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]

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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.

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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]

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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.

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Nothing Important Happened Today by Will Carver #bookreview blog tour @will_carver @OrendaBooks @annecater

It’s my great pleasure to be joining the blog tour today for Will Carver’s, Nothing Important Happened Today. With thanks to Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part.

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Nine suicides
One Cult
No leader

Nine people arrive one night on Chelsea Bridge. They’ve never met. But at the same time, they run, and leap to their deaths. Each of them received a letter in the post that morning, a pre-written suicide note, and a page containing only four words: Nothing important happened today.

That is how they knew they had been chosen to become a part of the People Of Choice: A mysterious suicide cult whose members have no knowledge of one another.

Thirty-two people on that train witness the event. Two of them will be next. By the morning, People Of Choice are appearing around the globe; it becomes a movement. A social media page that has lain dormant for four years suddenly has thousands of followers. The police are under pressure to find a link between the cult members, to locate a leader that does not seem to exist.

How do you stop a cult when nobody knows they are a member?

MY THOUGHTS

Will Carver is a writer, unlike any writer I have read before. Last year I read Good Samaritans, and it was my top read of 2018. I couldn’t stop talking about it and recommending it. And Will Carver has pulled it off again with Nothing Important Happened Today. Although I found it a little slower paced than his previous book, it was still very intriguing, and the voice of the narrative made it really gripping. It is a very unique book that you won’t be forgetting about any time soon after you read it.

This book also sees the return of Detective Sergeant Pace who featured in Good Samaritans. The police are investigating nine suicides. Nine people have thrown themselves off Chelsea Bridge. They are called ‘The Chosen Ones.’ The morning of their suicide, they each received a letter with four words written on it, nothing important happened today. But what compelled them all, nine strangers, to meet at the same place, at the same time and throw themselves off a bridge? Are they members of a cult? Who is behind sending the letters out to the individuals? It soon becomes clear that this won’t be the last time such an event happens.

Will Carver does have a very dark mind. I thought this when I read his last book, but the darkness is turned up a notch in his latest. As the story gets going, I wanted to know what was going on in the background and why the nine strangers all decided, on the same day, to commit suicide. It almost seemed as though they had been programmed to do it. I wanted to know who was behind the letters. Will Carver cleverly brings this together at the end in a nail-biting finale. I could never quite pinpoint who I thought was responsible for what was happening, and when it finally dawned on me who it was, it was a mind-blowing moment.

Although there was very little dialogue in this book, I found the narrative so strong. We don’t get to spend an awful lot of time with the victims, but when Will Carver does allow us a peek into their lives, I felt as though I really connected to them. I couldn’t understand why they were planning to kill themselves, and this was what made me even keener to find out who was behind this. I wanted to know how they had come to be in this position in the first place.

Will Carver writes very unique books. He tackles some uncomfortable and sometimes distressing subjects, but his writing is utterly addictive and he makes his books so fascinating.

Nothing Important Happened Today is a book about how a person’s mind can easily be manipulated, and it makes it quite scary to see how this can happen.

Very dark, unsettling but very intriguing.  You won’t find another writer out there who writes like Will Carver.

Publisher: Orenda Books

Publication date: 14th November 2019

Print length: 276 pages

If you would like to purchase Nothing Important Happened Today, you can do by clicking on one of the following links below.

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Nothing to Hide by James Oswald #bookreview blog tour @SirBenfro @Wildfirebks @annecater

I’m delighted to be sharing my review of Nothing to Hide by James Oswald, the second book in his Constance Fairchild series. With thanks to Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part in the blog tour.

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Suspended from duty after her last case ended in the high-profile arrest of one of Britain’s wealthiest men, DC Constance Fairchild is trying to stay away from the limelight. Fate has other ideas . . .

Coming home to her London flat, Constance stumbles across a young man, bloodied, mutilated and barely alive. She calls it in and is quickly thrown into the middle of a nationwide investigation . . . It seems that the victim is just the latest in a string of similar ritualistic attacks.

No matter that she is off-duty, no matter that there are those in the Met who would gladly see the back of her, Con can’t shake her innate determination to bring the monsters responsible for this brutality to justice.

Trouble always seems to find her, and even if she has nothing to hide, perhaps she has everything to lose . . .

MY THOUGHTS

Nothing to Hide is the second book in James Oswald’s Constance Fairchild series, and it is a real corker. I thought the first book in this series was good, but I think the second is even better and I read it fast. It does deal with some very dark themes, and it pushes Constance or ‘Con’ as she prefers to be known; only her mother calls her Constance, to the brink.

When we last saw Constance, she had just uncovered a serious case of corruption within the police force after the death of her colleague and friend a short while beforehand. Since her discovery, several of her colleagues have turned against her. There is a sense that she is very much on her own in this book. She has also had to face the brunt of the media who are constantly pursuing her. It doesn’t help as well that she comes from a very different background to most of her colleagues. Her family are descended from nobility, and she came from a background of wealth and privilege; however, her father cut off her inheritance when she went against her parents’ wishes by joining the police force.

I think it’s Constance’s background story that makes her character feel fresh, to me. There aren’t many fictional detectives that I’m aware of, who are descended from nobility. This is what makes her so fascinating. I also like how James Oswald has blended this book in with his other series, which features DI Inspector McLean. Although McLean doesn’t make an appearance, several other characters do, including Madame Rose, and there’s even a reference to Grumpy Bob. But if you haven’t read the Inspector McLean series, you don’t need to have done so to read this book. Perhaps in the future, McLean and Connie may team up which would definitely be interesting to see.

The case which Constance is investigating is a very dark one. She has recently returned to her flat in London, only to discover a man, barely alive, not far from her home, who has been severely mutilated. Although she is meant to be on suspension, she becomes quickly sucked into the case and investigates quietly in the background against the orders of her superiors. During her investigations, she comes across a Church movement who claim to be doing their best for drug addicts and the homeless in the area. And her mother has become very fond of a man connected to the Church, although Con believes he has more of an eye for her mother’s money.

I was utterly gripped to this book, and I managed to finish it in just a couple of sittings. There is high drama right from the first page. Constance Fairchild is fast becoming a favourite fictional detective of mine. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

Publisher: Wildfire

Publication date: 25 July 2019 (hardcover) 14th November 2019 (paperback)

Print length: 352 pages

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Violet by SJI Holliday #bookreview blog tour @SJIHolliday @OrendaBooks @annecater

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

Violet by [Holliday, SJI]

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Carrie’s best friend has an accident and can no longer make the round-the-world trip they’d planned together, so Carrie decides to go it alone.

Violet is also travelling alone, after splitting up with her boyfriend in Thailand. She is also desperate for a ticket on the Trans-Siberian Express, but there is nothing available.

When the two women meet in a Beijing Hotel, Carrie makes the impulsive decision to invite Violet to take her best friend’s place.

Thrown together in a strange country, and the cramped cabin of the train, the women soon form a bond. But as the journey continues, through Mongolia and into Russia, things start to unravel – because one of these women is not who she claims to be…

A tense and twisted psychological thriller about obsession, manipulation and toxic friendships, Violet also reminds us that there’s a reason why mother told us not to talk to strangers…

MY THOUGHTS

SJI Holliday takes us across continents in her latest novel, beginning our journey in Bangkok, which is where we first meet our protagonist, the enigmatic Violet. Violet is still reminiscing over her break-up with her boyfriend, Sam, and when she misses the last train due to take her to her next destination, she strikes up a conversation with the buoyant, Carrie, who quickly takes Violet under her wing. The two girls become close and take the next stages of their journey across Asia together. But their friendship soon begins to turn sour, and Carrie begins to realise that Violet may not be the person who she thinks she is.

SJI Holliday’s latest book, Violet, is deliciously dark. There was something about Violet and Carrie’s friendship in the very early chapters that just drew me into the story. I wanted to know how things were going to pan out for them. Everything at the beginning seems so perfect, but there is that underlying sense of darkness which makes you think that something terrible is going to happen between the two girls. I wanted to know what, if any, secrets they were hiding.

Carrie is a very wild character who stands out next to Violet. At first, Violet appears shy and just happy to tag along. But as Violet’s character develops, we begin to see a different person begin to emerge, someone who is more confident and intriguing. This is why I found her so fascinating. I could never quite pin her down, and this is what makes her very mysterious.

I loved the settings. Through SJI Holliday’s writing, I felt as though I had travelled to parts of the world which I have never visited before, including Thailand, Mongolia and Russia. This, for me, is what made this book stand out and made it feel very unique. Reading this book will probably make me think twice about starting up a conversation with a stranger in the future if such a situation ever arises.

This is a book which can very easily be read in one sitting, and I devoured it in just a couple. The short chapters keep the pace flying forward. It’s quite different to SJI Holliday’s previous book, The Lingering, which I also enjoyed but I think, Violet is even better.

Violet is highly engrossing and really well written. If you haven’t read a book by SJI Holliday before, then you don’t want to be missing out. Fantastic stuff.

Publisher: Orenda Books

Publication date: 14th September 2019 (kindle) 14th November 2019 (paperback)

Print length: 276 pages

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

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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]

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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. 

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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.

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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. 

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The Shape of Night by Tess Gerritsen #bookreview blog tour @tessgerritsen @annecater

Happy Publication day to Tess Gerritsen, her latest novel, The Shape of Night is released today. I’m sharing my thoughts 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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We’ve all done things we’re ashamed of . . .

When Ava arrives at Brodie’s Watch, she thinks she has found the perfect place to hide from her past. Something terrible happened, something she is deeply ashamed of, and all she wants is to forget.

But the old house on the hill both welcomes and repels her and Ava quickly begins to suspect she is not alone. Either that or she is losing her mind.

The house is full of secrets, but is the creeping sense of danger coming from within its walls, or from somewhere else entirely?

MY THOUGHTS

The Shape of Night by Tess Gerritsen is one of the most unusual ghost stories I’ve read. Tess Gerritsen’s story is very gripping, but it did turn into something I totally wasn’t expecting. This actually makes the book quite difficult to talk about without giving away any spoilers. If you do pick this book up and if you are a fan of Tess Gerritsen’s work, be prepared for some quite unusual and shocking scenes.

Tess Gerritsen takes us to an old house on the edge of a cliff with fantastic views of the sea, known as Brodie’s Watch, where her lead character, Ava is staying as she researches for a book she is writing. The book she is working on is based on cookery in New England. But the house has a reputation among the local villagers for being haunted. There have been a few mysterious deaths which have taken place there over the years. All the victims have been young women. And soon Ava realises that there is a creeping sense of danger and her own existence might be threatened.

There is something very mysterious about Ava, and I felt drawn in by her character as she settles into her new life at Brodie’s Watch. From the blurb, we know that she is hiding something about her past. Tess Gerritsen doesn’t let on to what this is until a lot further into the book. The mystery of Ava’s history is what creates tension as the story progresses.

As I mentioned earlier on in my review, be prepared for some shocking scenes in this book which I think will definitely surprise you. Some of them are quite disturbing, and I think they may put some readers off. There were certain times when I had to put the book down. If you have read previous reviews of this book, you may understand where I’m coming from. They are what make this book very unusual, and I think they will definitely be a talking point among readers. But I’m not going to reveal anything about what happens here.

Although I was slightly put off by some of the scenes in this book, I did enjoy the story. Tess Gerritsen creates mystery, and there is a lot of tension. I raced through it because I was fascinated by Ava’s character and because I was utterly perplexed at the same time.

I would recommend this book if you are looking for a very spooky read for this time of year, particularly with Halloween just around the corner.

Publisher: Bantam Press

Publication date: 3rd October 2019

Print length: 288 pages

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

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Blood Song by Johana Gustawsson #bookreview blog tour @JoGustawsson @OrendaBooks @annecater

It’s my great pleasure to be joining the blog tour for Blood Song by Johana Gustawsson on my blog today. With thanks to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part.

Blood Song (Roy & Castells) by [Gustawsson, Johana]

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The action swings from London to Sweden, and then back into the past, to Franco’s Spain, as Roy & Castells hunt a monstrous killer … in the lastest instalment of Johana Gustawsson’s award-winning series

Spain, 1938: The country is wracked by civil war, and as Valencia falls to Franco’s brutal dictatorship, Republican Therese witnesses the murders of her family. Captured and sent to the notorious Las Ventas women’s prison, Therese gives birth to a daughter who is forcibly taken from her.

Falkenberg, Sweden, 2016: A wealthy family is found savagely murdered in their luxurious home. Discovering that her parents have been slaughtered, Aliénor Lindbergh, a new recruit to the UK’s Scotland Yard, rushes back to Sweden and finds her hometown rocked by the massacre.

Profiler Emily Roy joins forces with Aliénor and soon finds herself on the trail of a monstrous and prolific killer. Little does she realise that this killer is about to change the life of her colleague, true-crime writer Alexis Castells. Joining forces once again, Roy and Castells’ investigation takes them from the Swedish fertility clinics of the present day back to the terror of Franco’s rule, and the horrifying events that took place in Spanish orphanages under its rule.

Terrifying, vivid and recounted at breakneck speed, Blood Song is not only a riveting thriller and an examination of corruption in the fertility industry, but a shocking reminder of the atrocities of Spain’s dictatorship, in the latest, stunning installment in the award-winning Roy & Castells series.

MY THOUGHTS

Johana Gustawssson never ceases to amaze me with her plots. Her books are very different to what is out there in the mainstream crime fiction market at the moment, and this is what makes them so appealing and so fresh. So if you are looking for a crime series that is different and will keep you gripped, I would highly recommend that you read these books.

As was the case in her last two books, there is a historical element to her latest novel, Blood Song. And this is what I really like about her books. This time Johana takes us back to 1930s Spain during the reign of the dictator, Francisco Franco and she shines a light on this brutal time period in Spanish history. But how exactly does this part of history have a bearing on what is happening in the present, when a prestigious Swedish family are brutally murdered?

Although I travel to Spain on holiday every year, I have remained completely unaware of what happened during the period when Franco ruled the country. I don’t think I was ever taught about it at school. I often hear references to him, but I have never thought to ask for more details on what happened during this time. Johana paints a vivid portrayal here of what happened, and some parts do make for a tough read, and she doesn’t shy away from the brutality inflicted upon the Spanish people. But it is enlightening and important to the story. The scenes where Johana takes us to Spain are very dark and sinister.

What I’ve really liked about Johana’s books is how she puts her own spin on historical events. Her previous book, Keeper, was based on the Jack the Ripper murders and her debut, Block 46, was partly based in a Nazi concentration camp during the Second World War. The historical accuracy is all there, and it feels very authentic. Johana then uses her imagination to shape how the past has an effect on the future. This is what makes her writing and her plots unique and fascinating.

The plot pulls together in a very clever way. When I start Johana’s books, I always wonder, how she’ll tighten everything up and make the plot feel realistic, but it works very well. When you get to the end of her books, everything does make so much sense, and that’s what makes it feel very satisfactory as well. The structure of the story flows well and never once did I feel lost. I often feel that sometimes, this can be the case when stories jump through multiple time zones.

Blood Song is an intelligent, captivating and an original piece of writing. It’s very well written and expertly translated by David Warriner. This is a series which is very evocative, haunting and skilfully written.

I’m looking forward to reading what Johana writes next.

Publisher: Orenda Books

Publication date: 19th July 2019

Print length: 300 pages

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

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No Place of Refuge by Ausma Zehanat Khan blog tour @AusmaZehanat @noexitpress @annecater

I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for No Place of Refuge by Ausma Zehanat Khan. As part of the blog tour, I’m re-sharing my review of book two in the series, The Language of Secrets. With thanks to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part.

No Place of Refuge by [Khan, Ausma Zehanat]

BLURB

Amid a global crisis, one woman searches for justice…

The Syrian refugee crisis just became personal for Inspector Esa Khattak and Sergeant Rachel Getty.

NGO worker Audrey Clare, sister of Khattak’s childhood friend, is missing.

In her wake, a French Interpol Agent and a young Syrian man are found dead at the Greek refugee camp where she worked.

Khattak and Getty travel to Greece to trace Audrey’s last movements in a desperate attempt to find her. In doing so, they learn that her work in Greece had strayed well beyond the remit of her NGO…

Had Audrey been on the edge of exposing a dangerous secret at the heart of the refugee crisis – one that ultimately put a target on her own back?

No Place of Refuge is a highly topical, moving mystery in which Khan sensitively exposes the very worst and best of humanity. Fans of the series will love this latest instalment.

MY THOUGHTS ON THE LANGUAGE OF SECRETS (BOOK TWO) 

The Language of Secrets Cover

This is a novel I can easily give five stars to. The Language of Secrets is the first novel by Ausma Zehanat Khan, which I have read. Although her second book is part of a series featuring the same characters, it can easily be read as a stand-alone.

In The Language of Secrets, Ausma tells a powerful and absorbing tale which is very relevant to what is going on around the world today. The plot centres on the murder of a young Muslim man who has been working for the Canadian police as part of an undercover operation to expose a terrorist cell at a nearby mosque. Inspector Esa Khattak investigates the case. His partner, Rachel Getty goes undercover to try and expose a killer who may be among the congregation who worship at the mosque.

As I was reading, I thought it would be interesting to see how Esa’s relationship with the Muslim community would be affected. Many of them appear abhorred by what has happened, and they can’t speak highly enough of the victim. I imagined that some relationships he has would turn sour because of this.

There are some thought-provoking scenes in this book; I thought this particularly when Rachel was becoming acquainted with the members at the mosque. There is one scene in particular, which struck with me when they are discussing terrorism in all of its different forms. I think it is true that we associate acts of terrorism more with certain groups of people when it has happened throughout history. I thought Rachel’s undercover operation was one of the most gripping aspects of the story. You can see the worry that Khattak has for her as she becomes more absorbed in what has been happening at the mosque. There is tension here as you begin to fear that Rachel’s true identity will be discovered and you are fearful about what will happen to her.

There are some dramatic final scenes in this book which I thought gave the novel a satisfying ending. I was constantly wondering if the police were going to manage to stop the attack the terrorists were planning.

Although it is a heavy read at times, and it does tackle a difficult subject matter, I found The Language of Secrets to be utterly absorbing. It is a dark and engaging story that I’m sure will stay with you long after you finish reading.

Publisher: No Exit Press

Publication date: 24th January 2019 (No Place of Refuge)

Print length: 352 pages

If you would like to purchase No Place of Refuge, you can do so by clicking on one of the following links below. 

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