The Shardlake Series by C.J. Sansom

So, you’re a bookworm. And suddenly, you find you have the time to read as much as you’ve always wanted to. What better time to start catching up on series than right now?! I thought I’d offer some tips (though not necessarily all series) over the next few days/weeks/months (? Yikes!)

Today, I’m kicking things off with the Matthew Shardlake series by C.J. Sansom. If you’re a fan of historical (crime) fiction, this series is for you.

The series currently stands at 7 books and they are sure to keep you busy for quite a while. Book one, Dissolution, is the shortest at 456 pages. Book seven, Tombland, is the longest and has 866 glorious pages.

| ABOUT THE MATTHEW SHARDLAKE SERIES |

We first meet Matthew Shardlake in Dissolution. Matthew is a lawyer, working out of Lincoln’s Inn in London in Tudor times, in the service of Thomas Cromwell. King Henry VIII has ordered the dissolution of the monasteries. At one of the monasteries, all hell breaks loose and a commissioner is found murdered. Matthew and his assistant are sent to Scarnsea to investigate.

With Matthew, C.J. Sansom has created a wonderful protagonist. As a hunchback, Matthew is often not taken seriously, somewhat underestimated. He struggles with his beliefs, he is often in pain and vulnerable, but he’s also incredibly intelligent and astute. His disability will not stop him from getting to the truth, no matter who tries to block his way. But the Tudor times were turbulent, in case you didn’t know and although Matthew is richer and more privileged than most people, he is still powerless in the midst of the political schemers like Thomas Cromwell and Richie Rich. Matthew may not be at court, but he’s close enough and with unpredictable people around him at all times, you just never know where the danger will be coming from.

To me, the Shardlake series offers the best of both worlds. I love crime fiction and I love historical fiction, especially set in Tudor times, and in this case I get both. It’s clear a humongous amount of research goes into these books. You end up learning quite a lot but it never turns into a long boring history lesson. C.J. Sansom has managed to create engaging characters, some of which come back time and time again so you can see them develop and there’s a fabulous balance between Shardlake’s private and professional life.

Big books do not scare me. I read the Game of Throne series, everything after that seems like a breeze. The books in the Shardlake series never felt too long for me, despite their page count. The investigations Shardlake undertakes are always fascinating and the books have me absolutely hooked from start to finish. I’m not normally one who reads a book more than once but these have a special place on my bookshelves and I know that I will return to them at some point.

I don’t know if there will be an eighth book, though I fiercely hope so. If there ever was a perfect time for you to get caught up, then this is it. C.J. Sansom is an outstanding author and he is, in my most humble opinion, head and shoulders above anyone else in this genre.

So, are you tempted?

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Massively grateful shout-out to Leah for the recommendation!

The Creak on the Stairs by Eva Björn Ægisdóttir | @evaaegisdottir @OrendaBooks

Author : Eva Björn Ægisdóttir (trs by Victoria Cribb)
Title : The Creak on the Stairs
Series : Forbidden Iceland #1
Pages : 400
Publisher : Orenda Books
Publication date : March 14, 2020 (ebook)

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

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

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

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

| MY THOUGHTS |

Oh dear. Every time I try to cement my resolve of not getting hooked on a new series, up pops something I can’t possibly resist and the resolve goes right out the window. And of course it’s going to happen with a book published by Orenda because let me tell you, people, in case you haven’t been paying attention here, the Orenda Books authors are on FIRE!

Let me just say, in case you didn’t know this, I absolutely hate the cold and everything that goes with it, from snow to ice and everything in between. Yet, I seem to be spending an awful lot of time in Scandinavia lately. Bookish-wise, that is. And I absolutely love it! There’s a certain je-ne-sais-quoi in the Scandinavian crime fiction genre that always manages to win me over.

The Creak on the Stairs introduces us to Chief Investigating Officer Elma, who after years away living in the bright lights of the big city, returns to the town of Akranes. But if at any time she thought she’d get an opportunity to settle in and put her life back together, she’s quite quickly proven wrong when the body of a woman is found at a lighthouse. Together with her colleagues Sævar and Hörður, Elma starts investigating this mysterious death. Who is this woman and where did she come from? And is her death a suicide, an accident or murder?

Now, I’ve been in a bit of a mood lately where books are concerned, in that way where I need something that pulls me in from the get-go and that allows me to race through the story as if I’m watching some kind of action film. My brain is all over the place! Yet, The Creak on the Stairs isn’t like that and it managed to grab my attention from the first page just fine, thank you very much. I wouldn’t call it fast-paced at all, more slow and steady and boy, does it do the trick. As the reader, you end up getting a real sense of place, a chance to get to know some of these characters and the time to soak up the atmosphere that oozes from the pages.

Throughout the story, we are offered a glimpse into the past when someone’s childhood is laid bare. This young girl’s life is a tough one and these chapters are dark and harrowing. It’s done remarkably different to what I’m used to seeing in the crime fiction genre, though. No disturbing details, no graphic explanations, nothing about it is gratuitous. But you know what happened, you feel what happened somewhere deep down and then you wait and wonder what effect these events will have down the line. Because you know it’s coming, you just don’t know when or how.

The Creak on the Stairs is full of suspense and intrigue. Not only did the mystery surrounding the body of the woman at the lighthouse have me gripped, I also really enjoyed getting to know Elma and her new colleagues. Each and every one of them is hugely engaging and the kind of character you can get behind, you want to root for and you really, really want to see more of. There is bags of potential there. I do so hope there is more to come and that this is the superb beginnings of a series I will gladly and without a second’s hesitation make room for on my shelves. Chilling, absorbing and I absolutely loved it!

Also, shout-out to Victoria Cribb for the seamless translation!

Thanks to the publisher for my early review copy!

The Creak on the Stairs is available to buy in ebook format. The UK paperback will be published in May.

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

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

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

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

FEAR 

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

SECRETS

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

LIES

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

| MY THOUGHTS |

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

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

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

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

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

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

PS : Mind the snakes.

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

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

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

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

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

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

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

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

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

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

| MY THOUGHTS |

Goodness gracious me. Where do I even begin?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Perfect Kill is available to buy!

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| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

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

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

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

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

And that’s just the beginning…

| MY THOUGHTS |

AIR! I NEED AIR! CAN’T BREATHE!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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I Am Dust by Louise Beech | @LouiseWriter @OrendaBooks | #IAmDust #recommended

Author : Louise Beech
Title : I Am Dust
Pages : 340
Publisher : Orenda Books
Publication date : February 16, 2020 (ebook)

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

The Dean Wilson Theatre is believed to be haunted by a long-dead actress, singing her last song, waiting for her final cue, looking for her killer…

Now Dust, the iconic musical, is returning after twenty years. But who will be brave enough to take on the role of ghostly goddess Esme Black, last played by Morgan Miller, who was murdered in her dressing room?

Theatre usher Chloe Dee is caught up in the spectacle. As the new actors arrive, including an unexpected face from her past, everything changes. Are the eerie sounds and sightings backstage real or just her imagination? Is someone playing games?

Is the role of Esme Black cursed? Could witchcraft be at the heart of the tragedy? And are dark deeds from Chloe’s past about to catch up with her?

Not all the drama takes place onstage. Sometimes murder, magic, obsession and the biggest of betrayals are real life. When you’re in the theatre shadows, you see everything.

And Chloe has been watching…

| MY THOUGHTS |

Let me just tell you up front that this review, if I can even call it that, will not do this novel any justice at all as Louise Beech’s novels always leave me speechless. I Am Dust is one of those stories that left me in need of a breather, some time to reflect, to let it all sink in before even trying to compile thoughts and put words to what I was feeling. But as I start writing this review, I’m still very much speechless and the only word my brain seems to be able to come up with is WOW.

One of the many joys in picking up a book by Louise Beech is that you never know what to expect. This extremely talented author criss-crosses and combines genres like no other. The one thing you CAN always count on is truly glorious and beautiful writing. And quite possibly the need for tissues at some point or other.

I didn’t read the book description so all the information I had to go on was right there on the stunning jacket of my proof copy. (Which I just realised you can’t see on the cover I used on top of the page)

A haunted theatre, a murdered actress, three cursed teenagers, a secret that devastates them all …

Little else was needed for me to be absolutely sold on this book from the get-go. A psychological thriller then? And maybe, just maybe, no tissues required this time around? Ha! It becomes clear quite quickly that no, of course this isn’t going to be your typical run-of-the-mill psychological thriller. This is Louise Beech after all!

Twenty years ago, actress Morgan Miller was found dead in her dressing room at the Dean Wilson Theatre during the run of the musical Dust. Rumour has it she’s been haunting the theatre ever since, looking for her killer. Now, the theatre’s most successful play is making a comeback. But who would want to take on the iconic role of Esme Black? As a fan of the original Dust musical and now working as a theatre usher, Chloe Dee is right in the thick of things.

Ah, the bright lights of the stage. Yet, this story isn’t all glamour and glitter. Definitely not for a theatre usher and I truly enjoyed seeing things from Chloe’s perspective. Her uniform, the jobs she needs to do, the way she’s almost invisible to the audience. It all stands in stark contrast to the adoration the actors receive.

I Am Dust is a haunting tale of jealousy and ambition with a dose of teenage angst, unrequited love and a dash of witchcraft. I found myself utterly mesmerised by all of it, as if I was under a spell. Immensely gripping, hugely addictive and fabulously atmospheric, this novel just swept me off my feet from the very first page and I wasn’t at all able to put it down. Without giving anything away, there is a sense of foreboding throughout. That feeling you get when you just know things will probably not end well but I couldn’t for the life of me figure it out.

I see it as a personal challenge not to reach for the tissues when I read one of Louise’s books and I was convinced I was going to nail that particular challenge this time around. But no. Sucker-punched in the final pages, right there in the feels, as the kids would say? Check! I swear she does it on purpose. Reaching the end of this wonderful story, flipping that final page and realising there was no more, I felt quite bereft. I was sad to say goodbye to these characters, sad that their stories had reached their conclusions, sad that the magic spell had been broken and I found my two feet planted firmly back into reality again.

Louise Beech is an author who needs to be on everyone’s bookshelves. She’s an author who leaves everything on the page and as a reader you feel it from the top of your head to the tips of your toes but mostly, way deep down in your heart. I absolutely loved this book and you can rest assured you’ll be seeing it again on my list of “books of the year”.

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

I Am Dust will be published in ebook format on February 16th, with the UK paperback to follow in April.

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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.

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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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All The Rage by Cara Hunter | @CaraHunterBooks @VikingBooksUK | #recommended

Author : Cara Hunter
Title : All The Rage
Series : DI Adam Fawley #4
Pages : 440
Publisher : Penguin UK
Publication date : January 23, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

A teenage girl is found wandering the outskirts of Oxford, dazed and distressed. The story she tells is terrifying. Grabbed off the street, a plastic bag pulled over her face, then driven to an isolated location where she was subjected to what sounds like an assault. Yet she refuses to press charges.

DI Fawley investigates, but there’s little he can do without the girl’s co-operation. Is she hiding something, and if so, what? And why does Fawley keep getting the feeling he’s seen a case like this before?

And then another girl disappears, and Adam no longer has a choice: he has to face up to his past. Because unless he does, this victim may not be coming back.

| MY THOUGHTS |

It has been pointed out to me that I’ve been doing an awful lot of judging lately and I’m here to tell you that if you’re not reading this series, I’ll be doing it again! I’ll even add in some shaking of the fist. *shakes fist*

Set in Oxford, All The Rage is the fourth instalment in the DI Adam Fawley series and here is something else I say quite a lot : it’s the best one yet! That’s saying a lot because this series has been remarkably outstanding from the get-go and I don’t know how Cara Hunter manages to raise the bar every single time but she does. Now, I know there are a truckload of crime fiction series out there but there is something about this series right here that somehow makes it stand out from the crowd. I wish I could explain it better but I can’t. It’s that certain “je ne sais quoi”, that thing you just can’t quite put your finger on.

A teenage girl is found wandering the streets. It’s obvious she’s been the victim of a brutal assault, yet she refuses to press charges. But why? Without her cooperation, there is little police can do. But then another girl disappears and DI Adam Fawley’s past is suddenly hot on his heels. Hasn’t he seen this kind of case before?

In case it wasn’t yet clear, I absolutely love this series and I couldn’t wait to get stuck into this latest one. I personally don’t feel this can be read as a stand-alone. Not only are changes in DI Fawley’s team quite important to keep track of with respect to team dynamics, his personal life has a huge impact on the cases he works on. Especially when they involve children.

Prepare yourself for one of the most addictive stories I’ve ever read. This plot, you guys! Like whoa! All The Rage is so incredibly twisty, I almost ended up with whiplash. This is a book to devour in one glorious reading session, if you can. Once I picked it up, it became absolutely impossible to put it back down again. I couldn’t at all figure out what had happened and the story ended up going into a completely different direction than what I had been expecting. The shocking revelations just kept on coming and I loved every single one of them. A compelling and gripping investigation, believable characters, a dreamy DI and a fast-paced intricate plot that will keep you guessing until the end …. what more could you possibly want?

All The Rage is a corker of a book in a truly corker of a series! If you’re a fan of crime fiction and police procedurals, this series HAS to be on your shelves! Bring on the next one, I say!

All The Rage will be published on January 23rd.

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Beast by Matt Wesolowski | @ConcreteKraken @OrendaBooks | #recommended

Author : Matt Wesolowski
Title : Beast
Series : Six Stories #4
Pages : 242
Publisher : Orenda Books
Publication date : February 6, 2020

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

In the wake of the “Beast from the East” cold snap that ravaged the UK in 2018, a grisly discovery was made in a ruin on the Northumbrian coast. Twenty-four-year-old vlogger Elizabeth Barton had been barricaded inside what locals refer to as “The Vampire Tower’, where she was later found frozen to death.

Three young men, part of an alleged “cult,” were convicted of this terrible crime, which they described as a “prank gone wrong.” However, in the small town of Ergarth, questions have been raised about the nature of Elizabeth Barton’s death and whether the three convicted youths were even responsible.

Elusive online journalist Scott King speaks to six witnesses—people who knew both the victim and the three killers—to peer beneath the surface of the case.

| MY THOUGHTS |

Goodness gracious me. What do they put in Matt Wesolowski’s food?!

Another year, another episode in the absolutely brilliant Six Stories series. If you’re not reading this series, I’m judging you like you wouldn’t believe. And if this fourth book in the series doesn’t get under your skin and make you think about the truly warped-up world we live in these days, there is something really wrong with you.

Scott King, our not-so-much-elusive-anymore online podcaster, travels to the, quite frankly, utterly miserable town or Ergarth to delve in to the case of Elizabeth Barton’s death. Elizabeth was twenty-four years old and a successful and popular vlogger when she was found murdered inside, what locals refer to as, The Vampire Tower. Three young men were found guilty of her murder. The “who” seems to have been solved, but what about the “why”?

Murder, a vampire legend and a young dead woman at the centre of it all. It has all the ingredients of a gripping thriller right there, doesn’t it? But there is so much more to it than meets the eye. Beast is a story of hidden truths, of secrets, of labels and masks and more than anything, of the most horrific manipulation and Matt Wesolowski once again manages to prove that the monsters we all fear are sadly very much real. It brings to the fore the power some people are able to exert over others, the power of social media and the growing dangers of modern society’s almost unhealthy obsession with “likes” and “followers”, while all the while showing that most people will only see what they want to see.

Obviously I don’t want to give anything away but there is something to be said for an author who somehow makes a reader feel compassion for those who at first glance don’t seem to deserve it. Beast is immensely compelling and a true page-turner with each of the six stories and points-of-view giving the reader an opportunity to try and figure out for themselves what went on in the tower that night and why. I had a bit of an inkling but the truth ended up being far more devastating than I could ever have imagined and at the end of this thrilling ride, what I was left with the most, was this overwhelming feeling of sadness.

This is one of those series that just keeps getting better and better. With impeccable writing, believable characters and folklore combined with a modern scenario, there is so much to love about Beast. Dark, disturbing and thought-provoking, Beast is an impressive addition to the series; a must-read like its predecessors, and you’d better believe you’ll be seeing this book on my list of “books of the year” in December. Just outstanding! Way to kick off my year in style, Mr. Wesolowski. I can’t wait for more!

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

Beast is available to buy in ebook format. The UK paperback will be published in February.

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