The Edge of Sanity by Chris Thomas blog blitz @cthomasauthor1 @Bloodhoundbook

I’m delighted to be able to share with you a guest post by Chris Thomas, the author of The Edge of Sanity as part of the blog blitz. You can find out more about his path to publication in the post below, but first here’s what the book is about.

Chris Thomas - The Edge of Sanity_cover


In a derelict squat, the Smart Man watches as the new narcotic developed by his shadowy organisation wreaks havoc on it, unsuspecting victims. The drug is now ready for sale on their exclusive darknet marketplace.

Elsewhere, DCI Robert Smith, the retired head of the Cyber Crimes Unit, seeks out crime boss Curtis Slater at his remote farm. He offers to provide Slater with information in exchange for money. But what information is he offering?

Meanwhile, former detective Pete Harris had started a new life, away from the Cyber Crimes Unit, with his daughter and begins to rekindle his relationship with old colleague Grace Brooks.

With his life seemingly complete, Pete’s world comes crashing down as he is drawn into Slater’s game with fatal consequences. He must join forces with his old enemies in a race against time. But can Pete save his daughter and Grace from the clutches of Slater, the Smart Man, and the sinister ringmaster, the Professor?


To start with the inevitable cliché, everyone has a book in them.

Certainly, for the years that I had banged on at my wife about writing a book, I certainly believed this to be true. The problem was, I didn’t really like reading. Or rather, I did like reading, I just found it difficult to find the time to put to reading. When I did manage to sit down with a book, I would get three or four pages in and fall asleep, regardless of how exciting the story was. Reading just had that effect on me.

A few Google searches on ‘how many words is a novel’ or similar, made the task of sitting down and writing 80,000 words, especially when I could barely read 1,000 and maintain consciousness, even more daunting.

Eventually, my wife found me an evening course entitled ‘Kickstart your Creativity’. Whilst I would say that the course did very little to ‘kickstart’ any sort of creativity per se, what it did show me was two things.

Firstly, that I was able to put down words very quickly. The 1,000 word homework we were set each week would take little more than half an hour to write.

And secondly, that those 1,000 words usually turned into something that people actually enjoyed listening to in the lesson. One week’s homework even turned into a 7,000 word behemoth that people asked me finish and email to them so they could read the end.

So, in that respect, the course fulfilled its purpose. I still knew nothing of writing techniques, story structure, plot and character development but all of a sudden knew that the task of writing a novel was no longer the Herculean task it first appeared.

Then it appeared on television. The Richard & Judy Book Club Search for a New Bestseller competition. Unpublished authors could submit a three-chapter sample and synopsis, the field would be whittled down to ten who would then have six months to produce the finished novel before a single winner emerges victorious with a shiny publishing deal.

This was my competition. I was there, confident I could nail this at my very first attempt. I was just missing one vital ingredient. Any sort of story whatsoever.

I had always known that I wanted to write some sort of vigilante justice-based story. I watched news stories that, like most decent people who saw the same, made my blood boil. Murders, rapists, paedophiles escaping full and proper punishment. Rich celebrities avoiding buying their way out of trouble.

I happened to be watching a bunch of YouTube videos about this relatively unknown entity called “The Dark Web”. The more I watched, the more intriguing it became. There were some seriously messed up things down there, things which most people probably couldn’t even comprehend as even being possible to exist. It occurred to me that anything you could think of, no matter how disgusting, disturbing, vile or sinister, the chances are that someone had already done it and put it up on the Dark Web.

But it took a while for the penny to drop. I could have watched a YouTube video entitled “Why don’t you set your book on the Dark Web” in massive flashing letters and it still not click. Thankfully, it did.

Rather than follow the premise of most of the more questionable Dark Web content, i.e. nasty people doing nasty things to innocent, unwilling victims for the delectation of other nasty people I decided to change it around. Good, albeit of dubious morals, people doing nasty things to nasty, guilty unwilling victims for the delectation of other “good” people. Make it a shiny “Strictly Come Dancing” prime-time-style gameshow, throw in this crazy new currency called Bitcoin and hey-presto, The Red Room was born.

It got nowhere with the Richard & Judy competition obviously, but by now I was 30,000 words in and decided to finish it.

And finish it I did. I then went down the traditional route of submitting to literary agents. Most agency websites make it clear that you shouldn’t expect to receive an answer before about six weeks, if indeed you ever receive one at all. I sat at work one Friday afternoon, with all my submission emails open, each one with a different submission requirement depending on where it was going, before taking a deep breath and hitting send on the lot. A couple of hours later, when I got home, I could not believe my eyes when I already had a response from one of the larger agencies in which the lady basically said, “Thank you for sending. I love the concept of the Red Room and will read it as quickly as I can and be back to you shortly”.

Oh. My. God. That was it. The whole weekend, my mind raced. Book deal, massive advance, movie screenplay, Oscar winning adaption. In my head, I had basically just submitted the new Silence of the Lambs. Might even get Anthony Hopkins to play Alastair Goodfellow. Actually, maybe Hugh Jackman or Robert Downey Jr would be better.

Until the following Friday, when I got the standard-worded rejection email back.

That then prompted a rethink and I began investigating the myriad self-publishing platforms that were available. As one who tends to shy away from social media, the idea of having to self-publicise my work, which I wasn’t sure was even that good, seemed scary as hell. But, it seemed the best way to put my work ‘out there’.

After engaging a self-publishing company to design the cover, edit, proofread and typeset, The Red Room was finally released on 28th February 2017. I had support from friends and family who I had essentially pestered endlessly into buying a copy and the book even reached the heady heights of 7th in the Amazon subcategory of (for some reason) Books > Humour > Criminals & Lawyers.

Being print-on-demand, I was even able to print myself a hard-back copy of my book. Nothing more than a huge vanity trip, but it is a perfect memento of my foray into the world of self-publishing.

But, being a complete noob in the world of books, online book groups, book bloggers and so on, I was absolutely staggered at just how massive this world is. Blog tours. I mean, what the f**k is a blog tour? Once I realised how this strange new world worked, I realised that by trying to do it on my own I would simply drown without a trace.

I carried on submitting it, this time to smaller independent publishers before I finally received the amazing news that the utterly brilliant Bloodhound Books wanted to sign it.

A book deal. Someone who actually knows that the hell they are doing. A new cover, proper editing, publicity. Even one of those blog tour things. It was nothing if not ultra, mega-exciting.

‘The Red Room’ was changed to ‘Enter the Dark’ in order to avoid 50 Shades of Grey confusion and the rest, as they say, is history.

Apart from the second cover change to coincide with the next extra special event- signing the follow up ‘The Edge of Sanity’.

The writing and signing of The Edge of Sanity was a completely different beast. Enter the Dark took me approximately four months from start to finish (in and around my actual real-life job). No pressure, no expectations. It seemed to flow well and almost write itself. The Edge of Sanity was a slog.

Bizarrely, the concept came relatively easily. The news at the time was inundated with stories of designer drugs, ‘Zombie Spice’, ‘Krokodil’, comatose drug users stumbling around city centres. That would become the basis of The Edge of Sanity.

Despite this, it took me nearly nine months to finish. At one point, I went six weeks without adding any words whatsoever. Work was hard and stressful. By the time I did eventually finish, it felt as though I had crawled through a field of barbed wire.

But get there I did, and I was hugely grateful when Bloodhound agreed to sign and publish it. Someone else was going to edit it, someone else would design the cover, proofread it, publicise it. From an author point-of-view it was a far more enjoyable journey at the business end of the publishing route and will be very exciting to see the response once it is released.

The journey from talking the talk to actually walking the walk has been fairly epic and all the more satisfying knowing that many people only manage the first half. I’m still waiting for the lightbulb / sledgehammer-to-the-face moment that provides me with the concept to finish the trilogy, but would consider it an ‘unfinished work’ until I do. A stand-alone book may be the next project, something unrelated.

But whatever happens, I am hugely grateful to all the wonderful people at Bloodhound Books for making it happen. And even more grateful to all the people who have stumped up their hard-earned money to buy the book or taken the time to read it and review it. It all helps to make us better writers.


Thank you to Sarah Hardy at Bloodhound Books for inviting me onto the blog tour and to Chris for taking the time to write this fascinating post. If you would like to purchase a copy of The Edge of Sanity you can do so by clicking on the link below.



B L O G B L I T Z (2)


Do No Harm by L V Hay blog tour @LucyVHayAuthor @OrendaBooks @annecater

Do No Harm by [Hay, L V]

Source: Review Copy


Till death do us part…

After leaving her marriage to jealous, possessive oncologist Maxwell, Lily and her six-year-old son have a second chance at happiness with headteacher Sebastian. Kind but vulnerable, Sebastian is the polar opposite of Maxwell, and the perfect match for Lily. After a whirlwind romance, they marry, and that’s when things start to go wrong…
Maxwell returns to the scene, determined to win back his family, and events soon spiral out of control. Lily and Sebastian find themselves not only fighting for their relationship, but also their lives…
Chilling, dark and terrifying, Do No Harm is a taut psychological thriller and a study of obsession, from one of the most exciting new voices in crime fiction.


I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough as I was reading this book. L. V. Hay takes the reader on a whirlwind of a ride in her latest novel; there are so many twists and turns and the characters will really get under your skin. I was excited to read this book from the moment I saw the cover. I enjoyed her previous novel The Other Twin but in my opinion I think Do No Harm is even better.

From the start of the novel, L.V. Hay gets the intrigue going. Her two protagonists, Lily and Sebastian are tying the knot and Lily is looking forward to starting the rest of her life and forgetting about the troubles she has had with her ex-husband, Maxwell. But someone is watching the proceedings with a keen eye and you get the sense of dread that Lily and Sebastian’s marriage isn’t going to be plain sailing. Something bad is going to happen.

Do No Harm is highly addictive. I think it is a story that would make an excellent television drama. Lucy Hay has created some really disturbing characters in her latest book. I could never quite be sure who was telling the truth and when the final revelations came at the end, I was just sitting there with my eyes widening as I read the final words on the page. At the centre of everything that is going on in the plot are Lily and her son Denny. Denny, of course, is the innocent bystander, caught up in his parents failed marriage. The tension heightens between Lily and her ex Maxwell, particularly over Denny. I could understand Maxwell’s point of view at the beginning of the novel and how angry he must be feeling towards Sebastian, who is now Denny’s step-dad. But as the story moved forward I began to take a dislike to him and I felt for Lily who had to deal with this new situation. I wondered if her relationship with Sebastian was ever going to work because of this.

There were several occasions where I thought I knew where the plot was going but Lucy  turned the story on its head. As I got to the end I kept saying to myself in my head “no, no, no!” I couldn’t believe how things were changing for Lucy’s characters. You do become invested in their lives and I really cared about what was going to happen to Lily and Sebastian.

Do No Harm is an excellent, character driven psychological thriller that I highly recommend. Thank you to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part in the blog tour and to Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books for sending me a copy of the book to review.

Publisher: Orenda Books

Publication date: 30th June 2018

Print length: 300 pages



The Girl I Used To Be by Mary Torjussen blog tour @MaryTorjussen @headlinepg

The Girl I Used to Be Cover

Source: Review Copy


How can you hide your mistakes when you don’t know what they are?

Gemma Brogan needs a break from her life.

A work event looks the ideal chance to get away. And a friendly new client seems like the perfect gentleman when he joins Gemma for an innocent dinner . . .

But the next morning she has no memory of how the night ended and he has vanished into thin air.

Suddenly, Gemma is plunged into a twisted nightmare she can’t control. To protect her future, and her family, she will have to confront shocking secrets from her past – and the truth about the girl she used to be.

Completely gripping and full of page-turning twists, this is the perfect psychological thriller for fans of Erin Kelly’s HE SAID SHE SAID and Laura Marshall’s FRIEND REQUEST.


Mary Torjussen knows how to write suspense. Her latest novel, The Girl I Used To Be is a book you can easily fly through in an afternoon. It is a character driven drama and she puts her protagonist, Gemma in a terrifying situation that is going to be very difficult for her to work her way out of.

What Mary does so well with her characters, is that she puts very ordinary people in very frightening but believable scenarios. Her protagonist, Gemma owns an estate agent’s, so she and her colleagues are dealing with members of the public near enough every day. But it dawns on them in this book that they never really know quite who they are dealing with. This is what Gemma finds out when she becomes involved with one particular client who threatens to put her own security in danger. However she soon begins to realise that she really has no idea who she has become involved with and that he might be more dangerous than she previously thought possible.

Gemma was a character who I could root for throughout the book. She is a strong lead, having to run a business and be solely responsible in providing for her family’s income as her husband, Joe doesn’t work. Instead he stays at home to look after their son Rory. I have to admit that this was what I really didn’t like about Joe and I found him a difficult character to get on with. I don’t think he quite comes across as lazy in the book but for now he is very set in his ways and his routine and I did keep thinking to myself, surely Gemma could do better.

Mary’s plot and writing is highly addictive from the first page. I stayed up reading way too late as I waited to find out what was going to happen to Gemma. At the beginning of the novel there is a scene which takes place fifteen years earlier at a party which she attended to celebrate finishing her A-level exams. I was intrigued to learn how this scene was going to become relevant to the plot later on and things do begin to become clearer as Mary delves into the lives of her characters. I was able to guess one of the twists but it didn’t spoil my enjoyment of the story as I was still interested to find out what was going to happen to Gemma and how she was going to deal with the situation.

If you’re a fan of psychological dramas, I highly recommend The Girl I Used To Be. Mary  pulls you into the plot and into the lives of her characters and you will want to keep turning the pages to find out what happens to them. I can’t wait to read what she writes next. Thank you to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part in the blog tour and to the publisher for providing an advance review copy.

Publisher: Headline

Publication date: 3rd May 2018 (kindle) 9th August 2018 (paperback)

Print length: 352 pages



Kiss of Death by Paul Finch blog tour @paulfinchauthor @AvonBooksUK


Source: Review Copy


Don’t let them catch you…

A Deadly Hunt
DS ‘Heck’ Heckenburg has been tasked with retrieving one of the UK’s most wanted men. But the trail runs cold when Heck discovers a video tape showing the fugitive in a fight for his life. A fight he has no chance of winning.

A Dangerous Game
Heck realises that there’s another player in this game of cat and mouse, and this time, they’ve not just caught the prize: they’ve made sure no one else ever does.

A Man Who Plays With Fire
How far will Heck and his team go to protect some of the UK’s most brutal killers? And what price is he willing to pay?


As I’m sitting here writing this review, my mind keeps flicking back to that ending. I had heard that the ending of this book was going to be quite something and Paul Finch really did deliver. Wow, did he get the adrenaline pumping and now I really want to talk about it with someone, but I definitely can’t say anything about it here. No, you’ll just have to read the book for yourself to find out what happens and if you are a long-time fan of these books and the characters, like me, be prepared to be in for a shock.

Kiss of Death is the seventh book in the DS Mark Heckenburg series. I have been a huge fan of this series since I read Stalkers a couple of years ago and I have read every book since. In the latest book, Heck seems to be at a bit of a loose end in his career and he is tempted to move to a different squad, when the position of a DI arises, particularly as their budget continues to be eaten up by police cuts. This is a theme which runs through the book. You can see that Mark still has strong feelings for his boss, Gemma Piper, otherwise known as The Lioness by her team at Scotland Yard. Over the course of these novels you have been able to see that he has never quite forgiven himself for letting Gemma go after they had a short relationship when they were young police officers. Their relationship has always interested me and Gemma is a character who I find fascinating.

As Heck and the rest of the squad continue to remain uncertain about their future, they are tasked with tracking down some of the UK’s most wanted criminals who have gone on the run. And as their investigation into the missing criminals deepens, it takes a very disturbing path. You don’t realise quite how the investigations are going to pan out at the beginning but Paul really pulls the different strands together well.

If you are new to this series then be prepared for an action packed and tense ride. Kiss of Death can easily be read as stand-alone, but I really would recommend going back and starting this series from the beginning. They are all brilliant stories and you will get a lot more enjoyment out of the plot if you see how Paul’s characters have developed over the course of the series.

Heck is such a brilliant character. It was my work colleague who actually first introduced me to these books as Heck is also one of her favourite characters in crime fiction. Unpredictable is one word to describe Heck. He isn’t a police officer who will keenly follow orders, but as Gemma says, he does get results which is why he is sometimes given free reigns on a case. He is an officer who will fight for justice even if it means putting his own life and the lives of others around him at risk. Heck is also a character who you will root for right from the start.

Once you finish reading this book you really will be desperate to read the next book straight away. I know I’ll be first in the queue to read it and I’ll be thinking about what’s happening to Paul’s characters right up until then. Thank you to Sabah Khan at Avon Books for inviting me to take part in the blog tour and for providing me with a copy of the book to read via Netgalley.

Publisher: Avon

Publication date: 9th August 2018

Print length: 464 pages



Kiss of Death Blog Tour Banner

The Lingering by SJI Holliday Book Review @SJIHolliday @OrendaBooks

The Lingering by [Holliday, SJI]

Source: Review Copy


Married couple Jack and Ali Gardiner move to a self-sufficient commune in the English Fens, desperate for fresh start. The local village is known for the witches who once resided there and Rosalind House, where the commune has been established, is a former psychiatric home, with a disturbing history.

When Jack and Ali arrive, a chain of unexpected and unexplained events is set off, and it becomes clear that they are not all that they seem. As the residents become twitchy, and the villagers suspicious, events from the past come back to haunt them, and someone is seeking retribution…

At once an unnerving locked-room mystery, a chilling thriller and a dark and superbly wrought ghost story, The Lingering is an exceptionally plotted, terrifying and tantalisingly twisted novel by one of the most exciting authors in the genre.


Recently I’ve read a couple of really good ghost stories and The Lingering by SJI Holliday I think has to be the best. I was so excited to pick up a proof at the Theakston Crime Festival in Harrogate and I wasted no time in starting it. Dark, unsettling and so, so creepy; this book and the characters within the pages will stay with you long after you have finished reading.

What I really like about SJI Holliday’s writing is how she cleverly manages to weave a tale and take it in a completely unexpected direction and especially her character development is brilliant. She is a writer who is very good at her twists and her plotting is superb.

I’ve previously read and enjoyed her Banktoun trilogy so I had high hopes for her latest book and I was enthralled from the first page. We meet married couple Jack and Ali who are starting a new chapter in their lives together when they decide to sell up their home and take up residence at a self-sufficient commune. I wanted to know what had drawn them to this particular place and why they would make such a huge decision and leave the comfort of home for something that is totally different to what they’re used to. The prologue in this book teases you as you immediately get a feeling that something dark and mysterious is brooding and it sets up the journey that Ali and Jack are about to embark. You know you are in for a spine-chilling read.

SJI Holliday weaves a crime element into her plot and this was done to great effect. But I’m not going to talk any more about this here, you’ll have to read the book yourself to find out what happens. The atmosphere in the book is excellent and it brings the commune and the surrounding countryside to life. If I ever see a building remotely similar to the commune whenever I’m driving round country lanes, I think I’ll be speeding up and keeping very clear.

The Lingering is dark and atmospheric; it will linger in your mind and beware, it may give you nightmares. It is psychological suspense at its very best. The book is available to pre-order by clicking the link below. You really don’t want to miss it.

Publisher: Orenda Books

Publication date: 15th September 2018 (Ebook) 15th November 2018 (paperback)

Print length: 300 pages


When I Find You by Emma Curtis giveaway! #giveaway #competition

To celebrate the paperback publication of When I Find You by Emma Curtis, I’m giving away one paperback copy of her new book. To enter the competition please leave a comment below saying why you want to read this book. I’m afraid the competition is open to UK entries only. The competition will end on Friday, 10th August 2018 at midnight and one winner will be drawn at random. If you would like to find out more about the book please take a look at the blurb below. Good luck!

When I Find You: The twisty new thriller from the author of One Little Mistake by [Curtis, Emma]


What do you do when someone takes advantage of your greatest weakness?

When Laura wakes up after her office Christmas party and sees a man’s shirt on the floor, she is horrified. But this is no ordinary one-night-stand regret.

Laura suffers from severe face-blindness, a condition that means she is completely unable to identify and remember faces. So the man she spent all night dancing with and kissing – the man she thought she’d brought home – was ‘Pink Shirt’.

But the shirt on her floor is blue.

And now Laura must go to work every day, and face the man who took advantage of her condition. The man she has no way of recognising.

She doesn’t know who he is . . . but when she finds him she’ll make him pay.

No Place Like Home by Rebecca Muddiman blog tour @RebeccaMuddiman @BloodhoundBook

Rebecca Muddiman - No Place Like Home_cover

Source: Netgalley


What would you do if you came home to find someone in your house?

This is the predicament Polly Cooke faces when she returns to her new home. The first weeks in the house had been idyllic, but soon Jacob, a local man, is watching her.

What does he want and why is he so obsessed with Polly?

In a situation where nothing is what it seems, you might end up regretting letting some people in.



Rebecca Muddiman was born and raised in the North East and worked in the NHS for many years. She has published four crime novels – Stolen, Gone, Tell Me Lies, and Murder in Slow Motion. Stolen won a Northern Writers Award in 2010 and the Northern Crime Competition in 2012. She is also a screenwriter and was selected for the London Screenwriters Festival Talent Campus in 2016.

Most of her spare time is spent re-watching Game of Thrones, trying to learn Danish, and dealing with two unruly dogs. Sometimes all at the same time.


No Place Like Home is a thriller that will really get under your skin. Don’t be fooled by what you see, this book will take you by surprise. Rebecca Muddiman’s latest novel explores a terrifying scenario that many people may think about but don’t think will ever happen to them. The thought of someone breaking into my house absolutely terrifies me and this is what Rebecca’s protagonist is faced with when the novel begins.

We are introduced to Polly Clarke who has recently moved into her dream home. One evening she returns to her house to find someone else inside, shattering the façade of the idyllic, perfect home she has worked so hard for and dreamed about for so long. She doesn’t know who this person is or what they are doing. Rebecca captured Polly’s fear in a very real and believable way here and you immediately get a sense of how vulnerable she is, especially as she lives alone. But as Polly is facing this new, terrifying predicament we move back in time to see events in the lead up to this day and it is here that the story really becomes interesting.

Rebecca Muddiman really messes with the readers head as we get to know the characters and this is what I really liked about this book and it is what kept me engaged. The pace does slow down a little after the shocking opening – when we move back in time – but as our lead character started to realise she was being stalked, I wanted to know if this was connected to what had happened in the opening pages and I also wanted to know why this was happening to her. Rebecca kept up the suspense as I waited to find out what was going to be the outcome for Polly and she kept me invested in her character.

I was intrigued by both Polly and her stalker, Jacob and as their characters developed and Rebecca revealed their past history my perception of them both began to change. There was some fascinating character development in this book and I felt as though I connected, in some ways, with both of them. This is where it becomes really tricky not to talk much more about the plot here as I don’t want to give anything away. But the direction in which Rebecca took the story caught me by surprise.

Rebecca controls the atmosphere in her story well and this also worked with the reveals about the characters and their lives, it made me think that there were sinister revelations to come and it kept me flicking the pages as I hurried to get to the end and Rebecca delivers an absolutely chilling ending. This is a book which you will want to be pressing into the hands of friends and family. Thank you to the publisher and to Netgalley for providing me with an advance review copy of the book.

Publisher: Bloodhound Books

Publication date: 6th August 2018

Print length: 271 pages



B L O G B L I T Z (4) (1)

All the Hidden Truths by Claire Askew Book Review @OneNightStanzas @HodderBooks #AllTheHiddenTruths

All the Hidden Truths (Three Rivers) by [Askew, Claire]

Source: Netgalley


Raw, powerful, compassionate and deeply moving, with page-turning tension to the end. A stunning debut. – Karen Robinson, Sunday Times Crime Club

This is a fact: Ryan Summers walked into Three Rivers College and killed thirteen women, then himself.

But no one can say why.

The question is one that cries out to be answered – by Ryan’s mother, Moira; by Ishbel, the mother of Abigail, the first victim; and by DI Helen Birch, put in charge of the case on her first day at her new job. But as the tabloids and the media swarm, as the families’ secrets come out, as the world searches for someone to blame… the truth seems to vanish.

A stunningly moving novel from an exciting new voice in crime, ALL THE HIDDEN TRUTHS will cause you to question your assumptions about the people you love, and reconsider how the world reacts to tragedy.


All the Hidden Truths by Claire Askew is a powerful psychological drama and it focuses on a very topical subject which has sadly been in the news very recently. I read this novel shortly after the school shootings in America earlier this year which was still very fresh in my mind as I was reading.

We meet three characters in this book: Moira Summers, Ishbel Hodgekiss and DI Helen Birch and the novel is told from their perspectives. The three women whose voices we hear from are very different and until the events that take place at the start of this novel occur, they have never come across each other. But beyond the pages, the lives of two of the women will be linked forever by the tragedy they are scarred by.

No one knows why Ryan Summers took it upon himself to enter the Three Rivers college campus and murder thirteen young women and then turn the gun on himself before the police had the chance to apprehend him. What could drive someone to commit such an abhorrent, cowardly act? DI Helen Birch has recently been promoted and she is handed the complex case. She knows that the weeks ahead aren’t going to be easy for her community, especially for the families of the victims, and the angry public, who desperately need answers.

The characterisation in this book is superb; the author takes us to some very dark places in the minds of some of the individuals in this book which made it a compelling page-turner. It is very much a whydunnit as the police and the families of the victims try to work out what caused Ryan to murder so many of his fellow pupils. Claire Askew explores some interesting themes, including the dangers of social media and freedom of the press. It also examines the public’s perception of tragedy and what happens when people willingly express their feelings and opinions online. One journalist in particular really got under my skin, his character brought to mind the Leveson enquiry which took place in the UK several years ago and it made me angry to think that this is the way how some members of the press behave.

I was interested in the fact that Claire chose to set the novel in Edinburgh as gun crime, particularly on a mass scale is rare, even un-heard of in the UK. Choosing to set her novel here in this country must’ve required a great deal of research, it would be fascinating to find out more about why she decided to write about this particular crime and how she went about her research.

This was a gripping debut which introduces an exciting new voice in crime fiction. If you’re looking for a psychological thriller which leaves plenty of room for thought then I highly recommend this book. Thank you to the publisher and to Netgalley for providing an advance review copy.

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton

Publication date: 9th August 2018

Print length: 384 pages



Duck Egg Blues by Martin Ungless blog tour @rararesources @UnglessM

Duck Egg Blues Cover

Source: Review Copy


When the daughter of a rich and powerful businesswoman goes missing from a country house estate, Detective Don is paid to track her down. Rugged and irascible, Don is an ex-cop who has set up shop in a fast-urbanising Essex countryside. He is also the unwilling owner of a robot butler, and this unlikely duo are forced together as they investigate the disappearance, battling with criminal gangs, corrupt police, MI6, and international cybercrime.

Action-packed and full of twists, the tale is told by PArdew, a kind and unassuming robot. He yearns simply to perform his butler duties but soon finds himself solving crimes, avoiding kidnap, and trying to keep his Master safe from sundry surreptitious folk, who for security reasons cannot here be named …and yes, there are plastic ducks and eggs which cause the blues …and yes, for blues read murder. Lucky for PArdew he’s connected to the Internet of Things.

As the investigation gathers pace Don discovers that behind one mystery there lurks a greater threat. No one is safe, not even PArdew…


Duck Egg Blues by Martin Ungless is a quirky and imaginative piece of crime fiction. I’m always on the lookout for fresh ideas in this genre and Martin definitely delivers the goods in this book.

What immediately intrigued me when I read the blurb was that the story is told from a robot’s point of view. I have to admit the idea did put me off a little bit at first and I wasn’t sure if this was a novel I was going to enjoy, but the plot and the lead character kept me engaged from the first page. I think it was the lead character’s voice that really drew me in. You do get the essence of a Holmes and Watson type of relationship but this is a detective duo with a difference.

In the opening scene we are introduced to PArdrew, a robot butler, who has been purchased by Detective Don, a retired police officer. Although PArdrew is a machine, as he keeps reminding fellow humans and that he is only there to serve; he was a character who I really connected with and I often felt sorry for him for the way he was sometimes treated by Don. Now feeling sorry for a robot is a first, I feel more frustrated when I try to get an answer out of Siri. As PArdrew is becoming acquainted with his new master and his new surroundings he and Don are thrust into a new, perplexing mystery when he is employed by the mayor to find her missing daughter. But as they begin to understand the world that she has become messed up in, they realise that no one is safe and things soon become much more dangerous for both of them.

I did find it interesting that Martin chose to tell his story from the robot’s point of view. Some human traits do slip into the robots narrative, I found this to be the case when he is sometimes describing his feelings but I found that this made him all the more likeable. Martin also drips some humour into the book, this was especially when PAdrew is trying to make sense of humans and the world around him. Don was a character who I couldn’t make my mind up about. As I mentioned earlier I often didn’t like the way how he treated his robot and how he spoke of him but I was rooting for them both to get to the bottom of the mystery.

Duck Eggs Blues is a highly entertaining, action packed novel and I loved it. I’m looking forward to seeing what Martin writes next. Thank you to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part in the blog tour and for providing a copy of the book to read.

Publisher: Limes Publishing

Publication date: 25th May 2017

Print length: 351 pages



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The Language of Secrets by Ausma Zehanat Khan blog tour @AusmaZehanat @noexitpress #LanguageOfSecrets

The Language of Secrets Cover

Source: Review Copy


A terrorist cell is planning an attack on New Year’s Day. For months, Mohsin Dar has been undercover, feeding information back to the national security team. Now he’s dead.

Detective Esa Khattak, compromised by his friendship with the murdered agent, sends his partner Rachel Getty into the unsuspecting cell. As Rachel delves deeper into the unfamiliar world of Islam and the group’s circle of trust, she discovers Mohsin’s murder may not be politically motivated after all. Now she’s the only one who can stop the most devastating attack the country has ever faced.

The Unquiet Dead author Ausma Zehanat Khan once again dazzles with a brilliant mystery woven into a profound and intimate story of humanity.


This is a novel I can easily give five stars to. The Language of Secrets is the first novel by Ausma Zehanat Khan which I have read. I still have her first novel The Unquiet Dead sitting on my kindle and I am bumping it up to the top of my TBR pile after finishing her second. Although her second book is part of a series featuring the same characters, it can easily be read as a stand-alone.

In The Language of Secrets she tells a powerful and absorbing tale which is very relevant to what is going on around the world today. The plot centres on the murder of a young Muslim man who has been working for the Canadian police as part of an undercover operation to expose a terrorist cell at a nearby mosque. The case is investigated by Inspector Esa Khattak. His partner, Rachel Getty goes undercover to try and expose a killer who may be among the congregation who worship at the mosque.

As I was reading I thought it would be interesting to see how Esa’s relationship with the Muslim community would be affected as he is investigating them for a heinous crime. Many of them appear abhorred by what has happened and they can’t speak highly enough of the victim. I imagined that some relationships he has would turn sour because of this.

There are some thought-provoking scenes in this book; I thought this particularly when Rachel was becoming acquainted with the members at the mosque. There is one scene in particular when they are discussing terrorism in all of its different forms and I think it is true, we do associate acts of terrorism more with certain groups of people when it has happened throughout history. I thought Rachel’s undercover operation was one of the most gripping aspects of the story and you can clearly see the worry that Khattak has for her as she becomes more absorbed in what has been happening at the mosque in her quest to find answers about the man’s death. There is tension here as you begin to fear that her true identity will be discovered and you are fearful about what will happen to her.

There are some dramatic final scenes in this book which I thought gave the novel a satisfying ending. I was constantly wondering if the police were going to manage to stop the attack the terrorists were planning.

Although it is a heavy read at times and it does tackle a difficult subject matter, I found The Language of Secrets to be utterly absorbing. It is a dark and engaging story that I’m sure will stay with you long after you finish reading. Thank you to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part in the blog tour and to Katherine Sunderland at No Exit Press for the review copy.

Publisher: No Exit Press

Publication date: 26th October 2017

Print length: 336 pages



language of secrets