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.

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‘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…

MY THOUGHTS

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

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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]

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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?

MY THOUGHTS

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]

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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…

MY THOUGHTS

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

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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]

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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.

 

EXTRACT

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

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The One Who Got Away by L.A. Detwiler #bookreview

I’m delighted to be sharing my thoughts on L.A. Detwiler’s new thriller, The One Who Got Away today on my blog.

The One Who Got Away: A wonderfully tense edge-of-your-seat domestic thriller by [Detwiler, L.A.]

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“Get out while you can. You’ll die here…”

Adeline Evans has recently moved into a home for the elderly. A safe space, where she can be cared for.

When she begins to receive cryptic and threatening notes, she is certain that someone is out to get her.

But the residents are warned against listening to a woman who is losing her memory. It would seem Adeline is tormented by the secrets in her past, and that the menace is all in her mind.

Until danger comes down the corridor and starts knocking in the night…

MY THOUGHTS

The One Who Got Away is a book that could have quite easily passed me by, but I am so glad I read it. When I did start reading, I did wonder how a psychological thriller was going to work set in a care home for the elderly, but once I got into the book, I just couldn’t stop reading. It did remind me of when I used to visit my great-grandmother in a care home, but unlike the care home in this book, she really enjoyed living there and never wanted to leave. The author, L.A. Detwiler, paints a vivid portrayal of how vulnerable those suffering with dementia are. It is quite a tough read at times, but I found it utterly compelling, and I liked how L.A. Detwiler tied everything up with a series of murders that happened in the 50s which have remained unsolved.

This is a novel with a real difference. We meet Adeline who is close to the end of her life and her daughter, Claire, has taken the difficult decision of moving her into a care home, believing that her mother will be safe there. Adeline is beginning to suffer from dementia, and she knows from the moment she steps over the threshold into the home that this will be her final destination. But things are not all they seem at the home, and soon ghosts from her past start to haunt her as she recalls the terrible choice she made decades earlier, which has had an impact on her for the rest of her life.

L.A. Detwiler did a brilliant job at creating a claustrophobic setting. There were some really horrible characters working in the home which do make it quite uncomfortable to read at time. There have been some cases in the news recently where elderly residents have been abused in care homes, and it is a sickening idea to think about. It makes you think that these types of people have no right to be in the position that they are.

As we begin to learn more about Adeline’s past, we begin to realise that she is harbouring a devastating secret, and I wanted to find out what happened in her past. At the time when she was growing up, a terrifying serial killer was targeting women in her hometown, and the killer was never caught. I was desperate to know who the killer was, and I kept thinking about two potential suspects. As the author revealed more about what happened during that time, I did manage to guess who the killer was, so the final reveals didn’t come as a complete surprise to me, but I really liked how the book ended and how different it was. I really didn’t expect it to end this way and I don’t think I’ll be forgetting about it for a long time.

If you’re looking for a book that stands out in the psychological thriller market, this is definitely one that you need to read. L.A. Detwiler’s highly intriguing plot drew me in from the first page. I’ll definitely be reading more books by this author.

Publisher: One More Chapter

Publication date: 19th February 2020

Print length: 313 pages

The One Who Got Away is available to buy:

Amazon UK

February Wrap-Up

If you’re living in the UK you’ll no doubt have felt the storms batter the island over the last month. Every weekend it seems that there’s been high winds and heavy rain and we’ve even had some snow thrown into the mix. But hopefully, now that we’re into March, the weather’s going to start changing for the better as spring is just around the corner.

I’ve been quite busy on the blog this month, taking part in eight blog tours and reviewing four separate titles. I was determined to catch up on James Oswald’s Inspector McLean series as I had missed out on reading the last five books in the series. I’ve so far managed to read 22 books this year.

At the beginning of this month on the 6th February I attended the launch for A Dark Matter by Doug Johnstone at the Union Club in Soho. Doug Johnstone was in conversation with Mark Billingham about his latest book and even treated us to a few musical numbers. For those of you who don’t know, Doug Johnstone and Mark Billingham are members of the Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers which also consists of Val McDermid, Chris Brookmyre and Luca Veste, they made their debut at Glastonbury last year. If you ever get the chance to see them, definitely try and do so.

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At the launch I was also very lucky to be handed copies of three hotly anticipated books for 2020, Blood Red City by Rod Reynolds, The Waiting Rooms by Eve Smith and The Creak on the Stairs by Eva Björg Ægisdóttir. I couldn’t resist starting Blood Red City and I finished it within a couple of days, it will definitely appeal to fans of the BBC’s The Capture.

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I also received copies of Will Dean’s latest Tuva Moodyson thriller, Black River which I am sharing my review as part of the blog tour this month, You Are Not Alone by Geer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen and A Knock at the Door by T.W. Ellis.

I was also delighted to see a quote from my review appear on the back cover of Death Deserved by Thomas Enger and Jorn Lier Horst.

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For March I’ve got eight blog tours lined up, The Waxwork Corpse by Simon Michael on the 11th, Black River by Will Dean on the 13th, Containment by Vanda Symon on the 15th, Mine by Clare Empson on the 18th, The Unbroken by Alex Caan on the 20th, Deep Dark Night by Steph Broadribb on the 27th, The Sleeping Season by Kelly Creighton on the 28th and All in her Head by Nikki Smith on the 30th.

So that’s about it for this month. Also do keep an eye out for some more First Monday Crime news this month as it is returning to City University, London on Monday, 6th April. I’ll be sharing details about who will be appearing shortly.

Let me know if you’ve read any of the books I’ve featured here and what you’re reading at the moment. In case you have missed any of my blog posts this month, I’ve listed the links below.

Death Deserved by Thomas Enger and Jorn Lier Horst

The Wreckage by Robin-Morgan Bentley

Beast by Matt Wesolowski

Watching from the Dark by Gytha Lodge

The Damage Done by James Oswald

Small Mercies by Alex Walters cover reveal

Liar Liar by Mel Sherratt

Written in Bones by James Oswald

The Gathering Dark by James Oswald

The Holdout by Graham Moore

Cold as the Grave by James Oswald

Blood Will Be Born by Gary Donnelly

Bury Them Deep by James Oswald

 

 

Bury Them Deep by James Oswald #bookreview blog tour @SirBenfro @Wildfirebks @annecater

I’m delighted to be sharing my thoughts on Bury Them Deep by James Oswald 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.

Bury Them Deep: Inspector McLean 10 (The Inspector McLean Series) by [Oswald, James]

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When a member of the Police Scotland team fails to clock-in for work, concern for her whereabouts is immediate… and the discovery of her burnt-out car in remote woodland to the south of Edinburgh sets off a desperate search for the missing woman.

Meanwhile, DCI Tony McLean and the team are preparing for a major anti-corruption operation – one which may raise the ire of more than a few powerful people in the city. Is Anya Renfrew’s disappearance a co-incidence or related to the case?

McLean’s investigations suggest that perhaps that Anya isn’t the first woman to have mysteriously vanished in these ancient hills. Once again, McLean can’t shake the feeling that there is a far greater evil at work here…

MY THOUGHTS

James Oswald’s Inspector McLean novels are a top crime series which you need to be following. Over the last month, I was determined to catch up on the previous five books which I hadn’t yet got round to reading. I would say that they can all be read as standalones but to get the most out of the character development, I would highly recommend reading the series from the beginning. Although each plot is different, there are key character plot points which are looked at throughout the series. But if you do read this book on its own, I’m sure you will want to go back and discover where the series all began. Before you know it you will have devoured them all; it certainly didn’t take me very long.

In the tenth book in the series, Bury Them Deep, concerns are raised when a police officer fails to turn up for work. Anya Renfrew has never taken a day off sick, so this is marked as highly unusual by her colleagues, particularly when she doesn’t return their phone calls. But her disappearance also prompts interventions from top government officials including the First Minister. Before her disappearance, Anya was working on a highly sensitive case which could risk the countries reputation if anything gets out. The police step up their efforts to find her, and it isn’t long before McLean discovers a link to a disturbing local legend that has been spoken about for centuries.

The case which McLean is following in this book is the most disturbing one in the series, in my opinion. You will soon see why when you read it. I’ve always been fascinated by myths and folklore, and James Oswald explores a really chilling one here which has captured the local’s imagination for years. I was immediately drawn into this story, and James Oswald kept me hooked as Inspector McLean delved further into Anya Renfrew’s private life. They discover that she isn’t quite the person they thought of her to be. This does create a lot of red herrings as the police try to work out Anya’s last known movements, and these investigations take the police places where they certainly didn’t expect to go.

As well as investigating Anya’s disappearance, this novel also sees the return of a previous antagonist from the series, who McLean would rather never hear from again. This is where I think it will be helpful to have read the previous books in the series, but there is still enough information here to read this as a standalone. This was another really intriguing point, like McLean I wanted to know what this person knew about the current case he was working on, and what their true motivations were. I couldn’t really see it being the case that they just wanted to help him.

There were times when the tension was raised so high, particularly when I thought that McLean wasn’t going to be able to solve this case in time. There were scenes when I almost had to look away, but I was so keen to find out what was going to happen. I had to see how McLean was going to get himself out of this one.  You won’t want to tear your eyes away from the page.

I think I have summed up how much I like this series in my previous reviews of these books, so all that’s left for me to say is you’ll absolutely love this book if you’re a fan. And again if you haven’t yet started these books, why haven’t you? You’re missing out on a real treat if you haven’t.

Publisher: Wildfire

Publication date: 20th February 2020

Print length: 464 page

Bury Them Deep is available to buy:

Amazon UK  Kobo  Waterstones

Previous Reviews

Cold as the Grave

The Gathering Dark

Written in Bones

The Damage Done

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Bury Them Deep BT Poster

Blood Will Be Born by Gary Donnelly #bookreview blog tour @DonnellyWriter @AllisonandBusby

I’m delighted to be sharing my thoughts on Blood Will Be Born by Gary Donnelly as part of the blog tour. With thanks to Lesley Crooks for inviting me to take part.

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DI Owen Sheen vowed never to return to Ireland, but he needs answers to the questions he has surrounding his brother’s death. On loan from the Met to the PSNI, he is meant to be setting up a new Historical Offences Team, but instead he finds himself partnered with DC Aoife McCusker to work on her first murder investigation. As the investigation begins to unravel into chaos, its roots deep in the dark past of the Troubles, will Sheen be able to put his personal agenda aside? And will McCusker keep her career long enough to crack the case and prove herself as a detective?

MY THOUGHTS

There is quite a lot of gore and violence in Gary Donnelly’s, Blood Will Be Born. Set in Northern Ireland, the book deals with the aftermath of the troubles. There are many characters who aren’t able to forgive and forget what happened in the past. Not least DI Owen Sheen who has returned to Belfast from London for the first time after many years. He hasn’t been able to move on from his brother’s death during a bomb explosion. He has questions that need answering, and he won’t stop until he gets them.

Gary Donnelly opens the readers’ eyes to what happened during the troubles in Northern Ireland, particularly in my case, as this took place before I was born. I have heard about it occasionally on the news, especially more recently, but it wasn’t something I was aware of when I was growing up. Opening with a horrific scene in which we see a young boy being led away by two men, almost certainly to his death, we know that things are only going to go from bad to worse.

I found Gary’s writing to be really engrossing, and I liked this introduction to DI Owen Sheen. He has no idea what he is going to be faced with when he arrives in Belfast, and his first crime scene is sickening. And with those involved willing to kill any potential witnesses to their crimes, you know that this is going to be a particularly tough case for the police to solve. And to top things off, DI Own Sheen is tasked with looking after DC Aoife McCusker, a detective with everything to prove, on her first major case. I did wonder how they were going to get on after their first meeting. Owen has a lot of his own troubles which are troubling him, and I wondered if he was going to drift away from the investigation in search of the answers that he needs.

You really do get the sense that the city is a ticking time bomb. Although it seems as though there is peace on the surface, beneath that, tensions simmer and bubble away creating an air of uncertainty. The police realise this, and they are acting fast to try and track down a callous killer. The tension continues to mount as Gary Donnelly pulls everything together into an action-packed finale.

I really enjoyed this book, and I’m pretty sure it’s a series that I will be sticking with.

Publisher: Allison & Busby

Publication date: 20th February 2020 (kindle) 17th September 2020 (paperback)

Print length: 448 pages

Blood Will Be Born is available to buy: 

Amazon UK

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BWBB TOUR twitter

Cold as the Grave by James Oswald #bookreview

I’ve at last caught up on the books I’ve missed out on in James Oswald’s Inspector McLean series and I don’t think I’ve ever read a series of books this fast. After finishing book nine, Cold as the Grave a few days ago, I’ve nearly finished the tenth book in the series in time for my stop on the blog tour at the end of this week. If you’re not yet reading these books then you really need to be!

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Her mummified body is hidden in the dark corner of a basement room, a room which seems to have been left untouched for decades. A room which feels as cold as the grave.

As a rowdy demonstration makes its slow and vocal way along Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, Detective Chief Inspector Tony McLean’s team are on stand-by for any trouble. The newly promoted McLean is distracted, inexplicably drawn to a dead-end mews street… and a door, slightly ajar, which leads to this poor girl’s final resting place.

But how long has she been there, in her sleep of death? The answers are far from what McLean or anyone else could expect. The truth far more chilling than a simple cold case…

MY THOUGHTS

Cold as the Grave sees Tony McLean investigating the dark and horrific industry of human trafficking, and the horrors refugees face as they flee war-torn countries, in the hope of a better future.  It is a topic which has been widely covered in the news very recently. I think this is perhaps one of the most complex cases Tony has had to investigate. Once again, James Oswald draws nicely on the supernatural elements, which gives this book a slight edginess to it. As Tony McLean becomes more and more wrapped up in the ideas that many wouldn’t give the time a day, it made me wonder just what was going on here. As I have come to expect from these books, nothing is ever as it seems.

During a protest in Edinburgh, Tony accidentally stumbles across the mummified remains of a young girl. The unsettling discovery prompts a series of questions, how long has she been there? Is this a case of foul play or did the young girl become the victim of a tragic accident after somehow becoming trapped? After the discovery of the girl, I began to get a sense of just how harrowing the plot was going to be.

Recently Tony has reluctantly been promoted to Detective Chief Inspector. Now many may welcome promotion, but Tony much prefers to be out in the field, speaking to witnesses and chasing down leads. You can really see just how much he hates the idea of being stuck in an office all day and going over mounds of paperwork. This causes a lot of distress for his immediate superiors, who have to try and locate him every time they need to talk to him, and his boss frequently tells him this. This doesn’t do much to change Tony’s character; he is very much set in his ways.

There is a much more sombre feeling in this novel. A harrowing end to the previous book in the series has left Tony and his girlfriend Emma distraught. You can see just how far they have drifted apart from each other. It has made me wonder if things are ever going to be the same for them again, and I really do hope that they do try and work things out.

The case that Tony is investigating is particularly dark. Out of all the Tony McLean novels that I’ve read, and I’ve read them all, I think Cold as the Grave does have the darkest tone. I did feel as well that it was slower paced in the middle section of the book, but James Oswald always manages to keep the tension turning up a notch. What makes the supernatural elements in these books work so well is that there always seems to be logic to them. It always provides a really creepy and chilling atmosphere that makes for intense reading.

This is another excellent addition to one of my favourite crime series. If you’re a fan of crime novels, particularly with a supernatural touch, then you really are missing out if you haven’t started these books yet.

Publisher: Wildfire

Publication date: 7th February 2019

Print length: 432 pages

Cold as the Grave is available to buy:

Amazon UK  Kobo  Waterstones

The Holdout by Graham Moore #bookreview blog tour

I’m delighted to be sharing my review of The Holdout by Graham Moore as part of the blog tour. With thanks to Tracy Fenton from Compulsive Readers for inviting me to take part.

The Holdout: One jury member changed the verdict. What if she was wrong? by [Moore, Graham]

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One juror changed the verdict. What if she was wrong?

‘Ten years ago we made a decision together…’

Fifteen-year-old Jessica Silver, heiress to a billion-dollar fortune, vanishes on her way home from school. Her teacher, Bobby Nock, is the prime suspect. It’s an open and shut case for the prosecution, and a quick conviction seems all but guaranteed.

Until Maya Seale, a young woman on the jury, persuades the rest of the jurors to vote not guilty: a controversial decision that will change all of their lives forever.

Ten years later, one of the jurors is found dead, and Maya is the prime suspect.

The real killer could be any of the other ten jurors. Is Maya being forced to pay the price for her decision all those years ago?

MY THOUGHTS

The Holdout is a very immersive novel by Graham Moore. It follows the members of a jury in the wake of a decision they made nine years ago which many, nationwide in America, deem scandalous. One member of the jury, Rick, is racked with guilt. He believes that he was hoodwinked and went against his conscience in deciding to find a man suspected of murder, not guilty. He is determined to bring the jury members back together and reveal new evidence about the case which he has uncovered. But someone is keen to make sure that whatever it is Rick finds, that it remains buried.

I really enjoyed this. From the beginning, I could never be sure if Bobby Nock, the man who was found not guilty of the murder of his student in 2009, was guilty or innocent. Graham Moore kept me guessing, and I wanted to know what evidence, if any, Rick, had supposedly uncovered. Would it be enough to convince the rest of the group of his belief that Bobby was indeed guilty?

I have to say that when I got to the end of this book, one revelation completely floored me, and I don’t think I’ll be forgetting about it for a while. I was expecting it to go one way and Graham Moore pulled the rug out from under my feet. It was very well done, and it didn’t make me feel that that wouldn’t be believable.

Maya was a character who I got on with from the start. Like Rick is with his belief, Maya is steadfast in hers that Bobby is innocent. But her own thoughts on the case throw a spanner in the works when the plot takes an unexpected direction, leaving Maya in a perilous situation that will have a huge impact on the rest of her life. I was rooting for Maya all the way through. I wanted her to succeed in what she was doing, and I had a lot of suspicions about the other members of the jury.

This novel is very well done, and I found the ending very satisfactory. A top read for me!

Publisher: Orion

Publication date: 18th February 2020

Print length: 336 pages

If you would like to purchase The Holdout, you can do so by clicking on one of the following links below.

Amazon UK  Kobo  Waterstones

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The Holdout Part One (1)

The Holdout Part Two