The Assistant by Kjell Ola Dahl #bookreview #blogtour @ko_dahl @OrendaBooks @RandomTTours

I’m delighted to be sharing my thoughts on The Assistant by Kjell Ola Dahl on my blog today as part of the blog tour. With thanks to Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part.


Oslo, 1938. War is in the air and Europe is in turmoil. Hitler’s Germany has occupied Austria and is threatening Czechoslovakia; there’s a civil war in Spain and Mussolini reigns in Italy.

When a woman turns up at the office of police-turned-private investigator Ludvig Paaske, he and his assistant – his one-time nemesis and former drug-smuggler Jack Rivers – begin a seemingly straightforward investigation into marital infidelity.

But all is not what it seems, and when Jack is accused of murder, the trail leads back to the 1920s, to prohibition-era Norway, to the smugglers, sex workers and hoodlums of his criminal past … and an extraordinary secret.


In Kjell Ola Dahl’s latest novel, The Assistant, he whisks us to Europe in 1938, when the continent is on the brink of war. There is tension simmering in the air with talks about what Hitler and his regime are doing. We are introduced to former a police detective, turned private investigator, Ludvig Paaske, who is now working with his one time, arch-nemesis, Jack Rivers. But what has drawn them to work together?

I thought the partnership of Jack Rivers and Ludvig Paaske was really intriguing. I wanted to find out more about it and what had prompted them to form this new alliance. Would this have any implications for Ludvig, particularly as he swore to put Jack behind bars during the prohibition era in Norway in the 1920s?

The case which they are investigating is an interesting one, very simple at first, when a woman asks them to spy on her husband, who she suspects is having an affair. But very soon, Ludvig begins to see that there is much more at play here than what first meets the eye.

Jack Rivers comes across as very likeable, even though he is a criminal. You can see that he is a passionate man when it comes to love and women, but you also get the sense that he is in control of the situation, especially when things get tense. I was really interested in the scenes set in the 1920s when Jack played on the wrong side of the law by smuggling alcohol. This was a part of history that, until I read this book, I didn’t know much about, particularly about the prohibition in Norway. It was fascinating to find out more about what was happening in the world at this time. After I finished reading the book, I wanted to find out more about this time period.

Kjell Ola Dahl builds on the atmosphere in this book, and there is a real sense of mystery. This is especially as Jack and Ludvig begin to understand more about the case and people they are investigating. I could feel the tensions simmering as the plot began to build, especially with the threat of war lingering in the background.

Ludvig’s character took longer to grow on me, and I think some readers may struggle to like him at first, but I would definitely like to read another novel where he and Jack feature again.

The Assistant is a compelling mystery novel; the writing pulls you into the story from the very first page. If you’re a fan of wartime thrillers, then you definitely need to give this book a go.

Publisher: Orenda Books

Publication date: 13th May 2021

Print length: 276 pages

The Assistant is available to buy:

Amazon UK Waterstones


The Assistant BT Poster

All My Lies by Sophie Flynn #bookreview #blogtour @sophielflynn @simonschusterUK @RandomTTours

I’m delighted to be joining the blog tour for the debut novel by Sophie Flynn on my blog today, All My Lies. With thanks to Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part.

All My Lies by [Sophie Flynn]


Anna wants to escape.
She doesn’t know when her marriage to James began to feel like a trap or when he became so controlling. All she knows is that she needs to leave before it’s too late.
And she has a plan.
When Anna reconnects with her childhood sweetheart, Sam, she sees it as the answer to her problems. Finally, they’ll have a life together, like they’d always planned – the life she was meant to have.
But the lies are catching up with her . . .

On the morning of their escape, Sam goes missing. Anna knows he wouldn’t leave her, that something must have happened to him.
Her search for answers will force her to confront her past, something that she has been running from for a very long time . . .


All My Lies is a twisty and gripping psychological thriller by Sophie Flynn. I read this novel really fast, and I devoured it in just a couple of sittings.

My intrigue was piqued right from the beginning when we meet Anna, who is desperate to escape her controlling boyfriend, James. She has recently got back in touch with her childhood sweetheart, Sam, and as they discuss the potential for a life together, Anna starts making plans to make this a reality. But everything is about to come crashing down for Anna. The secrets hidden in her past are about to resurface.

What I loved about this book was that I felt that I couldn’t trust any of the characters, particularly Sam’s family, to who Anna was once very close to. I also felt really scared for her. I didn’t want her husband to find out what was going on in her life as I had no idea how he would react. The early scenes in which he and Anna are together were so tense and chilling. I was rooting for Anna to get out of the marriage. When you start reading this book, you may think that this is a story that has been told before, but Sophie Flynn took the story in a completely different direction from what I was expecting. It’s what made it all the more exciting to read.

There are many different elements to this book, which makes it such an action packed and fast-paced read. I wanted to know more about Anna’s past as she struggles to come to terms with what is happening in the present. I also wanted to know more about her former boyfriend, Sam. Why suddenly was he behaving in this way towards Anna when they had talked about building a future together? I could sense her frustration as everything she had been working towards began to tumble down. Sophie Flynn is a writer who knows how to keep the tension turning up a notch and how to keep her reader hooked.

All My Lies grips you from the first page and keeps you utterly invested in the plot and the characters. I really enjoyed it. Sophie Flynn is an exciting new writer to watch, and I can’t wait to read more from her.

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Publication date: 23rd April 2021

Print length: 271 pages

All My Lies is available to buy:

Amazon UK


All My Lies BT Poster

You Don’t Know Me by Imran Mahmood #bookreview

I finally got round to reading the debut novel by Imran Mahmood, You Don’t Know Me a few weeks ago. I’m sharing my thoughts on my blog today.


A young man stands accused of murder. The evidence is overwhelming.

But at his trial, this man tells an extraordinary story.

It is about the woman he loves, who got into terrible trouble. It’s about how he risked everything to save her.

He swears he’s innocent. But in the end, all that matters is this: do you believe him?


I’ve been meaning to get round to reading You Don’t Know Me, Imran Mahmood’s debut novel, for some time now, and I’m so pleased I’ve finally read it. This is a really unique thriller, and I haven’t read anything quite like it. It’s a novel that really made me think as I was reading it, and I think it would be great to see this adapted as a play, like Agatha Christie’s Witness for the Prosecution.

The novel is told from one perspective, a young man who has been accused of murder. He is defending himself in court, and it is now up to him entirely to convince the jury of his innocence. When I first started reading, I wondered just how he was going to be able to pull this off, especially with no one defending him. He gives a very powerful speech, and it makes for absolutely gripping reading as he tells his side of the story. It is also a story that feels very real as well.

The young man accused really is the star of the show here. It was amazing how other characters, who formed part of his defence, came to life in his speech, and I could picture them clearly in my mind. The story he told is really intriguing, and it paints a clear picture of gang life in London and how difficult it can be to get out of gangs.

All the time, I was wondering how this young man was going to present evidence to ensure a not guilty verdict. He has set himself an almost impossible challenge, and you can see from the start that the odds clearly aren’t in his favour. I wanted to know what had really gone on. His defence is very powerful. I have no doubt that if I was sitting on the jury that I would be drawn in by his story. Although he has got himself involved in a tricky situation with local gangs, you can see that he does not want to be involved at all. But the reason he does get involved is to protect his family and the people he loves.

I was rooting for him all the way through. I was turning the pages faster and faster as the final parts of his story began to unfold.

You Don’t Know Me is very well plotted and so, so clever. There may be a few readers who might have different opinions, especially when it comes to the ending, but I absolutely loved it. It’s one of those books you’ll want to discuss with someone once you read it. I highly recommend it!

Publisher: Penguin

Publication date: 19th April 2018

Print length: 400 pages

You Don’t Know Me is available to buy:

Amazon UK Kobo Waterstones

The Wild Girls by Phoebe Morgan #bookreview @Phoebe_A_Morgan @1stMondayCrime @HQstories

On my blog today, I’m sharing my thoughts on The Wild Girls by Phoebe Morgan. Phoebe is one of the authors who will be appearing on this month’s First Monday Crime Panel. I’ll have all the details about how you can access the event at the end of the post.


In a luxury lodge on Botswana’s sun-soaked plains, four friends reunite for a birthday celebration…

Has it all, but chose love over her friends…

Feels the walls of her flat and classroom closing in…

Loves her baby, but desperately needs a break…

Yearns for adventure after suffering for too long…

Arriving at the safari lodge, a feeling of unease settles over them. There’s no sign of the party that was promised. There’s no phone signal. They’re alone, in the wild.



I was utterly gripped by The Wild Girls by Phoebe Morgan. It’s the first book by Phoebe, which I’ve read since I read her debut a few years ago. Now, I’m desperate to catch up on her books which I’ve missed. This is a very clever and a really chilling mystery; I flew through it.

When a group of women start to receive invitations to a luxury retreat in Botswana from an old friend, they are suspicious that something is up. The holiday is really appealing, and they can’t resist taking up the invitation. But when they arrive there, they aren’t greeted by their friend, and someone has left strange notes in their rooms which strikes a chilling chord with all of them.

I wanted to get to the bottom of what was going on here. I wanted to know where the person who invited them was and why she hadn’t turned up to greet her friends. You can sense just how nervous the group are as they try to understand what is going on, and Phoebe Morgan writes this very well. Phoebe Morgan creates a very sinister atmosphere, and it compels you to read on.

As the women’s fears begin to grow and as the danger really begins to creep up on them, Phoebe Morgan takes us back in time. We begin to understand what went on in the past and what has led to the current events happening now. The plot turns even more sinister as Phoebe Morgan gradually begins to reveal what happened between them, and there are some jaw dropping and unsettling twists. The tension keeps ticking up a notch, and I was flying through the final chapters at breakneck speed; I was so desperate to find out what was going to happen.

I couldn’t believe what I was reading at the end, and the twist completely floored me. It’s one of those moments which makes you sit bolt upright as you begin to understand what is happening. I thought it was a very satisfactory ending, and I thought it was very clever how Phoebe Morgan weaved it into her plot.

The Wild Girls is the type of thriller which you can devour in a single day. It only took me a couple of sittings to finish it, and I loved it. I highly, highly recommend this book! Psychological thriller lovers, this is a book that’s not to be missed.

Publisher: HQ

Publication date: 15th April 2021

Print length: 320 pages

The Wild Girls is available to buy:

Amazon UK Kobo Waterstones


First Monday Crime is back on Monday, 10th May 2021. It’s a week later again this month due to the Bank Holiday. Alongside Phoebe Morgan, appearing on the panel will be, Tina Baker, author of Call Me Mummy, James Delargy author of Vanished and Marion Todd, author of What They Knew. The panel is being moderated by Jacky Collins. The event starts at 19.30 p.m. and it is being live streamed on the First Monday Crime Facebook page, which you can access by clicking on the link below.

First Monday Crime – Facebook page

Longlist revealed for Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year #TheakstonAward

I’m delighted to be able to share the longlist for the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award for 2021 on my blog today.

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Harrogate, 5 May 2021: Today, the longlist of the UK and Ireland’s most prestigious crime novel award is unveiled with literary legends and dynamic debuts in contention for the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year.

Now in its 17th year, the most coveted prize in crime fiction, presented by Harrogate International Festivals celebrates crime writing at its best. This year’s longlist transports readers around the world from California to Sweden and Calcutta to a remote Irish island and explores every subgenre from Scandi noir to murderous families.

The line-up of returning champions is led by crime fiction titan Ian Rankin, who has received a nod for his A Song for The Dark TimesMark Billingham, hoping for a third win with his Cry Baby, and Steve Cavanagh looking to beat the competition with Fifty Fifty.

This year’s longlist recognises a number of authors who have previously never been listed by the prize. Hoping to claim the trophy on their first appearance are Lucy Foley with her No.1 Sunday Times Best Seller The Guest List, Chris Whitaker with We Begin at The End, Scottish author Doug Johnstone with The Big Chill and Liz Nugent with Our Little Cruelties, and Jane Caseywith herlatest Maeve Kerriganinstalment The Cutting Place.

The longlist also features several previously nominated authors hoping to go one step further and clinch the trophy with Elly Griffiths securing her seventh pick for her much lauded The Lantern Men and Susie Steiner getting her third nod for Remain Silent and Brian McGilloway’s second nomination for The Last Crossing, and best-selling author Louise Candlish hoping to win on her second pick with The Other Passenger.

Joining these outstanding names is the undisputed ‘Queen of Crime’herself, Val McDermid with her newest Karen Pirie novel Still Life. Celebrated in the industry for her impeccable ability to select emerging talent for the annual New Blood panel at Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, McDermid find herself competing against many New Blood alumni including: Will Dean for his latest Scandi noir Black River; Eva Dolan for the newest instalment of her critically-acclaimed Zigic and Ferreira series,Abir Mukherjee’s new Calcutta and Assam-inspired Death in the East, and finally Trevor Wood – who has gone from the 2020 New Blood panel to longlisted for Crime’s biggest award.

The full longlist for the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year 2021 is:

–          Cry Baby by Mark Billingham (Little, Brown Book Group, Sphere)

–          The Other Passenger by Louise Candlish (Simon & Schuster)

–          The Cutting Place by Jane Casey (HarperCollins, HarperFiction)

–          Fifty Fiftyby Steve Cavanagh (The Orion Publishing Group, Orion Fiction)

–          Black River by Will Dean (Oneworld Publications, Point Blank)

–          Between Two Evils by Eva Dolan (Bloomsbury Publishing, Raven Books)

–          The Guest List by Lucy Foley (HarperCollins, HarperFiction)

–          The Lantern Men by Elly Griffiths (Quercus, Quercus Fiction)

–          The Big Chill by Doug Johnstone (Orenda Books)

–          Three Hours by Rosamund Lupton (Penguin Random House UK, Viking)

–          Still Life by Val McDermid (Little, Brown Book Group, Sphere)

–          The Last Crossing by Brian McGilloway (Little, Brown Book Group, Constable)

–          Death in the East by Abir Mukherjee (VINTAGE, Harvill Secker)

–          Our Little Cruelties by Liz Nugent (Penguin, Sandycove)

–          A Song For The Dark Times by Ian Rankin (Orion, Orion Fiction)

–          Remain Silent by Susie Steiner (HarperCollins Publishers, The Borough Press)

–          We Begin At The End by Chris Whitaker (Bonnier Books UK, Zaffre)

–          The Man on the Street by Trevor Wood (Quercus, Quercus Fiction)

Executive director of T&R Theakston, Simon Theakston, said“The way the global obsession with the crime genre continues to grow year on year is simply astonishing and this year’s longlist proves the remarkable talent on offer in crime writing– from legends of the craft to eager-eyed newcomers. The shortlist is already too close to call so we encourage all to get voting! A hearty toast of Old Peculier to all longlisted authors for this coveted award – and we look forward to what we know will be a fiercely fought competition!”

Run by Harrogate International Festivals, the shortlist will be announced in June and the winner on 22 July, at the opening evening of the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival – with the public able to vote for the winner on

The award is run by Harrogate International Festivals sponsored by T&R Theakston Ltd, in partnership with WHSmith and the Express, and is open to full length crime novels published in paperback 1 May 2020 to 30 April 2021 by UK and Irish authors.

The longlist was selected by an academy of crime writing authors, agents, editors, reviewers, members of the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival Programming Committee, and representatives from T&R Theakston Ltd, the Express, and WHSmith.

The public are now invited to vote for a shortlist of six titles on, which will be announced in June. The winner will be revealed on the opening night of Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, Thursday 22 July, and will receive £3,000, and a handmade, engraved beer barrel provided by Theakston Old Peculier.

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The Rapunzel Act by Abi Silver #bookreview #blogtour @abisilver16 @amberachoudhary @EyeAndLightning

I’m delighted to be joining the blog tour for The Rapunzel Act by Abi Silver on my blog today, with thanks to Amber Choudhary from Midas PR for inviting me to take part.

The Rapunzel Act: A Burton & Lamb Case (Burton and Lamb Thrillers Book 4) by [Abi Silver]



When breakfast TV host and nation’s darling, Rosie Harper, is found brutally murdered at home, suspicion falls on her spouse, formerly international football star, Danny ‘walks on water’ Mallard, now living out of the public eye as trans woman, Debbie.

Not only must Debbie challenge the hard evidence against her, including her blood-drenched glove at the scene of the crime, she must also contend with the nation’s prejudices, as the trial is broadcast live, turning it into a public spectacle. For someone trying to live their life without judgment, it might just be too much to bear.

Legal duo Judith Burton and Constance Lamb are subjected to unyielding scrutiny as they strive to defend their most famous client yet.


I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to discover Abi Silver’s Burton and Lamb series. The Rapunzel Act is a gripping courtroom drama. It’s the first book in this series that I’ve read, but I will definitely be catching up on the previous books. It’s pacy and very addictive, and I’m sure I’ll keep coming back to this series.

Abi Silver opens her novel with a really intriguing set-up. Debbie is horrified when the police inform her that her ex-wife, Rosie, has been found dead in her home. Debbie, formerly known as Danny, a professional footballer, had a sex change three years earlier after feeling for years that he was trapped in the wrong body. But when Debbie runs from the police, she is immediately seen as the number one suspect in her ex-wife’s murder. But why did Debbie run if she had nothing to do with what happened? It falls to Constance and Judith to prove Debbie’s innocence, which will be no mean feat.

Abi Silver really captured the energy and the intrigue of the court case as Debbie’s trial began. I wanted to know what had happened to her wife. What I thought made this really tense was that I could never be sure if she was responsible for the murder or not. Debbie was the last person to see her wife before she was found dead. If she wasn’t the killer, I wanted to know the motive behind the killing and who did it.

What I thought was intriguing about this book was that a television crew is let in to film the court proceedings. It’s something that not everyone agrees with when the idea is first propositioned. It’s not very common in Britain, and it’s what makes this case particularly fascinating.

There is a real sense of authenticity in Abi Silver’s writing as she takes us into the courtroom and as the trial proceeds. It becomes really intriguing when Constance and Judith get closer to understanding what happened to Debbie. I thought Abi Silver wrapped the plot up really well, and it made for a very satisfactory ending.  

The Rapunzel Act is a really immersive read, and I would highly recommend it if you’re a fan of courtroom dramas. Although it is book four in the series, it can definitely be read as a standalone, but I’m sure, like me, if you’re new to the series, you’ll want to read the previous books to catch up. I can’t wait to read more from this series.

Publisher: Lightning Books

Publication date: 25th January 2021 (kindle) 15th April 2021 (paperback)

Print length: 320 pages

The Rapunzel Act is available to buy:

Amazon UK


The Rapunzel Act Blog Tour Banner (2)

The Retreat by Sherri Smith #bookreview

On my blog today, I’m sharing my thoughts on the second novel by Sherri Smith, The Retreat.

The Retreat by [Sherri Smith]


Sherri Smith illuminates the dark side of the self-care and wellness industry in a thrilling ride of revenge perfect for fans of Liane Moriarty’s Nine Perfect Strangers.

Katie Manning was a beloved child star until her mid-teens when her manager attacked and permanently scarred her face, effectively ending her career and sending her on a path of all-too-familiar post-Hollywood self-destruction.

Now twenty-seven, Katie wants a better answer to those clickbait “Where Are They Now?” articles that float around online. An answer she hopes to find when her brother’s too-good-to-be-true fiancée invites her to a wellness retreat upstate. Together with Katie’s two best friends—one struggling with crippling debt and family obligations, one running away from a failed job and relationship—Katie will try to find the inner peace promised at the tranquil retreat. But finding oneself just might drudge up more memories than Katie is prepared to deal with.

Each woman has come to the retreat for different reasons. Each has her secrets to hide. And at the end of this weekend, only one will be left standing.


The Retreat is an utterly chilling read by Sherri Smith. I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to get round to reading it. I thought Sherri Smith’s writing was very immersive. A group of friends, Carmen, Ariel and Katie, head to a wellness retreat. Katie is desperate to make a new start in her life, and she hopes that this break with her friends will help steer her towards that new destination. But soon, strange things start to happen, and it isn’t long before a dark cloud begins to descend. Very soon, they’ll all be in grave danger.

I thought Sherri Smith created a chilling atmosphere for her book, especially as things at the retreat started to go wrong. I wanted to know what was really going on here, and I flew through the book to find out. Sherri Smith has created some well-developed characters with intriguing backstories. Katie was a successful child actor until her manager attacked her, leaving her scarred for life. It destroyed her acting career. She sees this experience as a chance to overcome that part of her life. But her other friends have secrets and things in their lives they are running from as well.

I sensed a really creepy vibe from the moment the group of friends arrived for their holiday. I thought the owner was a very mysterious character. I wanted to know if he had any connection to the events which were now happening. There are whispers that the retreat is actually a cult, and as I was reading, I could see why guests may think like that. It created a very dark and foreboding atmosphere; you know that something terrible is going to happen.

Sherri Smith is a writer who knows how to keep her reader turning the page. I was utterly hooked by the story, and I wanted to know what was going to happen to the characters. As the danger starts to grow around the group, the book and the setting begins to feel very claustrophobic. I really couldn’t trust anyone.

If you’re a fan of creepy psychological thrillers, then you definitely should add The Retreat to your TBR Pile.

Publisher: Titan Books

Publication date: 13th August 2019

Print length: 340 pages

The Retreat is available to buy:

Amazon UK Waterstones

April 2021 Wrap-Up

It’s hard to believe that a quarter of 2021 is now done and dusted. I’ve read some great books so far this year and I’ve found a few already which I’m sure will be in my top ten reads of 2021. I’ve made a lot of progress with the manuscript I’m working on at the moment and I’ve nearly finished the first draft. I’ve so far written 90,051 words. I think it may still need a lot of work but I’m really pleased with it so far and I’m really excited about it.

It’s also been so good to visit bookshops again this month. I can literally spend hours just browsing in them. And of course I had to make an obligatory book purchase while I was there. It’s also been so good to finally get out and start seeing people again this month.

I’ve now read 62 books towards my goal of 100 books in 2021. I took part in four blog tours this month and I’ve listed the links below in case you missed any.

Mirrorland by Carole Johnstone

Look What You Made Me Do by Nikki Smith

Trust Me by T.M. Logan

The House of Hidden Secrets by C.E. Rose

This month I have six blog tours coming up, The Rapunzel Act by Abi Silver on the 4th May, All My Lies by Sophie Flynn on the 10th, The Assistant by Kjell ola Dahl on the 11th, Twisted Lies by Angela Marsons on the 14th, You Had It Coming by B.M. Carroll on the 21st and The Pact by Sharon Bolton on the 24th.

I received some exciting bookpost this month, The Prank by L.V. Matthews, Rachel’s Story by Leigh Russell, The Maidens by Alex Michaeledis, The Wild Girls by Phoebe Morgan and The Lies We Tell by Jane Corry.


That’s all from me this month. What are currently reading at the moment? I’m currently reading The Assistant by Kjell ola Dahl and The Wild Girls by Phoebe Morgan. Let me know in the comments.