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

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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

Extra May FM Panel with @BAParisAuthor @FionaAnnCummins @mcgrathmj @LauraSRobinson @JakeKerridge @1stMondayCrime Book Review #DaughtersOfNight

Having confused you all with two Second Monday Crimes, we’re now giving you Fourth Monday Crime on 24th May! (Don’t worry, we’re back to normal for June.) Yes, we’re giving you an extra panel in May with four incredible authors – B.A. Paris (The Therapist), Fiona Cummins (When I Was Ten), Mel McGrath (Two Wrongs) and Laura Shepherd-Robinson (Daughters of Night), with Jake Kerridge asking the questions. We will be on the First Monday Facebook page at 7.30pm BST. Before I re share my review of Daughters of Night, here’s the blurb.

 

The Blurb

From the pleasure palaces and gin-shops of Covent Garden to the elegant townhouses of Mayfair, Laura Shepherd-RobinsonDaughters of Night follows Caroline Corsham as she seeks justice for a murdered woman whom London society would rather forget . . .

Lucia’s fingers found her own. She gazed at Caro as if from a distance. Her lips parted, her words a whisper: ‘He knows.’

London, 1782. Desperate for her politician husband to return home from France, Caroline ‘Caro’ Corsham is already in a state of anxiety when she finds a well-dressed woman mortally wounded in the bowers of the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens. The Bow Street constables are swift to act, until they discover that the deceased woman was a highly paid prostitute, at which point they cease to care entirely. But Caro has motives of her own for wanting to see justice done, and so sets out to solve the crime herself. Enlisting the help of thieftaker Peregrine Child, their inquiry delves into the hidden corners of Georgian society, a world of artifice, deception and secret lives.

But with many gentlemen refusing to speak about their dealings with the dead woman, and Caro’s own reputation under threat, finding the killer will be harder, and more treacherous, than she can know . . .

 

Daughters of Night

My Review

I loved Laura Shepherd-Robinson’s debut Blood & Sugar and Daughters of Night is even better. 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!

Caro is a wonderful character. Forget the simpering, modest Georgian wife as Caroline Corsham has a mind of her own and is not afraid to use it. I think I actually prefer her to Harry but I’d love to see them team up together in another book.

This is a truly magnificent novel and deserves to do incredibly well. After reading Daughters of Night, I tried to read a contemporary crime novel but I couldn’t settle to it. Instead I’ve started to read The Mirror and the Light* by Hilary Mantel and quite honestly, that should tell you something about the calibre of Laura Shepherd-Robinson’s writing. I eagerly anticipate her next book.

*I wrote this review in February for Laura’s publication day. I’ve since read The Mirror and the Light and as much as I enjoyed it, I preferred Daughters of Night.

You can buy Daughters of Night here or you can now head out to your nearest bookshop!

 

The Author

Laura Shepherd-Robinson

Laura Shepherd-Robinson was born in Bristol in 1976. She has a BSc in Politics from the University of Bristol and an MSc in Political Theory from the London School of Economics. Laura worked in politics for nearly twenty years before re-entering normal life to complete an MA in Creative Writing at City University. She lives in London with her husband, Adrian.

 

First Monday Crime May – Book Review #WhatTheyKnew @MarionETodd @canelo_co @1stMondayCrime

We’ve got Second Monday Crime again due to those pesky but much needed bank holidays. Joining us on Monday 10th May at 7.30 pm BST on our Facebook page are Tina Baker (Call Me Mummy), Phoebe Morgan (The Wild Girls), James Delurgy (Vanished) and Marion Todd (What They Knew). William Shaw (The Trawlerman) will be asking the questions. I have a review for Marion’s book but before I give you my thoughts, here’s the blurb.

The Blurb

DI Clare Mackay starts the new year with a death…

It is the stroke of midnight on Hogmanay when Alison Reid admits a caller to her home. When her death is later reported, DI Clare Mackay attends the scene. The initial evidence does not rule out murder, but it’s not possible to say for certain if foul play was involved. Yet when the pathologist informs Clare about a post mortem of a young woman found in the Kinness Burn, and with some similarities to Alison’s case, it seems there’s a strong chance that there’s a killer on the loose in St Andrews.

Clare and her team will have to look past the obvious conclusions and delve deeper into the lives of the victims to get to the truth. But who else risks meeting the same fate while the clock is ticking?

What They Knew

My Review

Although this is the fourth book in the DI Clare Mackay series, it’s my first Marion Todd read. As well as writing police procedurals myself, I love reading them too. It’s like slipping into a world that I vaguely know and Marion Todd does not disappoint.

When DI Clare Mackay is called to a suspicious death in early January, she has no idea as to what is about to unfold. Rather than easing back into work after the Christmas break, Mackay and her team are thrown into a murder inquiry that escalates quite dramatically.

What They Knew is set in St. Andrews in Scotland. I got some sense of the town from the descriptions given. In particular, I loved the hairdresser’s shop that claimed to have cut Prince William’s hair – he had a bit more in his student days. As it’s January, there’s also snow and ice to contend with which doesn’t aid DI Mackay in her enquiries.

As mentioned earlier, this is the fourth book in the series but it’s very easy to read and I picked up on the main characters quite quickly. I liked the camaraderie between Clare Mackay and her team, especially her DS – Chris West. They had some great banter going on but it’s clear that Clare is fond of Chris in a sisterly sort of way.

There’s some interesting twists in the plot and I loved the forensic details that proved to be so important to the case. I don’t want to say too much more about the plot as I don’t want to give any spoilers but there are some clever and very subtle clues that I didn’t pick up on straight away.

A great read that kept me guessing until nearly the end.

 

If you want to buy What They Knew then click here or better still, you can now go to your local bookshop!

 

Just to give you a little heads up, we have two more panels before taking a break until the autumn. We have an extra May panel on Monday 24th and then our June panel on Monday 7th. We’ll be giving further details soon but put those dates in your diaries!

 

The Author

Marion Todd

A native of Dundee, Marion studied music and worked for many years as a piano teacher and jobbing accompanist. A spell as a hotel lounge pianist provided rich fodder for her writing and she began experimenting with a variety of genres. Early success saw her winning first prize in the Family Circle Magazine Short Story for Children national competition and she followed this up by writing short stories and articles for her local newspaper.

Marion has also worked as a college lecturer, plantswoman and candle-maker and now is a full-time writer, penning the DI Clare Mackay series of crime fiction novels set in St Andrews. The first of these, SEE THEM RUN, is shortlisted for the Bloody Scotland Scottish Crime Debut Novel of the Year 2020.

Marion lives now in North East Fife, overlooking the magnificent River Tay. When she’s not writing she can be found tussling with her with her jungle-like garden and walking her daughter’s unruly but lovable dog. You can find out more about Marion at her website: http://www.mariontodd.com

Marion is represented by Northbank Talent Management and her crime novels are published by Canelo.

Book Review – When I Was Ten by Fiona Cummins @FionaAnnCummins @panmacmillan

Happy publication day to Fiona Cummins for When I Was Ten. I had an early proof copy (pre-covid) as this book was originally due for release last August. I can tell you now though, this book is worth the wait. Before I give you my thoughts, here’s the blurb.

 

The Blurb


Twenty-one years ago, Dr Richard Carter and his wife Pamela were killed in what has become the most infamous double murder of the modern age.

Their ten year-old daughter – nicknamed the Angel of Death – spent eight years in a children’s secure unit and is living quietly under an assumed name with a family of her own.

Now, on the anniversary of the trial, a documentary team has tracked down her older sister, compelling her to break two decades of silence.

Her explosive interview sparks national headlines and journalist Brinley Booth, a childhood friend of the Carter sisters, is tasked with covering the news story.

For the first time, the three women are forced to confront what really happened that night – with devastating consequences for them all.

When I Was Ten

My Review

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.

I’ve read all of Fiona’s books and the one thing that links the first three – Rattle, The Collector and The Neighbour – is an incredibly creepy atmosphere. When I Was Ten is different. It’s disturbingly real. If you saw the BBC2 drama, Responsible Child, then you’ll have some idea what to expect. It’s still on iPlayer and well worth a watch.

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.

I actually read When I Was Ten at Christmas 2019 as it was originally due for a 2020 release. I thought I’d written a review at the time but when I checked, I saw I’d only written a couple of paragraphs. I couldn’t understand why I’d done that. So I decided to re-read the book and did so in a day. Then I remembered. I had no words then and little more now. 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. The first time I read this book, I did so slowly, drinking it all in. The second time I was on a deadline so I read quickly. But the impact was still the same. The emotional heft was not lost. I was just as invested the second time of reading as the first, if not more so. And I think that’s what I couldn’t describe over a year ago.

In January, I reviewed another book and said I had a dilemma. It was very early in the year to be using the ‘E’ word, not least because I had already read another novel that was worthy of it. And here it is. So, my top ten reads will look a little different this year because I have to use this word for When I Was Ten. Extraordinary.

You can buy When I Was Ten here. Or if you would like a signed copy then click here to see if copies are still available.

 

The Author

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Fiona Cummins is an award-winning former Daily Mirror showbusiness journalist and a graduate of the Faber Academy Writing A Novel course. Rattle, her debut novel, has been translated into several languages and received widespread critical acclaim from authors including Val McDermid, Lee Child and Martina Cole. Marcel Berlins wrote in The Times: ‘Amid the outpouring of crime novels, Rattle is up there with the best of them.’
Fiona was selected for McDermid’s prestigious New Blood panel at the 2017 Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, where her novel was nominated for a Dead Good Reader Award for Most Exceptional Debut. A sequel, The Collector, was published in February 2018 and David Baldacci described it as ‘A crime novel of the very first order’. Rattle and The Collector are now being adapted into a TV series by the Tiger Aspect, the producers of Peaky Blinders.
Her third novel – standalone thriller The Neighbour – was published in April 2019. Ian Rankin described it as ‘creepy as hell’. Her fourth novel When I Was Ten will be published in April 2021.
When Fiona is not writing, she can be found on Twitter, eating biscuits or walking her dogs. She lives in Essex with her family.

Book Review – #TrustMe by @TMLoganAuthor @ZaffreBooks

Happy publication day to T.M. Logan for Trust Me. Thank you to Zaffre Books for allowing me to read an early copy via NetGalley. Before I give you my review, here’s the blurb.

The Blurb

TWO STRANGERS, A CHILD, AND A SPLIT SECOND CHOICE THAT WILL CHANGE EVERYTHING . . .

Ellen was just trying to help a stranger. That was how it started: giving a few minutes respite to a flustered young mother sitting opposite her on the train. A few minutes holding her baby while the mother makes an urgent call. The weight of the child in her arms making Ellen’s heart ache for what she can never have.

Five minutes pass.
Ten.

The train pulls into a station and Ellen is stunned to see the mother hurrying away down the platform, without looking back. Leaving her baby behind. Ellen is about to raise the alarm when she discovers a note in the baby’s bag, three desperate lines scrawled hastily on a piece of paper:

Please protect Mia
Don’t trust the police
Don’t trust anyone

Why would a mother abandon her child to a stranger? Ellen is about to discover that the baby in her arms might hold the key to an unspeakable crime. And doing the right thing might just cost her everything . . .

Trust Me

My Review

This is the third T.M. Logan book I’ve read and I think it’s my favourite one so far. Ellen Devlin is on a train back to London after being told the devastating news that she can not have children. It’s almost too much to bear when a young woman sits opposite her with a gorgeous baby girl. Despite her pain, Ellen can’t resist the smiley baby and when the young woman asks Ellen to hold her while she takes a phone call, Ellen is more than willing to help. But when Ellen sees the young woman get off at the next station, she wonders just what has she agreed to.

I loved this book mainly because I couldn’t work out what was going on! There is clearly something special about baby Mia because quite a few people seem to be after her. Is she a clone (seriously, I did consider this) or important in another scientific way, like gene therapy (I also thought this)? Or is there an angry, deranged father who wants to hurt her? T.M. Logan throws up so many ideas that it’s hard to know which one to catch.

The writing is superb and the tension remains strong throughout. Ellen is a great character. She used to be in the Royal Navy so she can definitely handle herself. And just as well. There are quite a few action scenes.

Although Ellen is the main narrator, we do hear from others in the story. But which narrator do we believe? Who can we trust? More importantly, who can Ellen trust?

Trust Me is a fast-paced, intriguing story that will keep you guessing until the end.

You can buy Trust Me here. Or check out your nearest independent bookshop.

The Author

T.M. Logan

TM Logan’s thrillers have sold more than a million copies in the UK and are published in 19 countries around the world including the USA, South Korea, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Poland, Hungary, Serbia, Romania, Greece and the Netherlands.

Tim’s brand new thriller, TRUST ME, begins when a woman is asked to look after a stranger’s baby on a train – only for the mother to vanish. When she looks in the baby’s things, she finds a note that says: ‘Please protect Mia. Don’t trust the police. Don’t trust anyone.’ TRUST ME will be published in the UK on 18th March, 2021.

His previous novel, THE CATCH, is about a father who becomes convinced his daughter is about to marry a man with terrible secrets. Terrified that his cherished only child is about to marry a man who is not what he seems, Ed sets out to uncover the truth – before it’s too late…

His thriller THE HOLIDAY was a Richard & Judy Book Club pick and spent ten weeks in the Sunday Times paperback top ten. THE HOLIDAY takes place over a sweltering summer week in the south of France, as four best friends see the holiday of a lifetime turn into a nightmare of suspicion, betrayal and murder. Tim’s debut LIES was one of Amazon’s biggest selling e-books of 2017 and was followed by 29 SECONDS in 2018.

Tim was a national newspaper journalist before turning to novel-writing full time. He lives in Nottinghamshire with his wife and two children, and writes in a cabin at the bottom of his garden.

For exclusive writing, new releases and a FREE deleted scene from Tim, sign up to the Readers’ Club: http://www.bit.ly/TMLogan. You can also follow him on Twitter @TMLoganAuthor, find him on Facebook at /TMLoganAuthor, on Instagram @TMLoganAuthor or on his website at http://www.tmlogan.com

Book Review – The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel @4thEstateBooks #TheMirrorAndTheLight

In some ways, Hilary Mantel doesn’t really need a review from me. But after spending two months reading The Mirror and the Light, I feel as though I should share my thoughts. It’s been a real time investment! Just in case you don’t already know, here’s the blurb.

 

The Blurb

‘If you cannot speak truth at a beheading, when can you speak it?’

England, May 1536. Anne Boleyn is dead, decapitated in the space of a heartbeat by a hired French executioner. As her remains are bundled into oblivion, Thomas Cromwell breakfasts with the victors. The blacksmith’s son from Putney emerges from the spring’s bloodbath to continue his climb to power and wealth, while his formidable master, Henry VIII, settles to short-lived happiness with his third queen, Jane Seymour.

Cromwell is a man with only his wits to rely on; he has no great family to back him, no private army. Despite rebellion at home, traitors plotting abroad and the threat of invasion testing Henry’s regime to breaking point, Cromwell’s robust imagination sees a new country in the mirror of the future. But can a nation, or a person, shed the past like a skin? Do the dead continually unbury themselves? What will you do, the Spanish ambassador asks Cromwell, when the king turns on you, as sooner or later he turns on everyone close to him?

With The Mirror and the Light, Hilary Mantel brings to a triumphant close the trilogy she began with Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies. She traces the final years of Thomas Cromwell, the boy from nowhere who climbs to the heights of power, offering a defining portrait of predator and prey, of a ferocious contest between present and past, between royal will and a common man’s vision: of a modern nation making itself through conflict, passion and courage.

The Mirror and the Light

My Review

The name ‘Thomas Cromwell’ has become synonymous with two very different people in recent years. I’m not sure anyone will forget the shock on Danny Dyer’s face when he was told on Who Do You Think You Are? that he was related to Thomas Cromwell and then through his son, Gregory, related to royalty. In some ways, Danny Dyer is the epitome of young Thomas Cromwell, the lad from Putney with humble beginnings; the rough diamond just waiting to be cut and polished, the spark of brilliance already showing. Then, of course, we have Hilary Mantel. Her Wolf Hall trilogy has done more for Thomas Cromwell’s reputation than the best PR company ever could. Instead of just being the man who got rid of the monasteries and lost his head over his Anne of Cleves blunder, Hilary Mantel has made him a very real and complex figure.

The story begins where it ended in Bring Up The Bodies – a sword slicing through the air, taking Anne Boleyn’s head off. Cromwell’s position is now secure. By writing in the present tense, we, the readers, are immediately there in Tudor England, the action happening all around us. Although some characters are fictional, there are plenty of familiar historical names – Thomas Howard – the Duke of Norfolk, Charles Brandon – the Duke of Suffolk and Thomas Cranmer – the Archbishop of Canterbury. Of course, foremost, is Henry VIII. Mantel has created a very complicated Henry – a real mixture of self-importance and vulnerability, and open to manipulation with the right whispers in his ear. I can’t help but wonder how much Henry regretted his decision to execute his right-hand man. Without doubt, no one else ever had as much power as Cromwell did during the rest of Henry’s reign.

This is a beast of a book and could easily have been three, making it a five part series instead of a trilogy. It would probably have earnt Hilary Mantel a lot more money if she had done so. As it stands, this third instalment is the equivalent of an eight course menu, with each dish as large and rich as the one before. I have to be honest and say I took a break halfway through as I had another book to read and review. The break did me good. Instead of feeling bogged down, I came back to it fresh and continued to enjoy the Tudor world. As the end approached, I found I didn’t want to leave that world, not least because I knew what the end would bring. 

So I’m bereft at leaving Thomas Cromwell behind. He may not be fully redeemed but I think he’s more understood. And in the historical notes at the end, Hilary Mantel cleared up something I had always wondered about. It turns out Thomas Cromwell was an ancestor of Oliver Cromwell. It’s ironic to think that after the worries and concerns of the nobility that Thomas Cromwell wanted to rule England himself, one of his descendants managed to do so. Of course, trying to turn Oliver Cromwell into a likeable figure might be a step too far. He cancelled Christmas after all.

You can buy The Mirror and the Light here. 

 

 

Blog Tour – Yield by @ClaireDyer1 @TwoRiversPress #Yieldpoetry #LGBTQ

Blog Tour - Yield

My thanks to Anne Nolan at Two Rivers Press for sending me a copy of Yield, a poetry collection, to read and review. This will be my last blog tour for a while and fair to say, a very different one. Before I give you my thoughts, here’s what the collection is about.

The Blurb

Three definitions of the word Yield give meaning to the odyssey undergone in Claire Dyer’s third collection: a journey which sees a son become a daughter, and a mother a poet for both of them. Charting these transitions, the poems take us through territories known and familiar landscapes of childhood, family and home into further regions where inner lives alter, outer ones are reimagined. Whether evoking clinic visits, throwing away old boyhood clothes, grieving over what’s lost, these honest and unashamed poems build to celebrate that place at the heart of motherhood where gender is no differentiator and love the gain.

My Thoughts

I’ve put my ‘thoughts’ rather than ‘review’ for a specific reason. I am not a poet. I have attempted them with little success. I’m still not very sure how I managed to get a good grade in my O-Level English Literature paper (yes, I am that old). I hated analysing every line and word looking for meanings that might not actually be there in the first place. I wanted to enjoy the poem as a whole without thinking about alliteration, line length, syllable count etc. When I was asked to review a collection of poems, I hesitated – am I really qualified to do this? In many ways, no. But as a reader I can appreciate the poems as a whole and so my ‘thoughts’ stem from that.

I listened to a radio interview that Claire Dyer did and for her the word ‘yield’ has three meanings that are then reflected in the collection. Firstly, to bring forth, or more specifically, to give birth or life. Secondly to surrender, give in. Lastly, a gain – not a financial one in this instance but an emotional one. As the above blurb says, Yield charts the journey that Claire travelled with her family when her son announced he was transgender. There’s shock, confusion, anxiety, grief and acceptance. As Claire said in her interview, this collection isn’t a political statement. Instead, it’s deeply personal and she had full permission from her family to publish.

There are so many wonderful poems here, and on second reading, I welled up more than the first time. There are lovely little lines such as ‘Etch A Sketch of shopfronts’ from In this town. More than that there’s the emotion that pours out of each poem – the goblin who comes at night to prey upon fear and anxiety, the memories that surface when emptying a wardrobe of clothes no longer needed and the thick skin that arrives like a parcel in the post.

Although the poems are borne out of one specific situation, many could relate to other issues people are going through. My favourite poem is Some Guidance on Leaving where the author goes down to the river and casts all her pain into it. This is a poem for anyone in a difficult situation. Even though I said how much I disliked English Lit., if I were to choose one poem from this collection to be on a GCSE syllabus, it would be this one. It is so beautiful, full of emotion and meaning and I know it’s one that I’ll return to again and again. 

The final poem, Afterword: Like This, highlights the final meaning of ‘yield’ – emotional gain. I’m not too sure what to write about this poem but there’s a sense of peace after being through such a turbulent time and surprise that peace is there at all. It’s the start of something new that will perhaps bring more joy than had life stayed the same.

So those are my thoughts. Thank you Claire for sharing such a difficult but precious time in your life. It would have been so easy to have kept these poems in a notebook. And to steal a refrain from some of your poems, thank you for being brave, wise and kind.

You can buy Yield here.

 

The Author

Claire Dyer

Claire Dyer holds a BA in English & History from the University of Birmingham, an MA in Victorian Literature & Culture from the University of Reading and an MA in Creative Writing from Royal Holloway, University of London. She lives in Reading, Berkshire. Yield is her third poetry collection.  

First Monday Crime March Panel with @timglisterbooks @nadinematheson @FemiKay_Author @abigailsdean @LeyeAdenle @1stMondayCrime #RedCorona #TheJigsawMan #Lightseekers #GirlA

Welcome back to First Monday Crime! We took a break over the last couple of months but with spring almost round the corner, it’s time for us to come out of hibernation. And we have the most amazing panel for you. For the first time, all our panellists are debut authors. We’re particularly excited to see new talent emerging at this time. Our panellists are Tim Glister (Red Corona), Nadine Matheson (The Jigsaw Man), Femi Kayode (Lightseekers) and Abigail Dean (Girl A). Leye Adenle is moderating. So please come and join us on Monday 1st March at 7.30pm on our Facebook page where we will be live streaming our event.

To give you a flavour of what to expect I have a review of Red Corona by Tim Glister. Thanks to Margot Weale at OneWorld for a copy of the book. 

The Blurb

It’s 1961 and the white heat of the Space Race is making the Cold War even colder.

Richard Knox is a secret agent in big trouble. He’s been hung out to dry by a traitor in MI5, and the only way to clear his name could destroy him.

Meanwhile in a secret Russian city, brilliant scientist Irina Valera makes a discovery that will change the world, and hand the KGB unimaginable power.

Desperate for a way back into MI5, Knox finds an unlikely ally in Abey Bennett, a CIA recruit who’s determined to prove herself whatever the cost…

As the age of global surveillance dawns, three powers will battle for dominance, and three people will fight to survive…

Red Corona

My Review

I don’t often read spy thrillers but I really enjoyed Red Corona. Set in 1961, things are hotting up in the Cold War and in space. Supremacy in the galactic skies is no longer about scientific research but political power. The world of espionage is more important than ever. But can you really trust the people around you? For Richard Knox (MI5), Abey Bennett (CIA) and Russian scientist, Irina Valera, this is something they’re all about to find out.

Tim Glister skillfully weaves the three threads of the story together until they all culminate at the end. Richard Knox isn’t the typical MI5 recruit. He hasn’t entered the service via the normal route of private school and Oxbridge. Instead he hails from the East End of London. He never really fits in. Abey Bennett also knows what it is to be an outsider. Sick to death of being underestimated by her male colleagues, she takes matters into her hands. Irina Valera is a brilliant scientist who is disillusioned with her Soviet masters. She seizes the chance to change direction in her life but quickly discovers she’s become a pawn, her knowledge valued more than her life. I have to say that Irina’s sections were my favourite parts of the book. She’s a desperate but very clever woman. Her ability to survive kicks in big time.

One thing I particularly liked was the setting of London in the post-war era. London is far from being rebuilt at this moment, especially in the east, and I loved the references to new building projects such as the Barbican. It gives the sense of a country still struggling to recover but recognising that things need to change. In that, it mirrors Knox’s opinion of MI5. The obvious ‘watchers’ who fail to blend in are a sign that the service has to modernise fast if it’s going to keep up with its foreign counterparts.

Overall, this is an intriguing, fast paced, spy thriller that taps in to the paranoia of the Cold War in eloquent fashion. I don’t know what Tim Glister’s plans are but I hope we get to see Richard Knox again.

 

You can buy Red Corona here.

To buy The Jigsaw Man by Nadine Matheson click here. 

To buy Lightseekers by Kemi Kayode click here.

To buy Girl A by Abigail Dean click here.

Or go to uk.bookshop.org to help out independent bookshops or contact your own local bookstore.

 

The Author

Tim Glister

Tim Glister is a novelist who wishes he was a spy. His debut thriller, Red Corona, is about three very different people caught up in the birth of the surveillance age during the height of the Cold War.

  

Book Review – Daughters of Night by Laura Shepherd-Robinson @LauraSRobinson @MantleBooks

Happy publication day to Laura Shepherd-Robinson for Daughters of Night. Thanks to Mantle for letting me read an advance copy via NetGalley. Before I give you my thoughts, here’s the blurb.

The Blurb

From the pleasure palaces and gin-shops of Covent Garden to the elegant townhouses of Mayfair, Laura Shepherd-RobinsonDaughters of Night follows Caroline Corsham as she seeks justice for a murdered woman whom London society would rather forget . . .

Lucia’s fingers found her own. She gazed at Caro as if from a distance. Her lips parted, her words a whisper: ‘He knows.’

London, 1782. Desperate for her politician husband to return home from France, Caroline ‘Caro’ Corsham is already in a state of anxiety when she finds a well-dressed woman mortally wounded in the bowers of the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens. The Bow Street constables are swift to act, until they discover that the deceased woman was a highly paid prostitute, at which point they cease to care entirely. But Caro has motives of her own for wanting to see justice done, and so sets out to solve the crime herself. Enlisting the help of thieftaker Peregrine Child, their inquiry delves into the hidden corners of Georgian society, a world of artifice, deception and secret lives.

But with many gentlemen refusing to speak about their dealings with the dead woman, and Caro’s own reputation under threat, finding the killer will be harder, and more treacherous, than she can know . . .

Daughters of Night

My Review

I loved Laura Shepherd-Robinson’s debut Blood & Sugar and Daughters of Night is even better. 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!

Caro is a wonderful character. Forget the simpering, modest Georgian wife as Caroline Corsham has a mind of her own and is not afraid to use it. I think I actually prefer her to Harry but I’d love to see them team up together in another book.

This is a truly magnificent novel and deserves to do incredibly well. After reading Daughters of Night, I tried to read a contemporary crime novel but I couldn’t settle to it. Instead I’ve started to read The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel and quite honestly, that should tell you something about the calibre of Laura Shepherd-Robinson’s writing. I eagerly anticipate her next book.

You can buy Daughters of Night here.  Or check out uk.bookshop.org or contact your local bookshop.

 

The Author

Laura Shepherd-Robinson

Laura Shepherd-Robinson was born in Bristol in 1976. She has a BSc in Politics from the University of Bristol and an MSc in Political Theory from the London School of Economics. Laura worked in politics for nearly twenty years before re-entering normal life to complete an MA in Creative Writing at City University. She lives in London with her husband, Adrian.