Saturday, 18 September 2021

BLOG TOUR: The Family Lie - P L Kane

A scream cut through the night as they watched flames engulf the woodland. Fire ripped through the trees, leaving only charred branches behind. And then they saw it… on the ashen forest floor… was a body.

Police officer, Mitchel Prescott answered the phone with a shaking hand. It was the one call he had been dreading. It was the hospital at Green Acres… his father Thomas, had died in the night.

Returning to the small town he had been avoiding since he was a child, Mitch must lay his father to rest.

When he arrives, the close-knit residents refuse to speak about Thomas’ death, other than to explain he was found burnt to death in the woods and his dementia was the likely cause.

But when Mitch discovers traces of accelerant on his father’s body, he’s certain it wasn’t an accident. Then his childhood home is broken into, his father’s study ransacked, and a rock thrown through the window warning him to leave.

Mitch is convinced Thomas had discovered something that had got him into trouble… something that would threaten his entire family.

But what secret is worth killing for?

What did I think?

I rather enjoyed that!  The Family Lie is pretty creepy with an underlying hint of menace and the town of Green Acres is definitely somewhere I would not want to visit!  Its oddness reminded me of the setting of Royston Vasey from The League of Gentlemen but the characters in The Family Lie are more threatening in a duplicitous kind of way.

Although it has quite a gruesome and intriguing beginning, it took me a little while to get into the story as it flicks back and forth between Mitch and his sister Bella.  When their father dies, Bella refuses to return to Green Acres so Mitch is the one who goes back home to arrange his father's funeral.  Mitch has just quit his job in the police force but he sniffs out something sinister about his father's death and begins to investigate, but someone seems intent to stop him.

I loved the character of Bella and her psychic ability which added a supernatural air of mystery to the whole proceedings.  There is so much more to Bella's story than meets the eye and I loved discovering everything about her.  It's odd but I didn't really take to Mitch as much as Bella, although I loved Mitch's interactions with the cat, but I think perhaps I just found Bella to be a more interesting character. 

Chilling and intriguing with a hint of the supernatural, anything could happen in The Family Lie which makes it impossible to predict and difficult to put down.  I enjoyed it; it's an entertaining, disturbing and imaginative crime thriller.

I chose to read a digital ARC from NetGalley and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

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Wednesday, 15 September 2021

Secrets, Shame, and a Shoebox - L. B. Griffin

When Harriet Laws loses her grandmother and her job, her happy life in London seems over. Alone, grief-stricken and penniless, she thinks wildly of ending it all. Fate steps in as Tom Fletcher saves her, gives her hope, and guides her to new employment. He takes her to dinner, and she finds him attractive. He's older, but she doesn't mind. Does he? 

Tom, a quiet, hardworking man, is unsure of Harriet's feelings, but he's also very busy building his business interests. So it's no wonder a suave, sophisticated fellow walks off with Harriet right under Tom's nose. 

What follows, no one could have predicted, as Harriet not only loses contact with all her friends but must again fight for her very life...will she ever see Tom again?

What did I think?

Oh I really enjoyed this wonderful book.  What a fabulous debut from L.B. Griffin!  When I first started reading, I thought it was going to be a soap opera style piece of women's fiction but it is so multi-layered that it burst out of every genre box I tried to put it in.  

I loved the main character of Harriet, she's loving and intelligent but very naïve which sees her being taken advantage of in her work and love life.  I felt so sorry for her when she loses her grandmother and her job in quick succession (and in such devious circumstances regarding the latter), but events lead her into the path of love interest Tom.

Harriet and Tom seem so perfectly matched but Tom thinks he's too old for Harriet and that she can't possibly be interested in him, so the pair remain friends.  Meanwhile, someone else has their eye on Harriet (and he always gets what he wants) so before she knows it, Harriet's life changes once more but it's not for the better...

There's so much going on in this novel that I found it an absolute joy to read, although it does take a darker turn which had me feverishly turning pages as the pacing unexpectedly ramped up.  There's also an air of mystery surrounding Harriet's beginnings and an intriguing painting left to her by her grandmother, and there are hints and clues to gather along the way, although the mystery is not revealed so we must wait for the sequel to continue this fabulous story.  I didn't feel cheated at all by this, just more eager to read the next book!

Incredibly well-written, Secrets, Shame, and a Shoebox is a magnificent debut from L. B. Griffin.  It's a poignant, disturbing and heartwarming page-turner that has left me chomping at the bit to continue Harriet's story.

I received a gifted digital ARC from the author and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

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Monday, 13 September 2021

Rags of Time (Thomas Tallant Mysteries Book 1) - Michael Ward



Thomas Tallant, a young and ambitious Spice Merchant, returns from India to find his city in turmoil.

A bitter struggle is brewing between King Charles I and Parliament, as England slides into civil war. The capital is simmering with dissent. The conflict is ready to boil over.

But Thomas soon has other troubles to contend with. A wealthy merchant, Sir Joseph Venell, is savagely killed; then his partner Sir Hugh Swofford plunges to his death, in the Tallant household.

Suspicion falls on Thomas, who is sucked into a mire of treachery and rumour within the City of London. As the merchant struggles to clear his name, he becomes captivated by the enigmatic Elizabeth Seymour, whose passion for astronomy and mathematics is matched only by her addiction to the gaming tables.

Pursued by the authorities, Thomas races to unmask the real killer who claims a third victim to implicate him further, toying with his future in a deadly cat and mouse game.

In a desperate race against time, Elizabeth applies her powers of logic and deduction to unearth the clues that will point to the killer, but her way is barred by a secret message from the grave.

Can she crack its code before Thomas, now a wounded and exhausted fugitive, succumbs to the chase?

And, if she succeeds, has Thomas the strength to face his tormentor and win his life and reputation back?

Rags of Time is the first book in an engaging and entertaining new historical crime series, set during the upheaval of the 17th Century. Recommended for fans of Andrew Taylor, CJ Sansom and SJ Parris.

What did I think?

Never has historical fiction been so fast-paced; Rags of Time is as gripping as a modern-day thriller and I positively raced through this magnificent debut.  I loved the characters, the story and the setting and I'm delighted that there is a sequel.

Set prior to the English Civil War, there is an air of unrest in England and the tension is captured perfectly in the book.  The tension is ramped up even further by a series of mysterious deaths that lead the authorities to the Tallant house.  Young spice merchant Tom is innocent but as the evidence mounts up against him he must fight to prove his innocence before the net closes in.

Michael Ward's writing is spectacular; he really brings 17th century London to life with his vivid descriptions of all of the sights, sounds and smells.  I could almost hear the chatter, feel the hustle and bustle and smell the intriguing fruits and spices brought back from various expeditions around the globe.  There's nothing dry or dusty about this fantastic piece of historical fiction; it's thrilling, gripping and entertaining from start to finish.

I can't wait to read more about the wonderful Tallant family and see how Tom's relationship with Elizabeth Seymour progresses.  Elizabeth is a very unusual character in what is very much a man's world with her love of tobacco, astronomy and codebreaking.  I wasn't sure of her motivations at first but she really proves invaluable to Tom in his quest to unmask the real killer.

I really can't recommend Rags of Time highly enough, even if you don't usually read historical fiction I think you will find it fast-paced, intriguing and gripping.  I certainly couldn't put it down and that's definitely the sign of a good book in my opinion.  Well worth every single one of the five stars I have awarded; whether you're a fan of historical fiction or crime thrillers, Rags of Time is an absolute must read.  It's simply outstanding!

Many thanks to Michael Ward for sending me a digital ARC to read and review; this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

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Saturday, 11 September 2021

The Tale of The Vampire Rabbit - Michael Quinlyn-Nixon

A totally fictional and completely unhistorical account of the origins of Newcastle’s mysterious grotesque, known as the Vampire Rabbit.  Written as an original poem and fully illustrated by the author, Michael Quinlyn-Nixon, the story of the quirky Vampire Rabbit is brought ‘alive’ in the year of 1899, with the story concluding in the present day.  Set in Victorian Tyne and Wear, the story illustrates the Vampire Rabbit’s unquenchable bloodlust and the consequences of its villainous actions.  

Suitable for older children (with parental guidance), the book can be equally enjoyed by adults who enjoy dark poems with a drop of humour. 

What did I think?

I always like to visit the Vampire Rabbit whenever I'm in Newcastle so I was delighted when my fiancé gave me a copy of Michael Quinlyn-Nixon's book for my birthday.  At under 30 pages it's obviously a very quick read but not as quick as you'd expect as you can't help but pause to admire the fabulous illustrations.

The Tale of the Vampire Rabbit is a poem set in Victorian Newcastle in 1899 and present day 2020.  Many have speculated about the story behind the famous grotesque, which still remains unknown, and Michael Quinlyn-Nixon weaves a humourous, entertaining and imaginative tale of its fictional origin in his brilliant poem.  

Both the poetry and the illustrations are outstanding.  I'm not usually one for poetry but this one is fun and it rhymes.  It just needs a musician to compose a catchy tune and I could see it being sung in future alongside The Blaydon Races.  The illustrations are drawn in kind of a sepia tone with splashes of pink and red which gives it a dark, gothic feel and totally fits the subject.  The drawings are awesome, they are so incredibly detailed and I simply can't stop looking at them. 

It's a little bloodthirsty at times (it's a Vampire Rabbit after all) so it's not a suitable bedtime story for young children, but it could definitely be enjoyed by older children and adults.  I absolutely loved it and I'll certainly be looking at the Vampire Rabbit in a different light next time I'm in Newcastle.

Hugely entertaining and incredibly enjoyable, The Tale of the Vampire Rabbit is a fabulous poem with breathtaking illustrations.  It's THE book to buy the Geordie who has everything!  Every bookcase in the North East should have a copy.

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Friday, 10 September 2021

COVER REVEAL: Always the Dead - Stephen J. Golds

I'm delighted to be taking part in the Red Dog Press cover reveal today for Always the Dead by Stephen J. Golds.  Before I tell you how amazing the book is, feast your eyes on this striking cover.

About the book:

Los Angeles, California. 1949. 

Scott Kelly is a World War Two Marine veteran and mob hitman confined to a Tuberculosis sanatorium suffering from consumption, flashbacks and nightmares from his experiences in The Battle of Okinawa and a botched hit for Bugsy Siegel.

When his movie actress girlfriend disappears, he bribes his way out of the sanatorium to search for her.

What follows is a frantic search, a manic murder spree, stolen contraband, and a briefcase full of cash.

A story that stretches from the war torn beaches of Okinawa, all the way to the playground of the rich and famous, Palm Springs, California.

An exploration into the depths of L.A crime, PTSD and twisted love, this is a semi-fictional novel based around the disappearance of Jean Spangler.

Preorder from Red Dog Press:

Brilliantly written with a vintage feel, Always the Dead is dark, gritty and compulsive reading.  I absolutely loved this breathtaking novel (click here to read my review) so make sure you pop over to Red Dog Press to preorder your copy.

Thursday, 9 September 2021

Murder at the Seaview Hotel (A Helen Dexter Cosy Crime Mystery) - Glenda Young

In the charming Yorkshire seaside town of Scarborough, a murder is nothing to sing about . . .

After the death of her husband Tom, Helen Dexter is contemplating her future as the now-sole proprietor of the Seaview Hotel.

There's an offer from a hotel chain developer to consider, but also a booking from a group of twelve Elvis impersonators, a singing troupe called Twelvis. Tom loved Elvis and for Helen this is a sign that she should stay.

But the series of mysterious events which follow, suggests that the developer is not going to give up easily. Then, shortly after Twelvis arrive, one of the group disappears. His body is found floating in a lake, with his blue suede shoes missing. Could the two be connected?

With the reputation of the Seaview on the line, Helen isn't going to wait for the murderer to strike again. With her trusty greyhound Suki by her side, she decides to find out more about her guests and who wanted to make sure this Elvis never sang again.

What did I think?

I'm a huge fan of Glenda Young's historical sagas set in Ryhope and Glenda shows that's she's not a one trick pony by changing location and genre in her debut cosy crime mystery set in Scarborough.  Murder at the Seaview Hotel is the first in a new series starring hotel owner Helen Dexter and what a fantastic start it is.

Firstly, I have to say that the location alone is breathtaking to behold through Glenda Young's vivid and descriptive writing.  I felt as if I was there, walking along the promenade with a bag of chips in my hand and seagulls gliding overhead.  I could really tell that Scarborough is a place close to Glenda's heart and her love for the seaside town shines through every beautifully written word.

Murder at the Seaview Hotel has a bit of everything in its outstanding plot: murder, dastardly underhand dealings, grief, friendships and mystery but above all, it's a great fun and entertaining read.  It's like a soap opera in a book with a Mrs. Bucket-like character running the hotel next door to Helen, a dozen Elvis impersonators ingeniously named Twelvis and a hotel chain determined to get their hands on Helen's hotel by fair means or foul... with the emphasis on foul.

Hugely entertaining, Murder at the Seaview Hotel is a fantastic murder mystery and an absolutely wonderful start to a new series.  With a sprinkling of humour, Glenda Young writes with such warmth and vivacity that Murder at the Seaview Hotel is an absolute delight to read.  An easy five stars from me and I can't wait for the next one!

I chose to read a digital ARC from NetGalley and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

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Tuesday, 7 September 2021

The Necklace - Matt Witten

The clock ticks down in a heart-pounding crusade for justice

Susan Lentigo's daughter was murdered twenty years ago--and now, at long last, this small-town waitress sets out on a road trip all the way from Upstate New York to North Dakota to witness the killer's execution.

On her journey she discovers shocking new evidence that leads her to suspect the condemned man is innocent--and the real killer is still free. Even worse, her prime suspect has a young daughter who's at terrible risk. With no money and no time to spare, Susan sets out to uncover the truth before an innocent man gets executed and another little girl is killed.

But the FBI refuses to reopen the case. They--and Susan's own mother--believe she's just having an emotional breakdown. Reaching deep, Susan finds an inner strength she never knew she had. With the help of two unlikely allies--a cynical, defiant teenage girl and the retired cop who made the original arrest--Susan battles the FBI to put the real killer behind bars. Will she win justice for the condemned man--and her daughter--at last?

Perfect for fans of Karin Slaughter and Harlan Coben

Optioned for film--with Leonardo DiCaprio attached as producer

What did I think?

I loved watching House MD so when I found out that Matt Witten, one of the producers and screenwriters, had made the jump from screen to page I just had to read his new thriller, The Necklace.

The novel is written in a dual timeline following the disappearance of Amy Lentigo and then twenty years later when her killer is set to be executed by lethal injection.  My heart was breaking for Amy's mother Susan as she lives with the loss of Amy every single day.  Susan's marriage was another casualty of Amy's murder and Susan rather intriguingly blames her mother for what happened to Amy.  

Susan may be penniless but she has a lot of friends and they hold a fundraiser to send her to North Dakota to witness the execution.  On several bus journeys that really portray the vast size of America, Susan encounters the full spectrum of humanity and a twist of fate sees her questioning whether the man condemned to die is really guilty of Amy's murder.

As a Brit, it was really interesting to read about an execution.  There seemed to be a buzz in the whole town and it was almost like a show: 'Roll up, roll up, see a man die by lethal injection!'  I can understand that it must bring closure for the victims of crime but I don't think I could sit and watch it happen.  Maybe I would think differently if I was in Susan's place.

The plot is excellent, it's really gripping and intriguing and I was hooked throughout.  The writing is very dialogue focussed and you can sometimes tell that it has been written by a screenwriter as it didn't evoke any mental images of the characters or scenes.  The fantastic plot kept me rapidly turning pages though and I can totally see why it has already been optioned for film.

Fast-paced, gripping and intriguing, The Necklace is a great read and I can't wait to see it on the big screen.  

I chose to read a digital ARC via NetGalley and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

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