Black Reed Bay by Rod Reynolds #bookreview @Rod_WR @OrendaBooks

On my blog today, I’m sharing my thoughts on the gripping new novel by Rod Reynolds, Black Reed Bay.

Black Reed Bay by [Rod Reynolds]

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When a young woman vanishes from an exclusive oceanfront community, Detective Casey Wray’s investigation plunges her into a darkness she could never have imagined … Breathtaking, unnerving contemporary American Noir.

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When a young woman makes a distressing middle-of-the-night call to 911, apparently running for her life in a quiet, exclusive beachside neighbourhood, miles from her home, everything suggests a domestic incident.

Except no one has seen her since, and something doesn’t sit right with the officers at Hampstead County PD. With multiple suspects and witnesses throwing up startling inconsistencies, and interference from the top threatening the integrity of the investigation, lead detective Casey Wray is thrust into an increasingly puzzling case that looks like it’s going to have only one ending…

And then the first body appears…

MY THOUGHTS

Rod Reynolds has become a recent new favourite author of mine, and I was so excited when his latest book, Black Reed Bay, was posted through my letterbox. I was so excited to start reading it, and I can tell you that it is very clever and an unputdownable read. I’m really hoping that this is going to be the start of a series featuring Detective Casey Wray. I can’t wait to read more books featuring her, if it is.

Rod Reynolds starts this book with a bang when a young woman makes a distressed call to the police. A woman, Tina Grace, is running from a man, and she is in fear for life. But before they can get any more details from Tina, the call is disconnected. The call has come from an exclusive, oceanfront community, home to the very wealthy. And as Detective Casey Wray and her team try to uncover more about the woman and what happened to her, they have no idea what explosive secrets they are about to discover.

I loved Casey Wray. She has a real passion for the job she does, and she is a strong lead character. I liked the banter between her and members of her team, particularly between her and Dave Cullen. She is such a fascinating and really likeable person, so I’m really hoping that this will be part of a series.

There is a sinister web of lies and mystery shrouding the neighbourhood where Tina Grace made the 9-1-1 call from. It made for such gripping reading, and I had no idea how the plot was going to unfold. It’s fast paced really exciting, and the book also has a very cinematic feel to it. I felt as though I was part of the action taking place and the book is so cleverly put together and so well plotted.

Tina Grace, the woman who disappears, is such a complex and mysterious character. I had to get to the bottom of what had happened to her. I loved the setting, and Rod Reynolds expertly brought it to life. Although his last book was set in London, I do know that his first books were also set in America. I’m still yet to get round to reading them, but after reading his latest, I’m moving them higher up my reading pile, and I am determined to get to them before the end of this year.

Black Reed Bay will pull you in, and I can assure you that you will find this book very difficult to put down. I’m sure I’ve found another one of my top ten reads of the year. Brilliant stuff.

Publisher: Orenda Books

Publication date: 28th May 2021 (kindle) 2nd September 2021 (paperback)

Print length: 319 pages

Black Reed Bay is available to buy:

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

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

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

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

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

MY THOUGHTS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Publisher: Orenda Books

Publication date: 13th May 2021

Print length: 276 pages

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Bound by Vanda Symon #bookreview #blogtour @vandasymon @OrendaBooks @RandomTTours

On my blog today I’m delighted to be joining the blog tour for the latest novel in the Sam Shephard series by Vanda Symon, Bound. With thanks to Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part.

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

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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… 

MY THOUGHTS

Bound is the fourth book in the Sam Shephard series by Vanda Symon, and I think it’s the best book in the series yet. Vanda Symon knows how to create a really chilling opening, and she has created another gripping first few pages here. I wanted to know what had happened from the first page, and Vanda Symon kept me turning the pages. I raced through this book in just a couple of days.

A teenage boy returns home to a shocking scene that will be forever imprinted on his memory. His father, a local businessman, is dead, and his mother is seriously injured. What happened here, and who attacked his parents? What have they got themselves involved in?

This is such a gripping crime novel. The chapters are short and pacy, and they always left me thinking, I’ll just read one more. It’s what makes Vanda Symon’s books so addictive, and I love her writing. I had to know what was going on here and who was responsible for the crime. But this isn’t the only thing Sam is having to deal with. Her father is dying. Sam is struggling to come to terms with what is inevitably going to happen. She tries to distract herself by throwing herself into her work.

There are some shocking reveals as Sam Shephard comes closer to unravelling the truth, and there is a jaw-dropping twist that I did not see coming. Sam knows that there is more here to what meets the eye, but she seems to be the only person who can see this. It seems that the rest of the team are keen to brush the case under the carpet. I really liked how Sam fought for the victims.

Sam Shephard is such a great character, and she is one of my favourite detectives in crime fiction. She is a character you can root for right the way through, and I hope there will be many more books featuring her to come. I thought the scenes in which she was dealing with her father’s illness were really emotional, and you can see how she is struggling to accept it.

Bound is so cleverly well plotted. I loved how Vanda Symon kept the tension turning up a notch and how she kept me asking questions. Vanda’s writing is taut and so pacy. It made for such a compelling read, and I loved it.

If you’re not yet reading this series, then you really need to be. It’s a fast paced, highly engaging police procedural. I can’t recommend it highly enough!

Publisher: Orenda Books

Publication date: 4th January 2021 (kindle) 18th March 2021 (paperback)

Print length: 320 pages

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Smoke Screen by Thomas Enger and Jorn Lier Horst #bookreview #blogtour @EngerThomas @LierHorst @RandomTTours @OrendaBooks

I’m delighted to be joining the blog tour for Smoke Screen by Thomas Enger and Jorn Lier Horst on my blog today. With thanks to Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part.

Smoke Screen (Blix & Ramm) by [Thomas Enger, Jørn Lier Horst, Megan Turney]

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Oslo, New Year’s Eve. The annual firework celebration is rocked by an explosion, and the city is put on terrorist alert.

Police officer Alexander Blix and blogger Emma Ramm are on the scene, and when a severely injured survivor is pulled from the icy harbour, she is identified as the mother of two-year-old Patricia Smeplass, who was kidnapped on her way home from kindergarten ten years earlier … and never found.

Blix and Ramm join forces to investigate the unsolved case, as public interest heightens, the terror threat is raised, and it becomes clear that Patricia’s disappearance is not all that it seems…

MY THOUGHTS

I was a huge fan of the first book in Thomas Enger’s and Jorn Lier Horst’s new series; Death Deserved when I read it last year. I was eager to read what they would come up with next and I wasn’t disappointed. Smoke Screen is a brilliant addition to this series. Enger and Horst hit the ground running with an intense opening chapter, and the pace doesn’t drop throughout the rest of the book.

The plot is cleverly constructed and is weaved together really well. In the opening chapter, on New Year’s Eve, a bomb is detonated in Oslo, prompting the police and emergency services to suspect a terror attack. One of the victims of the bombing, who is seriously injured, is the mother of a missing girl who vanished a decade earlier. The case was never solved, and two-year-old Patricia was never found. With the current events unfolded, interest in the case is sparked again, and Detective Alexander Blix hopes to solve the case once and for all.

If you love action-packed books, then this is a series you really need to be reading. What I really like about these books is the relationship between Alexander Blix and journalist Emma Ramn. In an unofficial capacity, they make a good team, and they both have mutual respect for each other. There is a lot of mystery in this book. I wanted to find out what had happened to Patricia ten years earlier, and the police are also kept on their toes as the terror threat level is raised. Who was responsible for the attack on New Year’s Eve?

As Detective Blix does, Emma throws herself into the investigation of Patricia’s disappearance. There is a twisty web of deceit the investigation team needs to unpick, and Emma gets too close to the truth, which puts her in danger. This is what keeps the tension in the book going as the investigation to uncover the truth proceeds. I got the sense that the police were so close to discovering what had happened, but I thought it could also be snatched away from them. The last chapters are so tense as the police and Emma get closer to understanding the truth about what had happened. I couldn’t stop reading until I had turned the final page.

I’m always fascinated when authors collaborate on one project. The writing here was seamless, and it felt as though it had just been written by one author. I’d love to know more about how they go about the writing process.

This is another thrilling read in this series which I couldn’t put down. I know I’ll be reading the next book as soon as I can get my hands on a copy. If you’re not yet reading this series, you’re really missing out. This is a top crime series which I can’t wait to read more from. I think it would also translate really well to screen and it is crying out to be made into a TV series. Smoke Screen gets an easy five stars from me.

Publisher: Orenda Books

Publication date: 18th December 2020 (kindle) 18th February 2021 (paperback)

Print length: 276 pages

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Deity by Matt Wesolowski #bookreview #blogtour @ConcreteKraken @RandomTTours @OrendaBooks

I’m delighted to be joining the blog tour for the latest book in the Six Stories series by Matt Wesolowski, Deity, on my blog today. With thanks to Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part.

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A shamed pop star
A devastating fire
Six witnesses
Six stories
Which one is true?

When pop megastar Zach Crystal dies in a fire at his remote mansion, his mysterious demise rips open the bitter divide between those who adored his music and his endless charity work, and those who viewed him as a despicable predator, who manipulated and abused young and vulnerable girls.

Online journalist, Scott King, whose Six Stories podcasts have become an internet sensation, investigates the accusations of sexual abuse and murder that were levelled at Crystal before he died. But as Scott begins to ask questions and rake over old graves, some startling inconsistencies emerge: Was the fire at Crystal’s remote home really an accident? Are reports of a haunting really true? Why was he never officially charged?

MY THOUGHTS

Matt Wesolowski is back with the latest episode in his Six Stories series featuring Scott King. The latest book in the series is Deity which is another utterly compelling read. I always look forward to reading Matt’s book, and this one didn’t disappoint. Once I had started reading it, I didn’t want to put it down, and the unique way Matt tells his stories, kept me turning the pages. I was eager to see what each new episode would reveal and what secrets were waiting to be uncovered.

There isn’t another writer out there who writes quite like Matt Wesolowski. If you are new to this series, the novels are told in the form of a podcast. The presenter is Scott King, who has recently made a name for himself after cracking several infamous cases. Over six weeks, Scott King examines a new case and presents new details and interviews with new witnesses in each episode.

This time around, Scott is examining pop star Zach Crystal’s case whose charred remains were discovered at his burnt-out mansion in Scotland. Zach was adored by millions around the world, but particularly by younger people. So what happened the night Zach Crystal was killed? Was it a tragic accident, or was someone else to blame? Scott King intends to find out.

Zach Crystal was such an intriguing character. Throughout the book, we read extracts from his last exclusive interview, which he did as he was relaunching his career. By that time Zach was in his mid-forties, but Zach was still an idol to many young people growing up now. On the outside, he seems like a very humble and caring person. But there is a darker side to this that Scott King explores over his podcast series.

There is a very dark, foreboding feeling to this book. I wanted to get to the bottom of who Zach Crystal really was. He seemed to have an element of control over his fans, which is what I thought as I was reading the book, which gives it a very chilling atmosphere. Everyone who comes into contact with him is in awe, and Zach knows how to use this to his advantage. He displays a very confident image, but, I also felt that there was a sense of vulnerability about him as well. This made me even more interested in him.

With recent stories that have made headlines over the past few years, you can see where Matt Wesolowski drew his inspiration from this novel. It does get very dark in places and unnerving as well as Scott King gets closer to the truth. The tension really ramps up in the final pages as we begin to understand just what was going on in Zach Crystal’s life.

Matt Wesolowski has produced another absolutely gripping book in this series. It’s dark, chilling and so absorbing. I can’t wait to see what case Scott King investigates next. Long may this series continue!

Publisher: Orenda Books

Publication date: 18th December 2020 (kindle) 18th February 2021 (paperback)

Print length: 253 pages

Deity is available to buy:

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Winterkill by Ragnar Jonasson #bookreview #blogtour @ragnarjo @OrendaBooks @annecater

I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for Winterkill by Ragnar Jonasson today on my blog. With thanks to Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part.

Winterkill (Dark Iceland Book 6) by [Ragnar Jónasson, David Warriner]

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A blizzard is approaching Siglufjörður, and that can only mean one thing…

When the body of a nineteen-year-old girl is found on the main street of Siglufjörður, Police Inspector Ari Thór battles a violent Icelandic storm in an increasingly dangerous hunt for her killer … The chilling, claustrophobic finale to the international bestselling Dark Iceland series.

Easter weekend is approaching, and snow is gently falling in Siglufjörður, the northernmost town in Iceland, as crowds of tourists arrive to visit the majestic ski slopes.

Ari Thór Arason is now a police inspector, but he’s separated from his girlfriend, who lives in Sweden with their three-year-old son. A family reunion is planned for the holiday, but a violent blizzard is threatening and there is an unsettling chill in the air.

Three days before Easter, a nineteen-year-old local girl falls to her death from the balcony of a house on the main street. A perplexing entry in her diary suggests that this may not be an accident, and when an old man in a local nursing home writes ‘She was murdered’ again and again on the wall of his room, there is every suggestion that something more sinister lies at the heart of her death…

As the extreme weather closes in, cutting the power and access to Siglufjörður, Ari Thór must piece together the puzzle to reveal a horrible truth … one that will leave no one unscathed.

Chilling, claustrophobic and disturbing, Winterkill is a startling addition to the multi-million-copy bestselling Dark Iceland series and cements Ragnar Jónasson as one of the most exciting and acclaimed authors in crime fiction.

MY THOUGHTS

Ragnar Jonasson’s books are always the perfect read for this time of year, and it is something I have come to look forward to as the winter approaches. Atmospheric, addictive, and very easy to sink into. Winterkill is an excellent choice if you’re looking for a book to read over the festive period. I have heard this is the last in this series and I am sad to see it draw to a close. But don’t worry if you haven’t read the previous novels as it can be read as a standalone. You’ll definitely want to read the first five books once you read this one.

Detective Inspector Ari Thór Arason is called to a horrific scene where a teenage girl has plunged to her death from a high-rise building. On the basis, it looks as though the girl has committed suicide, but Ari Thór believes there is something else at play here. What was going on in her life to prompt her to throw herself from the top of a building? Was it really just an accident? As Ari Thór continues to investigate, he begins to sense that something prompted the young girl to take this course of action. But what was so terrible that made her decide that this was her only way out?

The novel is told over the course of the Easter weekend. Siglufjörður is facing a horrific snowstorm, causing blackouts and severe disruption. It isn’t the best weather to be conducting a murder investigation, but Ari Thór pushes on. The threatening blizzard creates a dark and foreboding atmosphere; it gives you the sense that it could cause many things to go wrong with the investigation. But this isn’t something that the residents of Siglufjörður aren’t used to. Apart from those who haven’t spent all their lives there. The weather can catch them off guard. Ari Thór is still fairly new to the area as well, having come from the capital, Reykjavík. The locals have come to slowly accept him after proving that he can stick around after surviving the harsh winters. This is something always seen as a test to newcomers who are not used to the climate.

Ragnar Jonasson builds on the atmosphere as the novel progresses. I love the way how the writing takes us into the Icelandic landscape. Once again it has been expertly translated by David Warriner. The writing flows beautifully, and it hooked me right away from the opening chapters. You get a clear sense of the dominating fjord. It made me want to google images of the town, and the scenery is stunning.

The crime which takes place in this book isn’t an overly complicated one. You get the sense that Ari Thór is on the cusp of discovering something big and even the revelations that come are a shock to him. Ragnar wraps everything up really well and delivers the perfect ending which sent shivers down my spine as I was reading it.

As I have come to expect from Ragnar Jonasson’s books, Winterkill is utterly chilling and unputdownable. It took me no time at all to finish this book. This is a series which I highly recommend. Once you read one book by Ragnar Jonasson, you’ll want to read everything he’s ever written. Top stuff!

Publisher: Orenda Books

Publication date: 10th December 2020

Print length: 240 pages

Winterkill is available to buy:

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The Coral Bride by Roxanne Bouchard #bookreview #blogtour @RBouchard72 @OrendaBooks @RandomTTours

On my blog today, I’m delighted to be joining the blog tour for The Coral Bride by Roxanne Bouchard. With thanks to Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part.

The Coral Bride (Detective Moralès) by [Roxanne Bouchard, David Warriner]

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When an abandoned lobster trawler is found adrift off the coast of Quebec’s Gaspé Peninsula, DS Joaquin Moralès begins a straightforward search for the boat’s missing captain, Angel Roberts – a rare female in a male-dominated world. But Moralès finds himself blocked at every turn – by his police colleagues, by fisheries bureaucrats, and by his grown-up son, who has turned up at his door with a host of his own personal problems.

When Angel’s body is finally discovered, it’s clear something very sinister is afoot, and Moralès and son are pulled into murky, dangerous waters, where old resentments run deep.

Exquisitely written, with Bouchard’s trademark lyrical prose, The Coral Bride evokes the power of the sea on the communities who depend on it, the never-ending struggle between the generations, and an extraordinary mystery at the heart of both.

MY THOUGHTS

I was a huge fan of Roxanne Bouchard’s We Were the Salt of the Sea, which I read a couple of years ago now, and I couldn’t wait to see what she would come up with next. Her latest novel, The Coral Bride, is once again exquisitely written and the writing brings to life the coast of Quebec’s Gaspé Peninsula. This is a writer with such a huge talent.

The Coral Bride is a book which focuses a lot on character. Detective Joaquin Morales is investigating the disappearance of a young woman, Angel Roberts. Her boat has been found adrift, but there is no sign of Angel. Angel Roberts is a fisherwoman. It is a job that has always typically been seen as being only suitable for men. It is clear that some of the local fishermen don’t take too kindly to Angel working alongside them. When Angel’s body is recovered, the gear in the investigation is taken up a notch. Detective Morales is convinced that there are people who Angel knows who are keeping secrets, and he is determined to get to the truth.

I briefly touched on the setting in the opening paragraph of this review, and after reading this book and Roxanne Bouchard’s last book; her writing has made me want to visit this area. Although there are those in the community keeping secrets about Angel’s death, you get the sense that, on the whole, this is a community that looks after their own.

I also really like DS Morales whose own past is an intriguing one. He immigrated to Canada from Mexico several years earlier, and in this book, we are introduced to his son, Sebastian. Sebastian has come to his father seeking his help after losing his way in his own life. You can see in these extracts, how much of a family man Morales is. Morales wants to take time to spend it with his son and help him get back on his feet, but he also can’t abandon the investigation into Angel’s death. It did make me feel sorry for him that his relationship with his wife didn’t work out and that he hasn’t yet found someone else to share his life with.

I found the writing to be utterly addictive as I was reading, although it is quite a long book compared to We Were the Salt of the Sea, I read it really quickly. It has been expertly translated again by David Warriner. The writing itself is lyrical, poetic, and it draws you into the world of DS Morales and the setting around him.

Roxanne Bouchard wraps everything up in a tense finale as DS Morales begins to work out what happened to Angel Roberts. It thought the ending was very satisfactory.

If you’re looking for a series of books that you can become lost in, then I would highly recommend both books in this series. It’s the type of book which you start to read, and you don’t realise how much time has gone by as you are transported into the world of DS Morales. I’m really hoping that there is going to more to come from this writer and I can’t wait to see what she writes next.

Publisher: Orenda Books

Publication date: 12th August 2020 (kindle) 12th November 2020 (paperback)

Print length: 300 pages

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Betrayal by Lilja Sigurdardóttir #bookreview #blogtour #orentober @lilja1972 @OrendaBooks @RandomTTours

I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for Betrayal by Lilja Sigurdardóttir on my blog today. With thanks to Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part. My review also coincides with Orentober created by Kelly and Danielle.

Betrayal by [Lilja Sigurdardóttir, Quentin Bates]

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Burned out and traumatised by her horrifying experiences around the world, aid worker Úrsula has returned to Iceland. Unable to settle, she accepts a high-profile government role in which she hopes to make a difference again.

But on her first day in the post, Úrsula promises to help a mother seeking justice for her daughter, who had been raped by a policeman, and life in high office soon becomes much more harrowing than Úrsula could ever have imagined. A homeless man is stalking her – but is he hounding her, or warning her of some danger? And why has the death of her father in police custody so many years earlier reared its head again?

As Úrsula is drawn into dirty politics, facing increasingly deadly threats, the lives of her stalker, her bodyguard and even a witch-like cleaning lady intertwine. Small betrayals become large ones, and the stakes are raised ever higher…

MY THOUGHTS

I was a huge fan of the Reykjavik Noir trilogy by Lilja Sigurðardóttir, so I was really excited to see what she was planning to write next. In Betrayal, Úrsula has just accepted a high profile role in government and hopes to make positive changes in the law to help benefit asylum seekers in Iceland. It is a cause she is hugely passionate about and has spent much of her time abroad helping vulnerable people. Úrsula also promises to help a mother, whose daughter was raped by a police officer. Because of his position, the case was allowed to be brushed under the carpet. The girl’s mother has been fighting for justice ever since. But as Úrsula gets involved in the murky world of politics, she soon begins to realise how dangerous the world she has stepped foot it in is.

What Betrayal does, as has all of Lilja Sigurðardóttir books, is that it captures your interest right from the first page and Lilja’s writing makes it very hard to put down. It has made her one of my favourite writers, and I bumped this book right to the top of my TBR pile. The chapters are short and snappy, and it’s the kind of book where you’ll think, I’ll just read one more when you get to the end of one. Before you know it, you’ve devoured the entire novel.

I really liked Úrsula. You can see how passionate she is about the causes that she believes in and how she is determined to make positive changes. But politics is a dangerous business. Úrsula soon finds that out when it appears that someone is stalking her. Just as she is determined to bring about change, there are people out there who are committed to making sure that she fails. There is also a vulnerable side to her, which made her feel very human. She has struggled recently to bond with her family and finds that she loves her dog more than she loves her husband.

Another character who I liked was Stella. Stella works at the ministry as a cleaner and is often in close proximity to Úrsula. Stella soon seizes an opportunity when a journalist offers her money to steal from Úrsula’s rubbish. Lilja Sigurðardóttir does a brilliant job here of raising the tension. Although Stella was making the wrong decisions, I did feel her, but I kept thinking that at any moment she was going to be discovered. I did think though if she spoke to Úrsula more then Úrsula would try to help her and would understand more than most the position Stella is in.

The plot races ahead and I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. A lot starts to happen, especially when Úrsula starts to receive threats, which puts her family’s security at risk. This is where the character Gunnar comes in, who takes on the role of her driver and bodyguard. Again, he is a character committed to his job, and he is more than willing to put himself in harm’s way to protect Úrsula.

The plot of Betrayal is exciting and fast-paced. I became totally immersed in the story, which has been expertly translated by Quentin Bates. With a cast of highly intriguing characters, this is a book I’d highly recommend.

Publisher: Orenda Books

Publication date: 1st July 2020 (kindle) 1st October 2020 (paperback)

Print length: 276 pages

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The Last Stage by Louise Voss #bookreview #orentober @LouiseVoss1 @OrendaBooks

I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to read The Last Stage by Louise Voss. With Orentober now here, created by Kelly and Danielle, I thought, what better time to read and review.

The Last Stage by [Louise Voss]

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At the peak of her career as lead singer of a legendary 1980s indie band, Meredith Vincent was driven off the international stage by a horrific incident. Now living a quiet existence in a cottage on the grounds of an old stately home, she has put her past behind her and come to terms with her new life.

When a body is found in the manicured gardens of her home, and a series of inexplicable and unsettling events begins to occur, it becomes clear that someone is watching, someone who knows who she is … Someone who wants vengeance.

And this is only the beginning…

A dark, riveting and chilling psychological thriller, The Last Stage is also a study of secrets and obsessions, where innocent acts can have the most terrifying consequences.

MY THOUGHTS

The Last Stage by Louise Voss is a tense and breathtaking psychological thriller. I can’t believe it’s taken me more than a year to get round to reading this book, as I was a huge fan of her previous novel, The Old You. Her last two books have now ensured that I will read anything that she releases and immediately bump it up to the top of my TBR pile.

The tension kicks in right at the very start of the book, with a very tense and disturbing opening, and it never drops. We meet Meredith who once had a short but successful career as a singer when she was part of a band. Meredith doesn’t want to go back to that past, and she is happy in the new life she has built for herself. But as Meredith’s world starts to crumble around her, we begin to see that she is hiding something. She fears that someone from her past is coming after her, and that person means her harm.

Meredith was an intriguing character. I wanted to know what reasons she had for cutting her career in music short, especially when she was being tipped for superstardom. I wanted to know why still, all these years later, she wasn’t keen to go back to that world. What happened all those years ago? What was it that had made her turn her back on music?

It’s hard to go too much into the plot without giving details away. The main question which I kept asking was who was targeting Meredith. I could never work out who the person was who was behind what was happening, and this is what I loved about this book. Once again, Louise’s characters pull you right into the story, what I love about her work, is her ability to bring her characters to life. Creating believable and brilliant characters is one of Louise’s strongest skills as a writer.  

Louise also takes us back in time to Meredith’s teenage years, shortly before she first becomes involved with the band. I really enjoyed these scenes as it kept me wondering if there was something in this section of the novel that would explain the events that are happening in the future.

The tense finale kept me turning the pages as I waited to see what was going to happen next. I didn’t manage to guess at all, who the person behind the events that had taken place was, and I thought it was very cleverly done. It’s a twist that will make you think back to everything that you have read before, and I loved how Louise worked it into the plot. The final chapters were also very chilling as well, and I really had no idea how things were going to pan out.

The Last Stage is deliciously dark. A completely gripping psychological thriller that will keep you hooked all the way through. I loved it.

Publisher: Orenda Books

Publication date: 9th June 2019 (kindle) 11th July 2019 (paperback)

Print length: 305 pages

The Last Stage is available to buy:

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A Song of Isolation by Michael J Malone #bookreview #blogtour @michaelJmalone1 @OrendaBooks @RandomTTours

I’m delighted to be sharing my thoughts on the stunning new novel by Micahel J Malone, A Song of Isolation on my blog today. With thanks to Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part.

A Song of Isolation by [Michael J. Malone]

BLURB

Film star Amelie Hart is the darling of the silver screen, appearing on the front pages of every newspaper. But at the peak of her fame she throws it all away for a regular guy with an ordinary job. The gossip columns are aghast: what happened to the woman who turned heads wherever she went?

Any hope the furore will die down are crushed when Amelie’s boyfriend Dave is arrested on charges of child sexual abuse. Dave strongly asserts his innocence, and when Amelie refuses to denounce him, the press witch hunt quickly turns into physical violence, and she has to flee the country.

While Dave is locked up with the most depraved men in the country and Amelie is hiding on the continent, Damaris, the victim at the centre of the story, is isolated – a child trying to make sense of an adult world.

Breathtakingly brutal, dark and immensely moving, A Song of Isolation looks beneath the magpie glimmer of celebrity to uncover a sinister world dominated by greed and lies, and the unfathomable destruction of innocent lives … in an instant.

MY THOUGHTS

Michael J. Malone explores some dark themes in his latest novel, A Song of Isolation. Hollywood film start, Amelie Hart is left feeling devastated when her partner, Dave is accused of child abuse by their neighbours. Because of her connection to Dave, the case is catapulted into the spotlight. They soon find themselves under intense scrutiny from the public and the media. Amelie is certain of Dave’s innocence, as is his family, but now that the wheels have been set in motion; it seems that there is little that can be done to stop the changing tide of events.

I wanted to shout at the injustice being done to Dave and Amelia while I was reading this book. I felt sure that he was being stitched up the family of the victim; I couldn’t believe they were being allowed to get away with it. Sadly, I couldn’t help but think of how very likely it is that this could happen in the real world. I’ve always believed that the names of suspects should never be released until it is proven without a doubt that they are the person responsible for the crime.

Dave’s trial garners more publicity from the media as he is currently dating a Hollywood film star. You can see the level of scrutiny that is opposed upon them, especially upon Amelia as well just for supporting her partner. Michael J. Malone also explores the effect that this has on Dave’s parents. They run a successful business, and you can see the fears that the publicity will have on his work. I kept thinking that at any moment, even Dave’s family; especially Amelia, would abandon him to save their careers. I was desperate for this not to happen. This again made me feel angry as Amelia was being pressured to drop all contact with him to save her career.

What this novel explores well, is that we are all too quick to judge people, especially celebrities, when a lot of articles printed about them can be misleading. You can see this in the way that people speak of Dave when the media essentially portray him as guilty before the case has even been brought to trial. The public soon starts talking about him, people who know him as well and say, “I always thought he looked a bit shifty.” This happens in real life, as well. All of a sudden people’s perception of a person seems to change. They convince themselves that he is guilty without looking into the facts. Is this a way, perhaps, to convince themselves that the police have convicted the right person? Does this make them feel somehow comfortable that a dangerous person, local to them, has been rightly put behind bars, removing that threat?

Throughout the book, I was rooting for Dave and Amelie to get the justice that they deserved. I felt for the alleged victim as well, Damaris, as you can see that she is being manipulated. This kept me, even more, gripped to the book as I wasn’t sure how things were going to pan out for Dave. I could see that things could go either way for him, and this made me root for him even more.

Michael J. Malone has created another stunning, powerful piece of writing that will stay with you. A Song of Isolation is a powerful, heart-wrenching read. It’s a book that challenges your thought process, and it should be on everyone’s reading pile. Highly recommended!

Publisher: Orenda Books

Publication date: 17th July 2020 (kindle) 17th September 2020 (paperback)

Print length: 300 pages

A Song of Isolation is available to buy:

Amazon UK Kobo Waterstones

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