Black River by Will Dean | @willrdean @PtBlankBks @margotbookpr | #BlackRiver #Tuva3

Many thanks to Margot at Point Blank and Will Dean for my signed proof copy!

Author : Will Dean
Title : Black River
Series : Tuva Moodyson #3
Pages : 363
Publisher : Point Blank
Publication date : March 12, 2020

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

FEAR 

Tuva’s been living clean in southern Sweden for four months when she receives horrifying news. Her best friend Tammy Yamnim has gone missing.

SECRETS

Racing back to Gavrik at the height of Midsommar, Tuva fears for Tammy’s life. Who has taken her, and why? And who is sabotaging the small-town search efforts?

LIES

Surrounded by dark pine forest, the sinister residents of Snake River are suspicious of outsiders. Unfortunately, they also hold all the answers. On the shortest night of the year, Tuva must fight to save her friend. The only question is who will be there to save Tuva?

| MY THOUGHTS |

If ever I dreamt of moving to a small village near a big forest in Sweden, Black River would seriously make me reconsider that.

Four months ago, Tuva Moodyson left Gavrik and moved down south. But now, her best friend Tammy has gone missing and Tuva races back to Gavrik, fearing for Tammy’s life. Who has taken her and why? Where is she? When another woman goes missing, the small police force of Gavrik finds itself spread too thin. But if there is one thing we’ve learned about Tuva, it’s that she’s fiercely stubborn and determined and she will stop at nothing to find Tammy. Even if that means getting into dangerous situations herself.

The creepy factor is high in Black River. You’d think the long summer days and the upcoming event of Midsummar would lift the doom and gloom that seems to hover above the small town of Gavrik. But no. If anything, it seems worse. Not only are there the multitude of seriously aggressive bugs all over the place, flying in your face, getting stuck in your hair, biting and stinging like you’re some delicious buffet … but the residents. Goodness me, the residents. To define them as creepy almost seems like an understatement. Many of them have secrets they are desperately trying to hide, some act suspicious and some just make you feel so uncomfortable and dirty you’d like to take a really long, hot shower. Quirky and eccentric, yes. Also, just plain weird.

Despite the fact that it’s Summer, Black River manages to keep that extremely claustrophobic feeling Will Dean’s previous books had. Somehow the town seems to be getting smaller and smaller, the forest bigger and darker, this feeling of impending doom growing ever stronger and all the while that chimney of the liquorice factory looms over the town like some harbinger of bad things to come. I may have had some suspicions as to who was responsible for the women going missing but I was completely on the wrong track (I mean, let’s face it, the list of potential suspects is long for such a small town!) and even now, while I’m writing this review, I’m still unable to decide how the ultimate conclusion made me feel. I can say I didn’t see it coming! I was shocked and horrified but also, sad.

Black River is a creepy and chilling story with plenty of characters that will make your skin crawl. Gripping and compelling, yet not fast-paced, which you might expect. Black River doesn’t need the fast pace. It wouldn’t work. Slow and steady does the trick perfectly; allowing the reader to soak up the atmosphere, which is every bit as important in this story as the plot and the characters are. It isn’t until the last few chapters that your heart may be pounding out of your chest and you may be left gasping for breath, when the race against the clock amps up tenfold.

I’ve been saying it a lot lately but it’s not my fault with these authors who constantly raise the bar, so wait for it, here it comes …. best one in the series! I’m not entirely sure what’s next from Will Dean but I DO know I will be there with bells on! And you should be too!

PS : Mind the snakes.

Black River is available to buy in ebook format. The UK hardcover will be published on March 12th, with the paperback to follow later in the year.

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

February Wrap-Up

I’m really going to have to replace that picture with something else if I keep doing these monthly posts instead. 🤷🏼‍♀️

Anywho, welcome to my February Wrap-Up! There shall be books because yes, I have been reading. I know, you are as shocked as I am. Really, with four storms in four subsequent weekends, there was very little else to do. Not that I’m complaining about the lack of socialising, you understand. I am, however, complaining about the weather! It feels like we’re stuck in a never-ending loop of Autumn. Dark, wet, miserable days. All that wind. And white fluffy crap! What the hell?! I need blue skies and sunshine!

This wrap-up is a day late as I am a little under the weather. I’ve been successfully dodging people with all various sorts of germs since before Christmas but apparently the universe decided that I was not going to get through this ridiculously mild Winter unscathed. Still, excellent timing, if I do say so myself, since it got me out of socialising yesterday. Silver lining and all that.

Other than that, February was a quiet one and yet, it flew by.

Anyway, let’s move on and see what I read.

| BOOKS I READ IN FEBRUARY |

Would you look at that? 20! I’m impressed with myself. 😂 One or two disappointments on that list but overall, a fab month of reading.

| BOOKS I LISTENED TO IN FEBRUARY |

Yes, you are seeing this right. Audiobooks. I may have joined Audible. I don’t even recognise myself anymore.

Apple Tree Yard was okay. I didn’t particularly like the narrator so that was a bit of an issue. The story itself is incredibly slow paced, somewhat implausible at times, I thought, and it has left me with unanswered questions. But I did enjoy the premise, the bit-by-bit unraveling of the how, the what, the why and the mysterious who.

Bitter Sun, on the other hand, is absolutely brilliant! I wasn’t entirely sure it would be for me because while the synopsis grabbed my intention immediately, it’s also a coming-of-age story and I don’t usually do that well with them. But I was hooked from the start and couldn’t stop listening. The narrator’s American accent took a while to get used to (I personally prefer the British one) but it fit the story perfectly. I really, really enjoyed this one!

| BOOKS I BOUGHT IN FEBRUARY

Personally I feel that’s not too bad for an entire month 🤔

| BOOK POST WHAT LANDED ON MY DOORSTEP IN FEBRUARY |

With thanks to Orenda Books, Penguin Random House, Jane Corry and Rachael English!

| ON THE BLOG IN FEBRUARY |

Review | Rebecca Reid – Truth Hurts
Review | Claire Allan – The Liar’s Daughter
Review | Louise Beech – I Am Dust
Review | Michael Wood – The Murder House
Review | Joanna Schaffhausen – All The Best Lies
Review | Steph Broadribb – Deep Dark Night
Review | Helen Fields – Perfect Kill
Extract | Marian Womack – The Golden Key
Review | Will Shindler – The Burning Men

| COMING UP IN MARCH |

You may have noticed the lack of reviews so far this year. My reading mojo is still nowhere to be found so I’m constantly avoiding reading books I must review for one reason or another. So all I can tell you right now, looking ahead to March, is that there will be at least 3 reviews since I have 3 blog tours coming up. But other than that, I honestly have no idea.

I may need to reconsider these monthly wrap-ups. If I post weekly ones, at least the dust won’t have a chance to settle on my blog. And also, these monthly posts are a lot of work to put together! I’m exhausted! 😂

That’s a wrap for February! Back to the sofa with a cuppa and my current book, which is A Keeper by Graham Norton, and possibly a nap. 🤔

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

This Week in Books (February 26)

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 |

Gwen Proctor escaped her serial-killer husband and saved her family. What she can’t seem to outrun is his notoriety. Or the sick internet vigilantes still seeking to avenge his crimes. For Gwen, hiding isn’t an option. Not when her only mission is to create a normal life for her kids.

But now, a threatened woman has reached out. Marlene Crockett, from the remote town of Wolfhunter, is panicked for herself and her daughter. When Gwen arrives in the small, isolated rural community, Marlene is already dead—her own daughter blamed for the murder. Except that’s not the person Marlene feared at all. And Gwen isn’t leaving until she finds out who that was.

But it may already be too late. A trap has been set. And it’s poised to snap shut on everyone Gwen loves. Her stalkers are closing in. And in a town as dark as Wolfhunter, it’s so easy for them to hide…

| THE BOOK I’M CURRENTLY READING |

FEAR 

Tuva’s been living clean in southern Sweden for four months when she receives horrifying news. Her best friend Tammy Yamnim has gone missing.

SECRETS

Racing back to Gavrik at the height of Midsommar, Tuva fears for Tammy’s life. Who has taken her, and why? And who is sabotaging the small-town search efforts?

LIES

Surrounded by dark pine forest, the sinister residents of Snake River are suspicious of outsiders. Unfortunately, they also hold all the answers. On the shortest night of the year, Tuva must fight to save her friend. The only question is who will be there to save Tuva?

| WHAT I’M (PROBABLY) READING NEXT |

When a body of a woman is discovered at a lighthouse in the Icelandic town of Akranes, it soon becomes clear that she’s no stranger to the area.

Chief Investigating Officer Elma, who has returned to Akranes following a failed relationship, and her collegues Sævar and Hörður, commence an uneasy investigation, which uncovers a shocking secret in the dead woman’s past that continues to reverberate in the present day …

But as Elma and her team make a series of discoveries, they bring to light a host of long-hidden crimes that shake the entire community. Sifting through the rubble of the townspeople’s shattered memories, they have to dodge increasingly serious threats, and find justice … before it’s too late. 

Have you read any of these? If not, are you tempted by anything? What are you reading this week? Do let me know! Happy reading! xx

The Burning Men by Will Shindler | @WillShindler @HodderBooks @JennyPlatt90 | #blogtour

Delighted to join the blog tour for The Burning Men by Will Shindler today! My thanks to Jenny at Hodder for the opportunity to join and for the fab review copy!

Author : Will Shindler
Title : The Burning Men
Series : DI Alex Finn #1
Pages : 352
Publisher : Hodder & Stoughton
Publication date : February 6, 2020

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

When a development in South London catches fire mid-construction, a close-knit team of fire fighters runs in to save a man spotted at the window.

They come out without a body. They quit the service. They plan never to speak to each other again.

Five years later one of them is set alight at his own wedding. Soon after, a second is found, nothing but a smoking corpse. It appears that someone knows what they did that night. What they chose over their duty. And there are still three men left to burn . . .

DI Alex Finn and his new partner DC Mattie Paulsen are an unlikely pairing, but they need to discover who is behind these killings before the next man faces the fire.

| MY THOUGHTS |

I often have a serious talk with myself about the need for a new crime fiction series in my life. There are so many to keep track of and as we all know, there are only so many hours in the day. There have been times where I have had to make the hard decision of letting a series go and firmly decided that “no”, there is no room in my life or on my book shelves for another series. And then The Burning Men happened and all my good intentions went out the window.

Five years ago, there was a fire at a development site in South London. Four firefighters rush into the building to rescue a person they saw waving at the window. They return without a body and one by one, they quit the service and vow never to speak to each other again. Now, one of the firefighters is set on fire on his wedding day. He is the first, but he won’t be the last. Someone seems to know what happened that day five years ago. But what?

Enter DI Alex Finn. He is more of an academic type than your typical detective inspector. Maybe somewhat lacking social skills, doesn’t seem to have any friends, but he’s fiercely intelligent. Alex really shouldn’t be at work, having just lost his wife but he needs something to sink his teeth into, something that will get him out of his empty flat. With a DI not quite functioning to his full capacity, can this intriguing case be solved though? As if Alex doesn’t have enough to deal with, he’s lumbered with a new partner, DC Mattie Paulsen. They make a most unlikely pairing. She’s damaged, flawed, doesn’t seem to go out of her way to make friends either and to be honest, I found her incredibly unlikeable. Yet, somehow, the partnership between Alex and Mattie works.

This is one of those book descriptions that just grabbed my attention from the get-go. The first chapter introduces the reader to the events from that day five years ago. But if you think you’re going to get the answer to that burning question (see what I did there?) of what actually happened, you’d better think again. That information is revealed along the way, allowing the reader to try and figure things out on their own. The bigger mystery, I thought, was who is responsible for these brutal murders! Needless to say, some of those scenes were a tad gruesome. Try as I might, I had no idea who the culprit was and Will Shindler kept me guessing until the end. And if at any moment I thought THAT part was exceedingly thrilling, which it was, don’t get me wrong … there was more to come and just … whoa!

I had a good feeling about this book from the very beginning and I was definitely not disappointed. Although, admittedly I was quite wary of the whole male/female partnership but Will Shindler soon put a stop to that. The Burning Men is immensely gripping, intense, addictive, a brilliant way to kickstart a new series and a really impressive debut. So, no, I really don’t need a new series in my life but you know what? I’m making room for this one and I can’t wait to spend more time with Alex and Mattie when they investigate their next case.

The Burning Men is available to buy!

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

| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

Will Shindler has been a Broadcast Journalist for the BBC for over twenty-five years, spending a decade working in television drama as a scriptwriter on Born and Bred, The Bill and Doctors.

You can currently find him every weekday on the radio reading the news headlines, whilst writing crime novels in the afternoon. Will has previously worked as a television presenter for HTV, a sports reporter for BBC Radio Five Live, and one of the stadium presenters at the London Olympics.

The Golden Key by Marian Womack | @TitanBooks | #blogtour #excerpt

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for The Golden Key by Marian Womack! My thanks to Lydia at Titan Books for the invitation to join! I have an extract to share with you today but first, let’s see what The Golden Key is all about.

Author : Marian Womack
Title : The Golden Key
Pages : 320
Publisher : Titan Books UK
Publication date : February 18, 2020

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

London, 1901. After the death of Queen Victoria the city heaves with the uncanny and the eerie. Séances are held and the dead are called upon from darker realms.

Samuel Moncrieff, recovering from a recent tragedy of his own, meets Helena Walton-Cisneros, one of London’s most reputed mediums. But Helena is not what she seems and she’s enlisted by the elusive Lady Matthews to solve a twenty-year-old mystery: the disappearance of her three stepdaughters who vanished without a trace on the Norfolk Fens.

But the Fens are a liminal land, where folk tales and dark magic still linger. With locals that speak of devilmen and catatonic children found on the Broads, Helena finds the answer to the mystery leads back to where it started: Samuel Moncrieff. 

| EXTRACT |

‘Sam, I have been meaning to talk to you.’

‘Yes?’ 

‘I am most impressed at your recovery. Health and occupation are the main purveyors of a happy mind! Have you had any inkling of what you might want to do next?’ 

Sam had feared this conversation, but he was prepared for it. 

‘Mind you, you are welcome to stay as long as you want!’ 

‘I had the notion of preparing myself to climb some mountain,’ Sam cut in, in the face of Charles’s embarrassed look. 

‘Very good! Train the body and the spirit will look after itself. The most important thing is to be able to control the dark impulses—’ 

Sam had a private, interior laugh. Was his uncle serious? Was he preaching against dark and fanciful notions, while taking him to a séance, of all things? 

‘Let the work of the day tire you so that you fall into a black well when you go to sleep,’ continued the older man. A cloud passed over Sam’s mind; what did his uncle know about his nightmares? Perhaps he shouted in his dreams. Did he shout about the ruined house, about Viola, about the ghostly seamstress? 

Charles imparted some more of this kind of vague, Spiritualist-magazine advice during their drive to Gower Street, while Sam nodded and uttered agreements in all the right places. They reached their destination shortly after half past seven. A maid opened the door for them, and they were shown into a parlour. The room was in half-darkness, and what light there was twisted the aspidistras at the other end into fantastical shapes. Sam weighed up his surroundings, an old habit from a time when he used to pick fights in taverns. Entrances and exits. 

Two members of the Gower Street Circle were greeting the guests: serious Miss Clare Collins, a poised young black woman with a shocking streak of white in her hair, and a Scot, Thomas Bunthorne, whom Sam had met previously. Charles greeted both of them, and introduced Miss Collins to Sam: 

‘My dear boy, here you have the most faithful group of devotees in the whole of London!’ he announced, and Miss Collins laughed heartily, as though Charles had said something truly amusing. Sam felt as if he had missed a trick. 

‘How do you do, Miss Collins?’ he offered. 

‘Sam, Miss Collins here will direct the séance,’ Charles explained. 

‘But I thought—’ 

Charles and Miss Collins smiled at Sam’s confusion. 

‘Don’t worry, Mr Moncrieff. Madame Florence is the one you have come to see tonight, and you will see her. She will lock herself in that cabinet,’ Miss Collins explained, signalling an imposing piece of black mahogany furniture at the other end of the room. Sam was unpleasantly reminded of an oversized coffin. ‘From there she will summon the spirits, but will direct the questions from the table.’ 

The rest of the small gathering was completed by a little plump woman in a worn-out gown who kept wringing her hands, and a distinguished-looking lady dressed in heavy mourning regalia, sitting on a chair with the aloof air of not needing to talk to anyone. Sam noted that Charles greeted her coldly, in a manner suggesting that he must have known her in passing, but he did not offer an introduction. Mr Woodbury, an elderly bookseller whom Sam had seen sometimes in Charles’s house, arrived shortly before the proceedings began. 

He had not expected to see the medium before the séance, but Madame Florence appeared in the dimly lit room. She moved like a graceful hostess, talking to everyone, quite as if she were about to announce dinner instead of a meeting with the dead. She was not at all as Sam had expected: he had pictured a plump spinster, an earthly matron surrounded by a group of admiring fools. 

‘Madame Florence,’ said Charles, ‘may I introduce Mr Samuel Moncrieff?’ 

She extended a heavily bejewelled hand in his direction, and Sam bent down to kiss it. He had the impression that she was sizing him up, and that she was happy with what she saw. Madame Florence seemed to be a woman who made sure her partialities were understood. She had deep, intense green eyes, which seemed to pierce through his skull and communicate hidden meanings. 

‘Are you a believer, Mr Moncrieff? Or will I have a problem with you?’ 

Her directness disarmed him for a second. She must have noticed the slight bewilderment in his eyes, for she added: 

‘I’m only joking! Please excuse me. It’s just that I can smell a non-believer from miles away.’ 

‘Madame Florence, if I may—’ he started. ‘I am new to Spiritualism, and there are still certain things that perplex me. One question, for example. If mediumship is a service, as the members of your religion proclaim, pray inform me on one point. I do not quite understand why these people have to pay to be here.’ 

‘Sam!’ Charles looked horrified. 

‘Don’t worry, Mr Bale. Nothing gives me more pleasure than dispelling these little malicious and unfounded myths about my profession. Let’s put your assertion to the test, Mr Moncrieff. Do you see that lady?’ She pointed at the woman in the worn-out dress. ‘She came to see me days ago. She needed help, solace. I could not turn her down. Of course, she could not afford to pay for my services, but she needed them nonetheless. People have their pride, Mr Moncrieff, even the less fortunate among us.’ She fixed him with an icy stare, as if daring him to take up the issue with her. ‘She is a very talented milliner, and has promised to make me a new summer hat in lieu of payment. I have accepted. It is more than fair, and I only fear that I shall be benefiting much more than her in the exchange.’ 

Her honesty was refreshing, he thought. Sam noticed that his uncle had moved away, with a wounded look. 

‘That is very generous of you,’ he said.

‘And that man over there…’ To Sam’s surprise she pointed to Mr Woodbury, who was conducting what looked like an agitated exchange with Thomas Bunthorne. ‘As well as being a celebrated vegetarian, and a significant figure in the temperance movement, he happens to want to study my psychic powers. Perhaps even to shame me as a fraud!’ She suppressed a little laugh. ‘Anyway, I cannot charge him for attending this gathering in his pursuit of scientific knowledge! You are in safe hands, Mr Moncrieff. I assure you he will scrutinise everything that happens here this evening.’ 

To her amusement, he didn’t know what else to say. 

‘Pray, excuse me, I had better prepare myself,’ Madame Florence cut off. ‘A psychic expert and a non-believer!’ she laughed. ‘I have to offer an excellent performance tonight, don’t you think?’ and she walked away from him. 

If this excerpt has piqued your interest, then why not grab yourself a copy of The Golden Key right now!

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

| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

Marian Womack is a bilingual writer (English and Spanish), and co-founder of Calque Press. She is a graduate of the Clarion Writer’s Workshop, and her debut English-language eco-storytelling collection, Lost Objects, was published in 2018 by Luna Press . Her fiction has been part of an installation in Somerset House about activism and ecology, translated into Italian, and nominated for both BSFA and British Fantasy Awards. She teaches creative writing at Oxford University, and works for Cambridge University Libraries in a teaching and engagement role. Her doctoral research looks at the communication of climate change through fiction.

Perfect Kill by Helen Fields | @Helen_Fields @AvonBooksUK | #blogtour

Delighted to join the blog tour for Perfect Kill by Helen Fields today! My thanks to Sanjana at Avon for the opportunity to join and for the fab review copy.

Author : Helen Fields
Title : Perfect Kill
Series : DI Luc Callanach #6
Pages : 385
Publisher : Avon UK
Publication date : February 6, 2020

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

He had never heard himself scream before. It was terrifying.

Alone, trapped in the darkness and with no way out, Bart Campbell knows that his chances of being found alive are slim.

Drugged and kidnapped, the realisation soon dawns that he’s been locked inside a shipping container far from his Edinburgh home. But what Bart doesn’t yet know is that he’s now heading for France where his unspeakable fate is already sealed…

DCI Ava Turner and DI Luc Callanach are working on separate cases that soon collide as it becomes clear that the men and women being shipped to France are being traded for women trafficked into Scotland.

With so many lives at stake, they face an impossible task – but there’s no option of failure when Bart and so many others will soon be dead…

| MY THOUGHTS |

Goodness gracious me. Where do I even begin?

In Perfect Kill, the reader gets a double dose of depravity as DCI Ava Turner and DI Luc Callanach work separate cases. Ava and her team are up in Scotland, while Luc has joined up with a former colleague at Interpol in France. Soon these cases will collide, with lives at stake on both sides of the Channel.

Few people manage to come up with the most evil and disturbing characters quite the way Helen Fields does. Characters that get under your skin, characters that make you want to take a really long shower, characters that have you glaring at the pages of the book, wishing you could hurt them somehow. They are truly vile and utterly despicable.

The reading experience is elevated by putting the reader right there, in the middle with the potential victims. We meet Bart, who wakes up one morning and realises he isn’t in his cosy bed at his mother’s home. Instead he finds himself chained in a dark and windowless place, location unknown. And then there’s Elenuta from Romania, who came to Scotland with the promise of a better life. Need I say more?

Some of these chapters are immensely uncomfortable to read. I winced, I felt sad and angry, I feared for these characters’ lives. These chapters are upsetting, powerful, raw and brutal. I often needed a moment to recover from the horror and brutality, the absolutely horrendous ways some people treat other people for sheer pleasure and entertainment, for money, and all the while it unfortunately all felt so incredibly realistic and believable. It’s sadly easy to imagine that these things do actually happen and these thoughts will linger on your mind long after you’ve finished the book.

So, not exactly for the faint-hearted, I suppose, but that’s something I’ve become used to from Helen Fields. Perfect Kill has many themes that haunt modern society, which lift this book to a whole other level in the crime fiction genre. The “Perfect” series has always been able to stand out from the crowd but this latest addition is really something else altogether. Gritty and raw, I perversely loved every minute of it. I’m not entirely sure what that says about me.

Due to lack of time, I often need to make the tough decision to drop a series because I can no longer keep up but I feel quite confident that this series right here will never be one of them. It is just that good and all that’s left for me to say is : bring on book seven!

Perfect Kill is available to buy!

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

| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

An international and Amazon #1 best-selling author, Helen is a former criminal and family law barrister.

Every book in the Callanach series claimed an Amazon #1 bestseller flag.

Her previous audio book ‘Perfect Crime’ knocked Michelle Obama off the #1 spot. Translated into 15 languages, and also selling in the USA, Canada & Australasia, Helen’s books have won global recognition.

Helen also writes as HS Chandler, and last year released legal thriller ‘Degrees of Guilt’.

She currently commutes between Hampshire, Scotland and California, where she lives with her husband and three children.

Deep Dark Night by Steph Broadribb | @crimethrillgirl @OrendaBooks | #recommended

My thanks to Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books for the review copy!

Author : Steph Broadribb
Title : Deep Dark Night
Series : Lori Anderson #4
Pages : 320
Publisher : Orenda Books
Publication date : March 5, 2020

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

A city in darkness. A building in lockdown. A score that can only be settled in blood…

Working off the books for FBI Special Agent Alex Monroe, Florida bounty-hunter Lori Anderson and her partner, JT, head to Chicago. Their mission: to entrap the head of the Cabressa crime family. The bait: a priceless chess set that Cabressa is determined to add to his collection.

An exclusive high-stakes poker game is arranged in the penthouse suite of one of the city’s tallest buildings, with Lori holding the cards in an agreed arrangement to hand over the pieces, one by one. But, as night falls and the game plays out, stakes rise and tempers flare.

When a power failure plunges the city into darkness, the building goes into lockdown. But this isn’t an ordinary blackout, and the men around the poker table aren’t all who they say they are. Hostages are taken, old scores resurface and the players start to die.

And that’s just the beginning…

| MY THOUGHTS |

AIR! I NEED AIR! CAN’T BREATHE!

If there is one thing I should have learned from reading the Lori Anderson series, it’s to have an oxygen tank at the ready because her adventures always leave me gasping for breath and Deep Dark Night is no different! Throw your gym membership in the bin (not that I have one)! This will leave you with the same amount of adrenaline and energy to get you through three marathons. Just not so sweaty. Bonus!

Lori and JT head to Chicago to work an off-the-books operation for FBI Special Agent Monroe. Using a priceless chess set as bait, Lori must try to entrap the head of the Cabressa crime family and hopefully finally get Monroe off her back along the way. But during a high-stakes poker game in the penthouse suite of one of Chicago’s tallest buildings, the power goes out and shit hits the fan. Things what I learned : stay away from penthouse suites. And poker games. And I should probably add mafia to the list as well.

To say Deep Dark Night is action-packed seems like a massive understatement. It’s pretty much all systems go, all the time. Absolutely relentless! It’s also dark in more ways than one and oftentimes immensely claustrophobic. On top of that, people start dropping like flies all over the place and suddenly all you can think about is if Lori and JT will make it out of this precarious situation alive! Because Steph Broadribb has no qualms whatsoever in putting her characters through the wringer and pushing them to some quite extreme limits.

Steph Broadribb knows how to pull a reader in and keep them enthralled from start to finish. I felt I was right there with Lori and JT, in that high-rise building in the dark, desperately trying to find a way out in one piece. Deep Dark Night is an edge-of-your-seat nail-biter of a book, that at times had my heart pumping so hard I thought it would jump right out of my chest. When I finished it, I felt so darn energised I considered running a few laps around the block. And I do not run, people!

The Lori Anderson series is yet another series that just keeps going from strength to strength and all the books would make excellent movies. Each and every book in this series is utterly gripping and addictive. Lori remains one of the fiercest female protagonists out there, most definitely giving all those muscly showing-off kind of male stereotypes a run for their money. I have to say it …. wait for it …. BEST ONE YET and I’ll be first in line to find out where Steph Broadribb takes this series next. Bring it on!

Deep Dark Night is available to buy in ebook format. The UK paperback will be published on March 5th.

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

All The Best Lies by Joanna Schaffhausen | @TitanBooks @Sarah_Mather_15

Author : Joanna Schaffhausen
Title : All The Best Lies
Series : Ellery Hathaway #3
Pages : 385
Publisher : Titan Books
Publication date : February 11, 2020

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

FBI agent Reed Markham is haunted by one painful unsolved mystery: who murdered his mother? Camilla was brutally stabbed to death more than forty years ago while baby Reed lay in his crib mere steps away. The trail went so cold that the Las Vegas Police Department has given up hope of solving the case. But then a shattering family secret changes everything Reed knows about his origins, his murdered mother, and his powerful adoptive father, state senator Angus Markham. Now Reed has to wonder if his mother’s killer is uncomfortably close to home.

Unable to trust his family with the details of his personal investigation, Reed enlists his friend, suspended cop Ellery Hathaway, to join his quest in Vegas. Ellery has experience with both troubled families and diabolical murderers, having narrowly escaped from each of them. She’s eager to skip town, too, because her own father, who abandoned her years ago, is suddenly desperate to get back in contact. He also has a secret that could change her life forever, if Ellery will let him close enough to hear it.

Far from home and relying only on each other, Reed and Ellery discover young Camilla had snared the attention of dangerous men, any of whom might have wanted to shut her up for good. They start tracing his twisted family history, knowing the path leads back to a vicious killer—one who has been hiding in plain sight for forty years and isn’t about to give up now.

| MY THOUGHTS |

FBI agent Reed Markham’s mother, Camilla Flores, was stabbed to death forty years ago, while baby Reed was in his crib in the next room. The case was never solved but recent events have made Reed wonder if the killer is closer to home than he ever thought. Determined to find out what happened to his mother, Reed enlists the help of the only person he feels he can trust right now : his friend Ellery Hathaway.

All The Best Lies is the third book in a series and unfortunately for me, that was something I wasn’t aware of when I picked it up to read. I personally don’t feel this can be read as a stand-alone. There’s a huge history between Reed and Ellery, which has an impact on their relationship, their dynamics and their lives. While there is enough background provided to get the gist of things, I was left to feel like I was missing out on vital information. It’s a fine line for an author to walk in a series as you obviously don’t want to bore readers that have been with you from the start and you don’t want to alienate new readers. What I’m trying to say is that Joanna Schaffhausen did this quite brilliantly but I just needed that little something more to get fully behind the characters and understand how damaged and flawed they are, and why.

That said, this book is an extremely compelling ride. Cold cases always get my blood flowing that little bit quicker. Forty years is a long time. If there were any witnesses, what do they remember after all this time? Are they even still alive? Evidence may have been lost, accidentally or otherwise. On top of that, Reed’s adoptive family is getting nervous about Reed digging into the past like this as Reed’s adoptive father is a politician and worried about the possibility of a scandal. Or could there possibly be more to it than that?

For the longest time, I couldn’t at all figure out who so brutally murdered Camilla. Was it someone she knew? Was it a random attack? Why would anyone have wanted to harm her like that? What kind of person kills a mother while her baby is next door? I did my best to find my way through the forest of red herrings and twists and was ridiculously pleased with myself when I had a lightbulb moment and zeroed in on one suspect.

From the bright lights of Las Vegas to California and back again, All The Best Lies is a gripping crime thriller and police procedural combination. Once I got past that gap in my background knowledge, I actually really started to enjoy it. With complex and multi-layered characters, there is a lot to like about this story. My only niggle, and again this is personal preference, is the romantic angle. There’s no doubt there is an abundance of chemistry between Reed and Ellery and I’m sure plenty of readers are rooting for them but I’m here for the brutal murders, the gore and the mayhem and I often find the “will they, won’t they” extremely distracting. It’s just not something I need in my crime fiction.

All in all though, a thoroughly enjoyable and twisty story that made me wish I’d been with this series from the start. In all honesty, the odds that I’ll ever get caught up with the first two are small (because who has that kind of time?!) but I may just keep an eye out on the next one in the series.

My thanks to Titan Books for the review copy!

All The Best Lies is available to buy!

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

This Week in Books (February 12)

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 |

Set in London in 1837, The Unseeing is the story of Sarah Gale, a seamstress and mother, sentenced to hang for her role in the murder of Hannah Brown on the eve of her wedding.

After Sarah petitions for mercy, Edmund Fleetwood is appointed to investigate and consider whether justice has been done. Idealistic, but struggling with his own demons, Edmund is determined to seek out the truth. Yet Sarah refuses to help him, neither lying nor adding anything to the evidence gathered in court. Edmund knows she’s hiding something, but needs to discover just why she’s maintaining her silence. For how can it be that someone would willingly go to their own death?

[So, so good!]

| THE BOOK I’M CURRENTLY READING |

FBI agent Reed Markham is haunted by one painful unsolved mystery: who murdered his mother? Camilla was brutally stabbed to death more than forty years ago while baby Reed lay in his crib mere steps away. The trail went so cold that the Las Vegas Police Department has given up hope of solving the case. But then a shattering family secret changes everything Reed knows about his origins, his murdered mother, and his powerful adoptive father, state senator Angus Markham. Now Reed has to wonder if his mother’s killer is uncomfortably close to home.

Unable to trust his family with the details of his personal investigation, Reed enlists his friend, suspended cop Ellery Hathaway, to join his quest in Vegas. Ellery has experience with both troubled families and diabolical murderers, having narrowly escaped from each of them. She’s eager to skip town, too, because her own father, who abandoned her years ago, is suddenly desperate to get back in contact. He also has a secret that could change her life forever, if Ellery will let him close enough to hear it.

Far from home and relying only on each other, Reed and Ellery discover young Camilla had snared the attention of dangerous men, any of whom might have wanted to shut her up for good. They start tracing his twisted family history, knowing the path leads back to a vicious killer—one who has been hiding in plain sight for forty years and isn’t about to give up now. 

[I’m enjoying this one but I didn’t realise it was the third in a series and I’m struggling a little with the gap in my background knowledge.]

| WHAT I’M (PROBABLY) READING NEXT |

He had never heard himself scream before. It was terrifying.

Alone, trapped in the darkness and with no way out, Bart Campbell knows that his chances of being found alive are slim.

Drugged and kidnapped, the realisation soon dawns that he’s been locked inside a shipping container far from his Edinburgh home. But what Bart doesn’t yet know is that he’s now heading for France where his unspeakable fate is already sealed…

DCI Ava Turner and DI Luc Callanach are working on separate cases that soon collide as it becomes clear that the men and women being shipped to France are being traded for women trafficked into Scotland.

With so many lives at stake, they face an impossible task – but there’s no option of failure when Bart and so many others will soon be dead…

[One of my favourite series (yes, again) and I’m really looking forward to this latest instalment.]

Looks like I’m in for another fab week! What are you reading? Do let me know! Happy reading! xx

The Murder House by Michael Wood | @MichaelHWood @0neMoreChapter_

Author : Michael Wood
Title : The Murder House
Series : DCI Matilda Darke #5
Pages : 400
Publisher : One More Chapter
Publication date : January 31, 2020

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

It’s the most disturbing crime scene DCI Matilda Darke has ever seen…

The morning after a wedding reception at a beautiful suburban home in Sheffield, the bride’s entire family are stabbed to death – in a frenzied attack more violent than anything DCI Matilda Darke could have imagined.

Forensics point to a burglar on the run across the country. But cracks are starting to appear in Matilda’s team, someone is playing games with the evidence – and the killer might be closer to home than they thought…

| MY THOUGHTS |

Blood, guts and gore. Not exactly the aftermath you’d expect the morning following a lovely wedding but there we are. It is exactly the scene DCI Matilda Darke and her team come across when three members of a family are found brutally murdered in their home. Forensics quickly point to a petty criminal, who just happens to be on the run. But things don’t quite seem to add up and DCI Darke must keep her wits about her, while also trying to make sure her team doesn’t fall apart at the seams.

Meanwhile, Sally Meeghan is getting phone calls from someone she believes is her son. Carl went missing years ago. It’s a case that haunts Matilda Darke to this day. Is Carl still alive? Is someone playing a cruel game with his mother? And where on earth will Matilda find the time to deal with this on top of everything else?

I think you can just about get away with reading this one as a stand-alone, although why you would want to is anyone’s guess and obviously my recommendation is always to start from the beginning of a series. This team has gone through so much over the last few years, it’s really not surprising that cracks are starting to show and I truly feared for them.

But they have a job to do and a killer to catch. As to who that killer might be, I didn’t have a clue. By all appearances, this slain family seemed absolutely perfect. Who would want to harm them in such a brutal way and why? With so little information to go on, where do you even start? The tiniest little detail could blow this case right open. And let me tell you, when that happened, my jaw dropped to the floor because that is just a stroke of genius!

The Murder House is the fifth book in the DCI Matilda Darke series. I’ve been with this series from the very beginning and I feel it just isn’t talked about enough, you guys. Michael Wood delivers every single time and every single book has been outstanding but this one? Talk about raising the bar! The Murder House is intensely gripping from the first page and the pace builds up so much, I was wondering when I’d have a moment to come up for air. Deliciously dark, full of red herrings … you know what’s coming, don’t you? Best one in the series yet!

Fans of Matilda Darke will be thrilled with this latest addition, as would anyone who enjoys a solid, fast-paced and incredibly well-plotted police procedural. If Michael Wood isn’t on your radar, he bloody well should be and now is the perfect time to get caught up because there are lots of goodies coming our way from him this year.

The Murder House is available to buy!

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