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Book reviews ... Author interviews ... and anything else I think might be of interest to writers and readers.

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Robert B Parker’s The Devil Wins by Reed Farrel Coleman

The Devil Wins

I’ve never read any of Robert B Parker’s books so when this review copy of a novel written by Reed Farrel Coleman as a continuation of Parker’s Jesse Stone series arrived, I read it with an open mind and no particular expectations.

As an introduction to the character of Jesse Stone and the world in which he operates, I enjoyed it very much.

Jesse, once an LA homicide detective, is now chief of police in Paradise, Mass. and living a very different lifestyle from his previous one. Early on in the book we find out that Jesse is struggling with alcohol, with troubled relationships with women and with his own past.

Paradise turns out to be far from heavenly when, one night in the midst of a huge storm, a dead body is found in a collapsed building. Things take an even more sinister turn when two further bodies are found and it turns out they’ve been there for twenty-five years.

I found this an enjoyable and engrossing mystery. I really liked Jesse Stone and the characters surrounding him, and the way the story had its roots in the past added an extra dimension to it.

There are many twists and turns to keep the reader guessing, including an unexpected extra revelation at the end.

I can’t comment on how well the book reflects Robert B. Parker’s works, but would definitely recommend it in its own right.

Thanks very much to the publishers for a review copy of this book.

You can find out more here

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Candles And Roses by Alex Walters

Candles And Roses 

by Alex Walters

My husband has a fantastic new book out today. Candles And Roses is published by Bloodhound Books and you can get it here.

Here's what the publisher has to say about it ...

Candles and Roses: a chilling serial killer thriller from a critically acclaimed author.

Who will live and who will die? 
DI Alec McKay is a man haunted by the loss of his daughter.  As he obsesses over a missing person case that is going nowhere, McKay’s investigation is interrupted when bodies start appearing on the Scottish Black Isle. Soon McKay and his team start to identify a disturbing pattern behind the killings.
Why are candles and roses placed around the bodies?
What is this twisted murderer trying to achieve?
While the police follow their own leads, a young woman who discovered the first victim begins an investigation of her own.
As the case unfolds McKay will be forced to face his own demons.
To catch the killer McKay must discover the true motive and untangle the web of truth and lies.
Candles and Roses is the first book in the explosive new DI McKay Series.  

Also, don't forget that today is the last day you can pick up Late Checkout for 99p on the Kindle Countdown Deal. You can find that here.

Friday, 23 September 2016

Girl In Danger by Leigh Russell

Girl In Danger

‘Girl In Danger’ is the second outing for Lucy Hall, and this time finds her based in Paris and trying to make her way as a journalist.

This is what the book blurb has to say …

Lucy Hall’s first summer in Paris promises to be idyllic. She’s fallen in love with the city and enjoys her new job as an investigative reporter. When her friend Nina comes to stay, the girls look forward to a wonderful summer. But Paris is a city of contrasts and Lucy is about to experience its dangerous side.

When an anonymous source promises her a scoop, Lucy can’t resist the chance to make her name. The deeply unsettling meeting with her informant indicates that there may be more at stake than she’d suspected. Returning home with questions instead of answers, Lucy finds her apartment ransacked and Nina gone.

Lucy knows her friend is in danger, but the police are unwilling to help. When her informant is found dead, she realises she may be next. Lucy has something the killer wants and he’ll do anything to get it back…

One of the things I’m really enjoying about the Lucy Hall series is the way that each one is set in a very different location. In the first book, ‘Journey To Death’ we found ourselves in the exotic surroundings of the Seychelles. This time we are much closer to home in Paris, and I found the setting was very deftly recreated. I haven’t been to Paris for many years, but I really felt as I read that I could picture where Lucy was and see it all very clearly in my mind’s eye.

In this adventure Lucy finds herself trying to get to the bottom of the mystery of what has happened to Nina alongside a local Private Detective. The mysterious Alain turns out to be the perfect partner for Lucy. His hardbitten attitude, born of long experience of crime and corruption, acts as a perfect foil to the sometimes slightly naïve and impulsive Lucy.

As they work together, both Lucy and the reader wonder if Alain can be trusted. As events unfold it turns out that certainly no one else can be!

All in all, a very gripping crime story that takes both the reader and Lucy to some very dark places. Some of the descriptions of the crimes committed are not for the fainthearted, but are necessary to indicate the level of jeopardy Lucy and Nina find themselves in and the urgency of their dilemma.

I’m looking forward to seeing where Lucy ends up next, and I hope this series will run and run.

Thanks very much to the author for a review copy of this book via Netgalley.

'Girl In Danger' is out on Kindle on 27th September and available for pre-order now. You can find out more here

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Late Checkout - 99p only!

Late Checkout

by Alex Walters

Just to let you all know that for a limited period of a week only, my husband's book 'Late Checkout' is a total steal at 99p!

Don't trust my word that it's good - read all the excellent reviews.

You can find it here.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Missing Presumed by Susie Steiner

Missing, Presumed

When I requested and read this book for review I wasn’t aware that it was the first in a new series featuring DS Manon Bradshaw, but I enjoyed it so much that I was really glad to find out that appears to be the case.

In this book we follow Manon on a missing person case. Edith Hind, young daughter of a very well-connected family, has gone missing from home and Manon knows how crucial the first 72 hours of the investigation are if she’s to have any chance of finding her. As the investigation into Edith’s disappearance continues, the team of detectives uncover details about Edith’s private life that suggest almost too many possible reasons for her disappearance.

The story is told from the point of view of various different characters involved in the investigation. I found this gave an interesting panoramic feel to the story as it progressed, but it was the sections from Manon’s point of view that I enjoyed the most. Her voice really shone through and lifted the story out of the ranks of the usual crime novel.

We also find out quite a lot about Manon’s private life in the course of the story. As we join her at the beginning she is looking for love through a series of unsatisfactory internet dating encounters. But will it turn out that she’s looking for love in completely the wrong place?

I recommend this to anyone who enjoys crime that is a little bit different from the norm. I enjoyed the story, but more than that I just really enjoyed being in the company of DS Manon Bradshaw.

I obtained a review copy of this book via Netgalley.

You can find out more here.

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Local Girl Missing by Claire Douglas

Local Girl Missing

I found the title and premise of this book very interesting and was really pleased to have a chance to download it from Netgalley. There were lots of things I really enjoyed about it and that made it stand out from the rest.

Firstly, I enjoyed the setting very much. I have a bit of a weakness for out of season holiday towns in the cold of winter and this book captured it perfectly. As Francesca goes back to her home town to confront the ghosts of the past, we feel with her the cold of the sea spray and the wind and rain.

We find out that Francesca’s best friend Sophie went missing when they were both teenagers and now a body has been found. As Francesca reconnects with the people and places of her past the story unfolds.

The way that Francesca interacts with people from her past is also interesting and skilfully done. The significance of some of the things that happen isn’t what the reader thinks it is.

These twists and turns lead towards some surprising twists and revelations at the end.

I found this to be a proper page turning read and I read it in two days while on holiday. The story is told in two strands – a present day one involving Francesca and one from the past telling Sophie’s story in the lead up to her disappearance. I found both narratives gripping and cleverly entwined as the past catches up with the present and the secrets about what really happened to Sophie are revealed.

An all round enjoyable read with plenty of surprises.

My review copy of this book was obtained via Netgalley.

You can find out more here.

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Sandlands by Rosy Thornton


I have previously enjoyed reading Rosy Thornton’s novels, so I was really pleased when she offered to send me a copy of her new volume of short stories.

Sandlands is a delightful collection and, like all the best short story collections, it has unifying themes running through it.

The most obvious is the setting – the stories highlight various locations around Suffolk. But it is the way that the setting is used in the stories, and the collection as a whole, that really brings them to life.

One of the most striking motifs running through is the feel of the land itself. The hardness of  the ground after a frost, the dragging sogginess of mud underfoot when the fields are water logged. The stories are effective in making the reader feel in a very visceral way the connection the characters have to the place where they live.

As well as the significance of place, the threads of the stories reach out to each other across generations and across time. The importance of family and heritage underlines the themes of birth, death, life and the fragility of existence.

I like the way Rosy Thornton has played around with different forms of storytelling within the stories. In one we have a narrative told through a series of love letters, in another the use of photographs and video is central to the tale. These techniques give an extra layer of meaning and interest to the collection.

Each story contains little jewels in its own right as well as forming part of a cohesive collection. The ailing fox gently coaxed back to life, the owl watching over a cache of letters, the pub piano, the bells in a church tower, the rare plant blooming in an unexpected place.

What makes this collection stand out for me is the quality of the writing. It is full of emotion and sensitivity and gives the stories a sense of delicate poise that make them a joy to read. The characters, the places and the episodes are all exquisitely drawn and leave a sense of having really stepped into someone’s life for a brief moment.

If I had to choose favourites, they would probably be these two.

The Level Crossing - a woman comes to terms with tragic events from her family's past and contemplates her own future as she runs by a railway line.

Mad Maudlin - video images of a pub, a piano, and photographs. And something going on that is far more than meets the eye.

I suspect that this is a collection that different readers will all take something different away from. And that is how it should be.

I recommend this book to all lovers of short stories, and also to those who might be new to reading the form.

Thanks very much to the author for a review copy of this book.

You can find out more here.

And you can find my reviews of some of Rosy’s other books here