Perfect Crime by Helen Fields | @Helen_Fields @AvonBooksUK @Sabah_K | #blogtour #bookreview #PerfectCrime

Delighted to join the blog tour for Perfect Crime by Helen Fields today! My thanks to Sabah at Avon for the opportunity to join and for the review copy!

Author : Helen Fields
Title : Perfect Crime
Series : DI Luc Callanach #5
Pages : 400
Publisher : Avon UK
Publication date : April 18, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

Stephen Berry is about to jump off a bridge until a suicide prevention counsellor stops him. A week later, Stephen is dead. Found at the bottom of a cliff, DI Luc Callanach and DCI Ava Turner are drafted in to investigate whether he jumped or whether he was pushed…

As they dig deeper, more would-be suicides roll in: a woman found dead in a bath; a man violently electrocuted. But these are carefully curated deaths – nothing like the impulsive suicide attempts they’ve been made out to be.

Little do Callanach and Turner know how close their perpetrator is as, across Edinburgh, a violent and psychopathic killer gains more confidence with every life he takes…

| MY THOUGHTS |

Let me just start my review by saying that if you’re not reading this series, I am judging you like a big, bad judging thing! This is one of the best crime fiction series out there and you are sorely missing out!

Perfect Crime is the fifth instalment in the DI Luc Callanach series and by now, these characters feel like family and I am always excited about spending more time with them. Before you ask, no, you really shouldn’t treat these as stand-alones. Start from the beginning. I promise you won’t regret it!

Things kick off when Stephen Berry is getting ready to jump off a bridge. Luckily, a suicide prevention counsellor manages to talk him down but a week later, Stephen is found dead at the bottom of a cliff. DI Luc Callanach and DCI Ava Turner are called in to investigate whether Stephen killed himself or was murdered. But the deaths do not stop there …

Meanwhile, Callanach is finding himself in hot water when he visits someone in a care home who is later found dead. I won’t say anything else about that so I don’t spoil things for those who haven’t read the previous books (shame on you! 😂) but I will say I really enjoyed this second thread of the story. Switching back and forth between the two investigations really held my attention.

I mentioned these characters feel like family by now so when they hurt, I hurt. And there is a lot of “hurt” going on in this one. Relationships shift, some characters managed to surprise me, others infuriated me and through it all are original, frightening and gruesome deaths as I’ve come to expect from this series.

I very early on figured out what was going on but that didn’t ruin things for me at all. I became so absorbed in the investigation that I almost forgot about my suspect. Helen Fields always delivers gripping, compelling, thrilling and tense stories full of intriguing (and sometimes totally crazy) characters. This is one of those series that just keeps getting better and better and I can’t wait to see what Helen Fields comes up with next but I know it will be awesome once again. Highly recommended!

Perfect Crime is available to buy!

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

While you’re there, why not grab yourself copies of the previous books in the series 😉

| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

Helen Fields studied law at the University of East Anglia, then went on to the Inns of Court School of Law in London. After completing her pupillage, she joined chambers in Middle Temple where she practised criminal and family law for thirteen years. After her second child was born, Helen left the Bar.

Together with her husband David, she runs a film production company, acting as script writer and producer. Helen and her husband now live in Los Angeles with their three children and two dogs.

Liberation Square by Gareth Rubin | @GarethRubin @MichaelJBooks @JennyPlatt90 | #blogtour #bookreview

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Liberation Square by Gareth Rubin! My thanks to Jenny Platt at Michael Joseph for the invitation to join and the wonderful review copy!

Author : Gareth Rubin
Title : Liberation Square
Pages : 340
Publisher : Michael Joseph
Publication date : April 18, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

After the disastrous failure of D-Day, Britain is occupied by Nazi Germany, and only rescued by Russian soldiers arriving from the east and Americans from the west. The two superpowers divide the nation between them, a wall running through London like a scar.

On the Soviet side of the wall, Jane Cawson calls into her husband’s medical practice, hoping to surprise him. But instead she detects the perfume worn by his former wife, Lorelei, star of propaganda films for the new Marxist regime.

Jane rushes to confront them, but soon finds herself caught up in the glamorous actress’s death.

Her husband Nick is arrested for murder. Desperate to clear his name, Jane must risk the attention of the brutal secret police as she follows a trail of corruption right to the highest levels of the state.

And she might find she never really knew her husband at all.

| MY THOUGHTS |

Well, here is a frightening scenario.

The year is 1952. The setting is London. But not the London we all know. D-Day was an enormous failure and the war was lost. The United Kingdom has been divided in two with a wall running through London. Jane and her husband Nick live in the Republic, under Russian control. Jane suspects her husband of having an affair with his first wife, Lorelei. When Jane decides to confront them, she finds Lorelei dead in the bathtub and soon, husband Nick is arrested by the National Secret Service. But all is not what it seems.

Jane is just your average woman who suddenly finds herself in the middle of extraordinary circumstances. Not only is goodness knows what happening to her husband while he’s being held but she also suddenly finds herself responsible for his daughter from his previous marriage. Desperate to find evidence that will help free her husband, she soon ends up in situations she is wholly unprepared for.

Life is not a bed of roses on this side of the wall. Corruption is rife and the things that have been promised do not come to fruition. Danger lurks around every corner. People are arrested and disappear. You can’t even trust your neighbours, who seem to be watching your every move, ready to inform the authorities. Some try to escape, making desperate attempts to reach the other side of the wall. Most fail.

The cover of this book is black and white with some red highlights standing out and that’s exactly how I saw things in my head while reading. At its heart, Liberation Square is a murder mystery and I felt it had a bit of a noir vibe to it. As Jane digs deeper, trying to figure out who was responsible for Lorelei’s death, she uncovers a multitude of secrets and is left to wonder if she knows her husband at all. With so much deceit going on everywhere, I ended up being suspicious of just about everyone and had a hard time imagining living my life like that. Scary.

With a fascinating and original premise, Liberation Square turned into quite the surprising read for me. I say that because dystopian stories don’t always hit the right spot with me but this one most definitely did. Having the added bonus of a murder mystery and a bit of a spy thriller touch to it, made this an enjoyable, atmospheric and gripping story. One that had me guessing until the end and in awe of the utterly believable alternative scenario.

Liberation Square is available to buy!

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

| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

Gareth Rubin is a British journalist and author. His journalism covers social affairs, travel, architecture, arts and health. His novel Liberation Square is a mystery thriller set in Soviet-occupied London.

In 2013 he directed a documentary, Images of Bedlam, about the connection between art and mental illness and how art can help people express that which they cannot put into words. It was filmed at the Bethlem Royal Hospital (‘Bedlam’) and interviews artists with a history of psychiatric illness.

He previously worked as an actor on stage and television.

The Killer in Me by Olivia Kiernan | @LivKiernan @riverrunbooks @Millsreid11 | #TheKillerInMe

Today I’m sharing my review for The Killer in Me by Olivia Kiernan. Huge thanks to Milly Read at Riverrun Books for the fabulous review copy!

Author : Olivia Kiernan
Title : The Killer in Me
Series : Frankie Sheehan #2
Pages : 336
Publisher : Riverrun
Publication date : April 4, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

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.

| MY THOUGHTS |

Seventeen years ago, the town of Clontarf was rocked to its very core when fifteen year old Seán Hennessy was convicted of the murder of his parents and attempted murder of his then ten year old sister. Seán always maintained his innocence and now he’s finally been released, he’s set on clearing his name once and for all. But his return to Clontarf sets off another spate of murders. Coincidence or not? Detective Chief Superintendent Frankie Sheehan will need to keep her wits about her to figure out the truth.

One of the first things to pull you into this story is the amazing atmosphere Olivia Kiernan creates. This small seaside town on the coast of Ireland isn’t exactly a glamorous holiday destination. It rains a lot. It’s windy. Often you look up and only see dark and grey skies. But these elements all add to the doom and gloom of a complicated murder investigation and this here investigation is certainly complicated.

The Killer in Me is full of complex and multi-layered characters. Few come across as trustworthy and my keen detective eye (ha!) zeroed in on a suspect relatively soon. But just like Frankie and her team, I wasn’t prepared for all the twists, turns and dead ends and ultimately I had to admit defeat, not seeing who the culprit was or why it seemed to be connected to the past.

I had some misgivings about Frankie when I was first introduced to her in Too Close to Breathe but in this instalment, she completely won me over! It may seem a tad harsh to say but I almost felt as if she had some kind of personality transplant but I loved her. She always keeps an open mind and isn’t afraid to admit to herself when she’s wrong about something. Her profiling background remains incredibly fascinating, the way she “sees” things play out in front of her eyes really drew me in. I had no problems whatsoever getting behind her this time around.

A lot about this story is about perceptions, which in turn makes it rather thought-provoking. The Killer in Me is gripping, immersive and utterly addictive. Oozing atmosphere throughout and with a touch of true crime about it, it had me absolutely hooked from start to finish. If you’re into crime fiction, I’d definitely recommend this one and I’m ridiculously excited to see where Olivia Kiernan takes this series next!

The Killer in Me will be published on April 4th!

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

| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

Olivia Kiernan is an Irish writer living in the UK.

She was born and raised in County Meath, near the famed heritage town of Kells and holds an MA in Creative Writing awarded by the University of Sussex.

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.

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

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

Mama’s Gone by Leopold Borstinski | @borstinski @damppebbles | #guestpost #damppebblestours

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Mama’s Gone by Leopold Borstinksi. My thanks to Emma Welton at damppebbles tours for the invitation to join. Today, author Leopold Borstinksi visits my blog to talk about which book he wishes he’d written and why. But first, here is what his own book is all about!

Author : Leopold Borstinski
Title : Mama’s Gone
Series : The Lagotti Family Series #4
Pages : 301
Publisher : Sobriety Press
Publication date : March 18, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

When the children grow up, the parents must die.

California gang leader Mary Lou has built a criminal empire while her adult children are desperate for their mother’s attention and love. 

As her mental faculties wane, Alice and Frank Jr must acknowledge their mother is not the woman she once was and that they need to step up and take the helm, despite the stark differences between them. 

But their sibling rivalry blinds both of them to their weaknesses which threatens the family when the Russian mob moves into the state. How can they fend off those attacks while fighting to decide who will lead the family now their dear Mama’s gone? 

Amazon US | Amazon UK

| GUEST POST |

For reasons I am not able to express, I was asked recently what book I wish had written and the honest answer is Nausea by Jean-Paul Sartre because it is a work of total genius that changed the way I viewed the world. It is an existentialist work, but four years after I first read it I found out that Sartre had written the slender novel under the influence of mescaline. This explains a lot. But if you ask me which fiction book I most admire then hands down it is The Cold Six Thousand by James Ellroy. Why? Let me tell you…

This was the first Ellroy book I read and his particular prose style amazed me as much as it challenged me. The way that internal monologues sleep through every paragraph and the non-standard approach to language made it a very difficult first hundred pages, but the rewards were immense.

I was introduced to a cast of characters as vast and disparate as you could get. Given the reach of the story – covering the assassination of JFK and pushing toward the next Kennedy death – and the breadth of mob, politician and underworld criminal worlds depicted, it is nothing short of fabulous. At the time, I was a Joe Public book reader, but now I am a writer as well, I have a greater understanding of the complex hurdles Ellroy needed to surmount in order to deliver the book as published.

First of all, of course and I hope this doesn’t count as a spoiler, but we all know that JFK gets killed, so the central premise – will they or won’t they top the president – is null and void as something to generate tension. Anyone who has read The Day of The Jackal knows how hard it is to suspend your disbelief long enough to read a tale about famous historical events.

But I was gripped right up to the end. And there were sequels as well that kept me riveted too. One of the central conceits of the book is to meld real-life people with fictional folk. You wonder the extent to which Ellroy researched the Kennedy clan and those around them. I wanted it all to be true, real, genuine, but I know in my heart of hearts that this is not a documentary or even a dramatisation of actual events. This is fiction and the people with real names are as made up as the other characters.

And yet I still love the book. What’s the best bit about it? It’s size? From memory, my copy weighed in at about 800 pages – it was purchased at a time when an eBook was a typo and not the norm – it was about as thick as the Lord of the Rings, but it was a pure crime novel. Not a furry critter in sight.

Since then, I have devoured almost everything of Ellroy I can lay my hands on, but the Six Thousand remains my favourite. Perhaps because it was my first, but definitely because it is a juicy steak of a book. Oh and I lied: I do wish I’d written it, but I wanted to make myself seem clever in the opening paragraph.

| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

Leopold Borstinski is an independent author whose past careers have included financial journalism, business management of financial software companies, consulting and product sales and marketing, as well as teaching.

There is nothing he likes better so he does as much nothing as he possibly can. He has travelled extensively in Europe and the US and has visited Asia on several occasions. Leopold holds a Philosophy degree and tries not to drop it too often.

He lives near London and is married with one wife, one child and no pets.

Author links : Facebook | Twitter

The Secret Child by Caroline Mitchell | @Caroline_writes @midaspr @AmazonPub| #TheSecretChild #ThomasAndMercer

I’m kicking off the week with a stop on the blog tour for The Secret Child by Caroline Mitchell. My thanks to Agnes at Midas PR for the invitation to join and to Caroline Mitchell for the review copy!

Author : Caroline Mitchell
Title : The Secret Child
Series : DI Amy Winter #2
Pages : 336
Publisher : Thomas & Mercer
Publication date : March 7, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

Four-year-old Ellen is snatched by a stranger in the dead of night. Her devastated mother, Nicole, receives four identical phials and a threatening note in a familiar scrawl that chills her to the bone. But she always knew this would happen. She’s been expecting it for years…

According to the note, one of the phials is poisoned. Nicole is given a deadly challenge: if she drinks one, the sadistic kidnapper will notify the police of Ellen’s location. The sender claims to be Luka Volkov but Luka is supposed to be dead, killed long ago in a fire that haunts all those involved.

DI Amy Winter is still reeling from the discovery that she is the daughter of a serial killer, and her childhood trauma only makes her more determined to bring Ellen home. When another child is taken, Amy finds herself in a race against time. To rescue the children, must she seek help from the one person she wants to forget…?

| MY THOUGHTS |

When four year old Ellen is kidnapped from her bedroom, it becomes clear quite early on her parents aren’t telling the police everything. This kidnapper is on a mission and Ellen was targeted for a reason. But what dark secrets are hiding in the past? Amy and her team find themselves in a race against time to find Ellen before it’s too late.

The Secret Child is the second instalment in the DI Amy Winter series and I felt it was even stronger than its predecessor. The storyline is pretty intense, helped by the fact I could never quite figure out what the kidnapper’s endgame was going to be. There are quite a few parallels throughout, between the kidnapper’s past and Amy’s. Hoping to find some common ground with the kidnapper, can Amy keep her past a secret though?

I must admit that Amy got on my nerves quite a bit this time around. It’s not surprising she has issues, obviously, and she’ll do whatever it takes to protect herself from getting hurt but some of the moments where she was lashing out angered me. I felt like grabbing her and shaking her and telling her to get a grip, focus on what’s what or who’s who. I quite enjoy it when a character can get to me like that though.

Speaking of characters that do that, the character calling himself Luka is one of those as well. Obviously I can’t give anything away but his background is so incredibly devastating, it’s hard not to feel for him. Even if the things he’s doing now are wrong, you understand why he’s doing them. It all begins in the eighties but those events have a lifelong impact on all those who were involved.

With a topic like childhood trauma and its effects, The Secret Child quickly becomes a tense, fascinating and gripping read. This isn’t just your average awesome crime thriller as there’s a remarkable depth and psychology to it that adds that little bit extra. It had me hooked from start to finish and I can’t wait to see where Caroline Mitchell takes this series next.

The Secret Child is available to buy!

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

| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

Caroline originates from Ireland and now lives with her family in a pretty village on the coast of Essex.

A former police detective, Caroline has worked in CID and specialised in roles dealing with vulnerable victims, high-risk victims of domestic abuse, and serious sexual offences.

She now writes full time.

The Shape of Lies by Rachel Abbott | @RachelAbbott @MauraWilding | #TheShapeofLies #NetGalley

Author : Rachel Abbott
Title : The Shape of Lies
Series : DI Tom Douglas #8
Pages : 384
Publisher : Black Dot Publishing
Publication date : February 19, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

Fourteen years ago Scott was Anna’s boyfriend. She loved him, but he ruined her life. When he died, she should have been free.

But today Scott is on the radio, talking about her. Threatening to spill her secrets.

Anna is a mother, a wife, and head teacher of a primary school. And she’s a very good liar. She has been lying about herself for so long, she doesn’t really know who she is any more.

Anna used to think she was a good person. She made one stupid mistake, and now she is having to pay for it – over and over again.

Scott is the only person who knows the truth about her past. But how can Scott be alive?

Soon, DCI Tom Douglas is going to knock on her door looking for answers. But Anna is already running scared: from the man she used to love; the man she watched die all those years ago; the man who has come back to life.

She has one week to find him. One week to stop him.

| MY THOUGHTS |

It’s always such a joy to be able to read a new book in the DCI Tom Douglas series. I can’t believe we’re already at book eight and I must say, this is another crime series that keeps going from strength to strength.

In case the title of the book didn’t give you a clue, there are a lot of lies in this story and lies comes in all shapes and sizes. Little white lies, flagrant lies and the lies we have to keep telling in order to protect one lie from the past that could cause a whole lot of you-know-what to hit the fan. This is what happened to Anna. But she feels quite safe in the knowledge that the only person who knows about her past is dead. Or is he? Someone is ready to share Anna’s secrets and lies with the world. She has one week to find them and to stop them before her life falls apart.

Anna is a wife, a mother, a headteacher and an insanely good liar. The way the lies roll off her tongue so easily is actually quite impressive. Slowly but surely, the truth about her is revealed, going all the way back to when she was a rather naive nineteen year old girl. At university, she makes one mistake but it’s one that has a massive impact.

I found Anna quite a tough character to relate to. In fact, I didn’t really like her very much. There was no hardship at all in sympathising with her during her university days but the adult Anna, with the lies and the deceit, left me rather cold. That said, you don’t always have to be able to sympathise with, trust or even like a character to be absolutely engrossed in a story and luckily Rachel Abbott knows exactly how to come up with a storyline that will keep you hooked, no matter what.

Did I think I had things figured out? Of course, I did. Was I right? Well, yes and also no. Because that’s another thing this author does so extremely well. There are plenty of twists and turns to keep you guessing until the end and if you do happen to have a theory, make you doubt yourself.

The Shape of Lies is another fantastic addition to the DCI Tom Douglas series. Full of suspense and intrigue, it makes for one gripping and tense read. I thoroughly enjoyed catching up with Tom and Becky again and I hope to see them back again soon. In the meantime, you have time to get caught up if you haven’t done so already because this truly is a fantastic crime series that should be on everyone’s radar and Rachel Abbott is an author who should most definitely be on your bookshelf.

Huge thanks to Maura Wilding for my review copy!

The Shape of Lies is available to buy!

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

The Taking of Annie Thorne by C.J. Tudor | @cjtudor @MichaelJBooks @JennyPlatt90 | #TheTakingofAnnieThorne #blogtour #recommended

Absolutely thrilled to bits to host a stop on the blog tour for The Taking of Annie Thorne by C.J. Tudor today! Huge thanks to Jenny Platt at Michael Joseph for the invitation to join and for the fabulous review copy!

Author : C.J. Tudor
Title : The Taking of Annie Thorne (The Hiding Place)
Pages : 344
Publisher : Michael Joseph
Publication date : February 21, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

Joe never wanted to come back to Arnhill. After the way things ended with his old gang–the betrayal, the suicide, the murder–and after what happened when his sister went missing, the last thing he wanted to do was return to his hometown. But Joe doesn’t have a choice. Because judging by what was done to that poor Morton kid, what happened all those years ago to Joe’s sister is happening again. And only Joe knows who is really at fault.

Lying his way into a teaching job at his former high school is the easy part. Facing off with former friends who are none too happy to have him back in town–while avoiding the enemies he’s made in the years since–is tougher. But the hardest part of all will be returning to that abandoned mine where it all went wrong and his life changed forever, and finally confronting the shocking, horrifying truth about Arnhill, his sister, and himself. Because for Joe, the worst moment of his life wasn’t the day his sister went missing. It was the day she came back. 

| MY THOUGHTS |

Oh my word, where to even start?! I’ve been a proud C.J. Tudor fan from the second I read The Chalk Man. Quite frankly, if I were a teenager and she was a rockstar, her poster would be on my bedroom wall. I can’t possibly begin to describe the excitement that coursed through me when I was finally able to pick up The Taking of Annie Thorne. Yes, I had high expectations but I was never in any doubt whatsoever that I would just love this book to pieces. And I did!

This is a tough one to review without giving anything away. Other than the exquisite book trailer, I knew absolutely nothing about this book and it’s the best way to experience it. Also, if you’re expecting some incredibly coherent review, this one won’t be it. If I could have gotten away with four paragraphs of exclamation marks, I totally would have done it. I find it extremely hard to explain why I love this book so much and I can only hope it comes across somewhat (possibly in a slightly embarrassing way, I do apologise) and it’ll convince you to give this one a go.

I don’t know what it is about small town settings but I just love them and they don’t come any more intriguing than Arnhill does. It feels particularly gloomy and depressing. Joe never thought he’d go back there. Who would even want to? Especially after what happened.

When my sister was eight years old, she disappeared.

And then she came back.

[Note to self : never move anywhere near a mine pit. Also, always keep the loo lid down.]

As someone who was a teenager herself in the 80’s, any and all references to that era just make me giddy and there are a lot of them in this story that put a huge smile on my face. Throw in Joe’s delightful sense of humour, sarcasm and inner voice and I was hooked. With a dark atmosphere, a high creepiness factor, fascinating characters and lots of questions that need answers, this was one suspenseful and thrilling ride. And then just when I thought I could sit back, relax and breathe again … the rug was pulled from under my feet with the most deliciously chilling epilogue that almost made my eyes pop out of my head.

By the way, if you’re a fan of audiobooks, and quite frankly even if you’re not, you should most definitely give this one a listen! I may be starting to sound like some sort of running advertisement for the amazing Richard Armitage but seriously, you guys, his narration brings this story to a whole different level of intensity. It’s a fantastic experience all on its own.

Anyway!

The Taking of Annie Thorne is a brilliantly plotted, exquisitely written, utterly compelling, addictive and “unputdownable” page-turner. Whatever “it” is, C.J. Tudor has it in abundance and then some. There’s something about the way she writes that has me captivated from the very first word. It almost feels like being under a spell and I’ll gladly let her guide me wherever it is she wants to take me. I’m a fan, what more can I say?

I think I’d better leave it here. This whole thing is starting to sound like a teenage girl writing a letter to her favourite boyband member. 😳

In case it wasn’t clear, I absolutely LOVED The Taking of Annie Thorne and you will without a doubt be seeing this book again in my top 5 at the end of the year, just like The Chalk Man was last year. I am so ridiculously excited to see what C.J. Tudor comes up with next that I have already pre-ordered her next book. So should you, right here 😉

To recap : !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! x infinity

The Taking of Annie Thorne is available to buy!

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

| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

C. J. Tudor was born in Salisbury and grew up in Nottingham, where she still lives with her partner and young daughter.

She left school at sixteen and has had a variety of jobs over the years, including trainee reporter, radio scriptwriter, shop assistant, ad agency copywriter and voiceover.

In the early nineties, she fell into a job as a television presenter for a show on Channel 4 called Moviewatch. Although a terrible presenter, she got to interview acting legends such as Sigourney Weaver, Michael Douglas, Emma Thompson and Robin Williams. She also annoyed Tim Robbins by asking a question about Susan Sarandon’s breasts and was extremely flattered when Robert Downey Junior showed her his chest.

While writing the Chalk Man she ran a dog-walking business, walking over twenty dogs a week as well as looking after her little girl.

Please check out these amazing bloggers on the tour who say it all much better than I do.