The Fallout by Rebecca Thornton #bookreview blog tour @RThorntonwriter @HarperFiction @annecater

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

The Fallout: Full of secrets, rumours and lies, the page-turner to get everyone talking in 2020 by [Thornton, Rebecca]

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The accident.
The lie.
The fallout will be huge . . .

When Liza’s little boy has an accident at the local health club, it’s all anyone can talk about.

Was nobody watching him?
Where was his mother?
Who’s to blame?

The rumours, the finger-pointing, the whispers – they’re everywhere. And Liza’s best friend, Sarah, desperately needs it to stop.

Because Sarah was there when it happened. It was all her fault. And if she’s caught out on the lie, everything will fall apart . . .

MY THOUGHTS

The Fallout is a compelling novel by Rebecca Thornton, a new author for me, and I will definitely be on the lookout for more books by her. I think I would describe her latest book as more of a slow-burner. We get to know a group of women who all chat with each other on a WhatsApp group, a group of young mums. The more we get to know them, the more Rebecca Thornton unpeels the layers, and we begin to see different people emerge. Rebecca then begins to explore how the very closest of friendships can turn toxic.  Before the days of social media, people kept their true thoughts a lot closer to themselves. If someone did happen to say something about that, it wouldn’t affect such a large group of people who can instantly share with someone else what has been said. Once someone has posted something online, it is scary how much this can change people’s perception of the person and how it will never be forgotten.

I loved the idea of using a WhatsApp group as the basis for this story. I think the women in this book will feel familiar to everybody. There are more than likely countless WhatsApp groups up and down the country, and it’s probably fair to say that there are more than a few of them that have lead to friendship groups collapsing.

The book really begins to get going when the son of one member of the group, Liza, has an accident when he falls from a tree. There is a sudden rush of accusations pointed and a lot of anger within the local community. Many people effectively blame Liza for not looking after her son properly on the day it happened. Liza is distraught; she is trying to cope with a scary new reality while thinking of the prospect of a brighter future. At the same time, her friends are starting to show their true colours.

Although I didn’t find any of the characters particularly likeable, I did find their lives compelling. You can see things beginning to crumble around Liza in the wake of her son’s accident. I think I did feel sorry for her at some stages throughout the book, particularly when she became the victim online trolling and is vilified by people who don’t know her. You can see how much she does care for her son, and she only wants the best for him.

The writing is taut and I was drawn further and further into the story and into the lives of the characters. The Fallout is a well-written read that compels you to read on.

Publisher: Harper Collins

Publication date: 5th December 2019 (kindle) 2nd April 2020 (paperback)

Print length: 432 pages

The Fallout is available to buy:

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We Begin at the End by Chris Whitaker #bookreview blog tour @WhittyAuthor @ZaffreBooks @Tr4cyF3nt0n

I’m absolutely delighted to be sharing my thoughts on the new novel by Chris Whitaker, We Begin at the End today on my blog as part of the blog tour. With thanks to Tracy Fenton from Compulsive Readers for inviting me to take part.

We Begin at the End: Gripping. Heart-breaking. Unforgettable. Discover the most captivating crime read of 2020 by [Whitaker, Chris]

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We Begin at the End is a powerful novel about absolute love and the lengths we will go to keep our family safe. This is a story about good and evil and how life is lived somewhere in between.

‘You can’t save someone that doesn’t want to be saved . . .’

Thirty years ago, Vincent King became a killer.

Now, he’s been released from prison and is back in his hometown of Cape Haven, California. Not everyone is pleased to see him. Like Star Radley, his ex-girlfriend, and sister of the girl he killed.

Duchess Radley, Star’s thirteen-year-old daughter, is part-carer, part-protector to her younger brother, Robin – and to her deeply troubled mother. But in trying to protect Star, Duchess inadvertently sets off a chain of events that will have tragic consequences not only for her family, but also the whole town.

Murder, revenge, retribution.

How far can we run from the past when the past seems doomed to repeat itself?

MY THOUGHTS

Ever since I read Chris Whitaker’s debut novel, Tall Oaks I keep checking and checking to see when his next book is coming out. I described All the Wicked Girls, his second novel a triumph, but his third book, We Begin at the End is a masterpiece. The writing really makes it a book that you will want to savour. I could have flown through, and I really wanted to, but I wanted to take a much more leisurely pace with it as I was enjoying it so much. It is literary crime at its very best.

Once again Chris takes us to the heartlands of America and introduces us to a cast of new characters, real, every-day normal people, but they are also people who leap off the page. For me what really stood out in Chris’s debut novel was the humour and its characters. I still haven’t forgotten about Manny who I think impresses everyone when they read Chris’s debut. I think creating and developing characters, who you really care about, is Chris’s strongest writing skill.

Chris’s last two novels have taken on a much darker tone, but again, there are so many strong and compelling characters, who you will be rooting for. I felt real sympathy for Duchess and her family; the primary characters Chris’s latest novel focuses on. They are characters who you will become so attached to and this is what makes the ending all the more heartbreaking and powerful. I think what will make people feel the most towards Duchess, is how strong her need to protect her family is. This is particularly as they have already gone through dark times, which has very nearly torn them apart.

Once again Chris develops a small-town setting which feels like it could be a real place. There’s a strong sense of coming together in this town against one individual, a past resident, Vincent King, who has just returned to the area after thirty years in prison. So it’s no doubt that when another horrific crime takes place, Vincent is everyone’s number one suspect. It seems that the residents of the town have all near enough decided that he is guilty without taking much note of the evidence, and this pushes a lot of people to the brink. This time the police aren’t keen to go lightly on him, they are pushing for the death penalty and they feel sure they’ll get it granted. This is a town where emotions are running very high, and I kept thinking, as I was reading, that at any moment it was going to break and this is what made the novel so tense as well.

But above all, it is a book that is just beautifully written and it deserves to be on everyone’s reading list, you really won’t regret it. It is a book that will keep you thinking about the characters within the pages long after you have turned the final page. We Begin at the End is a cleverly woven piece of fiction and with such a strong central and supporting cast of characters. It’s brilliant!

Publisher: Zaffre

Publication date: 26th March 2020

Print length: 464 pages

We Begin at the End is available to buy:

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The Silent House by Nell Pattison #bookreview blog tour @Writer_Nell @AvonBooksUK

I’m delighted to be joining the blog tour today for The Silent House by Nell Pattison. With thanks to Sanjana Cunniah at Avon Books for inviting me to take part.

BLURB

If someone was in your house, you’d know … Wouldn’t you?

But the Hunter family are deaf, and don’t hear a thing when a shocking crime takes place in the middle of the night. Instead, they wake up to their worst nightmare: the murder of their daughter.

The police call Paige Northwood to the scene to interpret for the witnesses. They’re in shock, but Paige senses the Hunters are hiding something.

One by one, people from Paige’s community start to fall under suspicion. But who would kill a little girl?

Was it an intruder?

Or was the murderer closer to home?

MY THOUGHTS

The Silent House is a really different psychological thriller. The author, Nell Pattison, explores the deaf community in her debut novel, and this is what made the novel so intriguing when I first read the blurb. She also draws on her own experience as this is a community which she has worked with. After I read the first couple of chapters, I did not want to put it down.

Nell Pattison opens up her novel in a horrific way when the body of a young girl is discovered. The discovery sends shock waves throughout the local community. The family of the young girl who has died are deaf, and when one of their friends, Paige Northwood is drafted in to help interpret for the police, she knows that this will be a difficult task. She will have to examine every part of their lives to get to the truth. And soon she begins to think that someone within the family isn’t telling the truth, can she really trust the people she thought she knew?

As Paige became involved with the investigation, I wondered how this was going to take its toll in her, particularly as the Hunter family are her friends. I wondered if this would put any strains on their relationship, and how difficult it would be for her to get the answers she needs to find for the police.

Nell Pattison’s writing makes this a very easy read to get into, and as I said earlier, I couldn’t stop turning the pages. I couldn’t stop thinking about the idea of there being an intruder in your home, and myself not knowing. This is what made the idea so scary. I knew I had to find out who had done this to the family and what their motive was. It was so unnerving to think that someone could do this to a small girl who is totally innocent in anything that might have been going on. This is what made me think that anyone who knew the family could be responsible.

This is a hugely absorbing debut that will keep you utterly gripped and reading into the early hours of the night. If you’re looking for something different in the crime fiction genre, then definitely give this book a go. The Silent House is a sinister read that draws you in from the first page. I would highly recommend it.

Publisher: Avon

Publication date: 5th March 2020

Print length: 400 pages

The Silent House is available to buy:

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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]

BLURB

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.

MY THOUGHTS

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: 

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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]

BLURB

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.

EXTRACT

Prologue

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:

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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]

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A city in darkness. A building in lockdown. A score that can only be settled in blood…
Working off the books for FBI Special Agent Alex Monroe, Florida bounty-hunter Lori Anderson and her partner, JT, head to Chicago. Their mission: to entrap the head of the Cabressa crime family. The bait: a priceless chess set that Cabressa is determined to add to his collection.

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

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

MY THOUGHTS

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:

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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]

BLURB

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
missing…

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?

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

MY THOUGHTS

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:

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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]

BLURB

FEAR

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

SECRETS

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

LIES

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

MY THOUGHTS

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:

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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.

BLURB

‘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:

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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]

BLURB

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

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