Happy publication day to me! #LeftForDead #DIBernieNoel @bookouture #Wiltshire #Swindon

Happy publication day to me! Left For Dead is the third book in the DI Bernie Noel series set in Wiltshire. So far, I’ve had a more rural setting but we’re heading into Swindon this time. And yes, before you ask, the magic roundabout is in there! Here’s the blurb.

The Blurb

The detective stared at the young woman lying on the bed. She almost looked peaceful, her face like porcelain. Despite everything she had been through, she was still beautiful.

When DI Bernie Noel hurries to Keira Howard’s hospital bedside, she knows that Keira has been lucky. Barely conscious and badly injured, at least she is alive. Convinced that Keira’s attack is the latest in a string of increasingly violent assaults on young women in the area, the next victim might not be so fortunate. So she vows to find the man who did this, and to stop him before anyone else gets hurt.

Spurring her team into action, she quickly hones in on a prime suspect. But then he suddenly dies while on police watch, and Bernie’s investigation goes into freefall. When Bernie’s superiors won’t let her take the case any further, her gut instinct tells her there’s much more to his death than meets the eye. If it was murder, who would want him dead, and why? So she determines to set out on her own to find out what happened.

But the closer Bernie comes to discovering the truth, the more she is putting her own life in danger. And with Keira finally strong enough to talk her about her attack, Bernie worries she may be at risk yet again. There’s someone out there who has killed to stay safe in the shadows; can Bernie stop another senseless death, and save Keira, before it’s too late?

I hope that’s tempted you! Now it would be daft for me to do a review of my own book. But there are lots of lovely people out there who’ve had a chance to do so. Here are just a few of my favourite reviews from NetGalley.

Reviews

This was the first #JoyKluver novel I have read and I was really impressed with the style of writing. It kept me on the edge and I finished it in one breath. The case involved was quite complex but it was well written and all the characters involved seemed like the perfect team to work with. In particular, I liked how the author had included the element of autism through the character of LCI Leigh, thus revealing the abilities people with autism possess and how important it is to give them the chance to use those abilities. NetGalley Reviewer 5 stars

There’s just something about this series that I’m loving, it could be because with each case you see how close the characters are, their strengths, and how each character plays an important part for the story. Other thing it could be is that with each turn of the page, I’m always on the edge of my seat wanting to see what happens next and to see if I can figure out who is the bad guy but I never do. I do have to say that this one made me fall more in love with Dougie Anderson, with how he handled himself throughout his own challenging case and how even though things looked bad for him, he was always there for Bernadette. NetGalley Reviewer 5 stars

I am really enjoying this series. Left for Dead is the latest book in the DI Bernadette Noel series by Joy Kluver and I really enjoyed getting back together with Bernie and her team. This time around, as well as having a complex case to investigate, Bernie is also pregnant. This has left her with a lot of complex issues in her relationship with her boyfriend, Dougie. Left for Dead makes for a really intriguing addition to the series.

Bernie and her team face another complex investigation when a young woman has been found after being brutally attacked. It sparks fear that there is a serial predator at work here following a spate of similar attacks on women. It becomes a race against time to track down the woman’s attacker.

What I really liked about this book was how Joy Kluver explored Bernie’s relationship with her boyfriend, Dougie. I thought this development in her character was done really well and I was wondering throughout the book how things are going to pan out for them. This made for an intriguing sub plot and now that I’ve read it’s left me wondering what’s to come in the future.

Another character who Joy Kluver introduces us to is Leigh, who is a new member of the team. Leigh has autism and I thought that Joy Kluver explored this well and sensitively in her writing. I think Leigh makes an excellent addition to the books and I’m looking forward to seeing how her character develops further.

I didn’t expect the twist which came at the end and it really drove the tension up a notch as Bernie and her team raced to bring the case to a conclusion. I thought Joy Kluver wrapped the plot up very well.

I’m really hoping that there are more books to come in this series. It really is becoming one of my favourites. NetGalley Reviewer 5 stars

Joy Kluver has done it again!

DI Bernie Noel is easily one of my favourite literary characters I’ve ever come across.  What a treat book 3 is! Such beautifully complicated storylines throughout that finally start to unravel, not to mention a few answers I’ve been waiting for since the first book.

It’s wonderful being back with the team, plus a couple of new people, Leigh was wonderful – so much so I’d love to hear more about her in another book series.

Being a police officer is a hard enough job itself, even harder when you’re heavily pregnant and your partner is also a police officer. It took so long of ‘will they, won’t they’ for Bernie and Dougie to finally get together it was nail-bitingly tense for a while, even when you think things are on track there’s still a chance everything can go wrong.

I’d love to know the rest of their story, hopefully we’ve not see the last of Bernie and the team (Joy – I’m looking at you! Don’t leave me hanging!) NetGalley Reviewer 5 stars

WOW! This certainly is a gripping crime thriller and, I say it again, the best one yet in the DI Bernadette Noel series. At last all the team are working from the same page and no longer is there any angst amongst the ranks. And the developing relationship between Bernie and Dougie is rather sweet and a refreshing change from the usual single workaholic detectives that find themselves alone with a bottle to drown their sorrows. And how the two cases entwined was very clever and even lead me in a different direction. I have to say, Joy Kluver has hoodwinked me yet again because I don’t think I have ever correctly guessed the villain in her books when I easily do in others. And this one was no different. While I did partially guess correctly, I was completely off-base with the rest of it.

LEFT FOR DEAD is a thrilling and addictive fast paced read, made pacier with the delightfully short and snappy chapters. As in most cases with the series, the book leaves us on something of a cliffhanger but in a good way. The ending actually left me with tears in my eyes. Bring on Book 4!! NetGalley Reviewer 5 stars

Thank you to all the reviewers who have left reviews whether you loved the book or not! I appreciate you taking the time to read. If you’d like to buy a copy of the book then click on the links below

Amazon: https://geni.us/B09LD81BV4social

Apple: http://ow.ly/1XIh50GLai2

Kobo: http://ow.ly/9tRY50GLaeY  

Google: http://ow.ly/bHtb50GLasp 

Thank you in advance to all the bloggers taking part in the #LeftForDead blog tour. As a blogger myself, I know the time and effort it takes in putting a post together. So check out the tour this week!

Tomorrow I’m having an online launch on my Facebook author page and you’re all welcome to join! Rod Reynolds is going to be asking me some questions and there’ll be some giveaways too (UK entries only – sorry!) Join us at 7.30pm GMT on Tuesday 11th January on https://www.facebook.com/joykluverauthor

Hope you can join us!

My Top Ten Reads of 2021 @elisabeth04liz @TMLoganAuthor @ClaireDyer1 @william1shaw @Alice_Hunter_1 @FionaAnnCummins @Rod_WR @marquesp09 @LauraSRobinson @willrdean

I think it’s fair to say that 2021 hasn’t been a vast improvement on 2020 but it has been an excellent year for books. It’s always hard to whittle down my favourites to just ten. As I’ve read fewer books this year due to writing, I thought it would be easier but no  – it’s still been difficult. Anyway, here are the first seven in my top ten in no particular order.

A Woman Made of Snow by Elisabeth Gifford

Elisabeth’s writing is always divine and there’s no exception with A Woman Made of Snow. Switching between the 19th and 20th centuries, a buried body found in the grounds of a Scottish castle means there’s a historical mystery to be solved. Surprisingly, the clues lead to the Arctic and a Victorian voyage of discovery. A truly evocative read.

Click here to buy the book.

Trust Me by T.M. Logan

The title of this book is almost misleading as Ellen, the main character, doesn’t know who to trust. However, a young woman does trust Ellen as she gives her a baby to look after. But there are quite a few people who also want baby Mia and keeping her safe becomes Ellen’s number one priority. Can Ellen fulfil her obligation to the young woman and Mia? Wonderfully tense throughout.

Click here to buy the book.

The Significant Others of Odie May by Claire Dyer

The Significant Others of Odie May is a very different book. It starts with Odie’s murder (and that’s not a spoiler by the way as it’s in the blurb) but rather than reading about a full-on police investigation, instead we find ourselves in the waiting room with Odie. As Odie tries to work out who’s murdered her, she goes back over her life and thinks about the things she’s done wrong and the enemies she’s made. It’s a very thought-provoking book that isn’t judgmental in any way but makes you step back and look at your own life and the consequences of your actions. Just brilliant.

Click here to buy the book.

The Trawlerman by William Shaw

It isn’t a top ten without William Shaw in it! And the reason he keeps coming back is because his books are fantastic. The Trawlerman is the latest in his DS Alex Cupidi series. Alex is signed off with PTSD which is hardly surprising considering everything William’s made her go through. But even though she’s meant to be taking it easy, Alex can’t help but investigate the murder of a local couple. Mental health is a theme that runs through this story and it’s sensitively handled. I hope William is going to be kinder to Alex in the next book!

Click here to buy the book.

The Serial Killer’s Wife by Alice Hunter

There’s been a lot of hype around this book and rightly so! It’s my favourite psychological thriller of the year. This was a novel that I was immediately sucked into. The ‘I’ll just read for ten minutes’ quickly turned into much longer time periods. The narration of the story flicks between Beth and Tom, as well as past and present. Alice Hunter cleverly kept me on my toes as I was desperately trying to work it out. I really didn’t know who to trust and there was a brilliant ‘gasp’ twist halfway through the book. A fabulous read.

Click here to buy the book.

Black Reed Bay by Rod Reynolds

I’ve loved all of Rod Reynolds books but there’s something particularly special about Black Reed Bay and it’s Detective Casey Wray. After reading only a few chapters, I felt as though I’d known Casey all my life. Tough but empathetic, Reynolds puts her through the wringer in this book but somehow she’s still standing at the end. This is the first in a new series and I’m eagerly anticipating the second one.

Click here to buy the book.

The Colours of Death by Patricia Marques

This for me, is the debut of the year. Set in Lisbon, we follow Inspector Isabel Reis as she investigates the death of a high-ranking official. But Isabel is no ordinary detective. She’s Gifted. The Gifted are a group of people who have extraordinary powers – either telepathy or telekinesis. Perhaps not surprisingly, they are viewed with suspicion by Regulars or ordinary people. When I first heard about this aspect of the book, I wasn’t too sure whether it would work. But it does and brilliantly so. I look forward to reading the next novel!

Click here to buy the book.

Now we’re down to the nitty gritty. My top three books of 2021.

At number three…

Daughters of Night by Laura Shepherd-Robinson

I had an early copy of this book and it kept me company last Christmas. As we were in tier 4 and unable to visit anyone, I had a lot more time to read and I couldn’t keep away from this wonderful book.  Laura’s depth of research comes across well and I felt completely submerged into Georgian London. Just thinking about it now I feel myself pulled back into that world. But if you’re expecting a Jane Austen Georgian view, then think again. Yes, we have the aristocracy and the wealthy but we also have the underbelly of London’s streets. There are three main narrators – Caroline Corsham, wife of Harry Corsham from Blood & Sugar; Peregrine ‘Perry’ Child, former magistrate now turned thieftaker; and Pamela, a young maid who wants more out of life so decides to auction her virtue to the highest bidder. Definitely not Jane Austen!

When Caro discovers the body of a young woman, she’s determined to find the murderer. Her husband is away so she hires Perry Child to help her. Sounds simple enough but when it’s revealed that the young woman was a high-class whore and not the lady Caro thought she was, Caro and Perry find themselves plunged into a very sinister world.

There is so much going on in this novel and I genuinely couldn’t work out who was responsible. Just when I thought I knew, there would be another twist. Even Caro has her own secrets to deal with. This book combines, art, Greek philosophy, the aristocracy, war heroes, whores, taverns, jewellers and banks. And that’s just what I remember. A truly magnificent novel.

Click here to buy the book.

OK, we’re down to the top two and I have a dilemma. As you might know, my top read is normally described as ‘extraordinary’. But this year, I have described two books in this way. I can’t separate them so they’re going to tie for first place. So, which two books are my favourite reads of 2021?

The Last Thing To Burn by Will Dean

Where to begin? I haven’t read a book this devastating and claustrophobic since Room. As much as I wanted to keep on reading there were times when I had to stop and put the book down. I was so affected by the narrative and Jane’s (not her real name) terrible plight. Will Dean captures her voice beautifully. A woman desperately trying to hang onto herself and her sense of worth whilst systematically stripped of her few possessions and her humanity. A woman forced to slave for a man who claims to be her husband, watched by cameras when he’s out. A woman physically, sexually and mentally abused. A woman whose life seemed incredibly real to me. But in this dark, dark place there is a spark of joy for ‘Jane’. I’m not going to say any more about it but it’s this spark that lights a beacon of hope and points to a way forward.

I know Will Dean does a lot of research for all his books and aims to make them as accurate as possible. I’m sure he’s done the same here. As I’ve already said, this story was all too real for me. My hope is that people don’t just read this and wax lyrical about how wonderful it is (which it is) but will be spurred into action too. And that’s the whole point. This may be fiction but it’s a fact for so many people trapped in modern day slavery. The Last Thing to Burn highlights this so clearly and setting it in the Fens in the UK makes it our problem, something that can’t be ignored. An extraordinary book.

Click here to buy the book.

And my other top read? Well, it’s…

When I Was Ten by Fiona Cummins

Model parents, Dr Richard Carter and his wife, Pamela, were brutally murdered by one of their young daughters. It shocked the country then and twenty one years on, the public are still fascinated by this macabre murder. A documentary is planned, including an interview with one of the sisters who is finally breaking her silence.

Brinley Booth, a reporter, is tasked by her paper to cover the story. But Brinley has an edge on all the other journalists – she knew the Carter sisters when they were children, growing up together in the same town.

As per usual, Fiona Cummins’ storytelling is breath-taking. Told in three sections of Who, Why and When, the story unfolds with two timelines and different voices – including one of the sisters and their childhood friend. It’s a tale of secrets, abuse and loyalty.

How do I begin to tell you about this incredible book that played out so vividly in my mind? There are of course the excellent twists, the scarily believable plot, characters so real you could almost reach out and touch them. It’s truly extraordinary.

Click here to buy the book.

So there you have it – my top ten reads of 2021! Hopefully there might be some books new to you in this post that you might want to add to your Christmas list. Although I’ve put links in for the books, please go to your local independent bookshops to buy too. I know that Waterstones have exclusive editions of Daughters of Night (click here) and, coming 30th December, When I Was Ten (click here). Both have beautiful sprayed edges.

I only have one thing left to say, despite all the horrible stuff going on at the moment, I hope you all have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! See you in 2022 for more incredible books.

December First Monday Crime – Book Review for #BrunosChallenge by Martin Walker @QuercusBooks @1stMondayCrime

The time is fast approaching for our last event of 2021 – just a week away! Unfortunately, we’re still in this weird world of Covid. We’re hoping that at some point next year we’ll be able to meet in person but until then we’re still online on Monday 6th Dec at 7.30pm on our Facebook page. Once again, no Christmas cookies for you all – sorry! But we do have an amazing panel for you with Sarah Hilary (Fragile), Alexandra Benedict (The Christmas Murder Game), Emma Haughton (The Dark) and Martin Walker (Bruno’s Challenge & other Dordogne Tales). Jake Kerridge will be asking the questions. Thanks to Joe Christie at Quercus, I’ve been reading Martin Walker’s book but before I tell you about it, here’s the blurb.

The Blurb

A bumper collection of delightful stories featuring Bruno, Chief of Police and France’s favourite cop, all set in the beautiful Dordogne valley and the ravishing Perigord region of the south west. Here is a landscape of meandering rivers with medieval castles overlooking their banks, of lush hillsides and spreading vineyards, of delicious local wines and world renowned cuisine.

With titles like ‘The Chocolate War’; ‘The Birthday Lunch’; ‘Oystercatcher’; ‘A Market Tale’ and ‘Fifty Million Bubbles’, you may be sure that champagne and gastronomy will feature as well as cosy crime in ‘Dangerous Vacation’. Bruno strides through these tales, staying calm. settling local disputes and keeping safe his beloved town of St Denis.

Only on one occasion does he panic: in ‘Bruno’s Challenge’, his friend Ivan, proprietor and chef of the town’s popular eatery, suddenly collapses on the eve of a large anniversary dinner, and he asks Bruno to take over the restaurant. After a few protests followed by some deep breaths, the inimitable Bruno meets his challenge and saves the day.

My Review

I have to confess that this is my first meeting with Bruno Courrèges, chief of police in the village of St. Denis, and a short stories book is the perfect way to become acquainted. I’ve discovered that Bruno is no ordinary police officer. He takes his responsibility of looking after the village to heart and knows that it’s not just about dealing with crime. He coaches the young people in the village in various sports. He’s a constant presence in the town square, chatting with residents and business owners. And there’s only one man who can be Le Père Noël at Christmas. There are fourteen stories all together in this collection but I won’t tell you about them all. I don’t want to spoil the surprise!

A Dangerous Vacation involves the sabotage of a minibus carrying tourists. Initially it seems as though it might have been an accident but a check by a mechanic proves otherwise. Bruno has to investigate quickly to ensure the tourists’ safety and also to save Juliette’s business. I liked the subtle way Bruno looks at this – the little observations that make all the difference. He’s also an officer that likes things to end well.

Mère Noelle is a very short but sweet story about an excess of wine and an old family recipe. An excess of wine? In France? Well, with lockdown, it was hard for vineyards to sell their wine to bars and restaurants. The same is true in St. Denis. To throw away the wine is to throw the profit. Sadly, the one person who could have helped, old Mère Dailloux, died earlier in the year. Her special mulled wine was always a hit at the Christmas markets. Can Bruno find a way to discover the secret ingredients and save the village vineyard?

Keeping the Christmas theme going is Le Père Noël. As I’ve already said, Bruno is always Le Père Noël in St. Denis. When the carols collection money is stolen, Bruno knows a stranger must be in the village. None of the residents would steal money destined for a charity. But Bruno, knowing the true meaning of Christmas, is aware that this is a time when strangers need to be welcomed in, not cast out. This is a lovely, compassionate story revealing Bruno’s generous nature.

This cosy crime collection is perfect for Christmas – to curl up and read the heart-warming stories of village life in St. Denis, whether it’s battles over the price of coffee or the residents coming together to rescue a golden wedding anniversary meal. At the heart of it all, though, is Bruno, a police officer that any village or town would be proud to have.

You can buy Bruno’s Challenge & other Dordogne Tales here or check out your local bookshop. Don’t forget to join us on Monday 6th Dec at 7.30 pm GMT on our Facebook page First Monday Crime.

The Author

Martin Walker is a prize-winning journalist and the author of several acclaimed works of non-fiction, including The Cold War: A History. He lives in the Dordogne and Washington, DC.

#DIBernieNoel is back! Cover reveal for DI Bernadette Noel book 3 @bookouture hi

I can’t quite believe we’ve reached this point. Last Seen was published in March, with Broken Girls in July. And now it’s time to reveal the title and cover for DI Bernadette Noel book 3, due 10th January.

But before I show you, here’s the blurb.

The Blurb

The sun is rising over the deserted park. Spring shoots have burst through the frozen ground, framing the woman’s broken body in green and gold. Their surge of relief at finding her alive quickly dissolves into fear: the man who did this is still out there. His next victim might not be so lucky…

The first time Detective Bernadette Noel sees Keira Howard, she is lying in a hospital bed; fighting for her life. The police assume that she has become the latest victim in a series of brutal attacks, and after weeks of fruitless searching, they think the evidence found in Keira’s case will finally lead them to their man.

When a suspect is caught the case looks closed, but Bernie isn’t convinced. Keira may have the same markings as the other women, but she doesn’t meet the profile – the random attacker let his victims go. Keira’s attacker had intended to kill. The witnesses – Keira’s closest friends – are all telling different stories, and the discovery that Keira was hiding a secret pregnancy suddenly makes everything a lot more complicated.

When a crucial witness goes missing, Bernie’s gut instinct is proven right – so why won’t her superiors let her investigate? They may have caught a guilty man, but a potential murderer still walks free. Then when their prime suspect is suddenly killed on police watch, Bernie’s situation becomes much more dangerous.

The closer Bernie comes to discovering the truth, the more she is putting her life at risk. And the only people she can rely on to make it out alive might be those she can no longer trust.

I hope that’s intrigued you! Well, without further ado, here’s the title and cover.

It’s very different from the other two books but I love it!

You can pre order Left for Dead below.

Amazon: https://geni.us/B09LD81BV4cover 

Apple: http://ow.ly/1XIh50GLai2

Kobo: http://ow.ly/9tRY50GLaeY  

Google: http://ow.ly/bHtb50GLasp 

Roll on January 10th 2022!

Book review – The Man Who Died Twice by @richardosman @VikingBooksUK @EllieeHud

Happy publication day to Richard Osman for The Man Who Died Twice! Thanks to Viking Books and Netgalley for an early read. Before I give you my thoughts, here’s the blurb.

 

The Blurb

It’s the following Thursday.

Elizabeth has received a letter from an old colleague, a man with whom she has a long history. He’s made a big mistake, and he needs her help. His story involves stolen diamonds, a violent mobster, and a very real threat to his life.

As bodies start piling up, Elizabeth enlists Joyce, Ibrahim and Ron in the hunt for a ruthless murderer. And if they find the diamonds too? Well, wouldn’t that be a bonus?

But this time they are up against an enemy who wouldn’t bat an eyelid at knocking off four septuagenarians. Can the Thursday Murder Club find the killer (and the diamonds) before the killer finds them?

 

The Review

The Thursday Murder Club was such a joy to read that I jumped at the chance to read The Man Who Died Twice. I wasn’t disappointed. The beauty of a sequel is that we already know the characters so it’s much easier and quicker to become immersed in the story. Once again, my husband had to put up with me giggling as I read the book, reading out the funniest lines to him. I don’t want to spoil it for anyone but I’m so glad I wasn’t born in 1969!

However, there are some more serious plotlines going on. Something happens to Ibrahim that shocks him (and the others) to the core. Richard Osman handles this with great sensitivity. Likewise, the storyline with Elizabeth’s husband, Stephen, and his dementia. There was a bit in the final pages that made me cry.

These things are threaded through the main plot. Elizabeth’s past life crashes into the present in the form of an old colleague who needs her help. Initially she isn’t minded to help him but the mention of diamonds and possible threat to life is enough to reel her in, the others too.

Overall, The Man Who Died Twice is superb. The writing is sublime – funny, touching, but taut when it needs to be. I’ve no doubt that this will be a huge hit, and rightly so.

 

You can buy The Man Who Died Twice pretty much anywhere! So now’s your chance to go out to your local bookshop. If you’re not able to do that then click here to order a copy.

 

The Author

Richard Osman is an author, producer and television presenter. His first novel, The Thursday Murder Club, was a million-copy bestseller. Critics have already described The Man Who Died Twice as ‘his second novel’.

 

 

Book review – #Hostage by @claremackint0sh @PartyReading

A couple of weeks ago, I took part in another Reading Party event, this time for Hostage by Clare Mackintosh. It was great to hear the opening two chapters and get a flavour for the story. It was even better when my signed copy appeared from Bert’s Books, beautifully wrapped. Before I give you my thoughts, here’s the blurb.

The Blurb

The atmosphere on board the first non-stop flight from London to Sydney is electric. Celebrities are rumoured to be among the passengers in business class, and the world is watching the landmark journey.

Flight attendant Mina is trying to focus on the passengers, instead of her troubled five-year-old daughter back at home – or the cataclysmic problems in her marriage.

But soon after the plane takes off, Mina receives a chilling anonymous note. Someone wants to make sure the plane never reaches its destination. They’re demanding her cooperation . . . and they know exactly how to get it.

It’s twenty hours to landing.
A lot can happen in twenty hours . . .

My Review

Hostage is divided into two parts. Part one is slower as the scene is set and we hear from the different main characters – Mina, an air steward, and Adam, a police officer. Currently separated, they have an adopted five-year-old daughter, called Sophia. It was her voice that captivated me the most when we did the Reading Party. Although autism is never mentioned, there are aspects of her character that suggest it – repetition, the need to know things in advance, knowing the route to school inside out and back to front etc. These are things I know all too well with family members. So for me, right from the beginning, this was a huge draw into the rest of the story.

Once everything is in place, then part two starts and it really is a case of buckle up your seat belt and get ready for the ride! I don’t want to give any spoilers but the way things are revealed and played out in part two is masterful. I almost feel there are parts I need to re-read to fully grasp it all.

There are a few themes going on in this novel, especially environmental ones, which gave food for thought. But the main question throughout the book is – do you save hundreds of lives or the one person you care most about in the world?

Clare Mackintosh is known as the queen of twists and once more, she keeps this going until the very end. If you’re staying home this summer, then this is a great book to read. If you’re flying off somewhere – maybe wait until you’re back home, safe and sound.

My copy of Hostage came from Bert’s Books but it’s available pretty much everywhere!

The Author

With over 2 million copies of her books sold worldwide, number one bestseller Clare Mackintosh is the multi-award-winning author of I Let You Go, which was a Sunday Times and New York Times bestseller and the fastest-selling title by a new crime writer in 2015. It also won the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year in 2016. Both Clare’s second and third novels, I See You and Let Me Lie, were number one Sunday Times bestsellers. All three of her thrillers were selected for the Richard & Judy Book Club, and together have been translated into forty languages. After the End was published in 2019 and became an instant Sunday Times bestseller. Together, her books have spent more than sixty weeks in The Sunday Times bestseller lists.

Clare is patron of the Silver Star Society, a charity based at the John Radcliffe hospital in Oxford, which supports parents experiencing high-risk or difficult pregnancies. She lives in North Wales with her husband and their three children.

Book Review – #TheForevers by Chris Whitaker @WhittyAuthor @HotKeyBooksYA

Thank you to Hot Key Books for allowing me to read an advance copy of The Forevers via NetGalley. Before I give you my thoughts, here’s the blurb.

The Blurb

They knew the end was coming. They saw it ten years back, when it was far enough away in space and time and meaning.
The changes were gradual, and then sudden.

For Mae and her friends, it means navigating a life where action and consequence are no longer related. Where the popular are both trophies and targets. And where petty grudges turn deadlier with each passing day. So, did Abi Manton jump off the cliff or was she pushed? Her death is just the beginning of the end.

With teachers losing control of their students and themselves, and the end rushing toward all of them, it leaves everyone facing the answer to one, simple question…

What would you do if you could get away with anything?

The Forevers

My Review

It’s quite tricky to review The Forevers. I’ve read all of Chris Whitaker’s books and it would be so easy to review this book in that vein. Except this is a YA novel, which will hopefully give him a new generation of readers. So, I’m going to try and steer away from his previous books and just look solely at this one.

For the last ten years, an asteroid has been hurtling through space on a collision course with the Earth. Despite many attempts, nothing has stopped it or veered it off course. It’s now only a month away from impact. With a premise like that, you’d think this was a sci-fi book set in the distant future. Instead, it’s near future and feels very like life now. Needless to say, with only a month to live, people are behaving erratically and some are taking their own lives rather than wait for the inevitable. Abi Manton is one such person. Abi had been Mae’s best friend until she joined the main clique at school. Mae find’s it hard to come to terms with her friend’s death and decides to find out why Abi choose to die. In doing so, Mae discovers a whole host of secrets and with the end of the world nigh, tensions reach boiling point.

This book is set in the costal town of West but I struggled to place which country it was meant to be in. Although London was mentioned a couple of times, it felt more American than British. It was the same with the characters. That may have more to do with Chris Whitaker’s style of writing though.

The characters are dealing with a whole range of issues – suicide, abuse, self-harm, eating disorders, homosexuality – to name just a few. This is a group of older teens (17-18) who don’t have time for counselling – they need to live their lives while they still can. There’s a big cast of characters, perhaps even too many, but if you look at them all, it would be impossible to extract any of them from the plot. Like a game of Kerplunk, pull out the wrong character and everything falls apart. So get ready to remember their names! As the countdown continues, people’s lives become more manic and messy. Not exactly anarchy but people taking matters into their own hands.

Overall, this is a thought-provoking and tense read aimed at YA readers rather than this oldie reviewer. I think the main question is whether or not I’d be happy for my older teens to read it and the answer is yes. In his last three books, Chris Whitaker has written amazing teenage characters. Now, he’s written an amazing book for teenagers.

If you’d like to buy a copy of The Forevers then click here or head down to your local independent bookshop.

The Author

Chris Whitaker 2

Chris Whitaker is the award-winning author of Tall Oaks, All the Wicked Girls and We Begin at the End. All three books were published to widespread critical acclaim, with Tall Oaks going on to win the CWA John Creasey New Blood Dagger Award.
An instant New York Times bestseller and the #1 Indie Next Pick, We Begin at the End was also a Waterstones Thriller of the Month, a Barnes & Noble Book Club Pick and a Good Morning America Buzz Pick. It has just won the CWA Gold Dagger Award, and is shortlisted for the Theakston’s Crime Novel of the Year.
When not writing, Chris works at his local library, where he gets to surround himself with books.
Chris lives in the UK with his wife and three children.

Book review #TheTrawlerman by William Shaw @william1shaw

I’m a massive fan of DS Alex Cupidi and The Trawlerman is the fourth book in the series by William Shaw. Before I give you my thoughts, here’s the blurb.

The Blurb

A DOUBLE MURDER

The naked corpses of Aylmer and Mary Younis are discovered in their home. The only clues are a note written in blood and an eerie report of two spectral figures departing the crime scene. Officer Jill Ferriter is charged with investigating the murders while her colleague Alex Cupidi is on leave, recovering from post-traumatic stress.

AN ELABORATE SCAM

The dead couple had made investments in a green reforestry scheme in Guatemala, resulting in the loss of all their savings. What is more disturbing is that Cupidi and Ferriter’s disgraced former colleague and friend Bill South is also on the list of investors and the Younis’s were not the only losers.

AN UNLIKELY KILLER

Despite being in counselling and receiving official warnings to stay away from police work Cupidi finds herself dragged into the case and begins to trawl among the secrets and lies that are held in the fishing community of Folkestone. Desperate to exonerate South she finds herself murderously compromised when personal relationships cloud her judgement.

Pacey, intense and riddled with surprising twists, The Trawlerman shows that deceit can be found in the most unlikely places. The brooding waters of the Kent coastline offer an ominous backdrop for this lively page-turner of corruption, mental health and the complexities of human connection.

The Trawlerman

My Review

As I wrote above, I’m a huge fan of DS Alex Cupidi and she’s one of my favourite fictional police detectives ever. William Shaw puts her through the wringer though and after her last case, Alex is signed off sick with PTSD. William Shaw always examines important themes in his novels and mental health is high on the list in this story.

Police officers are often hyper-aware of their surroundings and impending threats. For Alex, PTSD has taken this to a new level. She spots a woman with a concealed knife long before anyone else and intervenes. But at a restaurant, she shouts out about a knife brought to cut a birthday cake, much to her embarrassment. Her ability to determine threat has gone into freefall. Time off and counselling is meant to be helping her but Alex can’t resist the pull of a double murder and her natural instinct to investigate.

As well as the recent suspicious deaths, Alex is also drawn into a cold case mystery – a trawlerman missing for seven years, presumed dead. But is he? Shaw skillfully weaves between the two cases, using them to draw out the raw, deep-seated fears that Alex has been holding onto. It’s a very different Alex we see here. She’s convinced she’s fine but we see the concern from everyone around her.

I don’t want to tell you too much more about the plot as I want to avoid spoilers. But there’s an unusual feel to this book as Alex is mostly away from the central action of the police investigation and the camaraderie of her colleagues. I found I missed the police station as much as she did!

Shaw continues his tour round Kent and Folkestone is one of the settings, tying in with the missing trawlerman. Of course, it’s still Dungeness that’s centre stage – the wonderfully bleak outlook of the nuclear power station alongside the rich biodiversity of wildlife. It feels as though the two shouldn’t co-exist and it’s a great metaphor for Alex’s life in this novel.

As I’ve come to expect, The Trawlerman, is a stunning read. I’m looking forward to seeing where William Shaw takes Alex Cupidi next. I hope he’s going to be a little kinder to her.

You can buy The Trawlerman here or better still, go and visit your local independent bookshop. My copy was purchased from Bert’s Books as part of The Reading Party. This is an event that allows you to read an extract of the book with the author present. Click on the links to find out more.

The Author

William Shaw

William Shaw has been shortlisted for the CWA Historical Dagger, longlisted once for the CWA Gold Dagger and twice for the Theakstons Crime Novel of the Year, and nominated for a Barry Award.

His DS Alexandra Cupidi series – and the standalone bestseller The Birdwatcher – are set in Dungeness Kent. He also writes the acclaimed Breen & Tozer crime series set in sixties London. He worked as a journalist for over twenty years and lives in Brighton.

For updates and giveways, subscribe at willliamshaw.com/subscribe.

He’s also the author of several non-fiction books including Westsiders: Stories of the Boys in the Hood, about a year spent with the young men of South Central Los Angeles, and A Superhero For Hire, a compilation of columns in the Observer Magazine.

Starting out as assistant editor of the post-punk magazine ZigZag, he has been a journalist for The Observer, The New York Times, Wired, Arena and The Face and was Amazon UK Music Journalist of the Year.

He runs the online book event Reading Party.

First Monday Crime Book Review – #TheColoursOfDeath by Patricia Marques @marquesp09 @JennyPlatt90 @HodderBooks @1stMondayCrime

After two months of confusion, First Monday Crime is finally back where it belongs – on a first Monday! As we attempt to get back to normal, we have a fantastic panel for you – Imran Mahmood (I Know What I Saw), Dorothy Koomson (All My Lies Are True), Jo Spain (The Perfect Lie) and Patricia Marques (The Colours of Death). Our very own Sophie Goodfellow will be asking the questions and kicking off proceedings on Monday 7th June, 7.30pm BST on our Facebook page. Before I give you my thoughts on our debut book, here’s the blurb for The Colours of Death.

 

The Blurb

The Murder
In the Gare do Oriente, a body sits, slumped, in a stationary train. A high-profile man appears to have died by throwing himself repeatedly against the glass. But according to witnesses, he may not have done this of his own accord.

The City
Lisbon 2021. A small percentage of the population are diagnosed as Gifted. Along with the power comes stigma and suspicion.

The Detective
In a prejudiced city, Gifted Inspector Isabel Reis is hiding her own secrets while putting her life on the line to stop an ingenious killer.

A violent and mysterious crime. Suspected Gifted involvement. A city baying for blood. And a killer who has only just begun . . .

The Colours of Death

My Review

This is a very accomplished debut by Patricia Marques. Set in Lisbon, we follow Inspector Isabel Reis as she investigates the death of a high-ranking official. But Isabel is no ordinary detective. She’s Gifted. The Gifted are a group of people who have extraordinary powers – either telepathy or telekinesis. Perhaps not surprisingly, they are viewed with suspicion by Regulars or ordinary people. When I first heard about this aspect of the book, I wasn’t too sure whether it would work. But it does and brilliantly so. By the end of the novel, it felt completely natural to have the Gifted around. It’s a very clever way to look at prejudice and stigma and how fear propels control.

Isabel’s Gift is telepathy. There are strict rules around her using her Gift and she’s not allowed to read a witness’s mind without their permission. But she can pick up on emotions and sees them as colours – hence the title of the book. I have to say now, that this is the most beautiful proof I’ve ever seen. And it came with a recipe card! That’s another thing that really centres this book and keeps it in the real world – Portuguese food and family life. It takes energy to power Isabel’s Gift so that involves eating a lot of food. It’s a great way to find out more about Portuguese cuisine. Flashback chapters tells us about Isabel’s childhood and how she adjusted to her new Gift and the effect it had on her family.

The plot itself is a slow-burn initially but as this is the first in a series, there’s a lot to fit in with regards to introducing Inspector Isabel Reis and her back story. It does pick up though as the case develops. Aiding Isabel is Inspector Aleks Voronov. As a Regular who had grassed up his previous Gifted colleague for criminal activity, Isabel is unsure about trusting him. He’s definitely an enigma and I’m sure there’s more to come from him in the next instalment. 

I really enjoyed this book and want to visit Lisbon now, despite the cold weather portrayed in this novel. This was a good way of adding atmosphere as it took us away from the presumed norm of the warm, sunny climate that Portugal is known for.

As we’re left with a possible new investigation at the end, I’m hoping there’s more to come from Inspector Isabel Reis. Although we learn quite a lot about her in this book, it feels as though we’ve only scratched the surface. I look forward to reading the next novel. 

The Colours of Death will be published on Thursday 17th June so you can pre order here or check out your local independent bookshop.

Remember to come and join us on Monday 7th June at 7.30pm BST on First Monday – A Regular Night of Murder and Mayhem for Crime Fiction Folk | Facebook to hear from Patricia herself.

 

The Author

patricia-marques-32 (2)

Half-Angolan and half-Portuguese, Patricia Marques was born in Portugal but moved to England when she was eight. As well as an MA in Creative Writing from City University, she holds a BA in Creative Writing from Roehampton. She lives in London and The Colours of Death is her first novel.

Book Review – #BlackReedBay by @Rod_WR @OrendaBooks

Happy e-publication day to Rod Reynolds for Black Reed Bay! The paperback will be out on the 2nd September but you can buy your e-book copy today. Before I give you my thoughts, here’s the blurb.

The Blurb

When a young woman makes a distressing middle-of-the-night call to 911, apparently running for her life in a quiet, exclusive beachside neighbourhood, miles from her home, everything suggests a domestic incident.

Except no one has seen her since, and something doesn’t sit right with the officers at Hampstead County PD. With multiple suspects and witnesses throwing up startling inconsistencies, and interference from the top threatening the integrity of the investigation, lead detective Casey Wray is thrust into an increasingly puzzling case that looks like it’s going to have only one ending…

And then the first body appears…

Black Reed Bay

My Review

I’ve loved all of Rod Reynolds books but there’s something particularly special about Black Reed Bay and it’s Detective Casey Wray. After reading only a few chapters, I felt as though I’d known Casey all my life. Tough but empathetic, Reynolds puts her through the wringer in this book but somehow she’s still standing at the end.

Reynolds has moved back to the US for his setting but unlike his Charlie Yates series, we’re in modern day. That doesn’t affect his lilting American style though and we’re treated to some superb writing. I don’t want to give away any more plot than the blurb above but I was kept on tenterhooks throughout. Like Casey Wray herself, I was struggling to work out who could be trusted.

I really hope this isn’t a standalone book as I think there’s a lot more to come from Detective Casey Wray. I can’t wait to see what happens with her next.

You can buy the e-book now and pre order the paperback here.

The Author

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Rod Reynolds is the author of five novels, including the Charlie Yates series, the standalone Blood Red City and the forthcoming Black Reed Bay.

His 2015 debut, The Dark Inside, was longlisted for the CWA New Blood Dagger, and was followed by Black Night Falling (2016) and Cold Desert Sky (2018); the Guardian have called the books ‘Pitch-perfect American noir.’ A lifelong Londoner, in 2020 Orenda Books published his first novel set in his hometown, Blood Red City, which was a Summer 2020 pick in the FT. In 2021, he again turns to the US, this time to present-day Long Island, with Black Reed Bay.

Rod previously worked in advertising as a media buyer, and holds an MA in Novel Writing from City University London. Rod lives with his wife and children and spends most of his time trying to keep up with them.

Contact him:

http://www.rodreynolds.com
twitter: @Rod_WR
facebook: @RodReynoldsBooks