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

Fragile by Sarah Hilary #bookreview #blogtour @sarah_hilary @panmacmillan @RandomTTours

I’m delighted to be sharing my thoughts on the new standalone novel by Sarah Hilary, Fragile, 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.

BLURB

Everything she touches breaks . . .

Nell Ballard is a runaway. A former foster child with a dark secret she is desperate 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 that 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 easy they can be to break . . .

MY THOUGHTS

I’m a huge, huge fan of Sarah Hilary’s writing, having loved her DI Marnie Rome series, which I’m hoping Sarah Hilary will return to at some point. I was really intrigued to see that she was releasing a new standalone novel. Fragile is her latest book, and it is an intense, beautifully written psychological thriller.

We meet Nell, who has recently applied to work for a Robert Wilder at his home in London, Starling Villas and eventually becomes his housekeeper. Nell is a former foster child, but lately, she has been living on the streets. But Nell also has a dark secret, and there is a reason why she has applied for the position at Starling Villas.

Ever since I read Sarah Hilary’s debut, Someone Else’s Skin, she has been an auto-buy author for me. I always recommend her work when people ask me to recommend them a good book to read. I connected to Nell straight away. I wanted to know why she specifically wanted to come to Starling Villas and what it had to do with her childhood. Sarah Hilary builds on the atmosphere as the novel progresses and things become darker and more intense, particularly when Robert’s wife arrives on the scene.

Robert, who Nell works for, is a very strange character. I did find him unnerving as well when Nell firsts comes to his house, and I wanted to learn more about who he was. I felt fearful for Nell when she first arrived as I wasn’t sure what she was getting herself into here. Any minute I kept thinking that something terrible was going to happen to her, or she was going to uncover a dark secret. It’s clear from the outset that she is here on a mission and she is determined to see it through. I wanted to find out what it was she wanted to achieve by coming here.

Sarah Hilary’s writing draws you into the story from the very first page. As the plot unfolds, we begin to learn more about Nell and her childhood. Sarah Hilary reveals what Nell went through when she was a child living in foster care, and it makes for gripping reading. We know that something terrible happened when she was living in foster care, but it’s only when we reach the chapters, do we understand the full, terrible truth.

If you haven’t yet discovered Sarah Hilary’s writing, this is the perfect time to do so. Fragile is a haunting, exceptionally well written novel. I highly recommend it!

Publisher: Macmillan

Publication date: 10th June 2021

Print length: 352 pages

Fragile is available to buy:

Amazon UK Kobo Waterstones

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Fragile BT Poster