The Other People by C.J. Tudor | @cjtudor @MichaelJBooks | #recommended

Happy publication day to the fabulous C.J. Tudor for her outstanding third book, The Other People!

Author : C.J. Tudor
Title : The Other People
Pages : 416
Publisher : Michael Joseph
Publication date : January 23, 2020

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

She sleeps, a pale girl in a white room . . .

Driving home one night, stuck behind a rusty old car, Gabe sees a little girl’s face appear in the rear window.

She mouths one word: ‘Daddy.’

It’s his five-year-old daughter, Izzy.

He never sees her again.

Three years later, Gabe spends his days and nights travelling up and down the motorway, searching for the car that took his daughter, refusing to give up hope, even though most people believe that Izzy is dead.

Fran and her daughter, Alice, also put in a lot of miles on the motorway. Not searching. But running. Trying to keep one step ahead of the people who want to hurt them.

Because Fran knows the truth. She knows what really happened to Gabe’s daughter. She knows who is responsible. And she knows what they will do if they ever catch up with her and Alice.

| MY THOUGHTS |

Warning : possibility of awkward love-fest ahead.

Hell is other people

For the longest time, whenever someone would ask me who my favourite author was, I didn’t even have to think about the answer. (For those who haven’t been keeping up, that’d be Karin Slaughter). But ever since I read The Chalk Man, the answer is coming just that little bit slower and now, on having read C.J. Tudor’s latest book, The Other People, the time may have come to utter the words “move over, Karin!”. So sorry, Karin, it’s not you, it’s me.

The Other People was easily my most anticipated book of the year. I had such high expectations that I was convinced before it even arrived in the post, that I would absolutely love it and no matter how much I tried to temper down that feeling, worrying that I was setting myself up to be disappointed, I couldn’t do it. So obviously I was ecstatic when I realised my expectations were being exceeded. As far as I’m concerned, C.J. Tudor can write me a shopping list and I’ll read it and love it and tell you all to read it too until I’m blue in the face.

First of all, there’s the writing. I can’t even begin to explain why it draws me in as it does. It’s almost magical and completely mesmerising. Some of it is so immensely deep and insightful (come talk to me again when you’ve read about “hope”) and I often find myself nodding as I’m reading along because yes, hitting the nail on the head right there in a way I’m clearly incapable of myself. But the writing is also natural and not conceited in any way. It feels comfortable. It feels as if C.J. Tudor is right here on my sofa, telling me a story and I’m hanging onto every single word. Sometimes I even chuckle, although I’m not entirely sure I’m supposed to (I have an odd sense of humour) but I’d like to think that it’s the author’s way of releasing some of the tension by adding a slightly witty remark or observation.

I’m not going to mention anything about the plot. All you need is in the book description and I won’t add another word to it because I don’t want to give anything away. From the minute I picked up this book though, I knew I wasn’t going to put it down again until I had flipped that final page. The Other People takes “addictive” and “being glued to the pages” to a completely different level. I just HAD to keep reading. Various points-of-view kept me utterly enthralled and while I had a tiny inkling about something, the whole picture completely evaded me. I couldn’t at all even begin to try and figure out how the various storylines were supposed to fit together until C.J. Tudor revealed it to me.

What to say about the characters? Gabe. Gah. My heart broke for him numerous times and his pain, his sense of loss is so intensely palpable. Fran was somewhat more difficult to get my head around but I think that was the point. However, she’s clearly on the run from something or someone and every time panic struck, I was right there with her, heart pounding, hands getting clammy, ready to run.

Atmospheric? Check! Bit of a supernatural vibe? Also, check! Although maybe not as prevalent as in the previous books but it’s there, in the background, in a creepy, chilling kind of way. A mystery to solve? You bet your shiny arse there is. And then let’s add all those other words people are getting tired of hearing : gripping, compelling, engrossing, a page-turner, addictive, impossible to put down (IT REALLY IS!) …. all that and so, so much more! Sometimes quite sad, mostly full of suspense and questions. So many questions. Did I mention impossible to put down? (Just checking)

Dare I say it? You know what? Yes. I’m going to say it. This is C.J. Tudor’s BEST book yet and it is without a doubt a huge contender for my book of the year. Right now, it has caused a massive book hangover. I loved everything about it, in case you hadn’t noticed, and I’m sad this thrilling ride is over.

By the way, my hardback copy has a teaser chapter of C.J. Tudor’s next book (out next year) and I already can’t wait! It promises to be another absolute belter but for now, do yourself a favour, pick up a copy of The Other People because I promise you, C.J. Tudor is the real deal.

To recap, I’d like to borrow a tiny part from my review for The Taking of Annie Thorne, which is just as apt here :

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! x infinity (😉)

The Other People is available to buy!

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Nine Elms by Robert Bryndza | @RobertBryndza @TheCrimeVault | #NineElms

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Nine Elms by Robert Bryndza. My thanks to Kirsteen at Little Brown for the opportunity to join and for the review copy!

Author : Robert Bryndza
Title : Nine Elms
Series : Kate Marshall #1
Pages : 400
Publisher : Sphere
Publication date : January 9, 2020 (hardcover)

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

Sixteen years ago, Kate Marshall was a rising star in the London Metropolitan police force. Young, ambitious and driven, with a talent for getting into the minds of criminals, she solved several high-profile murder cases.

But when Kate was tasked with tracking down a vicious serial killer, even her instinct and ability to immerse herself in violent worlds couldn’t help her find him – until he found her.

Now, years after her narrow escape, Kate lives a quiet life on the English coast, though her years with the police are still with her. And when one day she receives a letter from someone in her past, she is pulled back into the twisted mind of a murderer she knows only too well – and into a case only she can solve.

| MY THOUGHTS |

I’m sure many of you are familiar with Robert Bryndza and his crime fiction series featuring Erika Foster. But now he’s back with a brand-new series and an equally brand-new exciting female protagonist.

Sixteen years ago, Kate Marshall was a detective working for the London Metropolitan Police. Kate ended up on the wrong side of a serial killer case. With her career and reputation in tatters, she relocated to the English coast, where she now works in academia. But the past is about to catch up with her.

Back in 1995, there was a spate of brutal murders. And now, it looks as if someone is trying to recreate that sequence of events. There is no doubt the “Nine Elms” serial killer is behind bars and investigators are dealing with a copycat. But who and why? And what is their end game?

As far as introducing the reader to a new series goes, this is right up there. There is so much going on in this first instalment and the intriguing premise of Kate’s past pulled me in from the get-go. Not only are we faced with a copycat killer but there is an unsolved missing persons case which may just tie in with the original Nine Elms serial killer. And throughout it all, the reader gets to know the character of Kate Marshall as she is forced to confront her past. Kate quite quickly proves herself to be a determined woman who, despite having left the force all those years ago, has never been able to shake off her “copper’s nose” and with her assistant Tristan by her side, we immediately get an exciting new investigative team. Albeit it with a different spin to it as obviously Kate doesn’t have a badge or access to various spiffy databases. All she has is experience, knowledge and her instincts.

Did I mention these murders are particularly brutal and gruesome? I’m not of the squeamish variety most of the time, especially not while reading, but good grief … let’s just say I often muttered the words “ugh, eww”. Yet, I felt those details were important to drive home how despicable the Nine Elms serial killer and his copycat are. Underneath it all is a fascinating insight into mother and son relationships, even if they’re leaning towards a whole new level of dysfunctional, and that always thrilling topic of nature versus nurture.

The Erika Foster series was hugely successful for Robert Bryndza and I have no doubt this new series featuring Kate Marshall will be equally so. The compelling Nine Elms is an amazing way to kick it off and I can’t wait to see what’s next for Kate and Tristan.

Nine Elms is available to buy!

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| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

Robert Bryndza is the author of the international #1 bestselling Detective Erika Foster series. Robert’s books have sold over 3 million copies and have been translated into 28 languages. He is British and lives in Slovakia.

The Six by Luca Veste

Author : Luca Veste
Title : The Six
Pages : 400
Publisher : Simon & Schuster UK
Publication date : December 26, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

Six friends trapped by one dark secret.

It was supposed to be our last weekend away as friends, before marriage and respectability beckoned. But what happened that Saturday changed everything.

In the middle of the night, someone died. The six of us promised each other we would not tell anyone about the body we buried. But now the pact has been broken. And the killing has started again …

Who knows what we did? And what price will we pay?

| MY THOUGHTS |

Despite having had Luca Veste’s previous book, The Bone Collector, stashed away somewhere for ages, this is actually my first time reading one of his books. I mean, who could possibly resist that incredibly intriguing book description, right?

Six friends decide to spend a weekend camping out at a music festival. This could be the last time they can do something like this together before responsibilities get in the way and they are determined to make the most of this weekend away. But things do not exactly go as planned. Someone dies. The six friends vow never to talk to anyone about what happened that weekend and yet, it seems someone knows what they did and the time has come for the six to pay the price.

The Six ended up being somewhat of a story in two parts for me. The actual events of that weekend are super tense and sometimes slightly creepy in that whole “I’m never setting foot in a forest or going camping ever again” kind of way. This first half grabbed my attention from the get-go. It was utterly compelling and a true page-turner. However, the second half slowed down quite a bit and became just a tad predictable, in that way where you know what’s coming and if you’ve been paying attention, you’ll figure out the who rather easily as well. I almost I reached that point where I thought “just wrap it up already”, and that’s never a good sign.

Nevertheless, as a whole, The Six is gripping and a well-written suspenseful crime thriller with extremely fun back-to-the-90’s vibes, which I thoroughly enjoyed. It’s clever, hugely character driven and quite unsettling at times. In the midst of a reading slump, I read this one in one afternoon and despite some of my misgivings, I think that’s really saying something. I’m calling my first introduction to Luca Veste’s books a success and I’ll definitely be trying one of his books again some time.

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

The Six will be published on December 26th.

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Top 15 Favourite Series of 2019

It’s that time of year again, when I look back on all the brilliant books I’ve had the pleasure of reading. December seems to be coming around faster and faster. As predicted, 2019 was a fantastic year for books and putting these end-of-year lists together was tough!

Like last year, I’ve split my favourite books of the year up into two different posts. Today, the focus lies on additions to series. I seem to have read less of them this year, hence the slightly odd number of 15. But they’re all corkers!

So here we go, in random order : my 15 favourite series of 2019.

| Victoria Jenkins – Detectives King & Lane |

The fourth and final book in the King & Lane series. Back when I picked up the first book, The Girls in the Water, I just knew I was in for something special. There was something about Victoria Jenkins’ writing, the incredible plotting and the absolutely fantastic main female characters that got my pulse racing. Every book since then just got better and better and now here we are, at the end. It’s been an incredibly thrilling ride and if this is the end, then it’s a fabulous way to go.

| Rachel Abbott – DCI Tom Douglas |

The Shape of Lies is book 8 and 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.

| David Jackson – DS Nathan Cody |

Your Deepest Fear is dark, disturbing and insanely tense. It’s so fast paced, it almost felt relentless at times and left me in desperate need of a breather. My heart was pounding, my hands were clammy and I was trying extremely hard to figure out how it would all end. What an incredible addition to an already outstanding series! I dare say this is even the best one yet and I urge you all to read this series, if you’re not doing so already. I highly recommend it.

| Helen Fields – DI Luc Callanach |

Honestly, 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! And that’s all I’m going to say about that!

| Angela Marsons – DI Kim Stone |

The writing machine that is Angela Marsons struck again in 2019 with no less than THREE additions to the brilliant DI Kim Stone series. Still going strong, still insanely gripping and addictive and now with the added bonus of a prequel to find out where it all began.

| Stephanie Broadribb – Lori Anderson |

This series has been a total blast from the very first book and Deep Dirty Truth is without a doubt THE BEST ONE YET! Oh yes! I said it! Fast-paced, with characters to get invested in and root for and edge-of-your-seat action galore, this is sheer entertainment of the highest level! Stock up on snacks and maybe an oxygen tank and enjoy the rollercoaster ride! Your legs may feel like jelly at the end of it, but it’ll be worth it!

| Karin Slaughter – Will Trent |

If there’s a Karin Slaughter book, you’d better believe it will make my list. It’s been quite the wait for a new addition to the Will Trent series but it was worth it. Karin Slaughter firmly cemented her spot as my favourite author and The Last Widow is taught, sharp and with a focus on hard-hitting and tough topics.

| Cara Hunter – DI Adam Fawley |

If you’re sitting there wondering if you need another crime fiction series in your life, the answer is “yes” and this right here is that series. I highly recommend you add this one to your shelves. It is one of the best crime fiction series out there and a definite must-read! Just so you know, book four is published in January and available for preorder. I have no doubt you’ll be seeing it here at some point.

| Matt Wesolowski – Six Stories |

Changeling was one of my most anticipated releases this year and it did not disappoint! If you’re not familiar with the Six Stories series (OMG WHAT THE HECK IS WRONG WITH YOU?!), it’s centred around a true crime podcast in which Scott King investigates cold cases. Changeling is book 3 in the Six Stories series and it is one of those stories that worms its way under your skin, one that will just not let you go. Dark, disturbing and chilling, Changeling had my heartbeat racing throughout and I was gripping the pages so tightly that my knuckles turned white! This tremendously addictive page-turner is insanely thought-provoking and also absolutely terrifying, though possibly not in the way you might expect.

| Will Dean – Tuva Moodyson |

Nothing is quite what it seems in Red Snow. With intriguing and complex characters and a deliciously intricate plot, this novel had me staying up way too late in a desperate attempt to finish it. But I just had to know what was going on. I didn’t count on Will Dean’s devious mind though, which meant that the final pages came at me like a knockout punch to the gut that left me winded but also caused so much adrenaline to course right through me, I felt like I could have gone out and run a marathon! I can’t wait for Tuva 3, out in March!

| Sarah Hilary – DI Marnie Rome |

Please tell me you are reading this series. It’s been absolutely outstanding from the very beginning and I don’t know how she does it, but Sarah Hilary manages to outdo herself time and time again, bringing each book in this series to a whole other level. At the risk of repeating myself, because I’m pretty sure I say this every time, this is the best one in the series yet and Sarah Hilary is an author who deserves all the praise. She continues to impress me with her remarkable storylines, utterly brilliant character development and fantastic writing. There are so many lines I could quote but I won’t because I’d be here all day and obviously you just need to read this book (and the rest of the series) for yourself.

| Bella Ellis – The Brontë Mysteries |

The Vanished Bride is the first book in a brand-new series by Bella Ellis, which is a pen name for the incredibly amazing Rowan Coleman. I knew the minute I started reading this book that it would make my list. I absolutely can’t wait to hang out with these three delightful characters again.

| Johana Gustawsson – Roy & Castells |

Few crime fiction series leave me feeling like I’ve been punched in the gut numerous times, wanting to curl up into a tiny ball under my duvet, but Johana Gustawsson manages it every single time. Johana Gustawsson is a remarkable talent and I continue to be absolutely impressed by the way she manages to combine modern crime fiction with some of history’s most shocking eras and the atrocious things humans are capable of. I can’t recommend this powerful read, and this entire series, enough and I absolutely can’t wait for more! 

| Joseph Knox – Aidan Waits |

This series is one I’ve been with from the beginning. In fact, Sirens was the book that first made me start thinking about blogging because I needed a place to shout about its awesomeness. Since then, Joseph Knox has been raising the bar, with each book being even stronger than the previous one. Like its predecessors, The Sleepwalker is masterfully plotted, immensely dark, extremely gritty and completely engrossing from start to finish. Joseph Knox is an incredible talent and the Aidan Waits series is absolutely outstanding. Every single one of these books has caused a massive book hangover and The Sleepwalker is no different. I can’t recommend these books enough! They NEED to be on any crime fiction fan’s bookshelf. I promise you, you will not regret it for one second!

| M.W. Craven – Washington Poe & Tilly Bradshaw |

How can someone be both dead and alive at the same time? This intriguing question is for Poe and Tilly to find out in Black Summer, the incredible follow-up to The Puppet Show. It doesn’t matter whether your Team Poe or Team Tilly but you should most definitely be Team Craven. A truly gripping, addictive page-turner, Black Summer is sure to leave you wanting more and as luck will have it, book 3 will be out next year. I, for one, can’t wait!

And there you have it. The series that made my heart beat that little faster, made my hands go clammy and that left such an impression on me that adding them to this list was a total no-brainer.

Now is your chance to kick my bum (virtually, thank you) and tell me which series I’ve left out. Are there some you don’t agree with? Are there any you can’t wait to read? 

Hope you find something you like here and I’ve given you some ideas. Next week, I’ll be sharing my list of favourite stand-alones of 2019. Until then, I wish you lots of happy reading! xx

The Guardians by John Grisham

Author : John Grisham
Title : The Guardians
Pages : 368
Publisher : Hodder & Stoughton
Publication date : October 15, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

He was framed for murder.
Now he needs a miracle. 

22 years ago Quincy Miller was sentenced to life without parole. He was accused of killing Keith Russo, a lawyer in a small Florida town. But there were no reliable witnesses and little motive. Just the fact that Russo had botched Quincy’s divorce case, that Quincy was black in a largely all-white town and that a blood-splattered torch was found in the boot of Quincy’s car. A torch he swore was planted. A torch that was conveniently destroyed in a fire just before his trial.

The lack of evidence made no difference to judge or jury. In the eyes of the law Quincy was guilty and, no matter how often he protested his innocence, his punishment was life in prison.

Finally, after 22 years, comes Quincy’s one and only chance of freedom. An innocence lawyer and minister, Cullen Post, takes on his case. Post has exonerated eight men in the last ten years. He intends to make Quincy the next.

But there were powerful and ruthless people behind Russo’s murder. They prefer that an innocent man dies in jail rather than one of them. There’s one way to guarantee that. They killed one lawyer 22 years ago, and they’ll kill another without a second thought.

| MY THOUGHTS |

As a longtime John Grisham fan, I am always eagerly awaiting a new book by him. Even though, I must admit that some of his work in recent years has been awfully hit or miss with me. So it was with a small sense of apprehension that I decided to pick up The Guardians.

After spending 22 years in prison, Quincy Miller catches the attention of a project called The Guardians and a lawyer/minister by the name of Cullen Post. The Guardians are convinced of Miller’s innocence in the murder of a local lawyer and are determined to fight for his release. In the last ten years, this innocence project has managed to get eight innocent people out of prison but Miller’s case is a tough nut to crack. Twenty-two years is a long time. Judges, members of the law enforcement and prosecutors have retired or are dead. Witnesses are spread far and wide across the country, some unwilling to talk or trying very hard not to be found. Evidence has gone missing. On top of that, powerful and ruthless people are perfectly okay with having an innocent man in prison. So where do you even begin?

It hasn’t happened in a while with John Grisham’s books, but from the very first page I had a good feeling about The Guardians. John Grisham remains one of the most excellent storytellers out there and with Cullen Post, he has created a fascinating and engaging character who deftly guides us through a cleverly and well-written plot of murder, miscarriages of justice and corruption. Cullen Post is an easy character to like. Fierce, determined, willing to go that extra mile (sometimes even literally) and all of this, combined with where he started, puts you firmly on his side.

The Guardians turned out to be quite the addictive page-turner for me and I felt John Grisham really brought home how much of the success of these cases depends on which judge is sitting in front of you, who’s willing to listen and keep an open mind and sadly also, the political games that are always going on behind the scenes. Quincy Miller’s circumstances are realistic and believable and because you know these things unfortunately happen (way more often than they should), it’s not that hard to feel angry and frustrated. Do also make sure you read the author’s note at the end of the book.

Is this Grisham at his best? Well, no. But he’s getting mighty close and after some of the recent disappointments, that’s already saying quite a lot and I can honestly say I really enjoyed this one. Truth be told, I’ll be right there at the front of the line when he publishes his next book anyway but I’ll never give up hoping for another absolute corker like “A Time To Kill” was, for instance.

The Guardians is available to buy!

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Justice Gone by N. Lombardi Jr. | @damppebbles

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Justice Gone by N. Lombardi Jr. I have an extract to share with you today but first, here is what the book is all about.

Author : N. Lombardi Jr
Title : Justice Gone
Pages : 336
Publisher : Roundfire Books
Publication date : February 22, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

When a homeless war veteran is beaten to death by the police, stormy protests ensue, engulfing a small New Jersey town. Soon after, three cops are gunned down. A multi-state manhunt is underway for a cop killer on the loose. And Dr. Tessa Thorpe, a veteran’s counselor, is caught up in the chase. Donald Darfield, an African-American Iraqi war vet, war-time buddy of the beaten man, and one of Tessa’s patients, is holed up in a mountain cabin. Tessa, acting on instinct, sets off to find him, but the swarm of law enforcement officers get there first, leading to Darfield’s dramatic capture. Now, the only people separating him from the lethal needle of state justice are Tessa and ageing blind lawyer, Nathaniel Bodine. Can they untangle the web tightening around Darfield in time, when the press and the justice system are baying for revenge?

| EXTRACT |

Another session was called to collate, coordinate, and brainstorm, but this one was held in the mayor’s office, at his honor’s insistence that he not be kept out of the loop. To say that he was distressed was like calling Mount Everest a molehill. The citizens were in nothing less than an uproar, and he was supposed to be the man in charge. When he had campaigned for mayor he hadn’t foreseen a challenge like this. Never knew that his blood pressure could rise so high that he had to consult his cardiologist, or that his ulcer would act up after all these years. And the pain in his gut only increased when he realized he was helpless to rescue the situation. This thing has fucking gone global now, worldwide coverage for heaven’s sake, he had decried to the city attorney Burns just hours before.

The same law enforcement officials that attended the first meeting were there at this one, except for Agent Crawford of the FBI, who was more than spoken for by his bare-headed partner. Everyone around the conference table looked glum, and this alarmed the mayor.“I would like Chief Peterson to give me the introductory summary… you know…the quick and dirty, and then I would like to hear from all of you.” The mayor turned his head. “Len?” “First of all, I would like to thank the FBI and the New Jersey State Police Investigations Branch, and the U.S. Marshal’s Office, for their assistance in this investigation.” Peterson cleared his throat. “On September 23 we received a 911 request to proceed to the home of Victor Fratollini, possible homicide. That was about five-fifteen. Then, some forty minutes later, there was another 911 call directing us to the home of John Fox…”

“Is this the quick and dirty, Len?” the mayor asked.
Peterson looked up, embarrassed. “Within two, two-and-a-half hours, three of the officers involved in the Felson incident were shot dead. The autopsy report was consistent with the crime scene assessment that only one fatal bullet was fired in each case, all of them exiting the bodies and recovered at each of the scenes. Caliber .308, most probably used with a Remington 700 model, which is consistent with military rifles of at least two branches of the armed services, the Army and the Marines. Marshal Felson was picked up for questioning…”

“Hold it right there. I’ve heard about that, more than I care to, and his lawyer contacted our lawyer, Burns, and threatened yet another civil suit, malicious prosecution. What the hell was that all about?”
Gerhard intervened. “We had a no-knock warrant, sir.” “So you just busted in? Is he a principal suspect?”
Peterson interjected. “We consider him a person of interest at this time. But he has an alibi. His sister claims she slept over that night and attests that Felson was home from the afternoon until the time of the killings.”
“Well, can we rule him out then?’ “She could be lying,” Gerhard stated.
“What makes you say that?’
Peterson answered. “She refuses to come down and make a statement without her lawyer, and the same for her commitment to testify in case of a trial.”
“Actually,” Detective Cavaluzzi broke in, “her exact words were”—he read from his notepad—”I would be reluctant to give any formal statement regarding my brother, let alone testify, without consulting my lawyer.”
“We should be applying more pressure on that woman!” Gerhard said loudly. “Forensics showed his gun was recently discharged, and ballistics show a significant amount of consistency with the recovered bullets.”

The direction the conversation was going distressed Peterson, and he sought to divert it. “I think it’s time to give the results of the autopsy and ballistics reports, and our analysis based on these.” He shuffled some papers he had been keeping on the table before him, then read it verbatim using the coroner’s technical language, which more than annoyed the mayor.

“So what is all that anatomical jargon come to for Chrissake?”
“It means,” Gerhard announced from his end of the table, “that this killer is not only clever, calculating, and precise, but sadistic as well. With just one bullet, he inflicted the maximum amount of pain a single gunshot wound could inflict, aiming at the edges of bones to cause maximum deflection with minimum loss of kinetic energy. In other words he deliberately shot them in a way that would rip them apart. And he went so far as to modify the bullets to ensure this.”
“What do you mean, modify the bullets?” the mayor asked.

The bald FBI man, Agent Dirksen, explained. “There are indentations machined on the bullets. They didn’t come from the manufacturer that way. Increases the wobble to the spin.”
The mayor raised his eyebrows. “Wobble? Spin?”
“The reason rifles are called rifles,” Gerhard broke in, “is because there’s rifling inside the barrels, grooves that cause the bullet to spin for more accurate trajectories, like how a quarterback throws a football. In this case, with these custom- made bullets, the indentations we found on them are at right angles to the rifling, causing them to vibrate as well, and this vibration amplifies when they encounter soft tissue. Sick, yes, but that’s the kind of person we’re dealing with here.”

“But it’s not Felson!” Peterson insisted.
Agent Dirksen, spoke up again. “I don’t think so either. After a thorough search, a footprint has been found in the woods behind Puente’s house. It’s clear that the gunman started his killing binge at the most exposed place, Fratollini’s suburban neighborhood, then on to Fox’s dead end lane nearby, and finishing at a place that verges on forest. We think that was his escape route, and that’s why he wasn’t intercepted on any road. He might still be in the woods.”
“Don’t tell me…” the mayor protested.
But Agent Dirksen continued, “We recommend a full-scale manhunt in the wooded areas from the south of Asarn County up to the Delaware Water Gap to the north.”
The mayor threw up his hands. “Well, hell’s bells! What else is coming to put yet another nail on my goddamn cross! Hunting season has just opened!”
“Looks like it’ll have to be postponed for a while,” Gerhard said with a hint of gloating.

If this extract has left you wanting to find out more, then you can grab yourself a copy of Justice Gone now!

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| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

N. Lombardi Jr, the N for Nicholas, has spent over half his life in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, working as a groundwater geologist. Nick can speak five languages: Swahili, Thai, Lao, Chinese, and Khmer (Cambodian).

In 1997, while visiting Lao People’s Democratic Republic, he witnessed the remnants of a secret war that had been waged for nine years, among which were children wounded from leftover cluster bombs. Driven by what he saw, he worked on The Plain of Jars for the next eight years.
Nick maintains a website with content that spans most aspects of the novel: The Secret War, Laotian culture, Buddhism etc. http://plainofjars.net

His second novel, Journey Towards a Falling Sun, is set in the wild frontier of northern Kenya.

His latest novel, Justice Gone was inspired by the fatal beating of a homeless man by police.

Nick now lives in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

Sins of the Fathers by Les Cowan | @LionHudson @MidasPR | #LesCowan #SinsOfTheFathers #excerpt

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Sins Of The Fathers by Les Cowan. Today, I have an extract to share with you all but first, here is what the book is all about.

Author : Les Cowan
Title : Sins Of The Fathers
Series : David Hidalgo #3
Pages : 300
Publisher : Lion Fiction
Publication date : October 18, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

Father Ramón was a priest with a problem. How can a normal healthy young man cope with both the demands of the priesthood and his attraction to women? Appealing to the bishop doesn’t help. Do what you must but make sure I don’t find out, was the astonishing reply.

Fifteen years later, Ramón comes out of prison. Instead of feeling guilt and remorse, he is now bent on revenge against those who testified against his shocking exploitation of children. Most are easy to find but there is one last piece missing in his puzzle: Andrea has moved to Edinburgh.

David Hidalgo continues to pastor his church. Nowadays, this includes an English chat group for the many young people leaving Spain and looking for work in Edinburgh, people like Andrea. As Andrea slowly realises her past has terrifyingly become her present, once again David Hidalgo finds himself in the middle of a problem he wasn’t looking for. Can David help halt Ramón’s revenge or will there be further casualties.

| EXTRACT |

Chapter 1
CAFÉ CÓRDOBA – FOLLOWING SPRING

Andrea Suaráz Morán did not like the way the guy at the corner table was looking at her. She carefully set down the tapas he had ordered – sardinas a la plancha, pinchos morunos, albóndigas, chorizo en vino – and a bottle of San Miguel and headed back to the safety of the bar.
“¿Piensas que ese tío parece un poco raro o solo es mi imaginación?” she asked José as she wiped the tray and slipped it back with the others. “Hey, speak English, chica,” he said. “That’s what we’re here for.”
She rolled her eyes but knew he was right. Her English had improved enormously in the six weeks she’d been in Edinburgh, but it still needed more mental effort, particularly if she was worried or tired.
“Ok,” she tried again. “Do you think that guy is a bit weird or is it just my imagination?”
“It’s not your imagination,” José confirmed, stealing a glance from under thick black brows as he dried a glass. “He comes in twice a week, orders exactly the same, always on his own, never smiles, no tip. Definitely weird.”
“And he only ever speaks Spanish. There’s something familiar about him but I don’t know where from.”
“I’ll mention it to Martin so we keep an eye on him. When do you finish tonight?”
“Ten.”
“Ok. I’m on till eleven. Just wait in the kitchen till I’m done and I’ll see you home.” “Would you?”
“Sin duda. ¡No hay problema, guapa!”
“Hey, speak English dude – that’s what we’re here for!”
She gave him a playful punch on the shoulder and glanced round, laughing. The guy in the corner was watching, not laughing, and that took the smile off her face.

In the kitchen, while she waited for José to finish his shift, Andrea pulled out a secondhand copy of Sons and Lovers she was trying to plough her way through. The language was a struggle; she’d expected that. What she couldn’t work out was why the British seemed to get so worked up – was that the right expression? – why they got so worked up about sex. Well, maybe that was just the mystery and also the fun about other cultures. People just see things differently, that’s all. Es lo que hay – that’s just how it is. She’d read that in Britain it was polite to keep your hands off the table at meals. In Spain just the opposite. If your hands weren’t in view, maybe you had a dagger under the cloth you were just about to stab your host with. Total opposites for random reasons. Attitudes to sex, religion, politics, humour, physical contact, even greeting friends and strangers – all different. Why? Because that’s just how it is.

She couldn’t concentrate with all the orders being shouted through, pots and dishes clattering, and onions sizzling, so she put her book down, leaned back against the slightly sticky wall, and dropped her mind into neutral. Having a real job, earning real money, and being independent again had all come in a bit of a rush but she was loving the sensation. It made her mind spin that so much could change in such a short time. It seemed incredible that it had only been six weeks ago she’d kissed and hugged Mama and Papa at security at Barajas Airport Madrid and got on the easyJet to Edimburgo – “Edinburgh”, as she now had to call it.
Less than a year before had been the monumental three-day end-of-degree party which, looking back, now felt like an official farewell to youth and a welcome to the real world. That had been as long-drawn-out a group goodbye as they had been able to manage.

Four years together at Complutense University of Madrid in the leafy suburbs to the north-west of the city had made them more than friends and closer than family – a few had even become lovers. Now they were simultaneously ecstatic at the thought of no more lectures and exams, terrified at landing directly on the unemployment scrapheap in the midst of the crisis, and heartbroken at the thought of losing each other. So they drank for three days straight and swore the current fate of 52 per cent of Spanish youth would not be theirs. They toasted their successful futures to come, cursed Prime Minister Rajoy and his infernal Partido Popular, blessed the new indignados protest movement, and prayed to San Isidro, La Macarena or any other god, saint or virgin open for business for good results and a real job. On the final evening, after many riojas too many, she and Jorge had slept together one last time for old times’ sake even though they’d broken up more than a year before. It seemed the generous thing to do. They kissed and swore they’d keep in touch, all the time knowing they wouldn’t. The morning after, she had packed the last of her stuff, took her Beatles, Dylan, and Lorca posters down, gathered up bits of discarded clothing from round the flat, left the pot plants for the new tenants, and took the metro from Moncloa to Atocha, changing at Sol. Finally, easing into her seat on the AVE train to Sevilla, she exhaled slowly, looked out the window, and dabbed away a tear.

If this extract has left you wanting to read more, Sins Of The Fathers is now available for preorder!

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

| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

Les Cowan is a crime and thriller novelist from Scotland. He graduated from Edinburgh University with a degree in English Language and Literature and has worked in the criminal justice system. Currently based in Orkney, Les has lived in Madrid, Edinburgh and Galicia, all of which are locations brought to life in his writing. His previous novels featuring David Hidalgo include Benefit of the Doubt and All That Glitters.

Rewind by Catherine Ryan Howard | @cathryanhoward @AtlanticBooks @theotherkirsty | #20BooksOfSummer #recommended

Author : Catherine Ryan Howard
Title : Rewind
Pages : 327
Publisher : Atlantic Books / Corvus
Publication date : August 22, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

PLAY
Andrew, the manager of Shanamore Holiday Cottages, watches his only guest via a hidden camera in her room. One night the unthinkable happens: a shadowy figure emerges onscreen, kills her and destroys the camera. But who is the murderer? How did they know about the camera? And how will Andrew live with himself?

PAUSE
Natalie wishes she’d stayed at home as soon as she arrives in the wintry isolation of Shanamore. There’s something creepy about the manager. She wants to leave, but she can’t – not until she’s found what she’s looking for…

REWIND
This is an explosive story about a murder caught on camera. You’ve already missed the start. To get the full picture you must rewind the tape and play it through to the end, no matter how shocking…

| MY THOUGHTS |

Say “hello” to Catherine Ryan Howard’s best book yet! Yes, I said it!

Instagram influencer Natalie seems to have it all. Fab house, handsome husband, easy and cushy “job”. But behind the pretty filtered pictures, things are not what they seem. Natalie is on a mission, which leads her to the tiny isolated village of Shanamore. Will she find what she is looking for?

A creepy manager with Norman Bates vibes watches a murder caught on camera. Who is the victim? Who is the killer? Why is there a camera in the room to begin with and how did the killer know it was there? Creepy to the nth degree!

The way the plot is set out in this book is just sheer genius. Even though the rewind/foreward/play/pause chapters tied my brain into knots at the beginning, I can honestly say I’ve never been this ecstatic about being confused before and I loved every minute of trying to figure out how the whole thing fit together. It is just such an original take on a past and present storyline and what is basically a whodunnit murder mystery.

Despite the fact I had quite a few things figured out early on, that didn’t matter at all because Rewind remains compelling and totally creepy throughout. I am never staying at a hotel, B&B, whatever again! Brilliantly paced with intriguing characters and a mystery to solve, this is one of those books I found impossible to put down.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed Catherine Ryan Howard’s previous books but with this one, she knocked it right out of the park. Gripping and tense, I absolutely devoured Rewind and if you’re a crime fiction fan who’s looking for that little something different, ta-da! Here it is! I so can’t wait to see what’s next from Catherine Ryan Howard.

My thanks to Kirsty Doole at Atlantic for my review copy!

Rewind is available to buy!

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

Book 19 from my 20 Books of Summer list.

The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware | @RuthWareWriter @HarvillSecker | #20BooksofSummer

Author : Ruth Ware
Title : The Turn of the Key
Pages : 340
Publisher : Harvill Secker
Publication date : August 8, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

When she stumbles across the ad, she’s looking for something else completely. But it seems like too good an opportunity to miss—a live-in nannying post, with a staggeringly generous salary. And when Rowan Caine arrives at Heatherbrae House, she is smitten—by the luxurious “smart” home fitted out with all modern conveniences, by the beautiful Scottish Highlands, and by this picture-perfect family.

What she doesn’t know is that she’s stepping into a nightmare—one that will end with a child dead and herself in prison awaiting trial for murder.

| MY THOUGHTS |

Ruth Ware’s previous book, The Death of Mrs Westaway, was one of my top books last year. So to say I had high expectations for her next offering would be somewhat of an understatement. I couldn’t wait to pick up The Turn of the Key and as soon as I started reading, I just knew this one was going to be another extra special treat.

Rowan Caine answered an ad for a nanny position in the Scottish Highlands. But it’s obvious from the start that things did not go well. A child is dead and Rowan is in prison awaiting trial for murder. What on earth happened and how did Rowan get here?

Oh, what a twisted tale this is. I feel like I didn’t breathe for 340 pages, it’s that tense. The modern gadgetry alone already freaked me out, never mind all the shenanigans that could possibly be caused by ghosts because hey, isolated house in a remote location where a death or two has occurred , it’s bound to be haunted, right? Hugely atmospheric? Check! I mean, there’s even a poison garden! Yikes! And what of Rowan? Reliable narrator or not? I couldn’t quite decide for most of the story and yet, at every turn, I found myself firmly on her side.

Creepy and chilling throughout, I couldn’t at all figure out what had happened and the conclusion left me reeling. Or at least my interpretation of it, which obviously means you should read this novel right now so we can discuss it! Wow. I mean, really, just WOW. I absolutely devoured this novel and as tends to happen with books I loved as much as this one, the words to describe my experience with it just will not come. Also because I’m way too worried I’ll give anything away.

Brilliantly written, immensely engrossing, extremely addictive …. WOW! 😉 This is most definitely Ruth Ware at her best and I honestly can’t believe I’m saying this, because did I mention how utterly brilliant The Death of Mrs Westaway was? The Turn of the Key, you guys, is even better and it shoots right up my list of favourite books of the year! I’ll be recommending this one left, right and centre until I’m blue in the face and I am already eagerly awaiting Ruth Ware’s next book.

The Turn of The Key is available to buy!

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

Book 17 from my 20 Books of Summer list.

Now You See Me by Chris McGeorge | #20BooksOfSummer

Author : Chris McGeorge
Title : Now You See Me
Pages : 302
Publisher : Orion
Publication date : June 13, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

Six people went in. Only one came out…

Introducing Standedge Tunnel: the longest canal tunnel in England.

Last year six students went in, and two and a half hours later, the boat reappeared on the other side with only one of the students, unconscious, and the dog.

The case of the Standedge Six was largely kept from the national media. The police investigation concluded that the only remaining student, Matthew, killed his friends, hid the bodies on the boat and returned later to move them to an undisclosed location.

Matthew is in prison . . . but maintains he is innocent.

Robert Ferringham is grieving for his missing wife, Sam. So when Matthew contacts him for help with his case, promising information on Sam, Robert has no choice but to help. But can he trust Matthew?

And how will he solve the insolvable case? 

| MY THOUGHTS |

Raise your hand if you love a good mystery! Me! I do! And this one is mind-boggling for sure.

Six friends and a dog travel through a canal tunnel on a boat. But when the boat reaches the other end, only one friend (who’s unconscious) and the dog (who’s absolutely fine) remain. The other five, now known as the Standedge Five, have disappeared. The community is able to keep this mysterious disappearance out of the national media and quickly moves to arrest the remaining friend, Matthew, for murder. Police is convinced he killed his friends and moved their bodies to an undisclosed location.

While awaiting trial in prison, Matthew contacts author Robin Ferringham. Robin’s wife went missing three years ago and Matthew claims to have information about her disappearance but he won’t divulge any of it unless Robin helps him prove his innocence. Can Matthew be trusted? Is he truly innocent? And how will Robin solve a case that looks utterly unsolvable?

Now You See Me isn’t just a whodunnit, it’s also a “how-dunnit” and it genuinely made my head hurt trying to figure it out. I have the frown lines to prove it. How do five people vanish from a canal tunnel?! Were they thrown overboard? Did they pull a Houdini? Did Scotty beam them up? What the hell happened?! I thought I had it all worked out but I was only half right and it was such a thrilling journey to go on.

Chris McGeorge has come up with an extremely clever plot here. Full of untrustworthy and not always likeable characters, the mystery surrounding the Standedge Five had me hooked from start to finish. This is such an addictive page-turner and there was no way I was going to put this book down until I knew what had actually happened. There were a few surprises I didn’t quite see coming, some of them quite shocking and devastating, and it all added up to a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon and a truly compelling read.

Now You See Me is available to buy!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Kobo | Waterstones | Wordery

Book 13 from my 20 Books of Summer list.