In this small town, nobody is innocent … Hinton Hollow Death Trip by Will Carver #bookreview #blogtour @will_carver @OrendaBooks @annecater

I’m delighted to be sharing my thoughts on Hinton Hollow Death Trip by Will Carver 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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It’s a small story. A small town with small lives that you would never have heard about if none of this had happened.

Hinton Hollow. Population 5,120.

Little Henry Wallace was eight years old and one hundred miles from home before anyone talked to him. His mother placed him on a train with a label around his neck, asking for him to be kept safe for a week, kept away from Hinton Hollow.

Because something was coming.

Narrated by Evil itself, Hinton Hollow Death Trip recounts five days in the history of this small rural town, when darkness paid a visit and infected its residents. A visit that made them act in unnatural ways. Prodding at their insecurities. Nudging at their secrets and desires. Coaxing out the malevolence suppressed within them. Showing their true selves.

Making them cheat.
Making them steal.
Making them kill.

Detective Sergeant Pace had returned to his childhood home. To escape the things he had done in the city. To go back to something simple. But he was not alone. Evil had a plan.

MY THOUGHTS

A couple of years ago now, I read Good Samaritans by Will Carver and it was my top read of 2018. Now, I have just finished reading his latest book, Hinton Hollow Death Trip. I have to say that he has continued to up the ante with every book and this is going to be a strong contender for my 2020 book of the year. If you haven’t yet read a book by Will Carver and if you enjoy dark crime fiction, you really don’t know what you’re missing out on.

Will Carver reels us into his new book from the opening line. His narrator implores us to stop reading, but the only thing that first paragraph achieved was that it made me hungry for more. The unique nature of this book is that this novel is narrated by evil, yes that is correct. When I first heard about this it did make me wonder how this was going to work, but Will Carver has nailed it. I was drawn in by the narrative and Will Carver gives evil an almost God-like quality as the narrator talks about choosing who lives and who dies. But they also stress that at the end of the day it is down to us and our actions which defines what happens next.

The story does also feature Detective Sergeant Pace who featured in Will’s last two books. Detective Sergeant Pace is heading back to his hometown of Hinton Hollow. He is still plagued by the horrific events which took place in the last book. As Pace arrives, a dark cloud hangs over the town. The residents are about to go through five days of unimaginable trauma when a number of murders take place and a person goes missing. This all culminates in a shocking finale.

Although this book can be read as a standalone, I think it will help to at least read Will Carver’s previous book, Nothing Important Happened Today. There are some events which took place in his last book which feed into this story. I think it may not have quite the same impact on you if you don’t read Will’s previous novel. It’s what made the ending for me even more shocking.

I wouldn’t describe this book as a fast paced read. There are short and snappy chapters but it is a book which took me some time to read. I did feel as I was reading it that it was a book to be savoured, so I decided to take my time.

Will Carver paints a very bleak picture of the town, Hinton Hollow. As the events of the horrific week unfold, the residents are on tenterhooks. No one can believe what has happened. It begins with the shooting of a young boy and the events that take place soon spiral out of control. And Will Carver delivers an explosive ending that completely knocked me for six.

If you’re looking for something that is different and completely original compared to what is out there in the mainstream market at the moment, you need to read Will Carver’s books. But I have to warn you, they’re certainly not for the faint of heart. Will Carver continues to blow me away with each book and I can’t wait to read what he writes next. Whatever it is, it’ll be bumped straight to the top of my TBR pile. Hinton Hollow Death Trip is an intelligent, well crafted, thought-provoking tale. Highly recommended!

Publisher: Orenda Books

Publication date: 12th June 2020 (kindle) 13th August 2020 (paperback)

Print length: 320 pages

Hinton Hollow Death Trip is available to buy:

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Running private investigator and funeral home businesses means trouble is never far away … The Big Chill by Doug Johnstone #blogtour #bookreview @doug_johnstone @OrendaBooks @annecater

I’m delighted to be sharing my thoughts on The Big Chill by Doug Johnstone as part of the blog tour. With thanks to Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part.

BLURB

Running private investigator and funeral home businesses means trouble is never far away, and the Skelf women take on their most perplexing, chilling cases yet in book two of this darkly funny, devastatingly tense and addictive new series!

Haunted by their past, the Skelf women are hoping for a quieter life. But running both a funeral directors’ and a private investigation business means trouble is never far away, and when a car crashes into the open grave at a funeral that matriarch Dorothy is conducting, she can’t help looking into the dead driver’s shadowy life.

While Dorothy uncovers a dark truth at the heart of Edinburgh society, her daughter Jenny and granddaughter Hannah have their own struggles. Jenny’s ex-husband Craig is making plans that could shatter the Skelf women’s lives, and the increasingly obsessive Hannah has formed a friendship with an elderly professor that is fast turning deadly.

But something even more sinister emerges when a drumming student of Dorothy’s disappears and suspicion falls on her parents. The Skelf women find themselves sucked into an unbearable darkness – but could the real threat be to themselves?

MY THOUGHTS

The Skelf family are back in Doug Johnstone’s latest novel, The Big Chill. Still reeling from the events which happened in the last book, Dorothy and her family are trying to adapt to a new normality; by keeping the funeral and private investigator business running. But things are about to come back and haunt them in a big way when Jenny’s (Dorothy’s daughter) former partner begins to make contact from prison. It seems he is determined to push the family over the edge. But how far exactly is he willing to go this time?

Doug Johnstone knows how to open a book in a dramatic way. This time around, a police car chase crashes into a funeral organised by the Skelf’s and the young man, suspected of stealing the car, dies at the scene. You can only imagine what the bereaved family must be thinking as the horrific events unfold around them. The man behind the wheel of the car being chased is suspected of being homeless. The police are unable to identify him at the scene, and they show little interest in taking it further. Jenny is determined to find out who the man was. Even though he may mean little to the police, he is still someone’s son.

Meanwhile, Dorothy Skelf is concerned after one of her drummer students disappears. Her concerns are heightened when her family appear to show little interest in her disappearance. Dorothy throws herself into the case, and she certainly isn’t prepared for what she is about to discover.

You can see how Jenny’s husband’s betrayal has had an impact on the family over the past nine months. The theme of grief is explored very strongly here, and this comes through well in Doug’s characters as they try to come to terms with what has happened to their family. You can see this in Jenny and Hannah. Jenny is filled with torment. The past few months have taken its toll on Hannah as well. She is struggling to connect with her girlfriend and is filled with hatred and anger. You can see that she seeks revenge on her father for what he has done. The family are barely holding it together, and as the novel progresses, it’s hard to see how the future can be bright for them again.

Although this book reads well as a standalone, I would recommend reading the first book in the series, A Dark Matter. This will give you a better understanding of how the events that take place in the first book have had such a big impact on the Skelfs.

What I liked about this book as well was Doug Johnstone’s references to quantum physics which are peppered throughout the book. Often Hannah and her friends are debating the order and structure of the universe. This is a subject I find fascinating myself, and I could quite happily spend ages chatting to someone about it.

I would describe Doug Johnstone’s writing as more literary in style. His writing is very immersive, and I became utterly wrapped up in the lives of his characters. The Big Chill is another stunning book in this series, and I can’t wait to see where he takes The Skelf family next. And I’m hoping that there are more books in this series to come.

Publisher: Orenda Books

Publication date: 20th June 2020 (kindle) 20th August 2020 (paperback)

Print length: 300 pages

The Big Chill is available to buy:

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The Waiting Rooms by Eve Smith #bookreview #BlogTour @evecsmith @OrendaBooks @RandomTTours

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

The Waiting Rooms by [Eve Smith]

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Decades of spiralling drug resistance have unleashed a global antibiotic crisis. Ordinary infections are untreatable, and a scratch from a pet can kill. A sacrifice is required to keep the majority safe: no one over seventy is allowed new antibiotics. The elderly are sent to hospitals nicknamed ‘The Waiting Rooms’ … hospitals where no one ever gets well.

Twenty years after the crisis takes hold, Kate begins a search for her birth mother, armed only with her name and her age. As Kate unearths disturbing facts about her mother’s past, she puts her family in danger and risks losing everything. Because Kate is not the only secret that her mother is hiding. Someone else is looking for her, too.

Sweeping from an all-too-real modern Britain to a pre-crisis South Africa, The Waiting Rooms is epic in scope, richly populated with unforgettable characters, and a tense, haunting vision of a future that is only a few mutations away.

MY THOUGHTS

If I’d read The Waiting Rooms a year ago, I think I would have thought that the idea of a global antibiotic crisis was something very far off in the future, beyond my lifetime. Then the coronavirus pandemic happened, and this idea became cemented in my mind as a terrifying possibility. This novel couldn’t be more timely. The Waiting Rooms is one of the most original reads I’ve recently read.

In Eve Smith’s debut novel, once you reach the age of seventy, you’re virtually written off by society. What the current crisis in the world has shown us is how vulnerable we are, and how we often take antibiotics and other pills for granted. We think of plagues and a health crisis as something associated with the medieval period, or at least I did, up until now. The thought that once you hit a certain age, you will be denied any lifesaving medicine is scary; you simply expect the health service to always be there for you.

We meet the lead character Kate during a delicate situation. She is having a meeting with a young couple, and they are talking about ending the life of the young woman’s father. The tension in the room is high. But this is Kate’s job, and this is her reality day in day out. Instead of being able to care for her patients as she would like to do, she has to administer the drug that will let them drift off peacefully. And if this isn’t hard enough for Kate, she is accused of heinous things by angry protesters including being a murderer. Kate is also desperate to find her birth mother, who gave her up for adoption soon after her birth. But as Kate tries to make contact, she finds out that her mother has put measures in place to stop her. But why wouldn’t she want to meet her daughter?

We’re also introduced to Lily, who is fast approaching her seventieth birthday. Lily is residing in a top-notch care home where fear is even more palatable. There are strict quarantine measures in place, much like there is today and even the tiniest scratch could mean the end for you. Lily also has a secret which she is desperately trying to keep covered up. Her worst fear is that someone will discover it.

Another voice we hear from is Mary. Eve Smith takes us back to twenty-seven years prior to the crisis happening. Mary is a scientist currently living in South Africa. She is twenty-three when she begins a relationship with Dr Bekker when they both discover that they share an interest in botany. I thought this part of the novel was really intriguing, and I wondered how it was going to feed into what was happening in the present. There is also tension in these scenes as well, as Eve Smith gives us an insight into what’s happening around the world with new outbreaks of diseases. I also loved the description of the South African landscape, which Eve Smith describes really well. Although it soon becomes clear how Mary’s story is connected to Lily’s, Eve Smith doesn’t reveal the shocking aftermath of these events until much later on in the book.

You can see that Eve Smith has done her research and even though it is a scary realistic prospect, I hope that this doesn’t happen until well beyond my time. I found the ending sad but very satisfying. The Waiting Rooms is one of those books which I’m sure you won’t be forgetting about in a hurry.

Publisher: Orenda Books

Publication date: 9th April 2020 (kindle) 9th July 2020 (paperback)

Print length: 276 pages

The Waiting Rooms is available to buy:

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Blood Red City by Rod Reynolds #blogtour #bookreview @Rod_WR @OrendaBooks @RandomTTours

I’m delighted to be re-sharing my review for Blood Red City by Rod Reynolds 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.

Blood Red City by [Rod Reynolds]

BLURB

When crusading journalist Lydia Wright is sent a video of an apparent murder on a London train, she thinks she’s found the story to revive her career. But she can’t find a victim, much less the killers, and the only witness has disappeared. Wary she’s fallen for fake news, she begins to doubt her instincts – until a sinister call suggests that she’s not the only one interested in the crime.

Michael Stringer deals in information – and doesn’t care which side of the law he finds himself on. But the murder on the train has left him exposed, and now he’ll stop at nothing to discover what Lydia knows.

When their paths collide, Lydia finds the story leads through a nightmare world, where money, power and politics intersect … and information is the only thing more dangerous than a bullet.

MY THOUGHTS

I must admit, I’ve still not read Rod Reynolds previous Charlie Yates novels, they have been sat waiting patiently on my TBR pile for far too long. Now that I have read his latest, Blood Red City, I’m determined to get to them as soon as possible. For those of you that like an action-filled book that gets going right from the first page, and doesn’t let up, you will love this one. As I was reading it, the book put me in mind of the recent BBC Drama, The Capture, so if you were a fan of the series, I think you will enjoy this. This book blew me away!

The hook is there right from the start when journalist, Lydia, is shown a video of an apparent assault on a man in the London Underground. More recently Lydia has been covering the show business section which she hates, and she sees this as an opportunity to get back to doing what she loved. But as she investigates the case further, it seems that no one appears to have witnessed anything. In the era of fake news, it’s little wonder that it may seem that the whole video Lydia has seen could be a lie. Whatever the cost, she is determined to find out what happened. Who is the man? What if there has been a cover-up? As Lydia’s investigations get underway, she falls under the eye of some frightening individuals, and it becomes very clear that by investigating this matter to bring out the truth, she is putting her own life at risk.

As the plot of gets underway, we are introduced to another individual who comes across as ruthless and dangerous, a criminal mastermind. Michael Stringer becomes aware of Lydia’s investigations, and he attempts to track her down. But what is his purpose here? What interest does he have in what Lydia is doing? Is he somehow connected to the video?

When Rod Reynolds first introduces us to Michael, he made me feel nervous. I could see that he is someone who is cunning and that he has a lot of power at his fingertips. I feared for Lydia at this point as I could see that she was sailing closer and closer to danger, and I didn’t know what was going to be around the corner for her. I felt this especially when in the scenes when Lydia was under surveillance and Rod captured the sense of the chase well in his writing, and he raised the tension.

Blood Red City has an action fueled plot which will keep you turning the pages as each chapter presents a heart-racing new turn of events. Rod Reynolds wraps the book up really well, and I am hoping that there is going to be another book following this one. This is brilliant, highly, highly recommend!

Publisher: Orenda Books

Publication date: 11th April 2020 (kindle) 23rd July 2020

Print length: 300 pages

Blood Red City is available to buy:

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Ash Mountain by Helen Fitzgerald #bookreview blog tour @FitzHelen @OrendaBooks @annecater

I’m delighted to be joining the blog tour for the latest book by Helen Fitzgerald on my blog today, Ash Mountain. With thanks to Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part.

Ash Mountain by [Helen FitzGerald]

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Fran hates her hometown, and she thought she’d escaped. But her father is ill, and needs care. Her relationship is over, and she hates her dead-end job in the city, anyway.

She returns home to nurse her dying father, her distant teenage daughter in tow for the weekends. There, in the sleepy town of Ash Mountain, childhood memories prick at her fragile self-esteem, she falls in love for the first time, and her demanding dad tests her patience, all in the unbearable heat of an Australian summer. As past friendships and rivalries are renewed, and new ones forged, Fran’s tumultuous home life is the least of her worries, when old crimes rear their heads and a devastating bushfire ravages the town and all of its inhabitants…

Simultaneously a warm, darkly funny portrait of small-town life – and a woman and a land in crisis – and a shocking and truly distressing account of a catastrophic event that changes things forever, Ash Mountain is a heart-breaking slice of domestic noir, and a disturbing disaster thriller that you will never forget…

MY THOUGHTS

Ash Mountain by Helen Fitzgerald is unlike any other book I’ve read so far this year. This is a fast and furious read that will pull you into the setting and the secrets that are buried in the small town waiting to be unearthed.

Fran Collins has recently returned to her hometown, Ash Mountain, to care for her father, but the town is full of dark memories and a deep sense of injustice. Helen Fitzgerald’s description is vivid as the novel opens with darkening clouds and streaks of orange and red as a fire rages out of control. This scene did bring images back to my mind of the Australian wildfires at the start of the year. Helen then takes the plot back thirty years and in the days leading up to the fire, as we begin to see the true scale of what Fran and the residents the town have been through over the past decades. And Helen’s revelations lead up to a pivotal, heart-pounding moment as the book raced towards its conclusion.

As we begin to go back in time to see what happened in Fran’s childhood, I could feel the tension rising. There is an impending sense of doom as the timeline ticks down to the day of the fire.  Harrowing and dark secrets are unearthed, and even before the flames take hold, it seems as though there is a dark cloud hanging over Ash Mountain and the people who live there. You can feel that everything is about to come apart at the seams and that things may never be the same for the people of the town. This is what keeps the tension turning up a notch as the novel progresses.

Helen Fitzgerald paints a vivid portrayal of the small-town setting and the people who live there. You can see where the hub of the community is and how important it is to the locals. Her writing style pulls you into the story. Helen writes dark humour really well, and as I was reading, I did find myself smiling and sometimes laughing out loud. This is what makes her writing really unique, and it’s what I thought when I read her previous book, Worst Case Scenario, which is equally brilliant.

I flew through the final pages of the book as Helen takes us right back to the beginning again when the residents of the town are trying to protect themselves from the raging fire. As the event unfolded on the page, there were some parts to the finale which had me gripping tightly to my kindle as I waited to see what would happen.

Ash Mountain is a breath-taking book that will keep you hooked right until the last page. Helen Fitzgerald is such a unique voice in the crime fiction field, and I can’t wait to read what she writes next.

Publisher: Orenda Books

Publication date: 14th March 2020

Print length: 210 pages

Ash Mountain is available to buy:

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Blood Red City by Rod Reynolds #bookreview @Rod_Wr @OrendaBooks

Blood Red City by Rod Reynolds was one of my most anticipated reads of 2020 and it did not disappoint. I’m sharing my thoughts on my blog today.

Blood Red City by [Rod Reynolds]

BLURB

When crusading journalist Lydia Wright is sent a video of an apparent murder on a London train, she thinks she’s found the story to revive her career. But she can’t find a victim, much less the killers, and the only witness has disappeared. Wary she’s fallen for fake news, she begins to doubt her instincts – until a sinister call suggests that she’s not the only one interested in the crime.

Michael Stringer deals in information – and doesn’t care which side of the law he finds himself on. But the murder on the train has left him exposed, and now he’ll stop at nothing to discover what Lydia knows.

When their paths collide, Lydia finds the story leads through a nightmare world, where money, power and politics intersect … and information is the only thing more dangerous than a bullet.

A nerve-shattering and brutally realistic thriller, Blood Red City bursts with energy and grit from the opening page, twisting and feinting to a superb, unexpected ending that will leave you breathless

MY THOUGHTS

I must admit, I’ve still not read Rod Reynolds previous Charlie Yates novels, they have been sat waiting patiently on my TBR pile for far too long. Now that I have read his latest, Blood Red City, I’m determined to get to them as soon as possible. For those of you that like an action-filled book that gets going right from the first page, and doesn’t let up, you will love this one. As I was reading it, the book put me in mind of the recent BBC Drama, The Capture, so if you were a fan of the series, I think you will enjoy this. This book blew me away!

The hook is there right from the start when journalist, Lydia, is shown a video of an apparent assault on a man in the London Underground. More recently Lydia has been covering the show business section which she hates, and she sees this as an opportunity to get back to doing what she loved. But as she investigates the case further, it seems that no one appears to have witnessed anything. In the era of fake news, it’s little wonder that it may seem that the whole video Lydia has seen could be a lie. Whatever the cost, she is determined to find out what happened. Who is the man? What if there has been a cover-up? As Lydia’s investigations get underway, she falls under the eye of some frightening individuals, and it becomes very clear that by investigating this matter to bring out the truth, she is putting her own life at risk.

As the plot of gets underway, we are introduced to another individual who comes across as ruthless and dangerous, a criminal mastermind. Michael Stringer becomes aware of Lydia’s investigations, and he attempts to track her down. But what is his purpose here? What interest does he have in what Lydia is doing? Is he somehow connected to the video?

When Rod Reynolds first introduces us to Michael, he made me feel nervous. I could see that he is someone who is cunning and that he has a lot of power at his fingertips. I feared for Lydia at this point as I could see that she was sailing closer and closer to danger, and I didn’t know what was going to be around the corner for her. I felt this especially when in the scenes when Lydia was under surveillance and Rod captured the sense of the chase well in his writing, and he raised the tension.

Blood Red City has an action fueled plot which will keep you turning the pages as each chapter presents a heart-racing new turn of events. Rod Reynolds wraps the book up really well, and I am hoping that there is going to be another book following this one. This is brilliant, highly, highly recommend!

Publisher: Orenda Books

Publication date: 11th April 2020 (kindle) 11th June 2020 (paperback)

Print length: 300 pages

Blood Red City is available to buy:

Amazon UK  Waterstones

The Home by Sarah Stovell #bookreview blog tour @sarahlovescrime @OrendaBooks @annecater

I’m delighted to be joining the blog tour for the brilliant new novel by Sarah Stovell, The Home. With thanks to Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part.

The Home by [Stovell, Sarah]

BLURB

One more little secret … one more little lie…

When the body of a pregnant fifteen-year-old is discovered in a churchyard on Christmas morning, the community is shocked, but unsurprised. For Hope lived in The Home, the residence of three young girls, whose violent and disturbing pasts have seen them cloistered away…

As a police investigation gets underway, the lives of Hope, Lara and Annie are examined, and the staff who work at the home are interviewed, leading to shocking and distressing revelations … and clear evidence that someone is seeking revenge.

A gritty, dark and devastating psychological thriller, The Home is also an emotive drama and a piercing look at the underbelly of society, where children learn what they live … if they are allowed to live at all.

MY THOUGHTS

I’ve long been awaiting the second novel by Sarah Stovell, ever since I read her debut, Exquisite. Her latest book, The Home, is utterly gripping and heart-breaking. Although parts of this book are hard to read I found Sarah’s writing to be so addictive; I devoured the first hundred pages in one gulp. The writing here is purely brilliant!

Sarah’s second book opens with the devastating discovery of the body of a young girl, Hope, on Christmas Eve in a churchyard. Hope’s fate is intricately tied with the lives of three girls, Hope, Annie and Lara, who have all come from troubled backgrounds. They all live in a children’s home in a residence called, The Home. But they are all harbouring secrets. What really happened the night Hope was killed? What was really going on in the days leading up to her death?

Sarah Stovell really drew me into the lives of her characters; their personal stories are what make this book quite painful to read at times and we learn some quite unsettling truths about their childhoods. As we get to learn more about Hope and her best friend, Annie, we begin to see that there is a lot of mystery here. As I kept reading, I kept asking myself what would prompt the killer to kill Hope, and I could never quite get to the truth myself until Sarah revealed the devastating details in the final chapters. A few weeks after I’ve read it and I’m still thinking about it. The ending really blew me away.

I found Hope and Annie to be very complex characters. Annie I could never quite make my mind up about, this is especially as she is faced with Hope’s death in the present. To me she came across as very cold, especially in the opening chapters, but as Sarah Stovell reveals more about her background, we can see that this isn’t quite the case.

As we discovered more details about Hope’s past I couldn’t help but feel a lot of anger. I felt that the situation she was in was so unfair and I couldn’t believe what she was having to go through. This is where Sarah Stovell’s talent shines through. I was utterly absorbed by the lives of her characters. You can really feel what they are going through.

I was instantly intrigued by Lara. Although we do hear about her, we don’t get to know more about her until much later on. Her continued silence made me even keener to find out more about her and what her individual story was. This is what I really liked about this book, the added mystery that made it clear that there were more secrets about the characters to be unearthed.

Sarah Stovell does a brilliant job of creating characters who you really care about and I’m sure that her book will stay with many readers for a long while.

The Home is a dark, addictive read that will pull you in from the very first line. It’s beautifully written with a haunting atmosphere. Highly recommended!

Publisher: Orenda Books

Publication date: 28th November 2019 (kindle) 23rd January 2020 (paperback)

Print length: 276 pages

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

Amazon UK  Kobo  Waterstones

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A Dark Matter by Doug Johnstone #bookreview blog tour @doug_johnstone @OrendaBooks @annecater

Happy New Year!

Welcome to my first post of 2020 and I’m delighted to be joining the blog tour for A Dark Matter by Doug Johnstone. With thanks to Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part.

A Dark Matter (The Skelfs) by [Johnstone, Doug]

BLURB

Meet the Skelfs: well-known Edinburgh family, proprietors of a long-established funeral-home business, and private investigators…

When patriarch Jim dies, it’s left to his wife Dorothy, daughter Jenny and granddaughter Hannah to take charge of both businesses, kicking off an unexpected series of events.

Dorothy discovers mysterious payments to another woman, suggesting that Jim wasn’t the husband she thought he was. Hannah’s best friend Mel has vanished from university, and the simple adultery case that Jenny takes on leads to something stranger and far darker than any of them could have imagined.

As the women struggle to come to terms with their grief, and the demands of the business threaten to overwhelm them, secrets from the past emerge, which change everything…

A compelling, tense and shocking thriller and a darkly funny and warm portrait of a family in turmoil, A Dark Matter introduces a cast of unforgettable characters, marking the start of an addictive new series.

MY THOUGHTS

Doug Johnstone is fast becoming one of my favourite writers. His previous book, Breakers, was one of my top reads of 2019 and he has pulled it off again with A Dark Matter.

I think this book has one of the most original openings I’ve read in a long while. I did have to go over the first two sentences a couple of times as it dawned on me what was happening. Doug Johnstone pulls you into his story with a somewhat disturbing opening as a corpse is being fried. This opening scene grabbed my attention, and I wanted to know what the hell was going on here. But the opening scene isn’t quite as sinister as you might think; there are a lot more sinister scenes to come.

In Doug’s last book, I loved the raw, authentic voice he gave to his characters. In this book, we meet a family who own a funeral home, the Skelfs, which also operates as a private detective agency. I really liked this idea. It did give the book a Miss Marple and an Inspector Poirot kind of feeling.

Hannah, who is the granddaughter of Dorothy, who now solely owns the business after the death of her husband, Jim, is distraught when her friend Mel disappears. She begins investigating Mel’s disappearance on her own and takes matters into her own hands when it appears that the police show little interest. Hannah is tough and is absolutely determined to find out what has happened to her Mel. But meanwhile, another mystery is taking up her mother’s time.  Hannah’s mother, Jenny, has found out that the business is still paying money to the wife of a former employee who also strangely disappeared. She can’t understand why the business is still paying this money and begins to suspect that her father, Jim, may have had a hand in his disappearance. Did he reach an agreement with his former employee’s wife to keep her silent on the matter?

I did think that A Dark Matter didn’t have the same, quite high level of tension as Breakers did, but I did become utterly immersed in the story. It is quite a different book, and it does stand out, it’s hard to place it into just one genre. Doug really captures Hannah’s anger as she searches for answers behind Mel’s disappearance, and also in Jenny’s despair, as she tries to work out what has been going on behind her back within the business. Doug Johnstone has a real talent for giving his characters strong, emotional depth which really brings them to life and makes them feel like real people.

You will be rooting for the characters to reach the answers that they are desperately craving. A Dark Matter is a totally original novel that will have you begging for the next chapter in the series. Fantastic writing!

Publisher: Orenda Books

Publication date: 23rd November 2019 (kindle) 23rd January 2020 (paperback)

Print length: 300 pages

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

Amazon UK  Kobo  Waterstones

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Little Siberia by Antti Tuomainen #bookreview blog tour @antti_tuomainen @OrendaBooks @annecater

I’m delighted to be joining the blog tour for Little Siberia by Antti Tuomainen. With thanks to Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part.

Little Siberia by [Tuomainen, Antti]

BLURB

The arrival of a meteorite in a small Finnish town causes chaos and crime in this poignant, chilling and hilarious new thriller from the King of Helsinki Noir

A man with dark thoughts on his mind is racing along the remote snowy roads of Hurmevaara in Finland, when there is flash in the sky and something crashes into the car. That something turns about to be a highly valuable meteorite. With euro signs lighting up the eyes of the locals, the unexpected treasure is temporarily placed in a neighbourhood museum, under the watchful eye of a priest named Joel.

But Joel has a lot more on his mind than simply protecting the riches that have apparently rained down from heaven. His wife has just revealed that she is pregnant. Unfortunately Joel has strong reason to think the baby isn’t his. As Joel tries to fend off repeated and bungled attempts to steal the meteorite, he must also come to terms with his own situation, and discover who the father of the baby really is.

Transporting the reader to the culture, landscape and mores of northern Finland Little Siberia is both a crime novel and a hilarious, blacker-than-black comedy about faith and disbelief, love and death, and what to do when bolts from the blue – both literal and figurative – turn your life upside down.

MY THOUGHTS

A simple lump of rock, travelling for billions of years across the universe finally makes its mark on Planet Earth, choosing to make icy cold Finland its destination. But this simple lump of rock is about to cause a storm among the locals. With an estimated worth of one million euros, it catches the eye of more than a few crooks, who are desperate to get their hands on it before it makes its journey to London. Charged with protecting the meteorite is Pastor Joel Huhta, a former soldier who takes up the duty of night watchman. And this simple lump of rock is about to turn his life on its hinges.

What I loved about this book was how fresh the story felt. Antti Tuomainen has a real talent for putting a different spin on a thriller, and he does this here by choosing a hero who you wouldn’t expect, and this is what I like about his writing. It certainly is never predictable.

The language is very poetic, and once again, I was drawn into the icy, Finnish landscape. The last book I read by Antti Tuomainen was The Man Who Died. The writing makes you experience the cold, the chill coming off the frozen lakes and the deep drifts of snow.

Little Siberia does appear to have a darker, more sinister edge to it, in my opinion, and this is what drew me into the story. Antti Tuomainen is a writer known for his humour, and while this is still here, I thought that the darkness came through much stronger. Pastor Joel goes through a lot in this book, I really was wondering how he had the ability to keep going, but this was what I admired about his character. He isn’t a character who will very easily back down.

I thought Pastor Joel was such a brilliant character to explore, and there are so many aspects about him that make him interesting. He is a former soldier and has experience of fighting in the field. This part of his life intrigued me. He came from a deeply religious family, and I wanted to know what prompted him to join the army. Not only does he have to worry about crooks who are attempting to get their hands on the meteorite, but his wife has suddenly announced that she’s pregnant. He has so far neglected to tell her that he can’t have children, so he knows the baby can’t be his.

Little Siberia is a deeply chilling novel with a cast of brilliant, well-formed characters to follow. With atmospheric and gripping writing, what more could you want from a novel? This book definitely comes highly recommended from me. One of my favourite reads of the year.

Publisher: Orenda Books

Publication date: 17th August 2019

Print length: 300 pages

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

Amazon UK  Kobo  Waterstones

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Cage by Lilja Sigurdardottir #bookreview blog tour @lilja1972 @OrendaBooks @annecater

I’m delighted to be joining the blog tour for Cage by Lilja Sigurdardottir. With thanks to Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part.

BLURB

Drugs, smuggling, big money and political intrigue in Iceland rally with love, passion, murder and betrayal until the winner takes all … in the masterful, explosive conclusion to the award-winning Reykjavík Noir trilogy…

The prison doors slam shut behind Agla, when her sentence ends, but her lover Sonja is not there to meet her.

MY THOUGHTS

Cage is the third and final book in the Reykjavik Noir Trilogy by Lilja Sigurdardottir and another superb translation by Quentin Bates. It is a satisfying end to a series of books which I have really grown to enjoy. It’s been fascinating getting to know Agla throughout the three books, and I feel sad that this will be the last book to feature her. I do think though that it is a good place to end the series.

This time around the tables have turned for Agla. Currently Agla is in prison. She has also lost touch with her lover, Sonja who appears to have abandoned her.

While Agla is in prison, she is approached by investigative journalist, Marie, who is from a local paper called, The Squirrel. Marie was once Agla’s nemesis, but she is now seeking her help to investigate a company called, Meteorite, who are exporting aluminium out of Iceland. Marie is convinced something dodgy is going on here. As she gets closer to what is going on behind the scenes, Marie closes in on some very dangerous people. These people would wish to see her harmed if she ever got to the truth, but she is determined to expose them.

What this series highlights so well, is what can go on inside powerful groups, people who are involved in business deals and exporting vast sums of money out of the country. This is something which isn’t outside the realms of possibility. There is a terrifying world out there which ordinary people can become so easily swept up in, and this is what initially happened to Agla. This is why she is in this position today.

Agla seems to be a lot more detached in this book than she was in the previous books in the series. You can feel that the doors have closed on her and that she is now firmly trapped. She seems to have accepted her fate and is keen to do her time and then try to build a new life.

I think one of the things I missed in this book was her relationship with her son, Tomas, which Lilja previously built on so well. I did also miss her relationship with Sonja, and I felt sorry for Agla that she no longer could share her company. We do still see Sonja in Cage, but it isn’t quite in the same way.

The novel races towards a heart-pounding climax as everything comes to a head for Lilja’s characters. Lilja’s writing will have you furiously turning those pages.

This has been a brilliant series to follow, and I, for one, am looking forward to seeing what Lilja Sigurdardottir writes next. Chilling and totally gripping right the way through, this is a series of books you need to read if you haven’t done so already.

Publisher: Orenda Books

Publication date: 17th October 2019

Print length: 276 pages

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

Amazon UK  Kobo  Waterstones

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