March Round-Up

It’s hard to believe how much has changed within a month. At the beginning of March I would never have imagined that countries would be closing their borders, and that people would be told to stay in their homes. Hopefully by this time next month things will be starting to look a bit brighter.

I have found a plus side to working from home, however. It does mean that I’ll be able to make a big dent in my TBR pile, and I am near enough caught up on my blog tour reads. A couple of weeks ago my reading did take a bit of a hit as everything in the world began to escalate, and I couldn’t concentrate, but I have been able to enjoy it much more recently.

On the 3rd March I attended the book launch for Containment by Vanda Symon, Deep Dark Night by Steph Broadribb and Mexico Street by Simone Buchholz. The event was held at Waterstones, Victoria.


I’ve so far managed to read 36 books this year as part of my Goodreads challenge for 2020.

I took part in seven blog tours this month, The Waxwork Corpse by Simon Michael, Black River by Will Dean, Containment by Vanda Symon, Mine by Clare Epsom, The Unbroken by Alex Caan, Deep Dark Night by Steph Broadribb and All in her Head by Nikki Smith. I’ve included the links below in case you missed any of them.

The Waxwork Corpse

Black River



The Unbroken

Deep Dark Night

All in her Head

In April I have nine blog tours coming up. We Begin at the End by Chris Whitaker and The Silent House by Nell Pattison on the 1st April, The Fallout by Rebecca Thornton on the 4th, I Am Dust by Louise Beech on the 11th, Strangers by C.L. Taylor on the 14th, Silenced for Good by Alex Coombs on the 15th, Can You See Her by S.E. Lynes on the 24th and The Murder Game by Rachel Abbott on the 25th. I also have a giveaway which I am running as part of the blog tour for The Wrong Move by Jennifer Savin on the 20th April.

That’s all from me for this month. Stay safe everyone and happy reading!

All in her Head by Nikki Smith #bookreview blog tour @Mrssmithmunday @annecater

I’m delighted to be joining the blog tour for All in her Head by Nikki Smith on my blog today. With thanks to Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part.

All in Her Head by [Smith, Nikki]


Her life is a pack of lies. But what if she is the liar?

Alison is more alone than she’s ever been. She is convinced that her ex-husband Jack is following her. She is certain she recognises the strange woman who keeps approaching her at work.

She knows she has a good reason to be afraid. But she can’t remember why.

Then the mention of one name brings a whole lifetime of memories rushing back in.

Alison feels like she’s losing her mind . . . but it could just lead her to the truth.


All in her Head by Nikki Smith is an intricately layered novel, and it is a masterclass in plotting and suspense. It is also so, so addictive. When I first started reading it, I had absolutely no idea that it would lead in the direction that it did. I was drawn right into the mind of her lead character, Allison. I wanted to know what was really going on in her world. What was it that was making her feel so afraid? From the opening pages, you know you are going to be in for a tense ride.

When we first meet Allison she is working in a library, but all the time she is feeling anxious and afraid. We know that something has happened in her past to make her like this. Allison, however, struggles to remember the details. And the book only gets tenser when letters start turning up from someone who Allison never hoped to hear from again, and it is someone who she is terrified of. What did happen in her past? I knew I had to find out.

Allison intrigued me right from the start, and this book was really chilling. I thought this particularly when Allison sensed that a ghost from her past was coming back to haunt her. I could see how stressed this was making her, and this comes through very strongly in Nikki’s writing. You get the sense that the walls are closing in on Allison, and that very soon a terrible truth is going to emerge. You can also sense that she is in a very vulnerable position. It seems that anything might bring her world crumbling down. And when the plot started to unravel, the truths came thick and fast, blowing away every perception that I first had when I first started reading. Once the reveals started coming, I did not want to put it down as I had to know how everything was going to pan out. I can remember how tense I felt as Nikki pulled everything together, and the scenes were so crisp and clear in my mind.

I’m certain that this book is going to be in my top ten reads at the end of the year, and I can’t wait to see what Nikki Smith brings us next. All in her Head is filled with suspense. I highly recommend it.

Publisher: Orion

Publication date: 2nd April 2020

Print length: 336 pages

All in her Head is available to buy: 

Amazon UK  Kobo  Waterstones


All In Her Head BT Poster

The Sleeping Season by Kelly Creighton blog tour #extract @KellyCreighto16 @Friday_Press

I’m delighted to be bringing you an extract today from the new novel by Kelly Creighton, The Sleeping Season. But first let’s take a look at the blurb.

The Sleeping Season (DI Sloane Series Book 1) by [Creighton, Kelly]


Someone going missing is not an event in their life but an indicator of a problem.

Detective Inspector Harriet Sloane is plagued by nightmares while someone from her past watches from a distance.

In East Belfast, local four-year-old River, vanishes from his room.

Sloane must put her own demons to bed and find the boy. Before it’s too late.



Bad dreams eat me up. This one came first:

I am fetching firewood with my father. I can smell the woodsmoked scent on my jumper, taste the wax from his Barbour coat. My three eldest siblings are teenagers again. Like spiders they drop from the dark well of that winter and crawl back into my memory. Tall, lanky and dressed in black, both boys have their backs to me as they sow stones into Lough Erne, while Coral shudders on a frost-stiffened margin of grass nearby.

Then we turn away and walk toward our holiday chalet until Coral screams. It is a needle piercing the air.

‘Someone’s in there,’ she shouts. ‘I can see them! Look!’

‘Stay where you are,’ says Father, letting the logs drop onto the grass.

‘I’m going in,’ says Brooks. He thunders into the lake.

‘Get out of there! Get out now,’ shouts Father.

Brooks is moving but only just. His feet are heavy as stone slabs, the water up to his knees, then further, to his shoulders; next, his head is gone. Brooks turns into a fly in a cup of tea. He is unable to hear how our father damns him up and down. He comes up for air, then he is trawling a man out from the iced mere, pointlessly trying to turn the body face up.

Addam takes a whiplash glance at Father, then wades in. But Brooks, instead of relinquishing a portion of this tragic find, shrugs him off, shouts, ‘I’ve got him, dicksplash, get out of the road!’

Father is angry at them both. I think he is angry at me too. He orders me to leave, then goes to meet Brooks who lowers the man to the ground with a thud. His blanched, giant water-swollen hands roll away from his lifeless person; his head turns away so I can’t see his face. Coral crouches beside him like she might go in for a pulse. It is now I notice his fingernails are missing.

‘Coral, come away,’ Father orders. He takes off his Barbour coat and throws it over the dead man’s head. ‘Get you all inside,’ he says, putting his hand squarely on Addam’s chest. ‘I’ll head next door and call local branch.’

‘What about an ambulance too, Daddy?’ I say.

‘Yes, a private ambulance too,’ he mutters, crouching beside me. He takes my hands inside one of his and rubs them tenderly like I’ve never seen him before or since. ‘Do you understand, Harry?’ he says. ‘It’s too late to help him now.’

Without understanding I nod.

‘He’s dead, H,’ Coral says.

‘Get inside. Now!’ Father shouts as if afraid to leave his children with this decaying, waterlogged stranger.

Charlotte is indoors. As is Mother, and Grandmother, who lives nearby and who we always gather like a stray sock, on our way through to the chalet. Before we had gone out, Charlotte, in her sultry possessiveness of Mother, had the old mortar and pestle out of the scullery and was grinding winterberries and leaves into a perfume as a gift for her; she is in the same position when we return. Grandmother is still dealing herself a game of solitaire in the kitchen; the string  of Christmas lights Mother has threaded around the curtain rail throbs its rhythm of colours onto the plastic tablecloth as Grandmother snaps her cards face up.

‘What on God’s earth has happened to you?’ she asks Addam. Then she sees Brooks soaked entirely.

The smell of him is foul. Charlotte wrinkles her nose, then pinches it.

‘We found a body,’ says Coral. ‘It was floating in the lake – a man – and he’s dead.’

Charlotte jumps up and goes to Mother, burrowing her head into her armpit like a tick. Grandmother hands the boys fresh towels to dry off, but they are in no hurry to change. Brooks’s hair is plastered to his face and blacker than ever. With every jumpy movement his shoes squelch on the floor; the tiles pool with his brown water.

‘Could hardly get at him,’ Brooks says. He is shivering with shock and cold.

‘Weighed a tonne,’ says Addam.

Charlotte grasps at Mother until Mother dislodges her, tells her to take a seat.

‘Right,’ she says. Calmly she goes to stoke the fire, glad to be busy with her hands. ‘Girls, out you all go.’

‘But it’s nice and warm in here,’ I say, edging towards the hearth.

Flames are taking tiny jumps, like someone spitting into the air. I hear Father’s boots loosen the gravel outside.

‘Girls, out and let your brothers get changed,’ Mother says.

‘Could hardly get him,’ says Brooks. His eyes are intense, sparkling with worry.

The door opens and Father appears, carrying the logs we collected. He sets them beside the fire and updates us – there is no one at home next door and he will have to walk further. We know the score. Get out of the way.

Eventually the RUC officers come to the chalet where they fawn over my parents, delighted, it seems, to have Charles Sloane, the Chief Constable himself, order them about.

‘The body’s been in there ten to fourteen days,’ Father says to them in the kitchen. I watch from the living room. He knows how to talk to his inferiors and establish his authority. Then he asks a question which surprises me. Perhaps it is to demonstrate that he can be humble too. ‘Wouldn’t you say the same?’ he asks.

‘I don’t know, Chief. He’s in good nick.’

‘The water’s cold enough though,’ Father says. He spots me looking at him and edges the kitchen door closed with his foot.

Stridently I walk off, but I can’t resist returning to eavesdrop.

‘But the stones in Jamesy Lunney‘s pockets, Chief?’ an officer asks.

‘They just delay the find. Enough time and they resurface.’

Another voice comes through the door, another male. He sounds happily out of puff.

‘We’ve found Jamesy’s belongings, for all there was of them – that oul’ tatty sleeping bag, a bag of jumpers, jeans, all piled up. About a hundred yards from the house in that direction.’

‘They come back up where they go in.’

‘That’s right, Sir.’


Since I was a girl I’ve had this dream. Sometimes I still brood over it, over how many bodies there are lying on the floor of the lough, waiting.

But there are other bad dreams too. Dreams that come with knowledge and age. Dreams that come with the job. Dreams of people I have tried to save but couldn’t. Dreams of trying to save myself. Dreams of the things that are broken in people, things that you just can’t see for looking. Dreams of Jason Lucie. Our old bedroom. And a gun.

That one eats me up the most.


Publisher: Friday Press

Publication date: 27th March 2020

Print length: 278 pages

The Sleeping Season is available to buy:

Amazon UK








Deep Dark Night by Steph Broadribb #bookreview blog tour @crimethrillgirl @OrendaBooks @annecater

I’m delighted to be joining the blog tour for the latest addition to the Lori Anderson series on my blog today, Deep Dark Night. With thanks to Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part.

Deep Dark Night (Lori Anderson) by [Broadribb, Steph]


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…


Steph Broadribb is a writer who knows how to keep her readers entertained. With every Lori Anderson book I’ve read so far, I’ve been hooked from the first page and long may this continue. We know that Lori is never going to be given an easy ride and from the word go in Deep Dark Night she is under pressure and feels as though she has been pushed into a corner. This is perhaps the most challenging case Lori has worked on and she knows that saying no to this one isn’t going to be an option.

I really like how Lori’s relationship with her partner JT has grown over the course of the four books. It is amazing to see how far they have come, especially, when in the first book, Deep Down Dead, Lori is sent on a mission to arrest him and bring him to justice. How times have changed and I definitely think this is for the better. You get a real sense of their feelings towards each other in Steph’s writing and particularly towards their daughter, Dakota as well, who has been another strong character in this series.

When Lori has a goal in her sight, she is determined to achieve it. In this case however, she is determined to rake over the past, when special agent Monroe, asks for her help to bring a criminal he has had his eye on for years to justice. She knows she really can’t say no to him, especially after he helped her out in the last book in the series. She knows this case is going to be dangerous and even headstrong JT has reserves about it and would rather she step aside, despite the fact that there may be consequences of her doing so. But if this means she can cut ties with Monroe once and for all then there is no question in her mind that she will assist him.

The majority of the book takes place in a luxurious penthouse overlooking the city of Chicago. This is where things really start to heat up as champagne is poured and bets are taken. I thought this book had echoes of Casino Royal and Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None. When Lori enters the apartment for a game of poker, she really has no idea who she’s up against, and neither, it seems, do the others who are involved in the game. I didn’t know how things were going to end up for Lori and JT at this point. Steph Broadribb kept me gripped as the night unravelled further.

Deep Dark Night is a fast-paced and an exhilarating read that I managed to finished in just two days. I’m not quite sure where Steph Broadribb is going to take this series next, but I know, without a doubt, that I’ll be hopping on board to find out what happens next. Breath-taking and brilliant!

Publisher: Orenda Books

Publication date: 5th January 2020 (kindle) 5th March 2020 (paperback)

Print length: 320 pages

Deep Dark Night is available to buy:

Amazon UK  Kobo  Waterstones


Deep Dark Night BT Poster

The Unbroken by Alex Caan #bookreview blog tour @alexcaanauthor @HeraBooks @BOTBSPublicity

I’m delighted to be sharing my thoughts on The Unbroken by Alex Caan today on my blog. With thanks to Sarah Hardy from Books on the Bright Side Publicity for inviting me to take part.

The Unbroken: A completely gripping, unputdownable crime thriller by [Caan, Alex]


Millie didn’t get time to think. The car door was pulled open and she was dragged out, her screams loud and raw, as she kicked and fought. She called out for Oscar, again and again, screaming for help.

But he never came.

It was the wedding of the year. Millie Beaumont marrying billionaire playboy Oscar Hayat, the eyes of the world watching.

But the dream turns into a nightmare when Millie and Oscar are brutally abducted while on honeymoon. Millie is killed, her body dumped in London. Oscar is still

Enter DS Moomy Khan and DI Sarah Heaton – not your typical police officers. Moomy is running from her own troubled past, while Sarah is having to live with the hard choices she has made. Yet they will stop at nothing to find Millie’s murderers and track down Oscar. Only a family as high profile as the Hayats have enemies lurking in every corner – have they taken the ultimate revenge, or is someone else behind the death and kidnapping?

can Moomy and Sarah find Oscar – before time runs out and he suffers the same fate as his wife?


Alex Caan has returned to the world of crime in his latest novel, The Unbroken and he explores the world of the seriously wealthy and introduces to a new, diverse cast of characters who really make this book feel fresh in the crime fiction genre. It really does make you look closely at the idea that there seems to be one law for a select few and one law for the rest of us.

For me, what made this novel stand out were the two lead detectives, DS Moomy and DI Heaton.  While they both practise the Muslim faith, they have very opposing views. I think this is a much more character-driven crime novel than it is plot-driven, but I really liked this. Alex Caan still kept me invested in the main story, and I wanted to know who was behind the crime that takes place.

DS Moomy Khan grew up a Muslim and has spent her life trying to fight back against tradition and what is expected of her by her family and her religion. It does seem that she is still trying to work out if she believes in her faith. DI Sarah Heaton, however, has recently converted, having been brought up in a Christian family in England. I was really intrigued by DI Heaton, and I wondered what it was that had prompted her to make such a decision.  Alex Caan fleshes out his characters really well, and he has given them interesting back stories which don’t feel overly familiar as so many back stories often do in crime fiction.

The novel opens with the discovery of the body of a young woman, Millie Beaumont, who has recently got married to the son of a self-made billionaire, Oscar, who is due to inherit his family’s fortune. They had recently left the country to go on their honeymoon to Istanbul, so how has she ended up back in London? Was she murdered in Istanbul and her body later dumped here? Or was she kidnapped and transported alive back to the capital? As DS Moomy and DI Heaton delve into the family she had married into, schemes and dark secrets are uncovered, which prompt the detectives to think someone within the family organised Millie’s murder. But could this be the case when their son has gone missing as well?

I loved how Alex Caan delved into the Hayat family and how he examined every part of their lives as his detectives raced to find an answer to the questions behind Millie’s murder. When I first started reading the book, I felt some level of respect for the head of the family, John Hayat, who escaped persecution during the reign of Sadam Hussain and strived to make his fortune. He seemed to be someone who stood on his morals, and he was the only person who seemed to approve of his eldest son’s choice to marry Millie. Despite how much he is worth and what he has achieved in his life, he seems really down to earth. His wife, who inherited her fortune, certainly isn’t pleased with the choice her son has made, and you can see that she has a very controlling personality.

As this series progresses, I’m going to be really intrigued to find out more about DS Moomy and DI Heaton. I hope Alex Caan takes these books a lot further and I will definitely be looking out for when the next one is released.

Publisher: Hera Books

Publication date: 18th March 2020

Print length:

The Unbroken is available to buy:

Amazon UK


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Black River by Will Dean #bookreview blog tour @willrdean @annecater @PointBlankCrime

I’m delighted to be sharing my thoughts on the latest novel in the Tuva Moodyson series by Will Dean, Black River as part of the blog tour. With thanks to Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part in the blog tour.

Black River by [Dean, Will]



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


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?


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?


I think at the end of the last book in this series Tuva Moodyson had thought she’d seen the last of her hometown of Gavrik. I remember feeling pleased that she was seeing the back of the town after some of the reception she’d received there. It certainly seemed as though she wasn’t everyone’s favourite person, particularly after the stories she’d covered. However, in Black River, Tuva is pulled back, when her best friend, Tammy, goes missing, and she galvanises the search for her. But to Tuva it seems she is the only person taking an interest in Tammy’s disappearance; only when another young woman goes missing, a local Swedish girl does the town sit up and take notice. Once again, Tuva finds herself at the centre of something strange going on, and she is determined to find her friend, no matter the danger this might put herself in.

As with his previous books, Will Dean has again managed to create a gloomy atmosphere around the town of Gavrik, set on the edge of the domineering Utgard forest, warning the reader that things are not at all well. The gloomy atmosphere is still the case even though Tuva’s friend has gone missing in the height of summer as the traditional midsummer celebrations begin to take place. But Tuva’s main concern is finding her friend and certainly not on the celebrations.  Utgard forest is also a character in its own right, and Will Dean explores its dark and gloomy depths in each of his three books. You got the sense that it is Tuva against nature when she has to venture close by or inside the forest. Will Dean manages to make the forest come to life, especially with the elk and the insects with a ravenous hunger for human skin.

What Will Dean portrays really well is Tuva’s strong friendship with her friend Tammy. When it seems that no one else has noticed, or isn’t willing to look for her, Tuva is determined to make sure that they do. This increases the pace as Tuva begins to hunt for clues frantically on her own. It seems as though she feels that she is the best person to find her friend. The police don’t seem to be following any strong leads, and it seems that they having to rely on the local searches, hoping to find something.

One of Will’s strong points in his writing is creating an air of mystery and he does this very well in some of his characters. There are some quirky and mysterious residents of Gavrik that he explores again here, I still haven’t forgotten about the wood chopping sisters from the first book in the series. I could feel my suspicions growing as Will introduces these people, and it kept me reading as I wondered when I was going to find out more about them and if they had any connection the case. And talk about creepy as well, especially with the snakes. When Tuva found herself in a predicament, in one scene, in particular, it made me feel very claustrophobic as I was reading.

I would say that this book is more of a slow-burner, but this is what makes it work so well. It’s how Will Dean draws you into the town, and into the minds of the people that inhabit it that make it instantly compelling and readable. This is a series that keeps going from strength to strength, and I can’t wait to see where Will Dean takes us next.

Publisher: Point Blank

Publication date: 12th February 2020 (kindle) 12th March 2020 (hardcover)

Print length: 384 pages

Black River is available to buy:

Amazon UK  Kobo  Waterstones

Previous reviews

Dark Pines

Red Snow


Black River BT Poster

Mine by Clare Empson #bookreview blog tour @ClareEmpson2 @Tr4cyF3nt0n

I’m delighted to be joining the blog tour for Mine by Clare Empson today on my blog. With thanks to Tracy Fenton from Compulsive Readers for inviting me to take part.


‘Who am I? Why am I here? Why did my mother give me away?’

On the surface, Luke and his girlfriend Hannah seem to have a perfect life. He’s an A&R man, she’s an arts correspondent and they are devoted to their new-born son Samuel.

But beneath the gloss Luke has always felt like an outsider. So when he finds his birth mother Alice, the instant connection with her is a little like falling in love.

When Hannah goes back to work, Luke asks Alice to look after their son. But Alice – fuelled with grief from when her baby was taken from her 27 years ago – starts to fall in love with Samuel. And Luke won’t settle for his mother pushing him aside once again…


Mine is a powerful read by Clare Empson and a gripping family drama. Opening with 27-year-old Luke finally meeting his biological mother, a tense and heart-breaking story begins to unfold. Clare examines the strong maternal instincts between a parent and their child, which she does so well with Luke and Alice. This is also a riveting character-driven story. Luke has just become a father himself and his mother, Alice begins to form a strong attachment to his child. This soon becomes a cause for concern. You can begin to see the building blocks of Luke’s relationship with his mother crumbling and things become very uncertain and frightening.

I’ve often wondered what it must be like for a family to be reunited with each other after years spent apart. If the child was given up for adoption at a very young age, I imagine they would have little to no memories of their real parents, especially if they weren’t told about their adoption until much later in life. You can see how much of a big decision this is for Luke, to get in contact with his biological parents, especially as his adoptive mother is convinced that he doesn’t want to know.

This is quite different to the usual psychological thrillers I read, but I really enjoyed it, and I found the storyline to be so refreshing. I think a story always has something extra special when you can easily connect with the characters and feel their emotions as well; Clare has certainly achieved this with this book. I think Alice was the person who I felt for the most. She has never been able to forget the young boy who she had to give up, and you can see just how painful this is for her. I then began to feel really concerned for her as her attachment to Luke’s son grew even stronger.

I also enjoyed the flashback scenes where we see a younger Alice entranced by a member of an up and coming boy band and life on tour. There always seemed to be a lot of tension in these scenes; I kept thinking that at any moment, something terrible was going to happen Alice, which would explain how events have unfolded in the present.

Clare Empson brings everything together in a devastating finale which I’m sure will stay in the minds of many readers long after they’ve finished reading it. Mine is a heart-breaking, emotive and an intense novel that will keep you turning the pages. I loved it.

Publisher: Orion

Publication date: 22nd August 2019 (kindle) 19th March 2020 (paperback)

Print length: 352 pages

Mine is available to buy:

Amazon UK  Kobo  Waterstones


MINE blog tour part one v2

MINE blog tour part two

MINE blog tour part three



The Silence by Daisy Pearce #bookreview

On my blog today I’m sharing my thoughts on the debut novel by Daisy Pearce, The Silence.

The Silence by [Pearce, Daisy]


She’s broken. She’s vulnerable. She’s just what Marco was looking for.

Stella Wiseman was a child TV star, but there’s nothing glamorous about her life now. Alone in her thirties, she’s lost her parents and her friends and she’s stuck in a dead-end job. But just as she hits rock bottom she meets Marco, a charismatic older man who offers to get her back on her feet. He seems too good to be true.

Is he?

She appreciates the money he lavishes on her. And the pills. But are the pills just helping her sleep, or helping her avoid her problems?

With Stella’s life still in freefall, Marco whisks her away to a secluded cottage where she is isolated from everyone except him. But the closer he pulls her, the worse she gets. He tells her it’s all in her head, and she just needs time away from the world.

No longer sure what’s real and what’s not, Stella begins to question whether she was wrong to trust Marco. Was she wrong to trust herself? Is the one person she thought was fighting for her survival actually her biggest threat?


I was instantly hooked by Daisy Pearce’s debut novel, The Silence. This is a claustrophobic and tense read that I finished in just a couple of sittings. The lead character, Stella Wiseman, is a former childhood television star; she was cast in a popular children’s television show. When she falls head over heels for Marco, she thinks everything in her life is about to change for the better, but soon she begins to realise that Marco may not be everything that he seems.

This story may seem familiar to psychological readers, but what I loved about it was Daisy Pearce’s taut writing which draws you into Stella’s perspective. This is as she first gets involved with Marco, and when she then learns the uncomfortable truth about him. I could see the relationship that was beginning to blossom between them and at this stage, I didn’t want anything to go wrong, even though you know that something is going to happen. I could see how anxious she was beginning to feel. This is also, especially when Stella starts to get her name in the press again.

Daisy’s writing makes this a read a very easy one to get into, and once I started, I couldn’t stop turning the pages. Stella is a very well-formed character, and I liked the relationship that she has with her friend, Carmel, which is one of the strong points of the novel. Their dialogue is full of wit and brings their characters to life. I could instantly see their personalities coming out through their conversations which Daisy did really well.

I think there were times when I really wanted to yell at Stella for the choices that she was making. I think she may frustrate many readers, and at this point, I wanted to find out how things were going to play out for her and Marco as their relationship developed. You can see the walls in their relationship beginning to crumble, and I was waiting for the moment when everything was going to come crashing down, and there is in an explosive finale. This is what makes it a really tense read, as I could sense what was going to happen between Marco and Stella. Through Daisy’s writing, it makes it seem as though the walls are closing in.

I loved the Cornish setting, and Daisy Pearce describes this really well in her writing. You can picture the sea crashing against the cliffs and the sprawling landscape around the cottage where Stella is staying. I also thought it was really atmospheric as well, particularly in the final scenes when the fog rolls in, you can see that this is what’s going to make things even more difficult for Stella in the final few chapters. This is where Daisy Pearce builds the tension really well. Also, London is painted vividly as well. I knew a lot of the locations Daisy was referring to and I could see them really clearly in my mind.

The Silence is a confident and a well-written thriller that will keep you reading well into the night, yes it is familiar in the psychological thriller genre, but it is really enjoyable. I think Daisy Pearce is an author I will be sticking with and I’m keen to see what she releases next.

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

Publication date: 1st March 2020

Print length: 316 pages

The Silence is available to buy: 

Amazon UK  Waterstones


Containment by Vanda Symon #bookreview @vandasymon @OrendaBooks @annecater

I’m delighted to be joining the blog tour for Containment by Vanda Symon on my blog today. With thanks to Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part.

Containment (Sam Shephard Book 3) by [Symon, Vanda]


Dunedin’s favourite young police officer Sam Shephard is drawn into a perplexing investigation when a series of shipping containers wash up on a sleepy New Zealand beach, and a spate of unexplained deaths ensues…

Chaos reigns in the sleepy village of Aramoana on the New Zealand coast, when a series of shipping containers wash up on the beach and looting begins.

Detective Constable Sam Shephard experiences the desperation of the scavengers first-hand, and ends up in an ambulance, nursing her wounds and puzzling over an assault that left her assailant for dead.

What appears to be a clear-cut case of a cargo ship running aground soon takes a more sinister turn when a skull is found in the sand, and the body of a diver is pulled from the sea … a diver who didn’t die of drowning…

As first officer at the scene, Sam is handed the case, much to the displeasure of her superiors, and she must put together an increasingly confusing series of clues to get to the bottom of a mystery that may still have more victims…


Containment is the third novel in Vanda Symon’s utterly gripping Sam Shephard series. Vanda Symon is a writer who knows how to pull her readers in from the very first page. I still haven’t forgotten that opening scene in the first book Overkill. When I read that, I knew I had found a writer who I would be sticking with.

Opening the book with the sight of a container washing up on a beach in Dunedin, the local residents flock to the scene to salvage whatever they can find. The sight of all these items washed up on the beach sends the locals a bit crazy, and it brings to mind the famous saying, ‘finders keepers.’ There’s no thought among the locals for the person or people who have now lost these items. One elderly woman gets a bit more than she bargained for however when she uncovers a human skull in amongst the items washed up. Not long after Sam Shephard arrives at the scene to try to and prevent people from looting the cargo, the body of a man is discovered in the water. It is soon quickly proven that the diver didn’t die of natural causes.

I really love this series. Vanda Symon’s writing is so easy to get into, and the short chapters make it a really pacy read. It’s one of those books where you’ll think, oh I’ll just read one more chapter, and you’ll think the same the next time you get to the end of one. I also love the setting of Dunedin in New Zealand, which Vanda brings to life really well.  Sam Shephard is a brilliant character. Unlike some of her colleagues, she is a character who always tries to see the good in people. This can make her quite vulnerable. But she is also tough, and she isn’t a character who will let someone get away with a crime quite so easily. You see this side to her very early on in this book.

Sam isn’t one to shy away from her feelings, particularly if they’re about another person as well and this is the case when she is talking to her best friend Maggie who she currently shares a flat with. One of the things I also like about these books is Sam’s relationship with her friend.  Their friendship comes across as feeling real, and I like the wit in their conversations as well.

If you do prefer police procedurals with darker plots, I don’t think you’ll quite find what you’re looking for with this book, but this is a solid detective story, and I would still highly recommend that you give it a go. I wouldn’t describe the books as being really tense, although there are certainly some tense scenes through the whole series, there is just something about the character’s that draws you in, and the writing is so addictive. I think there is no doubt now that Sam Shephard is fast becoming one of my favourite detectives in crime fiction.

I think I have said all I can say about how much I like these books. I implore you to read them all as you certainly won’t regret it. Every time Vanda has a new book out, I’m sure it’ll be bumped right to the top of my reading pile!

Publisher: Orenda Books

Publication date: 5th January 2020 (kindle) 5th March 2020 (paperback)

Print length: 320 pages

Containment is available to buy: 

Amazon UK  Kobo  Waterstones


Containment BT Poster

The Waxwork Corpse blog tour #extract @SapereBooks @OBCaoimhe22

I’m delighted to be sharing an extract with you today from the new novel by Simon Michael, The Waxwork Corpse as part of the blog tour. With thanks to Caoimhe O’Brien at Sapere Books for inviting me to take part. Before I share the extract with you, let’s take a look at what the novel is about.

The Waxwork Corpse: A legal thriller with a chilling twist (Charles Holborne Legal Thrillers Book 5) by [Michael, Simon]


A deadly crime has been dragged to the surface…
London, 1965
Charles Holborne, maverick barrister, will never fit in at the Bar; he is too working-class, too Jewish and too dangerous.

But that makes him the perfect outsider to prosecute a shocking murder case which has already made its way to the press.

By chance, a body was found, dumped in a lake. It had clearly been there for some time, but the conditions in the water have meant that it was nearly perfectly preserved.

The police have managed to match this ‘waxwork corpse’ to a missing woman and if her husband — a senior judge — was the one who killed her, the scandal threatens to rock the British justice to its foundations.

The waxwork corpse is not the only thing to be raised from the past. The investigation also dredges up a violent mistake made by Charles in his youth which, if revealed, could put his own life at stake…

THE WAXWORK CORPSE, based on a real Old Bailey case, is the fifth crime novel in an exciting historical series, the Charles Holborne Legal Thrillers — gritty, hard-boiled mysteries set in 1960s London.



The shock of entering the black water is enough to take Julie’s breath away. Even in the middle of a warm spring, Wastwater chills to the marrow. She kicks a few times quickly to stir her circulation. A double splash and two champagne bursts of bright bubbles show where her guardians, her boyfriend Neil and an instructor she only met twenty minutes ago, have entered the water, ahead and to her left; only the turbulence and the loom of their lamps reveal their presence.

They have deliberately picked a moonless night. The two beams of light separate and come towards Julie, one on each side, and stand off, waiting for her. The two disembodied light sources are eerie, but she’s glad of them. She’s been preparing for this first night navigation exercise for months. In the clubhouse she’d joked confidently with the rest of the group about getting lost, coming face-to-face with or, worse still, feeling the black caress of the twelve-foot pikes reputed to live in the lake. But now she’s afraid.

Wastwater is the deepest lake in England, carved by glacial action half a million years ago. From gravel beaches, its sides fall steeply for eighty metres until they reach the bottom of a “V” now flattened by millennia of accumulated mud and silt. The sides are steep and regular, except for Tiffen’s Rock. Like a decayed molar, the Rock erupts from the smooth side of the lake, its roots lost in the murk and silt, its top levelled by years of deposits. A sinister, freakish excrescence known only to the underwater fraternity, it has been used for years by divers on navigation exercises.

Julie breaks the even rhythm of her strokes to illuminate her console and check her compass bearing and depth, then kicks out again, following the short stab of light from her lamp. Beyond that, blackness. Monstrous pike with razor teeth glide in and out of her imagination, but she pushes them away and concentrates on her stroke and her breathing.

The Rock, when it appears, takes her by surprise. Her navigation has been perfect and, for a second, exhilaration overcomes fear. The three divers descend steeply, parallel to the side of the lake, the leader sweeping his lamp in an arc from side to side. She watches the depth gauge on her console as they descend: ten metres … fifteen … twenty … and with each metre her sense of unease grows. They find the base of Tiffin’s Rock at thirty metres, deeper than she has ever dived before. She points her torch away to the east, but the light is soon overcome by the inky blackness that hems them in on all sides.

She swings the lamp back to the front and as she does, something stands out for a second in its beam. She slows her kicks. There, caught in the loom of her torch, is a package. Resting where Tiffen’s Rock grows from the walls of the lake, where the root of the tooth disappears into its gum, the package is half-buried in a thick shroud of silt, one corner protruding at an angle. A metre or two in any direction, and it would have rolled all the way down to the lake floor to be lost in millennia of deposits, way beyond human eyes.

Her heart thumping in her chest, she swims over for a closer look, but she’s too close, too curious, and suddenly the water is blurred by millions of dancing particles caught in the light. She spins round, realising too late that she’s made a mistake, and is suddenly and completely disorientated. The lights of her co-divers, only seconds before just ahead of her, seem to have disappeared altogether. She starts panting, her breath loud in her ears, and she kicks out wildly, anxious to get out of the cloud of disturbed silt and back to clear water.

After a few seconds she slows and turns. She points her torch into the complete blackness, illuminating each quadrant for a second and then turning on the spot to the next, but the silt has spread further than she could have imagined, and it’s like driving on high beam through fog. She extinguishes the torch and hangs there in the utter darkness, blood pounding in her ears.

Then: a flash of light, followed by another. She illuminates her torch once, twice, three times quickly in succession, and she’s answered: eighty yards away, off to her right, she sees both of her guardians’ torches moving simultaneously in slow arcs. Relief overwhelms her, and a giggle bubbles in her chest. She recognises with alarm the light-headedness that signals incipient nitrogen narcosis. She feels her breathing quicken involuntarily, and she fights to maintain control but it slips further away with each breath.

One of the men, the instructor she thinks, is before her now, gesticulating in her face. ‘Up!’ he points, once, twice, urgently. She nods. He sets off again, close to her right side, Neil on her left. The exertion and regular rhythmic strokes calm her. By the time they reach the top of the Rock, she has control again. They break surface to find a gale howling across the lake. Rain pounds the water so hard it’s as if the gods are hurling missiles from the skies.

The instructor is swimming purposefully towards the gravel beach. Neil spits out his regulator mouthpiece and spins in the water. ‘Come on!’

‘No, stop! Didn’t you see her?’ Julie says.

‘See who?’

A bolt of lightning lights up the sides of the Vale, and the almost instantaneous crack of thunder immediately above their heads almost drowns her reply.

‘There’s a woman down there!’

‘What? Another diver?’

‘No! A woman! On the rock! I saw her face!’

‘No,’ he shouts, ‘it was just a boulder. Covered in silt.’

‘I saw her, I tell you.’

‘It’s an hallucination. Nitrogen narcosis.’

‘For Christ’s sake, Neil, it was no hallucination! That was no boulder. It was a woman, wrapped in plastic. And I’m telling you: I saw her face.’


The detective inspector from London named Abercrombie hugs himself against the wind blowing over Wastwater, stubs out his third cigarette in the car park gravel, and lights another. He bitterly regrets his decision to allow the local sergeant to take the car and go for his dental appointment. But his boss said “Be nice”, and so he is being nice. Relations between the Met and the Cumberland, Westmorland and Carlisle Constabulary have become somewhat strained and thus, in the spirit of co-operation, he is freezing his balls off.

He glances at his watch. The divers have been out there for so long, they’ve had to change air tanks once, and will soon be up for more. The fellow from the Diving Club who bent Abercrombie’s ear for fifteen minutes before strolling off to enjoy his hot breakfast somewhere out of the biting wind had opined that that the police divers, who were unfamiliar with the lake, were probably stirring up the silt, making the search more difficult. Abercrombie thinks otherwise; he suspects the entire story of a body-shaped package was either cooked up altogether or exaggerated out of all proportion. If they find anything at all he expects it to be some fly-tipping, maybe an old mattress or a carpet. A student goes missing in a small community and sightings occur everywhere. One imaginative local had even reported seeing a body dropping into the lake from an aeroplane — by parachute! If it weren’t for the fact that the missing student happened to be the daughter of some diplomat based in London, he wouldn’t even be here.

He shades his eyes and squints over the grey water to the boat two hundred yards out. He can see the man who’d been prevailed upon to row it there, huddled in his coat and trying to shelter below the gunwales. The poor bastard, thinks Abercrombie; he must be even colder than me.

As the inspector watches, the water parts and a black shiny head appears. It is followed shortly by another. They resemble otters, or seals, he thinks, although his knowledge of matters aquatic is limited by his urban upbringing and a detestation of water, boats and everything connected with them. The two divers spin in the water, looking for the shore, and one of them waves energetically.

My God, they’ve found something! thinks Abercrombie, grinding out his cigarette under foot. Sure enough, the other two divers surface, towing a large muddy object between them. The first two haul themselves into the boat, wriggle out of their apparatus, and lean out over the water. The small craft dips precipitously and for a moment the inspector’s sure it’s going to capsize, but with two divers pushing and two pulling they eventually get the object into the boat. The oarsman stares at it, and even from the shore the inspector can see his dropped jaw and wide-open eyes. One of the divers prods him into action and he sets to, turning the boat expertly towards the shore, and begins rowing.

DI Abercrombie walks towards the water as the boat grounds on the gravel. He helps pull it up the shore and peers inside. The two divers and the oarsman watch him intently as he bends over the find. Christ, it is a body! It’s wrapped round and round with some thick plastic material and is bound with yards of wire and rope of differing thicknesses and colours, but the outline of a person can be seen clearly inside. The two divers who were forced to swim back in splash up the gravel and stand by the side of the boat, dripping.

‘Well, sir. Looks like we’ve found her,’ says one.

‘Call the coroner’s office and get a photographer up here immediately,’ replies Abercrombie. ‘You’d better call your DCI and a police surgeon too. Leave it in the boat and don’t touch it till I tell you.’

It takes an hour for the cast to assemble. The body has been carried out of the boat and placed on a large sheet of clean plastic. The area has been taped off and two officers now stand at the top of the road leading down to the car park to prevent unauthorised entry. The local Detective Chief Inspector is the last to arrive, by which time everyone on the beach is hunched in their coats, stamping their feet and blowing on cupped hands. Abercrombie has given up; he lost sensation in his fingers and toes some time ago.

The DCI, a heavy man with the corrugated face of a bloodhound and an accent which, to Abercrombie, is almost entirely impenetrable, wastes few words.

‘Let’s see what we’ve got then.’

One of the divers crouches at the head end of the package, a diving knife poised in his hand. At the other end, near its feet, is a detective sergeant with a decade’s experience in forensic crime scene investigation. He carries secateurs. This will be his last job in this role because, in an idiotic change he’s sure is designed only to save the force money, he and his specialist colleagues are shortly to be replaced by civilians with the grand title of “Scenes of Crime Officers”. As the two men begin to cut the cords binding the package, working from its ends towards its middle, the DCI holds out his hand. Abercrombie knows what he wants and hands him a copy of a large fuzzy black and white photograph.

‘How was she held down?’ asks the DCI.

‘Some sort of concrete block with a hole in the middle,’ answers the diver between grunts. He is struggling to cut the cords binding the package; they’re so tightly embedded in whatever is inside that he’s unable to get the blade of his knife under them without risking damage to the corpse.

‘The rope’s no problem, but this stuff’s wire,’ comments the detective sergeant. ‘It looks like coaxial.’

‘Coaxial?’ asks the inspector.

‘The stuff you use for TV aerials,’ replies the DS, slightly out of breath with the effort of sawing through the bindings. He’d just acquired a colour television — the first on his street — and he and a friend from the Post Office had spent the previous weekend doing the cabling themselves.

One by one the bonds are severed. The diver stands, leaving the DS to cut the last cable. The DS takes a deep draught of clean air, anticipating having to hold his breath as soon as the body is revealed. Everyone leans in closer to watch as he peels away several layers of stiff, muddy, plastic. With one to go, the inspector steels himself. He’s seen bodies that have been immersed in water for some weeks, and no amount of familiarity can make the sight prettier. The head of a woman is revealed but, to the onlookers’ surprise, there is a further plastic bag, perhaps a shopping bag, over it. There is a smell, but far less than anyone expected.

The DS leans and gently wipes a thin layer of silt off the shopping bag. The clarity with which the woman’s face appears startles everyone. Her eyes are open and it’s as if she’s looking at them through a window. She has shoulder-length curly hair and an oval face and so far as they can see, astonishingly, her skin is almost completely intact.

The DS leans a little closer trying to decide what’s wrong with the woman’s face. It may be the effect of the plastic bag, but despite the almost flawless skin, her features seem somehow blurred; the eyes melt gradually into the nose and it’s not quite clear where the mouth begins and ends. She looks like a waxwork dummy that’s been left too close to a radiator. Nonetheless the features suggest a Caucasian, despite the coffee-coloured skin. Could the skin colour have been produced by prolonged immersion? wonders Abercrombie.

The plastic sheet is pulled back further. Silt has gathered around her, in the gap between her arms and her torso, in the folds of her ears and in the mesh of the undamaged stockings on her legs, but she seems otherwise perfectly preserved. She wears a pink flowery dress with buttons from the neck to the hem which stops just below her knees. It’s tight in the bodice, flared to just below the knee and cinched by a narrow leather belt. Her clothing is water-stained but the colours are still vivid. The silence from the onlookers is broken only by the keening of a bird nearby and the wind over the water.

‘I’ve never seen anything like it,’ whispers Abercrombie.

The DCI looks from her to the photograph in his hand and back again. ‘Jesus Christ,’ he says quietly. ‘It’s not her.’

‘Can’t be, sir,’ says the DS, kneeling over the corpse. ‘This one’s been down there months, years probably. I know from the others we’ve brought up over the years; this silt takes ages to accumulate, especially through so many layers.’

‘Then why the hell does she look like that?’ asks one of the divers. ‘Surely she’d have … deteriorated more?’

‘I don’t know,’ replies the DS.

‘Maybe because of the depth,’ offers another diver. ‘She was a long way down, more than thirty metres. It’s at freezing point most of the year.’

‘Well, this is all very interesting, gentlemen,’ concludes the DCI, ‘but we’re still looking for a student with white skin and short blonde hair who’s only been gone a few days, and we’re no further forward. Get this one to the mortuary and see if we can find out who she is. You and your men,’ he continues, pointing to the diver with a stubby forefinger, ‘get a hot drink inside you, and then get back into the lake and keep looking. God knows how many more we’re going to find.’


Publisher: Sapere Books

Publication date: 23rd December 2019

Print length: 355 pages

The Waxwork Corpse is available to buy: 

Amazon UK


The Waxwork Corpse tour poster