The Mysterious Case of the Alperton Angels by @JaniceHallett @ViperBooks @mirandajewess

Happy publication day to Janice Hallett for The Mysterious Case of the Alperton Angels! Thank you to Miranda Jewess for an early read. Before I give you my thoughts, here’s the blurb.

The Blurb

Open the safe deposit box.
Inside you will find research material for a true crime book.
You must read the documents, then make a decision.
Will you destroy them? Or will you take them to the police?

Everyone knows the sad story of the Alperton Angels: the cult who brainwashed a teenage girl and convinced her that her newborn baby was the anti-Christ. Believing they had a divine mission to kill the infant, they were only stopped when the girl came to her senses and called the police. The Angels committed suicide rather than stand trial, while mother and baby disappeared into the care system.

Nearly two decades later, true-crime author Amanda Bailey is writing a book on the Angels. The Alperton baby has turned eighteen and can finally be interviewed; if Amanda can find them, it will be the true-crime scoop of the year, and will save her flagging career. But rival author Oliver Menzies is just as smart, better connected, and is also on the baby’s trail.

As Amanda and Oliver are forced to collaborate, they realise that what everyone thinks they know about the Angels is wrong. The truth is something much darker and stranger than they’d ever imagined. And the story of the Alperton Angels is far from over.

My Review

I think we all know by now that Janice Hallett doesn’t write stories in a conventional way. My mind is blown more with each book she writes.  Using WhatsApp messages and transcripts of conversations, the story is told mostly from Amanda Bailey’s point of view. You’d never think that you could get such a great sense of a character from messages but that’s exactly what Janice Hallett has done. It’s the same with the plot and the setting. I know the area a little bit so there were some parts that I could picture from memory. The rest I could picture from Janice’s descriptions.

I don’t want to give any of the plot away, as this is a book best enjoyed by knowing little at the beginning and allowing Janice Hallett to drip-feed information to you. It’s one of those books that you desperately want to read quickly but at the same time I slowed down because I didn’t want it to end. Heavenly and creepy combined with twisted genius. This might be the first book I’m reviewing in 2023 but I’m saying it – The Mysterious Case of the Alperton Angels is extraordinary. 

You can buy The Mysterious Case of the Alperton Angels here or head down to your local independent bookshop.

The Author

Janice Hallett is a former magazine editor, award-winning journalist and government communications writer. She wrote articles and speeches for, among others, the Cabinet Office, Home Office and Department for International Development. Her enthusiasm for travel has taken her around the world several times, from Madagascar to the Galapagos, Guatemala to Zimbabwe, Japan, Russia and South Korea. A playwright and screenwriter, she penned the feminist Shakespearean stage comedy NetherBard and co-wrote the feature film Retreat, a psychological thriller starring Cillian Murphy, Thandiwe Newton and Jamie Bell. The Appeal is her first novel, and The Twyford Code her second.

Christmas Reads with @VickyNewham @richardosman @TMLoganAuthor #MurderAtTheChristmasCarols #TheBulletThatMissed #TheMother

I’ve been useless at blogging over the last year and written very few reviews. I’m going to try and do better in 2023 but there are no guarantees! However, I’m going to kick off by sharing my thoughts on my Christmas reads.

 

Murder at the Christmas Carols by Izzie Harper (aka Vicky Newham)

The Blurb

A dead carol singer. Three women sleuths. Not your average village Christmas.

All Ellie Blix wants is to make it to New Year without any more disasters. She’s juggling jobs and looking after a sick daughter. Then her mother-in-law moves in and won’t stop interfering.

It’s the week before Christmas in the snowy village of Lower Wootton. When Andrea Burdett, Ellie’s estranged schoolfriend, collapses at the village carols, it quickly becomes clear she’s been murdered. Feeling guilty about the recent row she and Andrea had, and under suspicion herself, Ellie teams up with her daughter and mother-in-law to follow the clues and solve the mystery – much to the annoyance of Ellie’s detective inspector ex-husband.

Then a second villager is found dead. Can the three Blix women find the killer and return the community to safety?

My Review

This is a brand-new cosy crime series set in Kent. Ellie Blix runs her own cleaning company in Lower Wotton (a fictional village). When an estranged friend dies suddenly before Ellie’s eyes, she feels compelled to find out why. With help from her daughter, Zoe, and her mother-in-law, Sylvia, the three women use their connections in the village to get some answers.

This was a delightful, light crime read that was just perfect to read at Christmas. I loved the characters of Ellie, Zoe and Sylvia. Izzie Harper has created the right balance between them of love and irritation – in other words, a normal family! The plot was interesting and had an unusual twist that I hadn’t seen coming. I believe there is more to come from the Blix women and I look forward to reading them.

 

The Bullet That Missed by Richard Osman

The Blurb

It is an ordinary Thursday and things should finally be returning to normal.

Except trouble is never far away where the Thursday Murder Club is concerned. A decade-old cold case leads them to a local news legend and a murder with no body and no answers.

Then, a new foe pays Elizabeth a visit. Her mission? Kill . . . or be killed.

As the cold case turns white hot, Elizabeth wrestles with her conscience (and a gun), while Joyce, Ron and Ibrahim chase down clues with help from old friends and new. But can the gang solve the mystery and save Elizabeth before the murderer strikes again?

My Review

Book three in the Thursday Murder Club series and Elizabeth, Joyce, Ron and Ibrahim are like old friends now. It’s easy to slip back into their company. The supporting cast of Donna, Chris and Bogdan are back too, along with another cold case murder to investigate. This one is unusual though, as the body was never discovered. Elizabeth finds she’s in danger now and has to confront a person from her past.

The two threads interweave making a great storyline. Joyce is my favourite character and it’s clear she’s learning a lot from Elizabeth, judging by some of the things she gets up to in the book. I was pleasantly surprised by the twist as it hadn’t crossed my mind at all. It’ll be interesting to see what happens in the next book as there are a few things left unanswered.

 

The Mother by T.M. Logan

The Blurb

Framed for murder. Now she’s free . . .

A woman attends a funeral, standing in the shadows and watching in agony as her sons grieve. But she is unable to comfort them – or reveal her secret.

A decade earlier, Heather gets her children ready for bed and awaits the return of her husband Liam, little realising that this is the last night they will spend together as a family. Because tomorrow she will be accused of Liam’s murder.

Ten years ago Heather lost everything. Now she will stop at nothing to clear her name – and to get her children back . . .

My Review

It’s a long time since I read a book in twenty-four hours but I couldn’t put this down. Normally, Logan starts with an ordinary family and then something bad happens to them. In The Mother, we start the other way round with a shattered family. Heather is released on parole after serving ten years in prison for the murder of her husband. Her two sons have been raised by their paternal grandparents. Her parole conditions mean that she’s not allowed contact with her family, nor anyone connected to the case. But Heather is innocent and is going to do whatever it takes to prove it.

This is written in first person from Heather’s viewpoint. I found it to be completely immersive, as though I was right there next to Heather. I felt all her emotions as she tried to adjust to life outside of prison and attempted to clear her name. The pace is quick and Logan builds in the right amount of paranoia and distrust. Once more (I’m clearly losing my touch), I hadn’t guessed the twist and I thought it worked extremely well. I think this is T.M. Logan’s best book to date and I really hope Channel 5 option this one to televise.    

 

Murder at the Christmas Carols and The Bullet That Missed  are available to buy now. The Mother will be published on March 2nd but can be pre ordered. Just click on the links below.

Murder at the Christmas Carols

The Bullet That Missed

The Mother

 

 

Hodder Author Event with @LouiseWriter @baparisauthor @Emma_Haughton @HodderFiction @HodderPublicity #EndOfStory #ThePrisoner #TheSanctuary

Last month, I was invited to an author event for Hodder Fiction at Carmelite House in London. It’s an amazing place! I even got to see the floor where my own publisher is based. But I was there for an event with Louise Swanson (aka Louise Beech), B.A. Paris and Emma Haughton, to showcase their new books. Huge thanks to Hodder for inviting me. I’ve held off posting before now because I wanted to read all three books first. Before I give you my thoughts, here are the blurbs for the novels.

The Blurbs

End of Story by Louise Swanson

Too much imagination can be a dangerous thing

It has been five years since writing fiction was banned by the government.

Fern Dostoy is a criminal. Officially, she has retrained in a new job outside of the arts but she still scrawls in a secret notepad in an effort to capture what her life has become: her work on a banned phone line, reading bedtime stories to sleep-starved children; Hunter, the young boy who calls her and has captured her heart; and the dreaded visits from government officials.

But as Fern begins to learn more about Hunter, doubts begin to surface. What are they both hiding?

And who can be trusted?

The Prisoner by B.A. Paris

THEN

Amelie has always been a survivor, from losing her parents as a child in Paris to making it on her own in London. As she builds a career for herself in the magazine industry, she meets, and agrees to marry, Ned Hawthorne.

NOW

Amelie wakes up in a pitch-black room, not knowing where she is. Why has she been taken? Who are her mysterious captors? And why does she soon feel safer here, imprisoned, than she had begun to feel with her husband Ned?

The Sanctuary by Emma Haughton

Zoey doesn’t remember anything about last night. But she knows something went badly wrong. For she is no longer in New York. She’s woken up in the desert, in a white building she doesn’t recognise, and she’s alone.

When she discovers she’s been admitted to The Sanctuary, a discreet, mysterious, isolated refuge from normal life, to avoid jail, she is stunned. She knows she has secrets, troubles, but she thought she had everything under control. But as she spends more time with other residents, she begins to open up about what she’s running from. Until she realises that not everyone in The Sanctuary has her best interests at heart, and someone might even be a killer . . .

My Reviews

Before I look at each individual book, it’s interesting to note that all three novels have women who are trapped and have to find a way out for themselves. Each author has looked at this from a different angle so although there are similar themes, they’re very different books.

End of Story by Louise Swanson

Having read End of Story during the balmy days of October 2022, I could well believe the setting of a heatwave in November 2035. But that’s not the only catastrophe that’s happened. In another believable move, fiction has been banned by the government and only factual books are allowed to be sold and read. Parents could go to prison and have their children removed if they’re caught telling them a bedtime story. For Fern Dostoy, a best-selling, award-winning author, this is more than a travesty. Her whole life is turned upside down as she’s not allowed to acknowledge her previous success. She’s also monitored on a regular basis by two men to ensure she’s no longer writing. But Fern is writing a diary, a secret one that reveals everything that’s going on.

There’s immediacy and intimacy in Louise Swanson’s writing that captured me completely and drew me in. I was in the story with Fern, feeling everything that she was feeling. I could instantly relate to and feel her despair, not just for herself, but for everyone affected. Rather worryingly, I could imagine a time where fiction might be banned. And as a writer, I found that completely disturbing.  A stunning book.

The Prisoner by B.A. Paris

I think if I had to give a one-line summary for The Prisoner, then it would be ‘imagine Room in the dark’. Amelie comes to and finds herself in complete darkness. Unable to see anything, she has to use her hands to explore where she is and then, work out why she’s there.

I have to confess, if I was Amelie, I wouldn’t have had the presence of mind that she has. I’d have freaked out! But Amelie has been through quite a lot of trauma in her life and her will to survive is strong. This story gripped me from the very beginning as it moved from the past to the present and back again, revealing more of the puzzle. I was cheering Amelie on each time she tried to escape her captors and felt her despair when there were knockbacks. I’m not sure how much more I can say about this book without giving away spoilers. However, it’s one of the most claustrophobic novels I’ve ever read (after Room) and I had to put it down at times just to get my breath back. Fantastic.

The Sanctuary by Emma Haughton

I haven’t read Emma’s debut, The Dark, which is set in Antarctica, but she has gone from one extreme temperature to another with the Mexican desert as the setting for The Sanctuary. Similar to The Prisoner, Zoey wakes up not knowing where she is. But she’s not in darkness; she’s in the blinding light and heat of a desert and her immediate surroundings seem quite luxurious. She has no recollection of getting there though. After a while, she realises that she’s in a rehab centre.

The Sanctuary is an unorthodox rehab centre with some unusual treatments. Some of the other clients’ addictions are clear – alcohol, drugs, gambling. But there was one thing mentioned that, as a writer, rang true – addicted to our thoughts. I definitely spend more time in my daydream world than the real one!

As Zoey is the narrator, we, the readers, are as confused as she is as to why she’s there. We can only go at her pace in discovering the truth. And what we discover with Zoey, is that the perfect Sanctuary, isn’t so perfect as it first seems. Again, it’s one of those books where it’s easy to give spoilers so I’ll try not to do that. But I will say that Zoey finds herself in a place where she doesn’t know who she can trust, and with a remote setting, she can’t run anywhere either. Being trapped in paradise isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. An intriguing read.

End of Story by Louise Swanson will be published next year on 23rd March but you can pre order here.

The Prisoner by B.A. Paris is out now and can be bought here.

The Sanctuary by Emma Haughton is also out now and can be bought here.

WW2 Home and Away author event at West Barnes Library with @djy_writer @amandalees @MertonLibraries

I’ve been a bit delayed getting this post out but we had a great time last week at West Barnes Library with our first in-person author event since January 2020. It was so nice to have an audience! David Young and Amanda Lees came to talk about their new WW2 books. Death in Blitz City is set in David Young’s hometown of Hull. After London, it was one of the cities most badly bombed during the war. The Silence Before Dawn is based in France, in particular, near Lyon. Amanda Lees wanted to focus on the female spies from the SOE who were sent to France to work with the Resistance.

I wish I could tell you everything that David and Amanda said but my brain is like a sieve these days. So, I’ll give you some of my personal highlights from the evening. One question I asked was about research and if there had been any surprises. David Young includes American GIs in his book and he was amazed to discover that the Americans had their own prison in the UK during the war. More than that, they dispensed their own justice against their soldiers and even borrowed the British executioner from that time – Albert Pierrepoint – to carry out executions.

I also wanted to know if our authors had any personal connections to the topics they were writing about. Amanda told us that her father had worked in the intelligence service but as he died when she was young, she doesn’t have many stories about him. However, when she was older, one of her first acting jobs was in ‘Allo ‘Allo, where she played a French Communist. Perhaps not the most realistic way to experience WW2 but an experience nonetheless!

Another question was about how careful an author needs to be when writing about real events and people from history. For David, the main bombing of Hull took place in 1941 but the American soldiers didn’t arrive until 1942. So, he had to think carefully about when to set his story. He also features two real people from that time (can’t say any more about that) but was careful in how they were portrayed. Amanda’s book is set later in 1944 and there were lots of events happening that she needs to fit her stories round. Although she’s looking at the female spies from SOE, her characters aren’t based on anyone specifically. However, she does include Klaus Barbie, the infamous Butcher of Lyon.

The last thing we did was a WW2 TV theme quiz. I was kind this time and gave the authors advanced notice. I did my best to give clues where they were needed but the audience gave much better ones! Huge thanks to David and Amanda for being such good guests.

You can buy David Young’s book, Death in Blitz Cityhere.  The Silence Before Dawn by Amanda Lees can be bought here. Hopefully we’ll be back in the new year with some more authors.

About the Authors

David Young

East Yorkshire-born David Young began his East German-set crime series on a creative writing MA at London’s City University when Stasi Child – his debut – won the course prize. The novel went on to win the 2016 CWA Historical Dagger, and both it and the 2017 follow-up, Stasi Wolf, were longlisted for the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year. His novels have been sold in eleven territories round the world. Before becoming a full-time author, David was a senior journalist with the BBC’s international radio and TV newsrooms for more than 25 years. He writes in his Twickenham garden shed and in a caravan on the Isle of Wight. The Stasi Game, his sixth novel, is available to pre-order now. You can follow him on Twitter @djy_writer

Blurb for Death in Blitz City

1942. HULL, EAST YORKSHIRE – It is the most heavily bombed city outside of London, but for the sake of national morale the Hull Blitz is kept top secret.

Newly posted Detective Chief Inspector Ambrose Swift cannot believe the devastation he finds. But for Swift and his deputies – Sergeant Jim ‘Little’ Weighton and Women’s Police Auxiliary Kathleen Carver – it’s murder, not the war, that looms large.

When a series of sadistic killings is blamed on locally-stationed American GIs, Swift soon discovers not all is what it seems. The stench of racism and corruption goes to the very top.

But finding the real killer will prove just as dangerous as the falling bombs. Because powerful forces cannot let the war effort be undermined – not even by the truth . . .

Amanda Lees

Amanda was born in Hong Kong and survived both a convent boarding school and a Jesuit boys’ school before being summarily ejected from the latter.

She gets her thirst for adventure from her parents who met in the jungle in Borneo where her mother had set up a hospital and her father, a former Gurkha Intelligence officer and Oxford-educated spy, was probably up to no good.

She is the author of the bestselling satirical novels Selling Out and Secret Admirer (published by Pan) which have both received critical acclaim and have been translated into several languages.

Her major YA thriller trilogy, Kumari, Goddess of Gotham, was nominated for the Guardian Children’s Book Prize and the Doncaster Book Award. It also featured as Redhouse Book Of The Month and Lovereading4kids Book Of The Month.

Amanda has a degree in drama and her first telly job was as a member of the Communist Resistance in ’Allo ‘Allo. This involved running around with a dachshund tucked under one arm and deploying her best cod French accent. It has all been dramatically downhill since.

A broadcaster as well as an actress and novelist, Amanda appears regularly on BBC radio and LBC and was a contracted writer to the hit series Weekending on Radio 4.

She researched and edited the leading directory for banks, The Banker’s Almanac, for Euromoney publications while also covering stories of shady dealings in the City for them. She has written for, or contributed to, The Evening Standard, The Times, New Woman, US Cosmopolitan, Bulgaria’s Vagabond and Company Magazine as well as numerous online publications.

Amanda has conducted a love coaching phone-in from the sofa of Richard & Judy and wooed the viewers on Channel 5 Live. She won an award at the Hungarian Gyor Film Festival for a short film she produced, a psychological thriller called Pros and Cons. She is currently working on a new crime thriller book series.

As well as Eastern European Mafiosi and the ex-head of the KGB, Amanda numbers serving and retired Police Officers, FBI agents, members of the Special Forces and distinguished forensic scientists among her dubious but well-qualified contacts. From Aconite to The Zodiac Killer, The Crime Dictionary is her latest book and made good use of those contacts.

Learn more at: http://www.amandalees.com

Blurb for The Silence Before Dawn

Nazi-occupied France, 1944: I tear open the envelope, extracting a sheet of folded paper. I read it, my heart cracking with every word. There is no mistaking the name of the man who betrayed us. Jack. My beloved fiancé – and now, a traitor.

Flames engulf the farmhouse. Nazi soldiers are everywhere, shouting, guns blazing, scarring the night sky with their searchlights. It was supposed to be a safe place to hide after our resistance missions. And now it is gone, and my friends and I must run. For our lives.

But then I gasp as I spot Jack, my fiancé and fellow spy, on the other side of the burning building. Hands up in surrender to the German officer standing at his side. He’s the love of my life, but more than that, he knows everything that keeps our undercover work secret. And if Nazis make him talk, they could find, capture and kill every last one of us.

I have to save him. And there are only a few people I trust to help me – the women fighters I’ve come to rely on as sisters, tougher, more clever, stronger than any man. But when one of them uncovers evidence that Jack may have actually been the person to betray our hiding place, my heart is torn from my body.

I don’t want to believe it. But I realise that either way, I still have to risk everything to stop Jack revealing what he knows – whether that’s under torture, or treacherously smiling, with a glass of whiskey in one hand.

What is the truth? Who can I believe? And how far will I have to go in order to save, or destroy, the one person I trusted with my heart?

Author events are back at West Barnes Library!

After promoting lots on Facebook and Twitter, I’ve just realised that I haven’t done a blog post for our first in-person event after the pandemic. So, in case you haven’t seen my endless tweets and Facebook posts, here are the details. I’ll be interviewing David Young and Amanda Lees about their new WW2 books. David’s book, Death in Blitz City, focuses on life in Hull during the war. Amanda’s book, The Silence Before Dawn, is set in France with the Resistance. We’ll be at West Barnes Library on Thursday 20th October at 7.30pm. Don’t be fooled by the name though – we’re not in Barnes but Motspur Park, and the library is next to the station. Click here for a map.

If you’d like to come, then please email the library on westbarnes.library@merton.gov.uk or ring 020 8274 5789 to book your place. £2 cash entry on the door. Free refreshments.

Capital Crime 2022 @CapitalCrime1@FMcMAssociates @Rhi_Morris98 #CapitalCrime2022

It’s so lovely to be back at book events! I couldn’t make the whole weekend due to other commitments (that were then cancelled – typical!) but I was determined to get to the Saturday events, despite the train strike. After a pretty tough September, I decided that I just wanted to sit and listen to the panels rather than write illegible notes. So, I have a few photos (not particularly good ones) and some anecdotes that hopefully I’ve remembered correctly!

As there was a train strike, I had to come by bus which took more than double the time by train. So, I was quite late to see Lady Hale which was a shame. The little bit I caught at the end suggested it was an excellent talk.

The next panel I saw was with T.M. Logan, Heidi Perks and Claire Douglas chatting to Ayo Onatade. They were talking about writing novels with contemporary settings but the thing that struck me most was that their books are often about toxic relationships within families or friendship groups. And having children made them more aware of dangers in society.

The next panel was Titans of the Terrifying, looking at thrillers with David Fennell, Nadine Matheson, Lars Kepler, and standing in last minute to moderate, Rod Reynolds. I think this was my favourite panel (no disrespect to anyone else). I didn’t know that Lars Kepler is a husband and wife writing team. Discovering that they act out the fight scenes from their WIP was probably the best thing I heard all day. I think we could all picture Alexandra picking up a very blunt knife to attempt to stab Alexander. Alexandra’s only complaint is that she is always the villain which means Alexander always wins the fight! We learned that despite the gruesome scenes she writes, Nadine Matheson is actually very squeamish and can’t cope with watching Casualty (I’m with you on that one, Nadine!).

After this, I sat in the bar area for a while and chatted. It was so lovely to catch up with people I hadn’t seen for ages and this really was the best part of the day for me. Watching panels is great but at the end of the day, the crime writing community is what it’s all about.

But I did go to two more sessions. Louise Candlish, Sarah Vaughan and Paula Hawkins chatted to Sarah Shaffi about various things, including what it was like to have their books adapted for TV or film. I particularly liked what Sarah said about the TV reviews for Anatomy of a Scandal not being particularly good but then the viewing figures came in. I thought it was fabulous and I think a lot of viewers would agree.

The final event for Capital Crime was Richard Osman in conversation with Bella Mackie. Having heard Richard talk at Harrogate last year, I knew it would be entertaining but it was also lovely to hear Bella speak too. There was some discussion about the legalities of the phrase, ‘Queen of Crime’ and Bella suggested Richard could be ‘King of Crime’. He declined saying it was more appropriate for Mark Billingham or Ian Rankin. The answer was obvious to me. ‘Stephen King,’ I called out. It was agreed. It’s there in his name after all. There was also some teasing about casting for the film of The Thursday Murder Club. I won’t repeat any names here but I think we were all a bit surprised about one possible name. My lips are sealed!

Capital Crime will be back next year at Battersea Park 28th-30th September 2023.

#TheLastParty by @claremackint0sh @LittleBrownUK @BooksSphere

Happy publication day to Clare Mackintosh for The Last Party! Thanks to Little, Brown for allowing me to read an ARC via NetGalley. Before I give you my review, here’s the blurb.

The Blurb

On New Year’s Eve, Rhys Lloyd has a house full of guests.

His lakeside holiday homes are a success, and he’s generously invited the village to drink champagne with their wealthy new neighbours. This will be the party to end all parties.

But not everyone is there to celebrate. By midnight, Rhys will be floating dead in the freezing waters of the lake.

On New Year’s Day, DC Ffion Morgan has a village full of suspects.

The tiny community is her home, so the suspects are her neighbours, friends and family – and Ffion has her own secrets to protect.

With a lie uncovered at every turn, soon the question isn’t who wanted Rhys dead…but who finally killed him.

In a village with this many secrets, a murder is just the beginning.

The Review

I’ve loved all of Clare’s crime books and ‘I Let You Go’ has always been my favourite. Until now. DC Ffion Morgan has pushed poor Jenna aside! ‘The Last Party’ is absolutely brilliant!

Annoyingly, I couldn’t work out who was responsible. Although, one hunch I had proved to be right. Clare Mackintosh has given us a whole heap of plausible suspects for us to consider. But the stars of the book are DC Ffion Morgan and DC Leo Brady. Each have their own dilemmas but they dovetail so well together. I know this is the start of a series for Ffion Morgan, so I hope that Leo Brady will be back too.

The setting in North Wales is divine and I like the way that Clare looked at how the local Welsh people felt when the rich English moved in. It’s not so much looking at Welsh nationalism but more the importance on preserving Welsh heritage. The sense of local community is strong and in that way, it reminded me of ‘Keeping Faith’ with everyone knowing each other’s business. In fact, this would make an excellent TV series.

‘The Last Party’ has earned itself a place in my top ten reads of 2022.

Click here to buy or head down to your local bookseller.

The Author

Clare Mackintosh is the multi-award-winning author of five Sunday Times bestselling novels. Translated into forty languages, her books have sold more than two million copies worldwide, have been New York Times and international bestsellers and have spent a combined total of 64 weeks in the Sunday Times bestseller chart. Clare lives in North Wales with her husband and their three children.

For more information visit Clare’s website http://www.claremackintosh.com or find her at http://www.facebook.com/ClareMackWrites or on Twitter @ClareMackint0sh

Blog Tour for #DeathInBlitzCity by @djy_writer @ZaffreBooks @Tr4cyF3nt0n

I have been a huge fan of David Young’s books and absolutely loved his Karin Müller series. I interviewed David back in May 2019 and he mentioned then that he would be starting a new series set in WW2 Hull. So I jumped at the chance of reading and reviewing. Before I give you my thoughts, here’s the blurb.

The Blurb

1942. Hull, East Yorkshire – It is the most heavily-bombed city outside of London – but for the sake of national morale the Hull Blitz is kept top secret. Only the politicians in Whitehall and Hull’s citizens themselves know of the true chaos.

Newly-posted Inspector Ambrose Swift cannot believe the devastation he finds. But for Swift and his two deputies – part-time bare-knuckle boxer Jim ‘Little’ Weighton and Dales farmer’s daughter Kathleen Carver – it’s murder, not the war, that’s at the forefront of their minds.

When a series of sadistic killings is wrongly blamed on locally-stationed black American GIs, Swift, a one-armed former WW1 cavalryman who tours the rubble-strewn city on a white horse, soon discovers these are no ordinary murders. The fetid stench of racism, corruption and perversion go to the very top. And for Swift, Weighton and Carver, finding the real killers means putting their own lives at risk – because powerful forces in the US and Britain cannot let the war effort be undermined. Not even by the truth.

My Review

I enjoy reading historical crime and love WW2 books. A lot of these deal with the actual war, particularly agents abroad. David Young has taken a different tack and given us a new police procedural series set in wartime Hull. Hull was bombed heavily during the war, a fact not mentioned very much. But this novel is less about the wartime effort and more about crime. The ruins of a bombed out house is the perfect place to hide a body.

It often takes a while to settle into a new series but David Young has set up the team beautifully. Detective Inspector Ambrose Swift is ably assisted by Detective Sergeant Jim Weighton, a Hull man whose bulk and local knowledge prove invaluable to his senior officer. In 1942, women in the police force had menial tasks such as typing, filing and making cups of tea. Swift though, appears to be a progressive man, as he can see the potential in Auxiliary Constable Kathleen Carver and encourages her to take a full part in the investigation. Swift is the most intriguing character of all. A former WW1 soldier who lost his arm in action, he’s keen to discover the truth, no matter what the consequences. There’s also a mysterious past from his time in London and I’m looking forward to seeing how that plays out in future stories.

As with his Karin Müller series, David Young has weaved in another historical thread. The full picture doesn’t become clear until near the end. I genuinely wasn’t sure how it was all going to work out. The subtle clues are there but I hadn’t spotted them all. It certainly made for a very interesting story and I’m looking forward to reading more about Detective Inspector Swift and his team.

You can buy Death in Blitz City here or check out your local bookshop.

The Author

East Yorkshire-born David Young began his East German-set crime series on a creative writing MA at London’s City University when Stasi Child – his debut – won the course prize. The novel went on to win the 2016 CWA Historical Dagger, and both it and the 2017 follow-up, Stasi Wolf, were longlisted for the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year. His novels have been sold in eleven territories round the world. Before becoming a full-time author, David was a senior journalist with the BBC’s international radio and TV newsrooms for more than 25 years. You can follow him on Twitter @djy_writer

The Redeemer by @VictoriaGoldma2 @3CPublishingUK

A very happy publication day to Victoria Goldman for The Redeemer. I’ve known about this book for quite a long time and it’s been a tough journey to publication. So I’m thrilled for Victoria that it’s now out to buy and read. Before I share an extract and a short review with you, here’s the blurb.

The Blurb

‘REPENT BEFORE YOU DIE … OR MAY YOU NEVER R.I.P.’

Threatening plaques, vigilante killings, a Jewish community in an English town – what’s the link? The clock is ticking to the next murder.

After witnessing a racist incident in a small Hertfordshire town, journalist Shanna Regan uncovers a series of threatening fake commemorative plaques. Each plaque highlights someone’s misdemeanour rather than a good deed.

Delving deeper, Shanna discovers these plaques are linked to vigilante killings spanning several decades, with ties to the local Jewish community.

As her search for the truth becomes personal, Shanna puts her own life in danger. Can she stop the next murder in time?

The Redeemer is a compelling, thought-provoking murder mystery debut, featuring themes of prejudice, identity and heritage, revenge and redemption, and secrets from the past.

The Extract

From the end of chapter three

Twenty-five Campton Avenue is also a bungalow, but it couldn’t be more different from Valerie and Harry’s well-manicured home.

This one looks like it’s been neglected for years, with its frontage exposed to the elements, battered by wind and rain, and a faded blue door with paint scraped off around its edges. The front garden is overgrown, with grass stems up to my knees and prickly weeds growing through the crazy-paving cracks. Remnants of yesterday’s downpour linger: small shimmering puddles in the stony earth of the bare flower beds.

I walk up the gravel path to the door, loose stones crunching under my feet. Inspecting every inch of the façade, I feel my heart sinking. Maybe Valerie’s wrong – I can’t see a plaque.

There’s a small faded wooden box on the door frame, two-thirds up and not much longer than a matchbox. Maybe it once housed the doorbell as I can’t see one of those either, just a large black metal cross beside the front door.

As I wander down the side of the house, a glint of red glaze catches my eye, hidden behind the foliage of a large overgrown bramble bush. I walk over and push the thorny branches away to reveal a black square plaque edged in red and smeared with mud.

I reach into my bag, pull out a white tissue and a bottle of mineral water.

Always be prepared. My grandad’s words ring in my ears.

I unscrew the bottle and pour water onto the thin paper. Wipe the plaque gently but firmly, not wanting to damage it but desperate to see what lies beneath the dirt and grime. It feels like rubbing a lottery scratch card with a coin, though I don’t expect to win any jackpot.

Gradually I reveal the plaque. Deep scratches run across it as if someone has tried to obliterate the red words in rage. Once I’ve read them, I turn away. Blink, then look back. Maybe my eyes have deceived me. But no, the words are still there.

Not much fazes me. Over the years I’ve seen things I wish I could unsee. Lifeless blood-smeared bodies on a Brussels street. Lost teddy bears swept away by Japanese tsunami floods.

But something about these words chills me to the bone.

Maybe I’ve won the jackpot after all.

My Review

The Redeemer is a story of murder and revenge in a quiet Jewish community. Shanna Regan, a journalist, sets out to find the truth about the murders but finds herself on a very personal journey. Can she piece everything together to stop another death? Entertaining and informative, this novel tackles antisemitism in a unique way. A must read.

If you like what you’ve read then you can order The Redeemer here.

The Author

Victoria Goldman MSc. is a freelance journalist and editor. She is a book & stationery addict, crochet novice and nature lover (especially the local wild parakeets). She lives in Hertfordshire and is married with two sons.

Victoria Goldman was given an honourable mention for The Redeemer in the Capital Crime/DHH Literary Agency New Voices Award 2019.

Twitter: @VictoriaGoldma2

Readers’ Club: https://vgoldmanbooks.com/join-my-readers-club/

And the nominees are… @Bookouture @DeadGoodBooks

I think we all like a good awards ceremony – I know I do. Whether it’s the BAFTAs or the Oscars or the NTAs, I love seeing who’s been singled out for their brilliant performance. Of course, with the BRITs, I spend most of my time thinking I don’t know who any of the nominees are and suddenly feel very old.

The publishing industry has its own awards with the Nibbies, and then, there are the book awards. The Booker and Costa (sadly ending) are probably the most well known ones but different genres have their own too. Being a crime novelist, these are the ones I know the best. Last week, the Crime Writers’ Association (CWA) gave out their Dagger awards to authors such as Janice Hallett, M.W. Craven and C.J. Sansom. Shortly, six authors will be battling it out to win the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year up at Harrogate. The very worthy nominees are Laura Shepherd-Robinson, Elly Griffiths, Mick Herron, Joseph Knox, Vaseem Khan and Will Dean. I think this will be very close this year as all are worthy winners. You can vote here.

So, why am I telling you this? Well, I have news… some very unexpected news! There’s another awards ceremony at Harrogate called the Dead Good Reader Awards and I’ve been nominated! I’m still in shock, and you’ll see why when I tell you the other nominees. I’m up for the Best New Kid on the Block for Best New Series with my DI Bernadette (Bernie) Noel books. As the awards suggest, the books are all nominated by readers and somehow, I’ve ended up in the top six along with Neil Lancaster, C.K. McDonnell, Glenda Young, Val McDermid and Richard Osman. Yes, you have just read those last two names correctly! Hence the shock! I think it’s fair to say I’m the underdog here. If you’d like to see the other award nominees and maybe vote then go to Dead Good Books . I’d love it if you voted for me but obviously, vote for the authors you want to win. Voting closes on Monday 18th July and the winners will be announced on Friday 22nd July at Harrogate. I’ll be there, doing my best ‘I haven’t won but I’ll smile anyway’ face and applauding the winner.