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]

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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

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The Seven Doors by Agnes Ravatn #bookreview #blogtour @rosie_hedger @OrendaBooks @RandomTTours #NordicNoir

I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for The Seven Doors by Agnes Ravatn on my blog today. With thanks to Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part.

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University professor Nina is at a turning point. Her work seems increasingly irrelevant, her doctor husband is never home, relations with her difficult daughter are strained, and their beautiful house is scheduled for demolition.
 
When her daughter decides to move into another house they own, things take a very dark turn. The young woman living there disappears, leaving her son behind, the day after Nina and her daughter pay her a visit.
 
With few clues, the police enquiry soon grinds to a halt, but Nina has an inexplicable sense of guilt. Unable to rest, she begins her own investigation, but as she pulls on the threads of the case, it seems her discoveries may have very grave consequences for her and her family.
 
Exquisitely dark and immensely powerful, The Seven Doors is a sophisticated and deeply disturbing psychological thriller from one of Norway’s most distinguished voices.

MY THOUGHTS

I can’t believe I still haven’t read the first novel by Agnes Ravatn, The Bird Tribunal, but after reading The Seven Doors, I will definitely be rectifying that soon.

Nina and her husband Mads are moving out of Nina’s childhood home, which is due to be demolished, much to Nina’s dismay. They are being forced into a compulsory purchase scheme, and if that isn’t upsetting enough for them, their daughter is pushing for an advance on her inheritance. But she ends up moving in with Nina and her husband again after a bad case of silverfish at her home. But things don’t go quite as smoothly as they would have liked when they arrive at their new residence. The current tenant, Mari, is unsettled by their sudden appearance and she soon disappears. As the police become involved in the search for Mari, Nina is desperate to solve the mystery of her disappearance.

An unusual aspect I found about this story was that the author doesn’t use speech marks when her characters are talking. At first, I did find this slightly off-putting, but I eventually got used to it. It’s a style of writing that I haven’t come across before. It did mean, though, that I did have to pay a lot more attention to the writing, but I found that it actually drew me into the story more and I became more immersed.

I became more intrigued by Mari’s disappearance as Nina tried her best to investigate. She begins to speak to people who were close to her. This made me think that Nina was putting herself closer to danger. I could never be sure if there was a sinister reason behind Mari’s disappearance. I wanted to find out more about her, like Nina. I also wondered if there was a more innocent explanation. Agnes Ravatn creates an air of mystery about Mari’s character, and it kept me invested in the book.

I love reading novels set in the part of the world that The Seven Doors is set in, making Nordic Noir one of my favourite genres. I think the Norwegian landscape creates a very atmospheric setting that draws you in and Agnes Ravatn definitely succeeds with that here.

I was completely shocked by the ending of this book, and you can see just how devastating the ending is for the characters. I won’t say any more here than that. It does make you wonder how they are all going to move on from this after the final pages.

The Seven Doors is a novel that really makes you think about the characters as you are reading, and it will keep you thinking about what happened to Mari and what Nina will discover. It is an utterly immersive read. The book has also been very well translated by the translator, Rosie Hedger. If you’re looking for a beautifully written thriller that will draw you in, then look no further.

Publisher: Orenda Books

Publication date: 17th September 2020

Print length: 276 pages

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The Watcher by Kate Medina #bookreview #blogtour @KateTMedina @RandomTTours @FictionPubTeam

I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for The Watcher by Kate Medina. With thanks to Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part.

The Watcher by [Kate Medina]

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Some secrets can’t be hidden.

The Fullers are the picture-perfect family, a wealthy couple with a grand home in the middle of remote woodland. But even they have something to hide – and it will prove fatal.

Some crimes can’t be forgotten.

Psychologist Dr Jessie Flynn and DI Marilyn Simmons arrive at the Fuller’s home to find a suburban nightmare. A crime scene more disturbing than anything they have ever encountered.

Some killers can’t be stopped.

Jessie knows that this is no random act of violence. And if she can’t unlock the motivation behind the crime and shine a light into this killer’s mind, the Fullers won’t be the only family to die…

MY THOUGHTS

I’ve enjoyed catching up on the last two books in this series over the last couple of weeks, and I like the direction in which Kate Medina has taken the series.

The Watcher is book number four in the Dr Jessie Flynn series. The case in this book is one of the most complex Jessie has taken part in, alongside the investigative team. A couple is found murdered at their home, but what is even more disturbing is that it is believed that the husband was forced to watch his wife being murdered. The strange thing about it though was that the perpetrator seemed to take great care of the couple’s dog. Is this just a one-off killing? The police don’t want to cause panic by releasing details about the killer too soon. But when another murder takes place in very similar circumstances, they know that the killer is on a mission and that they won’t stop.

Jessie realises very early on that these killings are personal. It is the chilling way in which the killer forces his victims to watch or listen to their loved one being tortured that prompts this idea. But what grudge could the killer have against their victim that is so powerful that means they are willing to resort to murder?

I found this book really chilling as I was reading it. It was the killer’s motive that I kept questioning. Along the way, I was able to guess who the killer was going to be, but I was wrapped up in the mystery. I wanted to understand the reasons why they were doing this, which Kate Medina doesn’t make clear until the final pages. When she does, she wraps the book up in a devastating finale.

I really liked the addition of Lupo, a white husky, in this book. When the first murder takes place, the couple’s dog is taken to an animal shelter. After Jessie visits it, she decides to adopt Lupo, although her partner Callan isn’t particularly keen on taking a dog in. But Callan is quickly won over by Lupo. Kate Medina continues to explore their relationship, which was on a rocky path in the last book, and I’m glad that they seem as solid as ever here.

The Watcher is a pacy, tense and chilling read. If you’re yet to read this series and if you enjoy thrillers with a psychological aspect, then I would highly recommend it.

Publisher: Harper Collins

Publication date: 3rd September 2020

Print length: 400 pages

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Scared to Death by Kate Medina #bookreview

I’m finally catching up on Kate Medina’s Dr Jessie Flynn series and a few days ago I finished the second book, Scared to Death which I am sharing my thoughts on today.

Scared to Death: A gripping crime thriller you won’t be able to put down (A Jessie Flynn Crime Thriller, Book 2) by [Kate Medina]

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Everyone is afraid. But some fears can kill you.

A gripping new thriller featuring a brilliantly complex psychologist, Dr Jessie Flynn, who struggles with a dark past.

Sometimes you should be frightened of the dark…

A baby is abandoned in the middle of the night. DI Bobby ‘Marilyn’ Simmons suspects the father is planning to take his own life following the violent suicide of his eldest son Danny a year earlier.

Meanwhile an investigation begins into the murder of trainee soldier Stephen Foster. Just sixteen years old, he has been stabbed in the neck and left to die in the woods.

When psychologist Dr Jessie Flynn sees connections between the deaths of Stephen and Danny, she fears a third traumatized young man faces the same fate…

MY THOUGHTS

Dr Jessie Flynn is back in the second book in Kate Medina’s new series, Scared to Death. The discovery of a baby left abandoned in a pram at a hospital prompts the investigating team to get in touch with Jessie. It is believed that the baby has links to a military family. It would have to been someone in a desperate situation to leave the baby behind and with no contact details. Who could do such a thing? But as an investigation begins into the suspicious circumstances, Jessie is called away again when the body of sixteen-year-old boy has been found. But the strange events don’t end here and soon Jessie finds herself pulled into a deeper mystery which has devastating consequences for those involved.

I was a huge fan of Kate Medina’s first book in this series, Fire Damage, which I read a few years ago now, and I can’t believe it has taken me this long to catch up. Jessie is such an intriguing character who is really likeable. Her past is a chilling one and in this novel, we begin to learn more details about Jessie. Kate Medina also explores Jessie’s relationship with her father who she is estranged from. He has been trying to get back in contact with her, but Jessie is less than keen to grant him his wish. You can also see that her father isn’t willing to give up easily.

Jessie is a psychologist for the military and she is currently having sessions with one young man who they believe to be at risk of committing suicide. Jessie is determined to get to the root cause of the man’s problems, but she has no idea how they are connected to the other investigations she is involved in.

I really like Jessie’s friendship with her neighbour, Ahmose, who is one of the most likeable characters out of the series. Although he is only a minor character, he always manages to make me smile and I think he would be a great friend and neighbour for anyone to have.

The parts I find really interesting about this series is Jessie’s work. Kate Medina is a psychologist and you can see from her writing that this is an area that she knows a lot about. But the added depth to Jessie’s character is what makes this part of the novel far more intriguing. Jessie was once in a psychiatric hospital and you can see that she has deeper understanding of what her patients are going through.

Short and pacy chapters keep the pace flying forward. Scared to Death is an excellent addition to this series and I can’t wait to catch up on book three.

Publisher: Harper Collins

Publication date: 4th May 2017

Print length: 417 pages

Scared to Death is available to buy:

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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

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When your life is a lie the truth can destroy you … Keep Her Quiet by Emma Curtis #bookreview #blogtour @emmacurtisbooks @RandomTTours #KeepHerQuiet

I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for Keep Her Quiet by Emma Curtis on my blog today. With thanks to Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part.

Keep Her Quiet by [Emma Curtis]

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Jenny has just given birth to the baby she’s always wanted. She’s never been this happy.

Her husband, Leo, knows this baby girl can’t be his. He’s never felt so betrayed.

The same night, a vulnerable young woman, Hannah, wakes to find her newborn lifeless beside her. She’s crazed with grief.

When chance throws Hannah into Leo’s path, they make a plan that will have shattering consequences for all of them.

Years later, a sixteen-year-old girl reads an article in a newspaper, and embarks on a journey to uncover the truth about herself. But what she learns will put everything she has ever known – and her own life – in grave danger. Because some people will go to desperate lengths to protect the secrets their lives are built on . . .

MY THOUGHTS

Emma Curtis writes psychological thrillers really well. Her latest Keep Her Quiet follows a tense narrative. Jenna is desperate for a baby, but her partner, Leo, is less than keen, he is more intent on focusing on his career as a writer rather than on having children. When Jenna finally gives birth, Leo knows that the baby can’t be his. He is willing to put his thoughts and feelings aside to look after his family, but a chance happening of events take things for Leo on a different course. When he accidentally hits a young woman and her baby, he makes an unbreakable promise that he will live with regret for years to come.

I found this story really tense. Emma opens the book with Jenna and Leo rushing off to hospital. For a brief moment, everything is right in their world, and then something unthinkable happens. Jenna’s baby is snatched from her crib. Fast forward sixteen years and Jenna is still searching for her daughter. Her husband, Leo, has become a bestselling author and the case of their missing daughter receives a lot of attention from the press. On their daughter’s sixteenth birthday they make a fresh appeal for information. As their appeal is broadcast to the nation, it sparks an interest in a young woman, and she soon begins to question everything about her past.

As I was reading the first few chapters, I couldn’t believe what was happening as Leo seemed to take matters into his own hands. I knew he was hurting as he knew his wife had slept with someone else, but it really made me dislike him for the decisions he took next. It made me wonder just how long Leo was going to be able to keep the pretence up. How could he, especially when Jenna believes that their daughter has been abducted by a stranger?

Emma Curtis takes the next part of the story in a different direction to what I was expecting. I don’t want to say too much more here as I don’t want to give anything away. You think you can see just where the story is going to go, and then Emma Curtis completely surprises you. She certainly hasn’t given her characters an easy ride in this book.

Keep Her Quiet is an exciting thriller, and it is a roller-coaster of a read. You do have to suspend the belief system a little bit, but I really enjoyed it. This is the fourth book I’ve read now by Emma Curtis, and I am a big fan of her writing. I’m looking forward to reading what she comes up with next.

Publisher: Black Swan

Publication date: 6th August 2020 (kindle) 17th September 2020 (paperback)

Print length: 432 pages

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The Silence by Susan Allott #bookreview #blogtour @SusanAllott @BoroughPress @fictionpubteam @RandomTTours

I’m delighted to be sharing my thoughts on the stunning debut novel by Susan Allott, The Silence 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 is 1997, and in a basement flat in Hackney Isla Green is awakened by a call in the middle of the night: her father, Joe, phoning from Sydney.

30 years ago, in the suffocating heat of summer 1967, the Greens’ next-door neighbour Mandy disappeared. Joe claims he thought she had gone to start a new life; but now Mandy’s family is trying to reconnect, and there is no trace of her. Isla’s father was allegedly the last person to see her alive, and he’s under suspicion of murder.

Back home in Sydney, Isla’s search for the truth takes her back to 1967, when two couples lived side by side on a quiet street by the sea. Could her father be capable of doing something terrible? How much does her mother know? And is there another secret in this community, one which goes deeper into Australia’s colonial past, which has held them in a conspiracy of silence?

MY THOUGHTS

The Silence by Susan Allott is a heart-breaking and an enlightening read. Susan Allott explores a part of Australian history in her debut novel, which I’m ashamed to say, I never even knew about. It made me wonder why this part of history isn’t taught in schools or more widely known. What Susan Allott describes in her book is truly horrific, and it compelled me to find out more about what happened. This is what made reading the author notes at the end of the book, all the more interesting.

The novel is set in 1997. We meet Isla, who is at home in London when she receives a call from her dad early in the morning. The call is an alarming one. The police are investigating her dad on being involved in the disappearance of one of their neighbours thirty years earlier. The woman, Mandy, used to look after Isla when she was a child growing up in Australia in the late sixties. But her dad was the last person to see Mandy alive. Isla must return home to Australia and confront the awful truth that her father may not be the man who she thought she knew.

Susan’s writing really drew me into this tale. There’s a dark sense of foreboding right from the beginning, and I felt that nothing was as it seems. After Isla travels back to Australia to be with her family, Susan then takes us back to 1967. The events that take place in these chapters lead up to Mandy’s disappearance and the uncomfortable truth. It is in this part of the novel that Susan explores what happened to children of Aboriginal families during this period. This took place between 1910 and 1970. One of the characters, Steve, is a police officer, and he is charged with removing children from Aboriginal families. One young boy Steve takes a particular shine to, and he promises the boy’s mother that he will look after him and give him a good life.

Susan Allott weaves a cleverly constructed tale around these events. I could feel Steve’s longing to have a child of his own, particularly when Mandy, his wife, doesn’t appear keen to have children. I could understand why he wanted to raise the child he took as his own, but his decision that day was certainly not fraught with risk.

Isla puts herself close to danger as she fights to find the real truth behind Mandy’s disappearance and my eyes were kept glued to the pages as the Susan revealed what really happened.

The Silence is a compelling and powerful read. Susan Allott is a writer to watch.

Publisher: The Borough Press

Publication date: 6th August 2020

Print length: 368 pages

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Blackwood Bay. An ordinary place, home to an extraordinary secret … Final Cut by S J Watson #bookreview #blogtour @SJ_Watson @alisonbarrow @annecater

I’m delighted to be joining the blog tour for Final Cut by S J Watson on my blog today. With thanks to Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part.

I do have a confession to make however. This is the first book by S.J. Watson I have read and now I am determined to catch up on what I have missed out on.

Final Cut by [S J Watson]

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Blackwood Bay. An ordinary place, home to ordinary people.

It used to be a buzzing seaside destination. But now, ravaged by the effects of dwindling tourism and economic downturn, it’s a ghost town – and the perfect place for film-maker Alex to shoot her new documentary.

But the community is deeply suspicious of her intentions. After all, nothing exciting ever happens in Blackwood Bay – or does it?

Blackwood Bay. An ordinary place, home to an extraordinary secret.

MY THOUGHTS

Final Cut by S.J. Watson is an intense slow-burner which pulls you into the atmospheric setting. This is the first book I have read by S.J. Watson, and I enjoyed it. Filmmaker, Alex Young, travels to Blackwood Bay where a decade ago, three young girls disappeared. Alex’s appearance in the village causes some upheaval, and it isn’t certain if the locals welcome her presence or not. To some, she’s there disturbing things which a best left forgotten. But Alex is determined to find out what happened to those girl’s and to put a stop to whatever it is that’s been going on in this village for years. Whatever’s going on didn’t end when the girls went missing, it’s still happening now. And now another girl has gone missing.

I found Blackwood Bay to be a very gloomy place; S.J. Watson builds on the atmospheric setting as the story progresses. You can feel that this is a town with closely guarded secrets, and as I was reading, I wanted to get to the bottom of what was going on. You can feel Alex being drawn further and further into the mystery of the missing girls. It seems as well that there are people out to stop her from getting closer to the truth.

I thought Alex was a really engaging and likeable character. She isn’t without her own mysterious past, and this is what also kept me engaged in her story. As the plot progresses, there are some chilling revelations about Alex, and you begin to wonder what this is all really about for her. And this is where I can’t say anything more about the plot as I don’t want to spoil it for you.

S.J. Watson manages to capture small town life. You can see this in the relationships between the characters, and how they all talk about each other, which isn’t something that you get in a big city. What he also does explore is how quickly it seems people can turn a blind eye to what is going on in the town. If it doesn’t affect them, it’s none of their business.

The tension towards the end really turns up a notch as we begin to understand the truth behind the girl’s disappearances and what has been happening in Blackwood Bay. There are some shocking and disturbing revelations which bring everything together into a satisfying conclusion. Nothing is as it seems in this book. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Final Cut is a haunting and an atmospheric read.

Publisher: Transworld

Publication date: 6th August 2020

Print length: 416 pages

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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.

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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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Written in Blood by Chris Carter #blogtour #bookreview @RandomTTours @simonschusterUK

I’m delighted to be joining the blog tour for Written in Blood by Chris Carter on my blog today. With thanks to Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part.

I was late to the party with Chris Carter’s books, but after reading several in his Robert Hunter series now, I can see what I was missing out on!

BLURB

A serial killer will stop at nothing…

The Killer
His most valuable possession has been stolen.
Now he must retrieve it, at any cost.

The Girl
Angela Wood wanted to teach the man a lesson. It was a bag, just like all the others.
But when she opens it, the worst nightmare of her life begins.

The Detective
A journal ends up at Robert Hunter’s desk. It soon becomes clear that there is a serial killer on the loose. And if he can’t stop him in time, more people will die.

If you have read it
You must die

MY THOUGHTS

Chris Carter has fast become one of my favourite crime fiction writers. With each book he always delivers a pacy, absolutely gripping plot and leaves me desperate for more.

What Chris Carter always achieves is that he hooks you in very early on in the story.  In Written in Blood by accident, a young woman, who makes her living by pick pocketing, steals a bag from a stranger in a restaurant. But what she doesn’t realise is how dangerous the person is she has stolen from and what the contents of the bag mean to him. When she discovers what she has taken, she is sickened and immediately hands it over to the police. This is where Detective Robert Hunter comes in. In the bag the young girl stole, a diary is found, which the police fear belongs to a depraved serial killer. The entrants detail in graphic detail the crimes they have committed over the years. It is disturbing beyond measure and Robert and his team soon realise they are up against an intelligent killer, who will stop at nothing to get the diary back. There is no telling the amount of bloodshed he is willing to cause to achieve this.

What you are always guaranteed with, with a Chris Carter book is that Robert Hunter will be after a sadistic serial killer. Chris Carter certainly isn’t short of original ideas, and he certainly isn’t afraid to shy away from graphic details. But this is what makes these books utterly gripping. The level of detail makes you root for Robert, and you want him to catch the killer, but you also know that there is going to be bloodshed and tears along the way.

Each book by Chris Carter is intense, and there is always a race against time to catch the killer. Chris Carter likes to push Robert a bit harder with every book. You know that he is a detective who will do anything to save anyone from potentially becoming another victim. Chris Carter keeps the pace turning up a notch with each chapter, and my eyes were kept glued to the page as the book raced closer and closer to the denouement.

I’ve not read all the books in this series, so each book can definitely be read and enjoyed as a standalone. But once you do read one of Chris’s books that’s it, you’ll be addicted, and he’ll keep you coming back for more.

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Publication date: 23rd July 2020

Print length: 496 pages

Written in Blood is available to buy:

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