were bad, it was also his duty to put things right. That was his only means of redemption. Now, in the absence of anyone else to share the roles, Leighton stared through his windshield and figured he would have to commit to learning how to braid hair and paint nails, and make it through. 

It was then, when Leighton was caught up in his critique of his inadequate parenting that it happened.

The figure of what appeared to be a child, if that was what the apparition was, burst suddenly out of the tall grass at the side of the road and ran blindly across the road in front of his car. In that instant, Leighton saw nothing more than a momentary orange blur in the shape of a child – there for a moment, then gone. In instinctive response, he slammed on the brakes of his car. It skidded to a squealing halt on the hot road surface. The momentum threw him forward, his seatbelt digging painfully into one shoulder. Leighton let out a deep sigh, and his hands, still fastened on the wheel, began to tremble.

‘Jesus,’ he muttered.

Having managed to coax one hand off the wheel, Leighton switched on his hazard lights, and unclipped his seatbelt. He then opened the door and climbed out. The road and the surrounding area were so quiet he could hear the faint hushing sound of the restless surf, punctuated by the chirrup of bugs in the grass. Wandering around the car, Leighton peered into the long grass, door handle-high, at the side of his car. It had been less than a minute since the child had slipped into the grass, yet the area appeared undisturbed. Leighton took a cautious step into the dusty wilderness and called out across the parched landscape.

‘Hey, kid, are you okay? Is someone with you?’ Leighton’s deep voice carried on the warm air.

He waited for a moment, standing on the road, listening intently and staring out into the panorama of grass and trees stretching toward the rocky distant hills. 

‘Can you hear me, kid?’ he yelled, and held his hand up to shield his eyes from the low afternoon sun. 

There was no answer other than the slow ripple of the needle grass and the relentless creak and whirr of the hidden oblivious insects. Staring into the wilderness, Leighton wondered for a moment if he had somehow imagined the child.

| GUEST POST |

Toys in the Dust – inspiration 

Whilst researching the other Leighton Jones novels – both of which involve people disappearing, I spent much of my time listening to true crime podcasts. These programmes covered every situation from recent abductions to historical cold cases, many of which were utterly captivating. 

Listening to programmes such as Crawlspace or Generation Why, pulls me into a rabbit hole of theories, suspects and secrets. It is perhaps the greatest possible stimulus for Crime writers. 

Occasionally, I would encounter cases that were hard to shake off. There were a couple that were particularly haunting for me. The first involved one of the most famous cold case in the United States, involving a young girl who was abducted from outside her home on a snowy afternoon.

The second case involved a group of three children who vanished from an Australian beach in the late 1960s. At the time of the disappearance kids could wander freely around, but this case shocked the nation and changed the way in which people now parent. 

Both these cases seemed to stay with me until I knew that I had to write about a child being abducted, but somehow escaping and turning the tables on her abductor. So partly, the story was driven by my own personal need to make things right – at least in the fictional world.

I also wanted to write a paired down story, which revealed a less experienced cop stumbling through things personally and professionally.

Finally, much as my first novel The Girl on the Bus is full of hidden references to serial killers (Eddie G’s diner at the start is named after Ed Gein – the real life Norman Bates, etc) in Toys in the Dust there are numerous fairytale elements, but I’ll let the reader discover them, hopefully.

Thanks so much for stopping by, Norman! I think Leighton is the perfect person to (hopefully) find Tina.

| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

Norman has enjoyed writing for more than two decades. He has always considered a combination of decent fiction and good coffee as providing the best way to unwind and slip out of ordinary life for a while.

Having grown up Central Scotland, he studied English at Stirling University, where he began penning poetry, drama scripts and short stories. However, his real commitment to writing resulted from spending a snowy winter attending a series of fireside writing workshops in Perth.  

More recently, Norman’s love of crime fiction led him to create the weary detective Leighton Jones. Having based his debut novel around this character, Norman felt so intrigued by him that he decided to give Jones at least two more outings.

Aside from his family, Norman’s other passion is cooking, which may explain why culinary elements always seem to creep out of his kitchen and into his stories.

Get in touch with Norman via Twitter

This Week in Books (March 20)

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 |

Caitlin Hendrix has been a Narcotics detective for six months when the killer at the heart of all her childhood nightmares reemerges: the Prophet. An UNSUB—what the FBI calls an unknown subject—the Prophet terrorized the Bay Area in the 1990s and nearly destroyed her father, the lead investigator on the case.

The Prophet’s cryptic messages and mind games drove Detective Mack Hendrix to the brink of madness, and Mack’s failure to solve the series of ritualized murders—eleven seemingly unconnected victims left with the ancient sign for Mercury etched into their flesh—was the final nail in the coffin for a once promising career.

Twenty years later, two bodies are found bearing the haunting signature of the Prophet. Caitlin Hendrix has never escaped the shadow of her father’s failure to protect their city. But now the ruthless madman is killing again and has set his sights on her, threatening to undermine the fragile barrier she rigidly maintains for her own protection, between relentless pursuit and dangerous obsession.

Determined to decipher his twisted messages and stop the carnage, Caitlin ignores her father’s warnings as she draws closer to the killer with each new gruesome murder. Is it a copycat, or can this really be the same Prophet who haunted her childhood? Will Caitlin avoid repeating her father’s mistakes and redeem her family name, or will chasing the Prophet drag her and everyone she loves into the depths of the abyss?

| THE BOOK I’M CURRENTLY READING |

Emily and Josephine have always shared everything. They’re sisters, flatmates, and best friends. It’s the two of them against the world.

When Emily has the perfect wedding, and Josephine finds the perfect man, they know things will change forever. But nothing can prepare them for what, or who, one of them is willing to give up for love.

Four people. Three couples. Two sisters. One unforgivable betrayal.

| WHAT I’M (PROBABLY) READING NEXT |

Wilbrook in Western Australia is a sleepy, remote town that sits on the edge of miles and miles of unexplored wilderness. It is home to Police Sergeant Chandler Jenkins, who is proud to run the town’s small police station, a place used to dealing with domestic disputes and noise complaints.

All that changes on a scorching day when an injured man stumbles into Chandler’s station. He’s covered in dried blood. His name is Gabriel. He tells Chandler what he remembers.

He was drugged and driven to a cabin in the mountains and tied up in iron chains. The man who took him was called Heath. Heath told Gabriel he was going to be number 55. His 55th victim.

Heath is a serial killer.

As a manhunt is launched, a man who says he is Heath walks into the same station. He tells Chandler he was taken by a man named Gabriel. Gabriel told Heath he was going to be victim 55.

Gabriel is the serial killer.

Two suspects. Two identical stories. Which one is the truth?

55 has been high on my list ever since I saw it mentioned on twitter and I can’t wait to get to it! Really excited about my week’s reading.

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

A Body in the Lakes by Graham Smith | @GrahamSmith1972 @bookouture

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for A Body in the Lakes by Graham Smith! My thanks to Noelle Holten at Bookouture for the opportunity to join and for the review copy!

Author : Graham Smith
Title : A Body in the Lakes
Series : Detective Beth Young #2
Pages : 372
Publisher : Bookouture
Publication date : March 15, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

When a walker finds the body of a woman by the shores of Ullswater Lake, the police are put on high alert. Felicia Evans was known to be a tough character, but who would have strangled her? 

Detective Beth Young quickly spots the links to three cold cases. Three women strangled and discarded in the stunning, wild hills of the Lake District. 

As Beth begins tracking down witnesses, the team receives an anonymous letter claiming the charming mayor of Carlisle is behind the murders. There’s pressure from the top to clear his name. But Beth is determined to find the truth no matter whose feathers she ruffles in the process. 

Beth knows the clock is ticking. The killer is hunting again. And it’s down toher to find who’s responsible before another woman becomes his prey…

| MY THOUGHTS |

Goodness gracious me, this was quite the unsettling read. Particularly if you’re a woman. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. I spent half the time with my legs firmly crossed, considering never leaving the safety of my house again!

When the naked body of a woman is found, it looks like detectives might just solve this case in a nanosecond. After all, everything points to the mayor. Pressure from the top demands the mayor’s name be cleared as soon as possible but Beth is determined to find out the truth. She quickly finds a connection to three old cases, where women were found raped, strangled and dumped.

The second instalment in the Beth Young series might not quite be for the faint-hearted. There are some grim and graphic descriptions but they really drive home what a monster this particular killer is. The search to find him is an intense race against the clock because it doesn’t take a detective to know they won’t stop until they are caught. Throughout the storyline, Graham Smith really brings to the fore how hard it is for victims of rape to bring their attackers to justice, how damaging any form of assault can be.

As for Beth, she remains one of those characters I can’t quite put my finger on. She’s determined, hugely passionate and not afraid to speak her mind even when told not to. While these are all qualities to admire, I just can’t seem to warm to her but I can’t for the life of me figure out why that is.

A Body in the Lakes is a gripping and compelling crime thriller. I couldn’t at all figure out who the culprit was and just when I thought it was all over, there’s a rather delicious and somewhat sad sting in the tail. True to form, Graham Smith manages to throw in an action sequence or two and allows the reader to get to know Beth just that little bit better. While this is the second in a series, I think you could possibly get away with treating it as a stand-alone but why not get caught up and then sit back and wait for book three!

A Body in the Lakes is available to buy! 

Amazon US | Amazon UK

| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

Graham Smith is the bestselling author of four explosive crime thrillers in the Jake Boulder series, Watching the Bodies, The Kindred Killers, Past Echoes and Die Cold. Watching the Bodies spent over two weeks at number one in the Amazon UK chart and Amazon CA charts. Graham is also the author of the popular DI Harry Evans series and has collections of short stories and novellas. His latest novel with Bookouture is set in Cumbria and the Lake District, featuring DC Beth Young.

He is the proud father of a young son. As a time served joiner he has built bridges, houses, dug drains and slated roofs to make ends meet. Since 2000 he has been manager of a busy hotel and wedding venue near Gretna Green, Scotland. 

An avid fan of crime fiction since being given one of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five books at the age of eight, he has also been a regular reviewer for the well-respected review site Crimesquad.com since 2010.

When not working, his time is spent reading, writing and playing games with his son. He enjoys socialising and spending time with friends and family.

Author links : Facebook | Twitter