The Clockwork Girl by Anna Mazzola #bookreview @1stMondayCrime @Anna_Mazz

On my blog today, I have all the details about this month’s First Monday Crime which is taking place tonight live on their Facebook Page at 19.30 p.m. UK time. But before I reveal more about tonight’s event, I have reviewed The Clockwork Girl by Anna Mazzola who’ll be appearing on tonight’s panel.

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Paris, 1750.

In the midst of an icy winter, as birds fall frozen from the sky, chambermaid Madeleine Chastel arrives at the home of the city’s celebrated clockmaker and his clever, unworldly daughter.

Madeleine is hiding a dark past, and a dangerous purpose: to discover the truth of the clockmaker’s experiments and record his every move, in exchange for her own chance of freedom.

For as children quietly vanish from the Parisian streets, rumours are swirling that the clockmaker’s intricate mechanical creations, bejewelled birds and silver spiders, are more than they seem.

And soon Madeleine fears that she has stumbled upon an even greater conspiracy. One which might reach to the very heart of Versailles…

A intoxicating story of obsession, illusion and the price of freedom.

MY THOUGHTS

The Clockwork Girl is a stunning novel by Anna Mazzola. I was transported to the streets of eighteenth century Paris. This is actually the first novel I’ve read by Anna Mazzola, but the blurb, and, I have to say, the brilliant cover drew me in, and I’m so pleased I’ve read it. Anna creates such a rich sense of place and atmosphere in her writing, which really made the setting come to life as it is viewed through the eyes of her characters. It’s what makes this book a novel to savour.

There is a haunting quality to this story and Anna Mazzola’s writing draws you effortlessly into the world she has created. Of course this is historical fiction, but there is a real sense of mystery to Anna’s plot, and Anna keeps the suspense ticking up a notch. We meet Madeleine, a young woman who has taken up a position in the household of a famous clockmaker in Paris. But Madeleine is there for an altogether different reason. There have been strange events happening all over Paris, and Madeleine is there to investigate the clockmaker, and see if there is any connection between him and what has been happening.

There are so many fascinating characters in Anna’s novel, and she really delves deep into their personalities, bringing them to life. Madeleine and the clockmaker intrigued me the most. As Madeleine becomes acquainted with her new position, Anna draws on the sense of mystery about the clockmaker, and it certainly feels as though he is hiding something. You can see clearly her determination to get to the bottom of what is going on behind the scenes, and this did make me wonder how much danger she was putting herself in, in her quest to get to the truth.

As the plot progresses, Anna whisks us away to the court of King Louis XV of France. It is here where the tension in the story is really turned up a notch, as Madeleine seeks to uncover what is happening. I really liked how Anna Mazzola used real life historical figures in her novel, and this includes, along with the King, his famous mistress, Madame De Pompadour and they both have significant roles in the story. It does make you feel as though you are reading about real events, even though this is fiction, and that is the brilliance of Anna Mazzola’s plot. It makes you even more invested in the characters and I wanted to see what the outcome was going to be for them at the end of the novel.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Clockwork Girl and I will definitely be keeping an eye out for whatever Anna Mazzola writes next. It is an utterly immersive read.

Publisher: Orion

Publication date: 3rd March 2022

Print length: 362 pages

The Clockwork Girl is available to buy:

Amazon UK Kobo Waterstones

First Monday Crime is taking place tonight live on their Facebook at 19.30 p.m. Alongside Anna Mazzola we have Simone Buckholz author of, River Clyde, Lizzie Barber author of Out of Her Depth and Gytha Lodge author of Little Sister. If you would like to watch the event, you can do so by clicking on the link below which will take you through to the First Monday Crime Facebook Page.

First Monday Crime

April @1stMondayCrime Bad For Good by Graham Bartlett #bookreview @gbpoliceadvisor @AllisonandBusby

On my blog today, I’m sharing my thoughts on the gripping crime debut by Graham Bartlett, Bad For Good. Graham will be appearing on this month’s First Monday Crime Panel and I’ll have all the details about how you can access the event at the end of this post.

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How far would you go?

The murder of a promising footballer and, crucially, the son of the Brighton’s Chief Superintendent, means Detective Superintendent Jo Howe has a complicated and sensitive case on her hands. The situation becomes yet more desperate following devastating blackmail threats.

Howe can trust no one as she tracks the brutal killer in a city balanced on a knife edge of vigilante action and a police force riven with corruption.

MY THOUGHTS

Bad for Good is an intriguing start to a new crime series by Graham Bartlett. I’ve come across Graham’s name before, especially as he is the advisor to crime writer Peter James, so I was very eager to read Graham’s debut. Graham is a former police officer; I wanted to see how he would draw on his own experiences in this book, and it does feel really authentic.

Graham Bartlett has created a cast of fascinating characters. I really liked Detective Superintendent Jo Howe. She is faced with a complex and high profile case, following the murder of a rising football star, who is the son of the Chief Superintendent, Phil Cooke, which means there is intense media coverage and a lot of pressure. But as Jo tackles with the investigation, corruption is brewing behind the scenes.

Graham Bartlett did a great job of fleshing out his characters. Jo comes across as a person who has worked hard to get to where she is today. I thought Graham did a great job of building her character and I enjoyed finding out more about her. I really felt for Phil. I don’t want to go into too much detail here, as I don’t want to spoil it for you, but even though he is already going through the worst time of his life, following the murder of his son, it is about to become even harder for him. This is where Graham really ups the tension, and I had no idea just what Phil was going to do to try and get out of the problems he was in. It makes for really tense reading and you can see just how much stress this puts him under.

I really wanted to know the reason behind the murder of Phil’s son. I was rooting for Jo to get the truth, especially when Graham raises the stakes for Phil. I felt as though Phil had been pushed into a corner which he couldn’t escape from. Graham delves into some very dark themes and there were some shocking and surprising reveals as the truth behind the murder was revealed. I was utterly gripped as I raced through the final chapters.

The character’s Graham Bartlett has created are ones I am keen to return to and I’m looking forward to seeing where he progresses next with this series. I’ll definitely be looking out for the next book.

Publisher: Allison and Busby

Publication date: 23rd June 2022

Print length: 320 pages

Bad for Good is available to buy:

Amazon UK Waterstones

First Monday Crime is back live on their Facebook page on Monday, 4th April 2022 at 19.30 p.m. Alongside Graham we have four more brilliant authors appearing. We have, Tony Kent author of No Way To Die, Imran Mahmood author of I Know What I Saw, Neil Lancaster author of The Blood Tide and Joy Kluver author of Left for Dead.

If you would like to access the event, you can do so by clicking the link below which will take you to the First Monday Crime Facebook Page.

First Monday Crime

April @1stMondayCrime Left For Dead by Joy Kluver #bookreview @JoyKluver

On my blog today, I’m sharing the details for next month’s First Monday Crime which is taking place live on their Facebook Page at 19:30 p.m. on Monday, 4th April. Today I’m re sharing my review of the latest novel by Joy Kluver, Left for Dead. Joy is one of the authors who’ll be appearing on the panel, and I’ll have another review to share with you tomorrow for a book by another author who’ll be on the panel as well.

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The detective stared at the young woman lying on the bed. She almost looked peaceful, her face like porcelain. Despite everything she had been through, she was still beautiful.

When DI Bernie Noel hurries to Keira Howard’s hospital bedside, she knows that Keira has been lucky. Barely conscious and badly injured, at least she is alive. Convinced that Keira’s attack is the latest in a string of increasingly violent assaults on young women in the area, the next victim might not be so fortunate. So she vows to find the man who did this, and to stop him before anyone else gets hurt.

Spurring her team into action, she quickly hones in on a prime suspect. But then he suddenly dies while on police watch, and Bernie’s investigation goes into freefall. When Bernie’s superiors won’t let her take the case any further, her gut instinct tells her there’s much more to his death than meets the eye. If it was murder, who would want him dead, and why? So she determines to set out on her own to find out what happened.

But the closer Bernie comes to discovering the truth, the more she is putting her own life in danger. And with Keira finally strong enough to talk her about her attack, Bernie worries she may be at risk yet again. There’s someone out there who has killed to stay safe in the shadows; can Bernie stop another senseless death, and save Keira, before it’s too late?

MY THOUGHTS

I am really enjoying this series. Left for Dead is the latest book in the DI Bernadette Noel series by Joy Kluver and I really enjoyed getting back together with Bernie and her team. This time around, as well as having a complex case to investigate, Bernie is also pregnant. This has left her with a lot of complex issues in her relationship with her boyfriend, Dougie. Left for Dead makes for a really intriguing addition to the series.

Bernie and her team face another complex investigation when a young woman has been found after being brutally attacked. It sparks fear that there is a serial predator at work here following a spate of similar attacks on women. It becomes a race against time to track down the woman’s attacker.

What I really liked about this book was how Joy Kluver explored Bernie’s relationship with her boyfriend, Dougie. I thought this development in her character was done really well and I was wondering throughout the book how things were going to pan out for them. This made for an intriguing sub plot and now that I’ve read it’s left me wondering what’s to come in the future.

Another character who Joy Kluver introduces us to is Leigh, who is a new member of the team. Leigh has autism and I thought that Joy Kluver explored this well and sensitively in her writing. I think Leigh makes an excellent addition to the books and I’m looking forward to seeing how her character develops further.

I didn’t expect the twist which came at the end and it really drove the tension up a notch as Bernie and her team raced to bring the case to a conclusion. I thought Joy Kluver wrapped the plot up very well.

I’m really hoping that there are more books to come in this series. It really is becoming one of my favourites.

Publisher: Bookouture

Publication date: 10th January 2022

Print length: 395 pages

Left for Dead is available to buy:

Amazon UK

Appearing alongside Joy at First Monday Crime, we have Graham Bartlett, author of Bad for Good, (I’ll be sharing a review of his book tomorrow), Tony Kent author of No Way To Die, Imran Mahmood author of I Know What I Saw and Neil Lancaster author of The Blood Tide. If you would like to watch the panel which will be lived streamed on Facebook at 19:30 p.m. on Monday, 4th April, you can do so by clicking the link below which will take you through to the First Monday Crime Facebook page.

First Monday Crime

56 Days by Catherine Ryan Howard #bookreview @1stMondayCrime

On my blog today, I’m sharing my thoughts on the gripping new novel by Catherine Ryan Howard, 56 Days. Catherine will be appearing on Monday’s 1st Monday Crime panel and I’ll have all the details about how you can access the event at the end of this post.

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56 DAYS AGO
Ciara and Oliver meet in a supermarket queue in Dublin and start dating the same week COVID-19 reaches Irish shores.

35 DAYS AGO
When lockdown threatens to keep them apart, Oliver suggests they move in together. Ciara sees a unique opportunity for a relationship to flourish without the scrutiny of family and friends. Oliver sees a chance to hide who – and what – he really is.

TODAY
Detectives arrive at Oliver’s apartment to discover a decomposing body inside.

Can they determine what really happened, or has lockdown created an opportunity for someone to commit the perfect crime?

MY THOUGHTS

56 Days is the first book by Catherine Ryan Howard which I’ve read. I’ve been meaning to get round to reading her books for some time now, and I’m so pleased I finally have. It’s only the second book I’ve read which has featured the pandemic, which is something I wasn’t too keen on reading about in fiction so soon, but it really works in this book, and it adds to the tension. This is such a clever read, and it gripped me right from the first few pages. I’ve seen a lot of praise for this book on social media, and I can certainly see why now that I’ve read it.

I love a dual timeline novel. In 56 Days, we know in the present, that a body has been discovered, but we don’t know much more detail than that. 56 Days previously, a new couple are just about to move in together.

The idea of spending lockdown with a new partner could either be a horrific idea, which could go badly wrong, or it could be the best thing that ever happens to you. It is the ultimate test to see if your relationship can survive. This is the situation which faces Ciara and Oliver when they meet, shortly before Ireland is plunged into lockdown, along with the rest of the world, and they agree to move in together, otherwise lockdown could have spelled the end of their relationship. You can see that their relationship is just beginning to blossom, and it feels, for them, that this is the next positive step.

The novel is told from both Ciara and Oliver’s perspectives, and what I thought was interesting, was how Catherine Ryan Howard explored both their perspectives on the same scenes. You can see what they are both thinking at the same time the event is happening, and I found it really eye opening. It’s not something that I’ve seen much of before in fiction, and I really liked how Catherine did it. I thought this was an ingenious way to misdirect the reader. I thought I could see the novel going in one particular way, which is why the direction it took, was so surprising.

The tension continues to build as the plot progresses, and I was more and more desperate to know what had led to the discovery of the body in the present day. I thought the chapters told from Oliver’s perspective were particularly tense. You can see that he hides a dark secret in his past and he is terrified of anyone discovering it. He even begins to wonder if Ciara is too good to be true.

Catherine also tells part of the book through the eyes of the detectives, who have been called out in the present day, following the discovery of the body. Catherine keeps these scenes ambiguous and gradually reveals more information as the plot develops.

I flew through this book, desperate to find out what would happen to Ciara and Oliver, and to see whose body was going to be found by the detectives. I will definitely be catching up on Catherine Ryan Howard’s previous novels. The plot of 56 Days is ingenious and so well thought through. I highly, highly recommend 56 Days.

Publisher: Corvus

Publication date: 19th August 2021

Print length: 363 pages

56 Days is available to buy:

Amazon UK Kobo Waterstones

First Monday Crime is taking place live on their Facebook page from 19.30 p.m. on Monday, 7th March 2022. Appearing alongside Catherine to talk about their recent novels will be, Janice Hallett author of The Twyford Code, Robert Gold author of Twelve Secrets and Stuart Neville author of The House of Ashes. The panel is being moderated by crime writer, Joy Kluver. If you’d like to watch the event, you can do so by clicking on the link below which will take you through to their Facebook page.

First Monday Crime

First Monday Crime February @1stMondayCrime

On my blog today, I have all the details for you for this month’s First Monday Crime and the authors who will be appearing on the panel. First Monday Crime is taking place live on their Facebook page at 19.30 p.m. I’ll have all the details about how you can access the event at the end of this post. But first let’s take a look at the authors who’ll be apppearing.

Liz Nugent author of Our Little Cruelties

Our Little Cruelties: A new psychological suspense from the No.1 bestseller by [Liz Nugent]

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Three brothers are at the funeral. One lies in the coffin.

Will, Brian and Luke grow up competing for their mother’s unequal love. As men, the competition continues – for status, money, fame, women …

They each betray each other, over and over, until one of them is dead.

But which brother killed him?

Jane Casey author of The Killing Kind

The Killing Kind: The incredible new 2022 break-out crime thriller suspense book from a Top 10 Sunday Times bestselling author by [Jane Casey]

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Ingrid will never forget what John did.
The people he hurt. The way he lied about it so easily. The way she defended him.

Now he’s back.
He says a murderer is after her. He says only he can protect her.

Would you trust him?
The clock is ticking for Ingrid to decide. Because the killer is ready to strike…

Sam Blake author of Remember My Name

Remember My Name: A gripping, unforgettable crime thriller from the bestselling author of The Dark Room by [Sam Blake]

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If she’d turned off her phone, instead of listening in, perhaps no one would have died…

When Cressida Howard catches her entrepreneur husband playing away from home, she hires security expert Brioni O’Brien to get the evidence she needs for a speedy and financially rewarding divorce.

But what Brioni uncovers goes beyond simple infidelity. Because Laurence Howard is also in bed with some very dangerous people. Bribery and blackmail are the least of his worries as someone comes after the women in his life – someone who is out to destroy Laurence and his empire, whatever the cost.

And Cressida and her teenage daughter could soon be collateral damage, if she and Brioni don’t act fast.

W.C. Ryan author of The Winter Guest

The Winter Guest: A haunting, atmospheric mystery from the author of A House of Ghosts by [W. C. Ryan]

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The drive leads past the gate house and through the trees towards the big house, visible through the winter-bared branches. Its windows stare down at Harkin and the sea beyond . . .

January 1921. Though the Great War is over, in Ireland a new, civil war is raging. The once-grand Kilcolgan House, a crumbling bastion shrouded in sea-mist, lies half empty and filled with ghosts – both real and imagined – the Prendevilles, the noble family within, co-existing only as the balance of their secrets is kept.

Then, when an IRA ambush goes terribly wrong, Maud Prendeville, eldest daughter of Lord Kilcolgan, is killed, leaving the family reeling. Yet the IRA column insist they left her alive, that someone else must have been responsible for her terrible fate. Captain Tom Harkin, an IRA intelligence officer and Maud’s former fiancé, is sent to investigate, becoming an unwelcome guest in this strange, gloomy household.

Working undercover, Harkin must delve into the house’s secrets – and discover where, in this fractured, embattled town, each family member’s allegiances truly lie. But Harkin too is haunted by the ghosts of the past and by his terrible experiences on the battlefields. Can he find out the truth about Maud’s death before the past – and his strange, unnerving surroundings – overwhelm him?

A haunting, atmospheric mystery set against the raw Irish landscape in a country divided, The Winter Guest is the perfect chilling read.

If you would like to watch the panel. All you have to do is click on the link below which will take you through to the First Monday Crime Facebook Page. The event starts at 19.30 p.m. on Monday, 7th February 2022. The panel is being moderated by publisher, Katherine Armstrong.

First Monday Crime

First Monday Crime December @1stMondayCrime

It’s hard to believe that this is the final First Monday Crime panel of the year. We have four more brilliant authors appearing on next week’s panel. But before I reveal more details about who will be appearing and how you can access the event, let’s find out a little bit about the authors and the books.

The Dark by Emma Haughton

The Dark: The unputdownable and pulse-raising Sunday Times Crime Book of the Month by [Emma Haughton]

In the most inhospitable environment – cut off from the rest of the world – there’s a killer on the loose.

A&E doctor Kate North has been knocked out of her orbit by a personal tragedy. So when she’s offered the opportunity to be an emergency replacement at the UN research station in Antarctica, she jumps at the chance. The previous doctor, Jean-Luc, died in a tragic accident while out on the ice.

The move seems an ideal solution for Kate: no one knows about her past; no one is checking up on her. But as total darkness descends for the winter, she begins to suspect that Jean-Luc’s death wasn’t accidental at all.

And the more questions she asks, the more dangerous it becomes . . .

Fragile: Secrets and Betrayal in the Stunning Break-out Psychological Thriller from the Theakstons' Crime Novel of the Year Winner by [Sarah Hilary]

Everything she touches breaks . . .

Nell Ballard is a runaway. A former foster child with a dark secret she is desperately trying to keep, all Nell wants is to find a place she can belong.

So when a job comes up at Starling Villas, home to the enigmatic Robin Wilder, she seizes the opportunity with both hands.

But her new lodgings may not be the safe haven that she was hoping for. Her employer lives by a set of rigid rules and she soon sees he is hiding secrets of his own.

But is Nell’s arrival at the Villas really the coincidence it seems? After all, she knows more than most how fragile people can be – and how easily they can be to break . . .

The Christmas Murder Game: The must-read murder mystery for Christmas 2021 by [Alexandra Benedict]

Twelve clues.
Twelve keys.
Twelve days of Christmas.
But who will survive until Twelfth Night?

Lily Armitage never intended to return to Endgame House – the grand family home where her mother died twenty-one Christmases ago. Until she receives a letter from her aunt, asking her to return to take part in an annual tradition: the Christmas Game. The challenge? Solve twelve clues, to find twelve keys. The prize? The deeds to the manor house.

Lily has no desire to win the house. But her aunt makes one more promise: The clues will also reveal who really killed Lily’s mother all those years ago.

So, for the twelve days of Christmas, Lily must stay at Endgame House with her estranged cousins and unravel the riddles that hold the key not just to the family home, but to its darkest secrets. However, it soon becomes clear that her cousins all have their own reasons for wanting to win the house – and not all of them are playing fair.

As a snowstorm cuts them off from the village, the game turns deadly. Soon Lily realises that she is no longer fighting for an inheritance, but for her life.

This Christmas is to die for . . . Let the game begin

A bumper collection of delightful stories featuring Bruno, Chief of Police and France’s favourite cop, all set in the beautiful Dordogne valley and the ravishing Perigord region of the south west. Here is a landscape of meandering rivers with medieval castles overlooking their banks, of lush hillsides and spreading vineyards, of delicious local wines and world renowned cuisine.

With titles like ‘The Chocolate War’; ‘The Birthday Lunch’; ‘Oystercatcher’; ‘A Market Tale’ and ‘Fifty Million Bubbles’, you may be sure that champagne and gastronomy will feature as well as cosy crime in ‘Dangerous Vacation’. Bruno strides through these tales, staying calm. settling local disputes and keeping safe his beloved town of St Denis.

Only on one occasion does he panic: in ‘Bruno’s Challenge’, his friend Ivan, proprietor and chef of the town’s popular eatery, suddenly collapses on the eve of a large anniversary dinner, and he asks Bruno to take over the restaurant. After a few protests followed by some deep breaths, the inimitable Bruno meets his challenge and saves the day.

First Monday Crime will be back live on their Facebook page from 19.30 pm. Jake Kerridge is moderating the panel. To access the event you can do so by clicking on the link below which will take you through to the First Monday Crime Facebook page.

First Monday Crime

First Monday Crime November @1stMondayCrime

On my blog today, I’m sharing the details of this month’s First Monday Crime. This month we are heading overseas to Australia and New Zealand and you can watch live on the First Monday Crime Facebook Page, I’ll share the link so you can access the event below. But first let’s find out about the authors who will be appearing on the panel and their books.

MY BEST FRIEND’S MURDER BY POLLY PHILLIPS

My Best Friend's Murder: An addictive and twisty must-read thriller that will grip you until the final breathless page by [Polly Phillips]

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There are so many ways to kill a friendship . . .

You’re lying, sprawled at the bottom of the stairs, legs bent, arms wide.
And while this could be a tragic accident, if anyone’s got a motive to hurt you, it’s me.

Bec and Izzy have been best friends their whole lives. They have been through a lot together – from the death of Bec’s mother to the birth of Izzy’s daughter. But there is a darker side to their friendship. And Bec is about to reach breaking point.

Then Izzy’s body is found at the bottom of the stairs. It could have been an accident – perhaps she fell – but if the police decide to look for a killer, Bec is certain she will be the prime suspect. Because she knows better than anyone that those closest to you can hurt you the most. And that someone can only be pushed so far before they snap . . .

BOUND BY VANDA SYMON

Bound (Sam Shephard Book 4) by [Vanda Symon]

The New Zealand city of Dunedin is rocked when a wealthy and apparently respectable businessman is murdered in his luxurious home while his wife is bound and gagged, and forced to watch. But when Detective Sam Shephard and her team start investigating the case, they discover that the victim had links with some dubious characters.

The case seems cut and dried, but Sam has other ideas. Weighed down by her dad’s terminal cancer diagnosis, and by complications in her relationship with Paul, she needs a distraction, and launches her own investigation.

And when another murder throws the official case into chaos, it’s up to Sam to prove that the killer is someone no one could ever suspect.

SHEPHERD BY CATHERINE JINKS

Shepherd by [Catherine Jinks]

My father trained me to silence the way he trained his dogs, with food and a cane. Speech, he said, was poison. It scared the game, alerted the gamekeepers and betrayed your friends and family.

Tom Clay was a poacher back in Suffolk. He was twelve when he was caught, tried and transported to New South Wales.

Now, assigned to a shepherds’ hut out west, he is a boy among violent men. He keeps his counsel and watches over his sheep; he steers clear of blowhards like the new man, Rowdy Cavanagh. He is alert to danger, knowing he is a foreigner here: that the land resists his understanding.

The question is: how fast can he learn?

Because a vicious killer named Dan Carver is coming for Tom and Rowdy. And if Tom can’t outwit Carver in the bush – and convince Rowdy to keep his stupid mouth shut – their deaths will be swift and cruel.

This riveting, fast-paced new novel from the multi-award-winning Catherine Jinks brings the brutality and courage of Australia’s colonial frontier vividly to life – and sees one of our master storytellers at the peak of her powers.

WHEN YOU ARE MINE BY MICHAEL ROBOTHAM

When You Are Mine: A heart-pounding psychological thriller about friendship and obsession by [Michael Robotham]

Philomena McCarthy has defied the odds and become a promising young officer with the Metropolitan Police despite being the daughter of a notorious London gangster. Called to the scene of a domestic assault, she rescues a young woman, Tempe Brown, the girlfriend of a decorated detective. The incident is hushed up, but Phil has unwittingly made a dangerous enemy with powerful friends.

Determined to protect each other, the two women strike up a tentative friendship. Tempe is thoughtful and sweet and makes herself indispensable to Phil, but sinister things keep happening and something isn’t quite right about the stories Tempe tells. When a journalist with links to Phil’s father and to the detective is found floating in the Thames, Phil doesn’t know where to turn, who to blame or who she can trust.

If you’d like to watch the event you can do so by clicking on the link below which will take you through to the First Monday Crime Facebook page. First Monday Crime will be at 20.30 p.m. on Monday, 1st November 2021.

FIRST MONDAY CRIME

October First Monday Crime @1stMondayCrime @wekesperos

First Monday Crime is back after a summer break and we have four brilliant authors appearing on the panel. First Monday Crime will be online and it can be viewed live on their Facebook page at 19:30 p.m. on Monday, 4th October 2021. I’ll have all the details about how you can access the link and who will be appearing at the end of this post. But first I have a review of the stunning debut novel by Inga Vesper, The Long, Long Afternoon for you. Inga is one of the authors who will be appearing on the panel.

The Long, Long Afternoon: The captivating mystery for fans of Small Pleasures and Mad Men by [Inga Vesper]

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Yesterday, I kissed my husband for the last time . . .

It’s the summer of 1959, and the well-trimmed lawns of Sunnylakes, California, wilt under the sun. At some point during the long, long afternoon, Joyce Haney, wife, mother, vanishes from her home, leaving behind two terrified children and a bloodstain on the kitchen floor.

While the Haney’s neighbours get busy organising search parties, it is Ruby Wright, the family’s ‘help’, who may hold the key to this unsettling mystery. Ruby knows more about the secrets behind Sunnylakes’ starched curtains than anyone, and it isn’t long before the detective in charge of the case wants her help. But what might it cost her to get involved? In these long hot summer afternoons, simmering with lies, mistrust and prejudice, it could only take one spark for this whole ‘perfect’ world to set alight . . .

A beguiling, deeply atmospheric debut novel from the cracked heart of the American Dream, The Long, Long Afternoon is at once a page-turning mystery and an intoxicating vision of the ways in which women everywhere are diminished, silenced and ultimately under-estimated.

MY THOUGHTS

The Long, Long Afternoon by Inga Vesper is a beautifully written novel set in California in the 1950s. The writing is highly engaging and the mystery of Joyce Haney’s disappearance drew me into the story. It is very well written and Inga Vesper highlights important social issues of the day.

When Joyce Haney goes missing, the first suspect the police consider is the family’s help, Ruby Wright. There are some police officers who would much rather pin the crime on her and have it be forgotten about, but Detective Blanke, who is new to the area, is appalled by this. He is determined to solve the mystery of Joyce Haney’s disappearance and he is determined to make sure the right person put behind bars.

As we get to know more about Joyce Haney we get to see that there are lot of mysteries in her life. She seems to be very different to the women in the neighbourhood. I wanted to get to the bottom of who she was and what had been happening in her life in the run up to her disappearance. There was also a lot of mystery surrounding her family which I wanted to find out more about.

I really felt frustrated for Ruby. You can see that she is doing everything to try and help but she seems to hit a brick wall every time she tries to do this. It highlights the racism that Ruby experiences. This does create tension in the book as well, particularly as people from Ruby’s part of town don’t like the police. But Ruby is determined to help the police solve the mystery of Joyce’s disappearance.

There are a number of suspects Detective Blanke investigates but I was never able to guess if any of them had anything to do with Joyce’s disappearance. I wasn’t able to make up my mind either if whether or not she would be found alive or dead. The residents of the town made me feel as though they were all hiding something.

Inga Vesper brings the setting to life really well and I felt as though I was there. The setting really helped in bringing this book to life. I loved the way how Inga described California and Sunnylakes, where the crime takes place.

The Long, Long Afternoon is a brilliant debut. I really enjoyed reading it and I thought it felt very fresh. If you’re looking for an engaging crime thriller, I highly recommend it.

Publisher: Manilla Press

Publication date: 2nd February 2021

Print length: 333 pages

The Long, Long Afternoon is available to buy:

Amazon UK Kobo Waterstones

First Monday Crime is being broadcast live on Facebook at 19.30 p.m. on Monday 4th October 2021. Appearing on the panel we have, Inga Vesper author of The Long, Long Afternoon, Lesley Kara author of The Dare, Mara Timon author of Resistance, Tariq Ashkanari author of Welcome to Cooper. The panel will be moderated by Jonathan Whitelaw. You can access the event by clicking on the link below:

First Monday Crime

The Perfect Lie by Jo Spain #bookreview @SpainJoanne @QuercusBooks @1stMondayCrime

On my blog today I’m sharing my review of the latest psychological thriller by Jo Spain, The Perfect Lie. Jo is one of the authors who will be appearing on the First Monday Crime Panel on Monday, 7th June 2021. I’ll have all the details about who will be appearing and how you can access the event at the end of this post. But first let’s find out more about The Perfect Lie.

BLURB

He jumped to his death in front of witnesses. Now his wife is charged with murder.

Five years ago, Erin Kennedy moved to New York following a family tragedy. She now lives happily with her detective husband in the scenic seaside town of Newport, Long Island. When Erin answers the door to Danny’s police colleagues one morning, it’s the start of an ordinary day. But behind her, Danny walks to the window of their fourth-floor apartment and jumps to his death.

Eighteen months later, Erin is in court, charged with her husband’s murder. Over that year and a half, Erin has learned things about Danny she could never have imagined. She thought he was perfect. She thought their life was perfect.

But it was all built on the perfect lie.

MY THOUGHTS

I’m a huge fan of Jo Spain’s books, and I couldn’t wait to get started on her latest. The Perfect Lie is one of the most gripping books I’ve read this year. It’s addictive, clever and so well plotted. I devoured it in just a couple of sittings.

The pace and tension is excellent, and the taut writing keeps the book flying forward. We meet Erin, a publisher, who has moved to America from Ireland. She falls in love with a police detective, Danny, and they marry. Five years later, Erin is left devastated when Danny throws himself to his death when police detectives visit them at their home. Still grappling with what has happened, Erin is horrified when eighteen months later, she is on trial for his murder.

There is a lot of mystery surrounding Danny’s death which I wanted to get to the bottom of. Erin’s frustration comes through very clearly as she tries to make sense of the man she thought she knew well. But it appears that he was keeping secrets from her. Why did he feel as though he had to end things this way? What prompted him to kill himself? Erin fights to get answers to this, and as she gets closer to understanding why he did what he did, she uncovers some uncomfortable truths. Like Erin, I had to know if what she found out about him was true; I didn’t know who to believe.

Jo Spain also takes us back to 2016 at Harvard University, where we meet Lauren and Ally, two students. It’s not clear when we first meet them how their story connects to Erin’s life in the present. I wanted to know how this was going to be weaved together, and Jo Spain does this in a very clever way. I had no idea how the plot was going to unfold as I was reading. It’s what kept questions ticking over in my mind as well, as I tried to work out what was really going on with Danny and what he was involved in.

Jo Spain keeps the tension turning up a notch as the book races towards its finale, and I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. I was utterly gripped; once you start it, I guarantee you will not want to put this book down. It’s the perfect book which you could happily lose a Sunday afternoon too. I highly, highly recommend this book; you don’t want to miss it!

Publisher: Quercus

Publication date: 13th May 2021

Print length: 400 pages

The Perfect Lie is available to buy:

Amazon UK Kobo Waterstones

FIRST MONDAY CRIME

If you would like to tune in to watch Jo Spain talk about her book and her writing, you can do so via the First Monday Crime Facebook page. The event is being live streamed on Facebook from 19.30 p.m. UK time. Alongside Jo we also have appearing, Imran Mahmood author of I Know What I Saw, Dorothy Koomson, author of I Know What You’ve Done and Patricia Marques, author of The Colour of Death. To access the event please click on the link below which will take you through to the First Monday Crime Facebook page.

First Monday Crime

The Therapist by B A Paris #bookreview Extra May @1stMondayCrime @BAParisAuthor

I’m delighted to be sharing my thoughts on The Therapist by B A Paris on my blog today. B A Paris will be appearing at tonight’s First Monday Crime panel which is being live streamed on their Facebook page. I’ll have all the details about tonight’s event at the end of the post, but first let’s find out what The Therapist is about.

BLURB

When Alice and Leo move into a newly renovated house in The Circle, a gated community of exclusive houses, it is everything they’ve dreamed of. But appearances can be deceptive…

As Alice is getting to know her neighbours, she discovers a devastating, grisly secret about her new home, and begins to feel a strong connection with Nina, the therapist who lived there before.

Alice becomes obsessed with trying to piece together what happened two years before. But no one wants to talk about it. Her neighbours are keeping secrets and things are not as perfect as they seem…

The million-copy Sunday Times bestselling author B A Paris returns to her heartland of gripping psychological suspense in this powerful tale of a house that holds a shocking secret.

MY THOUGHTS

The Therapist is the latest novel by B A Paris, and once again, she has written a very addictive read. There are short snappy chapters, and the tension grew as the book raced towards its conclusion.

Alice and Leo have just moved into a gated community. But not long after they move in, Alice begins to notice strange things. She also doesn’t understand why Leo isn’t happy about her inviting the neighbours over for drinks. But what is even more disturbing is that someone, unbeknown to Alice at the time, enters the house, on the pretence they are a neighbour. Who are they, and what do they want? What secrets has Leo been keeping from her?

I really wanted to know what was going on behind Alice’s back and what Leo was keeping back from her. I love a novel set in a gated community, and I think it works well in adding to the tension, especially as it is a community that can be very tight-knit. I didn’t know who I could trust, and I felt fearful for Alice as she began to get closer to the neighbours.

B A Paris drops some bombshells when she reveals what really happened and what Leo has been keeping from Alice. It makes for some tense reading as she understands the truth and the tension between her and Leo grows. I could understand why Alice felt the way she did towards Leo. I did raise my eyebrow at some of the decisions which Alice made as she comes to terms with what she has uncovered. But at the same time, it made me wonder what was going to happen to her next. I was fearful she was getting too close to what happened in the past. I was also afraid that she was putting herself close to danger. I also liked the scenes told from a mysterious voice; I wanted to know how this was connected to the main plot and who this person was. This is also what makes the book very tense.

I flew through this book, B A Paris’s writing has such an addictive quality to it, and it’s something I’ve found from all the books I’ve read by her. This is a very immersive, exciting book that will keep you gripped.

Publisher: HQ

Publication date: 15th April 2021

Print length: 368 pages

The Therapist is available to buy:

Amazon UK Kobo Waterstones

First Monday Crime is taking place tonight live on Facebook from 19.30 p.m. Alongside B A Paris, the authors attending are, Fiona Cummins author of When I Was Ten, Mel McGrath author of Two Wrongs, Laura Shepherd-Robinson author of Daughters of Night. The panel is being moderated by Jake Kerridge. To access the event please click on the link below which will take you through to the First Monday Crime Facebook page.

First Monday Crime