This Week in Books (February 5)

Hosted by Lipsy Lost and Found, my Wednesday post gives you a taste of what I’m reading this week. A similar meme is run by Taking on a World of Words.

| LAST BOOK I FINISHED READING |

Joe McKee – pillar of the Derry community – is dead. As arrangements are made for the traditional Irish wake, friends and family are left reeling at how cancer could have taken this much-loved man so soon.

But grief is the last thing that Joe’s daughter Ciara and step-daughter Heidi feel. For they knew the real Joe – the man who was supposed to protect them and did anything but.

As the mourners gather, the police do too, with doubt being cast over whether Joe’s death was due to natural causes. Because the lies that Joe told won’t be taken to the grave after all – and the truth gives his daughters the best possible motive for killing him…

(Review to follow tomorrow on the blog tour. Why, yes, I left it a tad late. Why do you ask?)

| THE BOOK I’M CURRENTLY READING |

With her gift for sniffing out the malevolent side of human nature, Miss Marple is led on her first case to a crime scene at the local vicarage.

Colonel Protheroe, the magistrate whom everyone in town hates, has been shot through the head. No one heard the shot. There are no leads. Yet, everyone surrounding the vicarage seems to have a reason to want the Colonel dead. It is a race against the clock as Miss Marple sets out on the twisted trail of the mysterious killer without so much as a bit of help from the local police.

(My first ever Miss Marple. Slightly embarrassing to admit as a crime fiction fan but there you go.)

| WHAT I’M (PROBABLY) READING NEXT |

They are driving home from the search party when they see her. 

The trees are coarse and tall in the winter light, standing like men. Lauren and her father Niall live alone in the Highlands, in a small village surrounded by pine forest. When a woman stumbles out onto the road one Halloween night, Niall drives her back to their house in his pickup. In the morning, she’s gone. 

In a community where daughters rebel, men quietly rage, and drinking is a means of forgetting, mysteries like these are not out of the ordinary. The trapper found hanging with the dead animals for two weeks. Locked doors and stone circles. The disappearance of Lauren’s mother a decade ago. 

Lauren looks for answers in her tarot cards, hoping she might one day be able to read her father’s turbulent mind. Neighbours know more than they let on, but when local teenager Ann-Marie goes missing it’s no longer clear who she can trust. 

(I’ve heard so many good things about Pine and that cover is so pretty. I can’t wait to get stuck in!)

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

Truth Hurts by Rebecca Reid | @RebeccaCNReid @TransworldBooks @BeckyShort1

Author : Rebecca Reid
Title : Truth Hurts
Pages : 362
Publisher : Transworld
Publication date : January 23, 2020

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

Poppy has a secret. 

It was a whirlwind romance. And when Drew, caught up in the moment, suggests that he and Poppy don’t tell each other anything about their past lives, that they live only for the here and now, for the future they are building together, Poppy jumps at the chance for a fresh start.

Drew says he has nothing to hide.

But it doesn’t take long for Poppy to see that this is a two-way deal. Drew is hiding something from her. And Poppy suddenly has no idea who the man she has married really is, what he is hiding from her or what he might be capable of.

Drew is lying.

Which is more dangerous, a secret or a lie?

| MY THOUGHTS |

Prince Charming on his white horse sweeps down-on-her-luck young woman off her feet …. wait, sorry, wrong story. Although I must admit I did wonder for a minute if I had accidentally wandered into the wrong genre.

Poppy is fired from her job as a nanny in the middle of a night on Ibiza. With nowhere to go and no means of returning to England, she ends up in a bar by the road and this is where she meets Drew. He’s a fair bit older than her, attractive and apparently money is no issue. I mean, come on, every young girl’s dream, right? What follows is a whirlwind romance. However, Drew suggests they don’t tell each other anything about their past, to live in the present, and nothing about their past is important to them in the here and now. Now, I don’t know about you but I was hearing a deafening alarm bell in my head at that point. Because, yes, Poppy has a secret but surely Drew wouldn’t make a suggestion like this if he didn’t have something to hide as well?

On their return to England, Poppy is indeed living the dream. Fancy house, no need to work but why do the people in the village avoid her? What is it about this house? What is Poppy hiding? And is Drew everything he seems to be? So many questions!

Truth Hurts is one of those books you end up carrying with you everywhere because once you start reading, it’s incredibly hard to put down. It’s extremely addictive and captivating. While quite a bit of it is somewhat of a gushy love-fest for a non-romantic like myself, there is a constant sense of impending doom. A little threatening vibe, a ticking bomb you know will explode at some point but you don’t know when and you don’t know why.

Poppy’s secret is revealed bit by bit through flashback chapters. While I didn’t particularly like her, it was easy enough to sympathise with her and especially with the way she felt like a fish out of water in this new life of hers. Drew, on the other hand, remains a mystery and I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why he so blatantly refused to talk about his past. Just imagine how odd it would be to be in a relationship with someone and not even know which school they went to, which subjects they learned or where they grew up.

Rebecca Reid manages to build up the suspension bit by bit until you’re flipping the pages faster and faster and then ….. There’s a delicious sting in the tail that completely blew my socks off! Full of intrigue and mystery, Truth Hurts is an extremely engrossing and gripping psychological thriller with a dash of romance that even I, lacking that romantic bone in my body, heartily approved of and the kind of book that tempts you to just read one more chapter. And then another one.

My thanks to Becky at Transworld for the review copy!

Truth Hurts is available to buy!

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

Weekly Wrap-Up (February 2)

Technically this isn’t a weekly wrap-up but more of a look back on the month of January. You may have noticed there haven’t been any weekly wrap-ups because I just haven’t had the time to write them up. January is a blur of shopping, dinners, lunches, parties and one really bad hangover that made me vow never to drink again. That particular resolution lasted about five days. I mean, there was another party, what’s a girl to do? 🤷🏼‍♀️

Thankfully, February looks set to be a whole lot quieter. I feel like I’ve already reached my yearly limit of socialising, to be honest. Still think it’s completely overrated too 😉.

Anywho, on to the books! I’m sure you’ll all be happy to know that with a wee push in December, helped considerably by my loyal buddy reader, I did in fact manage to nail my Goodreads challenge. But for the first time since joining that challenge, it was a bit of a struggle. For someone who read almost 300 books in one year, to “only” have read 201 last year seems somewhat baffling to me but whatever. It is what it is. I am thoroughly enjoying the lack of pressure though so I’ve set this year’s challenge to a measly 100 and we will see what happens. You may also have noticed that my blog tour boycott isn’t quite working out anymore but I’m being extremely picky and hopefully I won’t be sliding down that particular slippery slope too hard again.

Right, let’s take a lot at the books I’ve managed to remove from my TBR in January.

| BOOKS I READ IN JANUARY |

15 books. I remember the days when I read double that in a month. What is wrong with me?! Some brilliant books in that list though and five of those you will undoubtedly see again at the end of the year. Guess away!

| BOOKS I BOUGHT IN JANUARY |

Erm … you may want to grab a cuppa for this one. 😳

Do you think I have a problem? 🤔

| BOOK POST WHAT LANDED ON MY DOORSTEP IN JANUARY |

With thanks to Avon, Headline, Orenda, Titan Books and Transworld.

| ON THE BLOG IN JANUARY |

Review | Elizabeth Letts – Finding Dorothy
Review | Matt Wesolowski – Beast
Review | Robert Bryndza – Nine Elms
Review | Cara Hunter – All The Rage
Review | C.J. Tudor – The Other People
Review | Howard Linskey – Alice Teale Is Missing
Review | Thomas Enger & Jørn Lier Horst – Death Deserved
Review | David B. Lyons – She Said, Three Said
Guest Post | Robert Crouch – Five Things I Learned From Writing A Series

Seems I posted just enough to keep the cobwebs at bay 😂

| NEXT WEEK ON NOVEL DEELIGHTS |

Monday : Review | Rebecca Reid – Truth Hurts

Tuesday : Review | Michael Wood – The Murder House

Wednesday : This Week in Books

Thursday : Blog tour | Review | Claire Allan – The Liar’s Daughter

Friday : Review | Louise Beech – I Am Dust

Saturday : Taking the day off

Sunday : Weekly Wrap-Up (maybe)

Schedule subject to change due to reviews not being written yet. 🙈

I’d better get going now because I have a mother-in-law to entertain soon. Hope you’re having a relaxing weekend and I wish you a great week with lots of happy reading! xx

She Said, Three Said by David B. Lyons | @TheOpenAuthor @DamppebblesBTs | #blogtour

I’m delighted to kick off the blog tour for She Said, Three Said today! My thanks to Emma at damppebbles for the invitation to join and for the review copy.

Author : David B. Lyons
Title : She Said, Three Said
Pages : 314
Publisher : n/a
Publication date : January 22, 2020

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

Ever wondered what it’s like to be a juror in a high-profile celebrity trial?

Well.. now you don’t have to. Step inside the jury room to deliberate one of the most talked-about court cases of the decade.

SHE SAID…

…all three men got her drunk, led her to a hotel room and took advantage of her.

THREE SAID…

…she was a willing participant and consented to sex with each of them.

After five-weeks of listening to all of the evidence and all of the arguments in a celebrity rape trial that has gripped an entire nation, the jury sit down to begin their deliberations.

But they don’t know who to believe…

…will you?

| MY THOUGHTS |

Why, yes, I have always wondered what it would be like to be on the jury at a trial but I have to tell you, after reading this book, I can safely say it’s an experience I’m happy to do without.

After five weeks of listening to evidence in a rape trial, jury members start their deliberations but they have no idea who to believe. There is little or no evidence to go on and it’s very much a case of she said, three said. She said three men got her drunk and took her to a hotel room to take advantage of her. The three men say she was willing and everything that happened was consensual. To complicate matters further, one of the three men is a well-known football player.

There are always two sides to every story and the truth is often found somewhere in the middle. But with a case like this, how do you keep a clear head? How do you remain objective? How do you leave prejudice, instinct and personal opinions out of the jury room and merely focus on the evidence in front of you? It’s a hard thing to do and being in that room with the other jury members really brings that to the fore.

Bar one, all jury members remain anonymous for most of the story. No names, no genders. They are merely known by their numbers. It felt a little odd to read the story like that but at the same time, it stopped me, as the reader, to be prejudiced against the jury members. None of that “of course, he’s going to vote not guilty” because you don’t know if the person is male. Personally, I thought that was quite a clever way of tackling things.

The chapters alternate between the deliberations in the jury room and snippets of what actually happened on that fateful night. This allows the reader to try and make up their own mind. Or does it? Because quite frankly, I didn’t have a clue and I kept going back and forth. This isn’t an easy read and at times it made me pretty uncomfortable but it also shows how quickly we can point the finger, see what we want to see and judge a book by its cover. I’m desperately trying not to give anything away here (and hopefully not failing) but sometimes things just aren’t what they seem. And all the while, it is immensely difficult to keep in mind that this is information the jury members just do not have.

In these times of the MeToo movement, this story is incredibly apt and the inclusion of statistics really drives home how tough it is for women everywhere to even get a case like this to trial, never mind about a just verdict. She Said, Three Said is an extremely thought-provoking and compelling story. Days after finishing it, it is still very much at the front of my mind. Who’s telling the truth? Who do you believe? How would you vote? Guilty or not guilty? And once you’ve made that decision, would you be able to live with yourself? I cast my vote, purely based on the evidence in the jury room, all the while ignoring what I was being told in the other chapters. I’m obviously not going to tell you what my verdict was and whether I was right or wrong but do feel free to get back to me when you’ve cast your vote and let’s discuss. Because if there is one thing She Said, Three Said is perfect for, it’s a (book club) discussion. An uncomfortable, compelling, clever story that I won’t forget any time soon.

She Said, Three Said is available to buy.

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

| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

David B. Lyons is an international bestselling author — a writer of psychological thrillers.

He has reached No.1 in charts in Ireland, the UK, Canada and Australia.

David grew up in Dublin – the city his novels are set – but currently spends his time between Birmingham in the UK and the Irish capital. David is married to a Brummie, Kerry, and they have one daughter, Lola.

He has lectured in Creative Writing in colleges and universities in both Ireland and in the UK and coaches people how to write with free tutorials at TheOpenAuthor.com.

Death Deserved by Thomas Enger & Jørn Lier Horst | @OrendaBooks | #recommended

Author : Thomas Enger & Jørn Lier Horst
Translated by : Anne Bruce
Title : Death Deserved
Series : Blix & Ramm #1
Pages : 276
Publisher : Orenda Books
Publication date : February 20, 2020

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

Oslo, 2018. Former long-distance runner Sonja Nordstrøm never shows at the launch of her controversial autobiography, Always Number One. When celebrity blogger Emma Ramm visits Nordstrøm’s home later that day, she finds the door unlocked and signs of a struggle inside. A bib with the number ‘one’ has been pinned to the TV.

Police officer Alexander Blix is appointed to head up the missing-persons investigation, but he still bears the emotional scars of a hostage situation nineteen years earlier, when he killed the father of a five-year-old girl. Traces of Nordstrøm soon show up at different locations, but the appearance of the clues appear to be carefully calculated … evidence of a bigger picture that he’s just not seeing…

Blix and Ramm soon join forces, determined to find and stop a merciless killer with a flare for the dramatic, and thirst for attention.
Trouble is, he’s just got his first taste of it…

| MY THOUGHTS |

Holy flying …. kjøttkaker!!!! (that’d be meatballs) I can’t even begin to think about what to say about Death Deserved. Except … I am making space on my shelves for what will undoubtedly become one of my favourite series.

You may remember my sadness when Thomas Enger’s previous series featuring Henning Juul came to an end. That series was my first introduction to Scandi-Noir and a new love affair was born. But now Thomas Enger has embarked on another adventure, alongside Jørn Lier Horst and as I found myself getting introduced to an entirely new premise and a whole new cast of characters, I quickly realised the dark cloud of sadness had lifted. (dramatic much 😳)

A serial killer is targeting celebrities. They have a plan, they are on a mission and they will not be thwarted. The police is in a race against the clock to stop the killer from striking again but this unsub is smart and detectives have very little, if anything, to go on. And the clues they DO find, all seem like they’re calculated, meant to be found when the killer wants them to be.

And off we go with one of the most gripping crime thrillers EVER! Death Deserved had me hook, line and sinker from the very first page and just did not let go. There are so many things in this story that tick the boxes. Engaging characters, an intricate plot, a well-paced game of cat and mouse and an incredibly intriguing serial killer whose identity I couldn’t even begin to guess at. This extremely thrilling ride kept me glued to the pages until the early hours of the morning and it all led to an explosive ending that left me reeling! 🤯

Just like Alexander and Emma, the driving forces behind them are a (former) investigating officer and a journalist and on top of that, both Thomas Enger and Jørn Lier Horst are incredibly popular Norwegian crime writers. Something told me this collaboration was always going to be successful but I wasn’t at all prepared for exactly how much. If this first instalment is anything to go by, I dare say this will be one of the greatest series out there. As it is, I’m already tempted to say it might be even better than the Henning Juul series and considering how much I loved that one, I wasn’t really expecting that to happen. Or not just yet, anyway.

This serial killer crime thriller meets police procedural equals a pounding heart, clammy hands and a desperate need for more. I can’t wait for book two and I urge you, dear reader, to jump onto this rollercoaster ride right now! This might just be a dream team of crime writers and I firmly believe they are a force to be reckoned with. You wouldn’t want to miss out on that, now would you?

Death Deserved is out tomorrow in ebook format. The UK paperback will be published on February 20th.

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

This Week In Books (January 29)

Hosted by Lipsy Lost and Found, my Wednesday post gives you a taste of what I’m reading this week. A similar meme is run by Taking on a World of Words.

| LAST BOOK I FINISHED READING |

Ever wondered what it’s like to be a juror in a high-profile celebrity trial?

Well.. now you don’t have to. Step inside the jury room to deliberate one of the most talked-about court cases of the decade.

SHE SAID…

…all three men got her drunk, led her to a hotel room and took advantage of her.

THREE SAID…

…she was a willing participant and consented to sex with each of them.

After five-weeks of listening to all of the evidence and all of the arguments in a celebrity rape trial that has gripped an entire nation, the jury sit down to begin their deliberations.

But they don’t know who to believe…

…will you?

[Review to follow on Friday for the blog tour]

| THE BOOK I’M CURRENTLY READING |

Gina Royal is the definition of average—a shy Midwestern housewife with a happy marriage and two adorable children. But when a car accident reveals her husband’s secret life as a serial killer, she must remake herself as Gwen Proctor—the ultimate warrior mom.

With her ex now in prison, Gwen has finally found refuge in a new home on remote Stillhouse Lake. Though still the target of stalkers and Internet trolls who think she had something to do with her husband’s crimes, Gwen dares to think her kids can finally grow up in peace.

But just when she’s starting to feel at ease in her new identity, a body turns up in the lake—and threatening letters start arriving from an all-too-familiar address. Gwen Proctor must keep friends close and enemies at bay to avoid being exposed—or watch her kids fall victim to a killer who takes pleasure in tormenting her. One thing is certain: she’s learned how to fight evil. And she’ll never stop.

[I read this a few years ago but now that I want to get caught up on the rest of the series, I realised I might need to refresh my memory so I’m reading it again.]

| WHAT I’M (PROBABLY) READING NEXT |

Poppy has a secret. 

It was a whirlwind romance. And when Drew, caught up in the moment, suggests that he and Poppy don’t tell each other anything about their past lives, that they live only for the here and now, for the future they are building together, Poppy jumps at the chance for a fresh start.

Drew says he has nothing to hide.

But it doesn’t take long for Poppy to see that this is a two-way deal. Drew is hiding something from her. And Poppy suddenly has no idea who the man she has married really is, what he is hiding from her or what he might be capable of.

Drew is lying.

Which is more dangerous, a secret or a lie?

[I really enjoyed Rebecca Reid’s debut, Perfect Liars, so I’m very excited to see what she has come up with this time.]

Have you read any of these? Would you like to? What are you reading this week? Do let me know! Happy reading! xx

Alice Teale Is Missing by H.A. Linskey | @HowardLinskey @MichaelJBooks @sriya__v | #blogtour

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Alice Teale Is Missing by Howard Linskey! My thanks to Sriya at Michael Joseph for the invitation to join and for the fab review copy!

Author : Howard Linskey
Title : Alice Teale Is Missing
Pages : 409
Publisher : Michael Joseph
Publication date : January 23, 2020

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

Alice Teale walked out of school at the end of a bright spring day.

She’s not been seen since.

Alice was popular and well-liked, and her boyfriend, friends and family are desperate to find her.

But soon it’s clear that everyone in her life has something to hide.

Then the police receive a disturbing package.

Pages from Alice’s precious diary.

Who could have sent them? And what have they done with Alice?

| MY THOUGHTS |

One evening in Spring, seventeen year old Alice Teale leaves the school grounds around 9pm and is never seen again. What happened to her and why? The investigation gets off to quite a slow start until DS Lucas Black takes over with the help from DS Beth Winter.

The small mining town of Collemby hides quite a few secrets. Did Alice stumble upon something she shouldn’t have? Or did she simply run away from a far-from-perfect family home? Quite a few theories floated through my brain at one point or another but I could never quite decide on one to stick with. When someone starts sending the detectives excerpts from Alice’s journal, seemingly taunting them with information, the whole thing became even more complicated in my head and I stopped trying to figure things out. Which was a good thing too because it all turned out a whole lot more dark and disturbing than I bargained for.

I didn’t particularly like Alice, which seemed wrong somehow, considering the fact that she went missing and might possibly be in quite a lot of trouble or worse. But that didn’t stop me from becoming completely invested in her life, wanting to know what happened to her and even hoping for a positive outcome to it all. Her journal entries work really well into giving the reader an insight into the kind of girl Alice is and at the same time they act like pieces of a puzzle to try and fit together.

I did however instantly like both Lucas and Beth. This is Beth’s first big case so obviously she wants to do a good job and impress the powers that be. But Lucas is … well, he’s Lucas. You’ll have to find out more about that yourself. There’s a bit of a dark cloud hanging around him and he’s not exactly popular. Yet somehow, this rather odd pairing works like a charm and while it doesn’t look like this book is the first in a series, I’m kind of hoping that it is because I’d absolutely love to read more stories involving Lucas and Beth.

The pace is spot-on throughout and the plot is full of intrigue, mystery and a red herring or two. Alice Teale Is Missing had me hook, line and sinker from the very first page and didn’t let go. Tense, suspenseful and engrossing, I have no doubt this will appeal to crime fiction fans everywhere. I hadn’t read a Howard Linskey book before, despite seeing the name pass by often enough, but I already know it won’t be my last.

Alice Teale Is Missing is available to buy!

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

| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

Howard Linskey is a best-selling author of crime and historical fiction published in seven countries. His debut novel ‘The Drop’ was voted one of the Top Five Thrillers of the Year by the Times newspaper and ‘The Damage’ was voted one of its top summer reads. His David Blake series was optioned for TV by Harry Potter producer, David Barron.

Howard writes a series of north-east set, crime fiction novels for Penguin Random House featuring investigative journalists Tom Carney and Helen Norton, as well as Detective Sergeant Ian Bradshaw.

His historical novels are set in WW2. ‘Hunting the Hangman’ tells the story of the assassination of Nazi general and architect of the Holocaust, Reinhard Heydrich in Prague in 1942. ‘Ungentlemanly Warfare’ follows SOE agent Harry Walsh into occupied France. 

Originally from the north east of England, Howard now lives in Herts with his wife Alison and daughter Erin.  

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!

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

This Week in Books (January 22)

Hosted by Lipsy Lost and Found, my Wednesday post gives you a taste of what I’m reading this week. A similar meme is run by Taking on a World of Words.

| LAST BOOK I FINISHED READING |

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.

[C.J. Tudor strikes again and this is right up there as a contender for my book of the year. Fa-bu-lous!]

| THE BOOK I’M CURRENTLY READING |

It’s Livia’s 40th birthday and she’s having the party of a lifetime to make up for the wedding she never had. Everyone she loves will be there except her daughter Marnie, who’s studying abroad. But although Livia loves Marnie, she’s secretly glad she won’t be at the party. She needs to tell Adam something about their daughter but she’s waiting until the party is over so they can have this last happy time together.

Adam wants everything to be perfect for Livia so he’s secretly arranged for Marnie to come home and surprise her on her birthday. During the day, he hears some terrible news. He needs to tell Livia, because how can the party go on? But she’s so happy, so excited – and the guests are about to arrive.

The Dilemma – how far would you go to give someone you love a last few hours of happiness?

One day that will change a family forever. 

[About halfway through this one and it’s immensely gripping. Yet I can’t help but feel I may need to reach for a tissue at some point 🤔]

| WHAT I’M (PROBABLY) READING NEXT |

Oslo, 2018. Former long-distance runner Sonja Nordstrøm never shows at the launch of her controversial autobiography, Always Number One. When celebrity blogger Emma Ramm visits Nordstrøm’s home later that day, she finds the door unlocked and signs of a struggle inside. A bib with the number ‘one’ has been pinned to the TV.

Police officer Alexander Blix is appointed to head up the missing-persons investigation, but he still bears the emotional scars of a hostage situation nineteen years earlier, when he killed the father of a five-year-old girl. Traces of Nordstrøm soon show up at different locations, but the appearance of the clues appear to be carefully calculated … evidence of a bigger picture that he’s just not seeing…

Blix and Ramm soon join forces, determined to find and stop a merciless killer with a flare for the dramatic, and thirst for attention.

Trouble is, he’s just got his first taste of it.

[May just be a teensie-weensie excited about this one]

And that’s my week in books. What does your week look like? Do let me know in the comments! Happy reading! xx

#GuestPost : Five Things I Learned From Writing A Series with Robert Crouch | @robertcrouchuk

I’m delighted to welcome Robert Crouch to the blog today! Robert is the author of a cosy crime mystery series featuring environmental health officer Kent Fisher. As book 5 in the series was published last week, I’ll be telling you a bit more about that below and it also seemed like a good time to ask Robert about the things he’s learned from writing a series.

Author : Robert Crouch
Title : No Mercy
Series : Kent Fisher Mysteries #5
Pages : 250
Publisher : n/a
Publication date : January 16, 2020

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

WOULD YOU KILL IF JUSTICE FAILED YOU?

Highways Inspector, Derek Forster, couldn’t go on after the death of his wife. Even though he had a secret lover, he took his own life. Or did he?

Samson Capote, the restaurateur from hell, brutally attacked and left to die in a deep freezer. Did he antagonise too many people? Was he sharing Forster’s secret lover?

Millionaire entrepreneur, Clive Chesterton, falls from his yacht and drowns in Sovereign Harbour. Why did he have Forster’s missing journals in his cabin?

When Kent Fisher becomes a murder suspect, he realises he could be the next victim of a killer who shows no mercy.

Can Kent connect the deaths and solve the mystery before the killer gets to him?

Amazon US | Amazon UK

| GUEST POST |

Five things I’ve learned from writing a series

When I came up with the idea of Kent Fisher, an environmental health officer (EHO) who solves murders, it was fresh and different from everything else in crime fiction. As far as I know, it still is.

But would the idea work? Would readers be interested?

I hope so because the novels are rooted in the classic whodunit and traditional murder mysteries of authors like Agatha Christie, only modern and irreverent, dealing with today’s issues.

With the release of the fifth book in the series, No Mercy, I thought I’d catch my breath and look back at what I’ve learned along the way.

1. I can write more than one novel

It may sound obvious with the release of the fifth book, but publishers and agents weren’t interested in the first Kent Fisher novel. One agent read the whole story, but didn’t take me on. Rejections breed doubt, which drives you to analyse and find the faults rather than the things you need to work on.

I also realised that my environmental health officer went straight into solving murders. If you know the work EHOs do, protecting public health, making sure food and the places that serve food are safe and hygienic, and making sure employees are safe at work, it’s hardly murder.

You wouldn’t visit your local council and report a murder to the environmental health officer.

So, I wrote a prequel, where Kent Fisher investigated a fatal work accident, which was really a murder. It was more difficult to write as it had to dovetail into the novel I’d already written, but it showed me I could write more than one story – even if I wrote them back to front.

2. It’s not easy to keep things fresh

Somewhere on my computer I have a folder filled with story ideas. Most are subjects and themes I want to tackle or subjects that matter to me like injustice. Most of the ideas are about the motives for murder, the issues that drive people to kill.

From time to time, I check this folder. Any fresh ideas, which usually come to me when I’m shaving in the morning, are added to the folder.

Yet none of these ideas are in the third, fourth and fifth novels in the series.

Unlike the police, who solve murders as a matter of routine, EHOs like me inspect restaurant and pub kitchens. That restricts what I can do, meaning I have to find ways for Kent Fisher to be drawn into murders other than family or friends.

Then there’s the backstory – the characters and setting that form Kent’s life, his work, friends and problematic love life. All the novels have a strong backstory, which affects the murder investigations and the people close to him.

Before I can start a new novel, I need to know how much time has elapsed. What’s changed? What loose ends are there from the previous story? What’s happening at work, at the animal sanctuary he owns and runs?

The backstory presents a continuity challenge. It affects the next story. The relationships and conflicts of the support cast can be more absorbing than the murders, especially in the early stages. The backstory must also stay fresh and dynamic.

3. Readers love your characters as much as you do

Just like someone you meet, you get to learn more about the people in your novels with each book. Readers have grown to love this supporting cast, often making comments about them. Kent’s love life is the source of debate and discussion. Readers want him to fall in love with a particular character. Other readers want him to dump that character.

It’s music to my ears because readers are engaged. They care about the characters I’ve created, the situations they have to deal with. I have as much fun wondering what’s going to happen to these characters in each story. And as you’ll discover in a moment, they can surprise me as much as the readers.

And I couldn’t leave this section without mentioning the one character everyone seems to love. Columbo is Kent’s West Highland white terrier, inspired by my own Westie, Harvey. You can also work out who my favourite TV detective is, and how he inspires Kent Fisher to carry out his investigations. 

[Hi, Harvey! Who’s a cute doggie? 😍]

4. Your characters will always surprise you

People who know me often look perplexed when I tell them my characters constantly surprise me, usually by behaving out of character.

How can that happen when I’m the one in control, writing the story?

The characters may be fictional products of my imagination, but they come alive when I write. They live and breathe. Readers feel like they know them. Like me, readers get to learn and understand more about the characters with each book.

That’s the beauty of having a series – you can watch the characters change and develop with each new book.

In the fourth novel, No More Lies, Kent Fisher surprised me twice. With the second surprise, his actions wrecked ideas I had for the next three novels in the series. I could have brought Kent into line, but it was more exciting to give him free rein and see where he went.

The story was much better as a result. I’ve had to come up with some new ideas for the sixth novel, but it’s a fair trade.

[The idea that characters do their own thing without an author’s say-so is absolutely fascinating to me.]

5. It’s so easy to forget details

I once had the privilege to have a conversation on Facebook Messenger with my favourite author, Sue Grafton, who wrote the Alphabet Murder series, featuring Kinsey Millhone. I think Sue had written 22 novels in the series at this point.

I asked her if it was difficult to keep track of everything that had happened over the years. Indeed it was. In one of the books, Kinsey’s neighbour and landlord, Henry, who was also a good friend, was married, even though he was single in all the rest.

There were plenty of other little discrepancies, despite the notes she kept. She was worried about repeating plots she’d used in previous books and kept detailed records to avoid this.

I use a spreadsheet to record the characters in my stories, usually in the chapters they first appear. Birthdays, relationships, places of work are also noted for future reference. Main events are noted in case I need to refer back, along with physical characteristics, such as hair and eye colour, or anything distinctive.

It doesn’t stop me having to check back many times as I’m writing. It’s easy to get names wrong. It’s easy to have similar sounding names like Jenny, Gemma and Emma or Adrian and Adam. In one novel, I had three female characters with names beginning with the same letter. Despite the spreadsheet I didn’t spot this until the third edit.

At some point I may need to write more detailed notes, but as I only look one book ahead now, never sure how Kent’s going to behave, I hope the stories will remain fresh, interesting and free from repetition and bloopers.

[I can’t even begin to imagine how to keep track of all these things, spreadsheets or not!]

Thank you so much, Robert, for stopping by and giving us this insight. I wish you continued success with the Kent Fisher Mysteries!

Amazon US | Amazon UK

| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

Robert Crouch writes the kind of books he loves to read. Books ranging from the classic whodunit by authors like Agatha Christie, the feisty private eye novels of Sue Grafton, thrillers by Dick Francis, and the modern crime fiction of Peter James and LJ Ross.

He created Kent Fisher as an ordinary person, drawn into solving murders. He’s an underdog battling superior forces and minds, seeking justice and fair play in a cruel world. These are the values and motivations that underpinned Robert’s long career as an environmental health officer.

He now writes full time from his home in East Sussex. When not writing, he’s often find walking on the South Downs with his West Highland white terrier, Harvey, taking photographs and researching the settings for future Kent Fisher mysteries.

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