Summer reads with @writer_north @TMLoganAuthor @william1shaw #TheWhisperMan #TheHoliday #Deadland

Judging by the weather outside, Autumn is definitely starting to kick in. I took a bit of a blogging break in the Summer but I certainly didn’t stop reading. Some books I can’t tell you about yet because they’re not out until later this year or even next year. But there are three fabulous novels I want to tell you about whether you’re now home for the Autumn or about to go away to catch some last sunshine.

First up, The Whisper Man by Alex North. Here’s the blurb and my review.

The Blurb

If you leave a door half-open, soon you’ll hear the whispers spoken . . .

Still devastated after the loss of his wife, Tom Kennedy and his young son Jake move to the sleepy village of Featherbank, looking for a much-needed fresh start.

But Featherbank has a dark past. Fifteen years ago, a twisted serial killer abducted and murdered five young boys.

Until he was finally caught, the killer was known as ‘The Whisper Man’.

Of course, an old crime need not trouble Tom and Jake as they try to settle in to their new home.

Except that now another boy has gone missing. And then Jake begins acting strangely.

He says he hears a whispering at his window . . .

The Whisper Man

My Review

Much has been made of The Chain (and rightly so) but the other book highlight of the summer for me has been The Whisper Man. In some ways they are similar – an abducted child and a struggling parent who will do anything to get their child back – but the pace is very different. The Chain is fast and furious while The Whisper Man beats out a slightly more even tone as the drama is spread out over months rather than weeks.

The main storyline concerns the abduction of a young boy but so many more threads are weaved in through the lives of the main protagonists – Tom Kennedy and his son, Jake, and the two police officers charged with solving the abduction. Tom Kennedy is mourning the loss of his wife after her sudden death and is struggling to raise his son, Jake. I don’t think I’ve ever read grief portrayed so well in a Crime novel before. Alex North has balanced reality with sensitivity and my heart went out to Tom. There’s a wonderful line ‘grief is a stew with a thousand ingredients, and not all of them are palatable.’ Just as Tom is struggling, so is Jake. He turns to imaginary friends to help him get through the school day and life in general. DI Pete Willis has to fight the lure of alcohol on a daily basis. And with a child missing, the craving is stronger than ever.

There are some wonderful twists in this book. Some I saw coming, some I didn’t. Creepiness hangs over the whole story like early morning mist. I don’t want to give too much away but there’s a section towards the end that made me cry. It’s exquisitely written and trust me, you’ll know it when you get there.

Apart from the traditional elements of a crime thriller – tension, discomfort and a mysterious plot – this book is also infused with regret and hope. It’s one of the most moving Crime books I’ve ever read.

You can buy The Whisper Man here.

 

The Author

Steve Mosby

Alex North (aka Steve Mosby) was born in Leeds, where he now lives with his wife and son. He studied Philosophy at Leeds University, and prior to becoming a writer he worked there in their sociology department

 

Next up is The Holiday by T.M. Logan.

The Blurb

Seven days. Three families. One killer.

It was supposed to be the perfect holiday, dreamed up by Kate as the ideal way to turn 40: four best friends and their husbands and children in a luxurious villa under the blazing sunshine of Provence.

But there is trouble in paradise. Kate suspects that her husband is having an affair, and that the other woman is one of her best friends.

One of these women is willing to sacrifice years of friendship and destroy her family. But which one? As Kate closes in on the truth in the stifling Mediterranean heat, she realises too late that the stakes are far higher than she ever imagined.

Because someone in the villa is prepared to kill to keep their secret hidden.

The Holiday

My Review

We’ve been on holiday with some friends a couple of times. Two families away together. First time was great. Second time tested us a bit with car problems, stomach bugs (only one bathroom) and enough rain for us to consider building an ark. Kate though has considerably more problems than that.

Along with her husband, Sean, and her children, Lucy and Daniel, Kate is heading off to France to meet up with her university friends and their respective families. Kate, Rowan, Jennifer and Izzy were a tight bunch of friends twenty years before but children and careers have taken their toll. This holiday is meant to bring them together again. And with a stunning villa and scorching hot weather, what could possibly go wrong?

Kate is the main protagonist although we do get to hear from the others as well. She appears to be Little Miss Perfect but there are cracks in her marriage and things from her past that she’s not proud of. T.M. Logan skilfully draws out these secrets and the paranoia Kate feels about her husband is all too real. Added into the mix is business woman Rowan about to do the biggest deal of her life. Then there’s Jennifer, a neurotic mother who guards her teenage sons like a swan. She might look graceful but she’ll go for you if you criticise her boys. Only Izzy appears content, back from travelling and seemingly happy with her life.

We get to hear from the children too and I really enjoyed these parts. I particularly loved Daniel, Kate’s nine year old son. I have a son of similar age and there were lots of elements I recognised, especially his relationship with his sister, Lucy.

The setting sounds idyllic. A luxury villa in the Languedoc region, basking in the hot summer sun. Extreme heat doesn’t help at the best of times though and it definitely fuels frayed tempers. Paradise rapidly turns into hell as old grievances and new suspicions are aired. I really hadn’t seen the twist coming so it was interesting to see how T.M Logan weaved the different narratives together.

The Holiday is the perfect beach book but it’s also a great read for Autumn if you want to relive the hot, tense days of Summer.

If you’d like to buy The Holiday then click here.

The Author

T.M. Logan

Bestselling author TM Logan was a national newspaper journalist before turning to novel-writing full time. His debut thriller LIES was one of Amazon UK’s biggest ebooks of 2017, selling 350,000 copies and gathering more than 1,400 5-star reviews.

Together with his second standalone thriller, 29 Seconds (2018), his books are now published in 14 countries around the world including the USA, South Korea, Italy, Spain, Portugal, France, Poland, Hungary, Serbia, Romania and the Netherlands.

His latest thriller, The Holiday, is a Richard & Judy Book Club pick for summer 2019. It 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 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 or on his website at http://www.tmlogan.com

 

And my third choice is Deadland by William Shaw.

The Blurb

YOU CAN RUN

The two boys never fitted in. Seventeen, the worst age, nothing to do but smoke weed; at least they have each other. The day they speed off on a moped with a stolen mobile, they’re ready to celebrate their luck at last. Until their victim comes looking for what’s his – and ready to kill for it.

YOU CAN HIDE

On the other side of Kent’s wealth divide, DS Alexandra Cupidi faces the strangest murder investigation of her career. A severed limb, hidden inside a modern sculpture in Margate’s Turner Contemporary. No one takes it seriously – not even the artwork’s owners, celebrity dealers who act like they’re above the law.

YOU CAN DIE

But as Cupidi’s case becomes ever more sinister, as she wrangles with police politics and personal dilemmas, she can’t help worrying about those runaway boys. Seventeen, the same age as her own headstrong daughter. Alone, on the marshes, they’re pawns in someone else’s game. Two worlds are about to collide.

Kent and its social divisions are brilliantly captured in Deadland, a crime thriller that’s as ingeniously unguessable as it is moving and powerful.

Dead Land cover

My Review

For the last two years, William Shaw has made it into my top ten reads for the year, firstly with The Birdwatcher and then Salt Lane. The Birdwatcher featured William South, a police officer with a very guilty secret. DS Alex Cupidi also appeared in a supporting role but she was upgraded to the main protagonist in Salt Lane. She’s back in Deadland and so is William South. I have to say I got very excited when I read that part!

As the number of police officers have declined nationally, trying to cover all of Kent isn’t an easy job for Alex and her fellow detectives. Especially when there’s so much petty crime such as teenagers on mopeds nicking mobile phones. But a severed arm found in a modern sculpture in Margate’s Turner Contemporary gallery? Well, that’s a bit more unusual. For some of her colleagues it’s a bit of a joke case but Alex, along with DC Jill Ferriter, take it more seriously. There are two options for Alex. Either the owner of the severed arm is alive and in desperate need of medical attention or the victim is dead. And that’s a possible murder case.

Sloth and Tap are two teenagers with too much time on their hands and not enough cash. Nicking phones is easy. Until you nick the wrong one. I absolutely loved these two characters. All too often teenage criminals are portrayed in the press as thugs – hoodlums in hoodies. They start off that way in Deadland but William Shaw pulls off a marvellous trick. Rather than despising them, I found myself warming to them and by the end, cheering them on. Their crimes start off motivated by boredom but end up being committed through fear. The adult world is more frightening than they had first thought.

Amongst all of this, DS Alex Cupidi is worrying – about her daughter, her neighbour (William South) and her colleague, DC Jill Ferriter. I love how real she feels. She’s tangible in all her roles as a police detective, a mother and a friend.

Although a lot of the action takes place in Margate, Dungeness continues to be a focal point, the desolate landscape contrasting with Dreamland and the shiny new Turner Contemporary gallery. And that sort of sums up Deadland in a way. There’s enormous wealth vs poverty and traditional vs new. Kent (and the rest of the UK) is changing fast and everything feels on the edge. William Shaw has the knack of weaving social issues into his stories without ever preaching. Certainly Sloth and Tap are going to stay with me for a long time.

To buy Deadland click here.

The Author

William Shaw

The Sun hails William Shaw as “a master of modern crime”. His latest novel Salt Lane takes a character from his hugely praised standalone novel The Birdwatcher, to start a new series set in Dungeness. Val McDermid called it “Taut, terrifying and timely.” He’s also the author of the acclaimed Breen and Tozer series set in London in 1968-69. The Sun called The Birdwatcher, a crime novel set in Kent, a contender for crime book of 2016. Peter May says: “William Shaw is, quite simply, an outstanding storyteller.”

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 in 2003.

williamshaw.com
@william1shaw
http://www.facebook.com/williamshawwriter

The Event

You can come and here William Shaw talking about Deadland at West Barnes Library in South West London on Tuesday 1st October, along with Mark Hill. See the poster for details.

Murder on the Beach poster

 

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Book Review – The Bad Place by M.K. Hill @markhillwriter @HoZ_Books

Happy publication day, Mark Hill! The Bad Place is out today and it’s the start of a new series. I’ll give you my thoughts in a minute but here’s the blurb.

The Blurb

The newspapers called it The Bad Place. A remote farm out on the Thames estuary, where six children were held captive for two weeks. Five of them got out alive.

That was twenty years ago. Now adults, they meet up annually to hold a candlelit vigil for their friend who died. The only rule is that no-one can talk about what happened the night they escaped. But at this year’s event, one of them witnesses a kidnapping. A young girl, Sammi, is bundled into a van in front of their eyes.

Is history repeating itself? Is one of them responsible? Or is someone sending them a twisted message?

DI Sasha Dawson, of Essex Police, is certain that the key to finding Sammi lies in finding out the truth about The Bad Place. But she also knows that with every second she spends trying to unlock the past, the clock ticks down for the missing girl…

The Bad Place cover

My Review

After his very dark series with DI Ray Drake, Mark Hill (writing as M.K. Hill) has burst back onto the crime scene with a tale of sun, sea and suspicion. Well, it couldn’t all be good news – that’s not how Crime works. Enter DI Sasha Dawson based in Southend. So that’s the sun and sea covered. Now for the suspicion. A teenage girl is abducted. Could it be connected to 6 children who were abducted 20 years previously?

On the face of it, DI Sasha Dawson is a much sunnier person than DI Ray Drake. She’s married and has children. Her parents live nearby. She’s in her 40s but has prematurely white hair. Mark Hill doesn’t allude to it but I wonder if it’s linked to a trauma she experienced a few years before. The shiny veneer on Sasha’s family life is paper-thin. I think Mark has got the balance correct in writing a female character. He shows how Sasha juggles her work and family life and regularly drops the balls.

There are multiple viewpoints in the story and it switches between the past and the present. Mark has used this style before and it works well. Like a jigsaw, Sasha’s storyline is the outside edges and corners. But the middle is the 6 children and what happened to them. The middle is dark and murky and Baden Place (the property where the children were kept) is aptly named ‘The Bad Place’. I liked the slow reveal of what happened at ‘The Bad Place’ and the story kept me guessing until nearly the end.

Beach settings have become popular on TV for police dramas and Southend fits neatly into that category. Mark Hill is always hugely descriptive in his writing and I love how he describes the seaside town – ‘Some of the men already had their tops off, revealing angry red shoulders and brown bellies that poured over the elastic of their shorts like tarmac from a tipper… The air was thick with the sweet smell of burned sugar… The arcades were already open and the din of music and electronic sounds, the rings and whooshes and whistles of hundreds of machines, rolled across the street.’ I’ve never been to Southend but those sights, sounds and smells sum up most British seaside towns and I could picture it.

This is a fantastic start to a new series. It seems that there are plenty of secrets in Southend and I can’t wait for DI Sasha Dawson and her team to uncover more.

 

The Author

Mark Hill

M.K. Hill was a journalist and an award-winning music radio producer before becoming a full-time writer. As Mark Hill, he’s the author of His First Lie and It Was Her. He lives in London.

 

The Event

Murder on the Beach poster

I have the opportunity to ask Mark some questions about The Bad Place on Tuesday 1st October along with William Shaw. See the poster for details. Would love to see you there!

First Monday Crime Festival Round-up for September @1stMondayCrime @W4BookFest @NOIRwichFest @BloodyScotland @MorecambeVice @CapitalCrime1 #crimewritingfestivals

FM June 19.1

It seems a long time ago that we all met up for our First Monday Crime Summer Spectacular – two months to be precise! And we won’t be seeing you again until Monday 7th October! Don’t despair though. There are some fantastic literary festivals on in September to keep you going until your monthly dose of First Monday Crime is back. There’s bound to be more things happening but I’d like to highlight five festivals.

First up – Chiswick Book Festival. I’ve been to this festival a few times now and it was the  first one I ever attended. So it’s quite special to me. It’s a bit smaller than other festivals but it puts on a lot and has a wide variety of authors from historical to cookery to crime. Plus they’ve introduced workshops for budding writers too. Rather than giving you a long list of authors, I’ll just give you a few familiar First Monday names – Phoebe Morgan, Peter Hanington, Mark Billingham with Linwood Barclay, Amer Anwar, Angela Clarke and Deborah O’Connor. The Chiswick Book Festival runs 12-16th September.

On at the same time (12-15th) is Noirwich. So if East Anglia is closer to you than London then this may be for you. FM authors you can expect to see are Erin Kelly, Leye Adenle, Sarah Hilary, Vaseem Khan, Simone Buchholz, Laura Shepherd-Robinson, Mick Herron and Claire McGowan.

Now we mover further north to Stirling and Bloody Scotland. I’ve heard so many great things about this festival and I hope to go one day. Apart from the fantastic panels there’s the torchlight parade and a bit of sport with the annual England vs Scotland football match. Authors to look out for include Ruth Ware, Lucy Foley, Chris Brookmyre, our ‘hostess with the mostess’ Marnie Riches, Mary Paulson Ellis, Johanna Gustawsson and Doug Johnstone. Bloody Scotland is 20th-22nd September.

Coming back down but staying north of Watford, we have Morecambe and Vice. If there was ever a competition for the best named Crime writing festival, surely Morecambe and Vice would have to win. This festival has only been going for a couple of years and will be on 28-29th September. Not sure if there’ll be any comedy routines but William Shaw, Gytha Lodge, Quentin Bates, Lin Anderson, Adam Croft and Robert Daws will all be there to entertain you.

Last but absolutely not least, the inaugural Capital Crime. As the name suggests, we’re back in London for this festival. Created by Adam Handy and David Headley, there is an impressive amount of authors to see on 26-28th September. Here are some of the authors who’ve been with us at First Monday – John Connolly, Ann Cleeves, Mark Billingham, Mark Edwards, Peter James, Antonia Hodgson, Stuart Turton, Fiona Barton, Sarah Pinborough, Sophie Hannah, Fiona Cummins, Will Dean… it goes on forever! And then there’s also Robert Harris, Kate Atkinson, Don Winslow, David Baldacci, Lynda La Plante, Ian Rankin, Martina Cole…  As you can imagine, with all these authors, there are two tracks of panels to choose from.

Click on the names of the festivals to find out more details and to book.

So plenty there to keep you occupied until we’re back in October. We’re busy planning the new season for you and will let you know who’s coming soon. Enjoy the rest of the summer and happy reading!

Blog Tour – #TheChain by Adrian McKinty @adrianmckinty @Tr4cyF3nt0n @orionbooks #dontbreakthechain

Blog tour graphic - The Chain

Looking for a gripping holiday read? Then look no further. The Chain is the ‘must-have’ book of 2019. Thank you to Tracy Fenton and Orion for inviting me to take part in the blog tour. Before I give my review, here’s the blurb.

 

The Blurb

YOUR PHONE RINGS.

A STRANGER HAS KIDNAPPED YOUR CHILD.

TO FREE THEM YOU MUST ABDUCT SOMEONE ELSE’S CHILD.

YOUR CHILD WILL BE RELEASED WHEN YOUR VICTIM’S PARENTS KIDNAP ANOTHER CHILD.

IF ANY OF THESE THINGS DON’T HAPPEN:
YOUR CHILD WILL BE KILLED.

YOU ARE NOW PART OF THE CHAIN

The Chain by [McKinty, Adrian]

My Review

Well, where to begin? I’ve heard lots of people have read this book in a day but I couldn’t do that. My nerves wouldn’t let me! The tension is there from the very beginning and doesn’t let up until the last page. This really tapped into my fears as a mother and I had to keep reminding myself this book is fiction and not true crime.

Rachel, the main character and mother of Kylie, is beautifully written. As a divorced mum, recovering from breast cancer, she’s hugely believable. Her vulnerability is evident. I’d call her a ‘lioness’ mother. She appears calm until you hurt her baby. Then she comes out fighting. Definitely something I recognise in myself.

But this isn’t a book that only parents can relate to. Adrian McKinty cleverly brings Kylie’s Uncle Pete into the story. There aren’t many people who don’t have a nephew or a niece or a cousin or maybe a godchild. Or a neighbour’s child who you absolutely adore. The Chain puts a moral dilemma in front of us all and asks us to choose – your child’s life or keep the Chain moving.

By using multiple viewpoints, McKinty keeps us, the readers, on our toes. Sometimes we’re allowed to know things in advance. Other times we’re on the back foot. But never bored. Each chapter moves us along The Chain, getting closer to the true perpetrators.

With the atmospheric setting of Plum Island in the fog, this is a book crying out to be on a screen. Personally, my preference would be a TV series rather than a film. The plot would need to be slimmed down to fit into a couple of hours for a movie. I don’t think that should happen. This is a story that deserves to be told in its entirety*. And it’s such a fabulous story. I already have my book of the year for 2019 but The Chain has jumped into my top five if not top three. Believe the hype and read it.

* Since writing this review, Adrian McKinty has accepted a deal from Paramount to make a movie. I’d still prefer a TV series but I’m really happy for Adrian McKinty. He absolutely deserves this.

You can buy The Chain here.

 

About the Author

Adrian McKinty credit Leah Garrett

 

Adrian McKinty was born and grew up in Belfast, Northern Ireland, during the troubles of the 1970s and 1980s. His father was a boilermaker and ship’s engineer and his mother a secretary. Adrian went to Oxford University on a full scholarship to study philosophy before emigrating to the United States to become a high school English teacher. His debut crime novel Dead I May Well Be was shortlisted for the CWA Dagger Award and was optioned by Universal Pictures. His books have won the Edgar Award, the Ned Kelly Award, the Anthony Award, the Barry Award and have been translated into over 20 languages. Adrian is a reviewer and critic for the Sydney Morning Herald, the Irish Times and the Guardian. He lives in New York City with his wife and two children.

 

 

Book Review – Black Summer by @MWCravenUK @LittleBrownUK #BlackSummer

I was a little bit behind the times when I read The Puppet Show earlier this year. Thankfully, thanks to NetGalley, I’m more on the ball this time round. Before my review, here’s the blurb.

 

The Blurb

After The Puppet Show, a new storm is coming . . .

Jared Keaton, chef to the stars. Charming. Charismatic. Psychopath . . . He’s currently serving a life sentence for the brutal murder of his daughter, Elizabeth. Her body was never found and Keaton was convicted largely on the testimony of Detective Sergeant Washington Poe.

So when a young woman staggers into a remote police station with irrefutable evidence that she is Elizabeth Keaton, Poe finds himself on the wrong end of an investigation, one that could cost him much more than his career.

Helped by the only person he trusts, the brilliant but socially awkward Tilly Bradshaw, Poe races to answer the only question that matters: how can someone be both dead and alive at the same time?

And then Elizabeth goes missing again – and all paths of investigation lead back to Poe.

Kindle Edition

My Review

The Puppet Show left me reeling. It was brilliant but brutal. The Immolation Man was a savage killer and an unknown quantity. This time round, Detective Sergeant Washington Poe knows who’s responsible. At least he thought so until evidence proves otherwise. How can a supposedly dead woman come back to life six years later?

There’s a lot less gore in this novel but the plot does not suffer in any way. In fact, I found Black Summer even more compelling. It’s a proper mystery that appears insolvable. Even Tilly Bradshaw, Poe’s analyst colleague, is scratching her head over this one. There are plenty of curve balls in this story and I genuinely could not work it out. I love I was kept guessing to the very end.

Although this could be read as a standalone, I think it helped that I had read The Puppet Show earlier this year. It meant I was comfortable with Poe and Bradshaw as characters. Tilly’s quirkiness is totally endearing and I love how she and Poe bring out the best in each other. They make for a mischievous pairing and DI Stephanie Flynn’s exasperation with them both is evident.

Although the Cumbrian countryside is a main feature again, Storm Wendy makes an appearance too. The weather is ominously hot for a Cumbrian summer and the storm is brewing. Mike Craven times it well. The storm hits as the s**t hits the fan for Poe, elevating the tension to fever pitch.

The other thing that really intrigues me about this book is the title. Does Black Summer refer to the sky during the storm or the content of the story? No. It’s a truffle. And absolutely key to everything. And that’s the only clue I’m going to give you. You’ll have to read the book for yourself to find out the rest.

Roll on book 3 – The Curator – next summer!

You can buy Black Summer by clicking here.

 

About the Author

An image posted by the author.

M.W. Craven was born in Carlisle but grew up in Newcastle, running away to join the army at the tender age of sixteen. He spent the next ten years travelling the world having fun, leaving in 1995 to complete a degree in social work with specialisms in criminology and substance abuse. Thirty-one years after leaving Cumbria, he returned to take up a probation officer position in Whitehaven, eventually working his way up to chief officer grade. Sixteen years later he took the plunge, accepted redundancy and became a full-time author. He now has entirely different motivations for trying to get inside the minds of criminals…

The Puppet Show, the first in a two-book deal he signed with the Little, Brown imprint, Constable in 2017, was released to critical acclaim in hardback in 2018. It has been sold in numerous foreign territories and the production company Studio Lambert, creators of the award-winning Three Girls, have optioned it for TV. The sequel, Black Summer, follows in June 2019.

M. W. Craven is married and lives in Carlisle with his wife, Joanne. When he isn’t out with his springer spaniel, or talking nonsense in the pub, he can be found at punk gigs and writing festivals up and down the country.

 

Blog tour – The Missing Wife @sam_carrington1 @AvonBooksUK @Sabah_K #TheMissingWife

TMW_BlogTour_PART1

Nearly three years ago I read Sam Carrington’s debut Saving Sophie. I can’t believe that The Missing Wife is her fourth novel! That’s pretty impressive. I’d like to thank Sabah Khan at Avon for inviting me to take part in the blog tour. And Sam is so popular, she’s got lots of bloggers on her tour ready to shout out about The Missing Wife.

TMW_BlogTour_PART2

 

The Blurb

You think you know those closest to you. You are wrong…
A sleep-deprived new mother approaching her fortieth birthday, the very last thing Louisa wants to do is celebrate.

But when her friend Tiff organises a surprise party, inviting the entire list of Louisa’s Facebook friends, Louisa is faced with a room full of people she hasn’t spoken to in years – including someone she never expected to see again: her ex-boyfriend, Oliver Dunmore.

When Oliver’s wife Melissa goes missing after the party, everyone remembers the night differently. Someone knows what happened to Melissa, and Louisa is determined to find them. But the truth could be closer, and the deception more devastating, than she’d ever imagined…

Kindle Edition

My Review

There’s so much I can relate to with Louisa. I had my third child in my late 30s and the sleep deprivation was unbelievable. I too had to write down feed times to keep an eye on them although my son was quite effective at letting me know when he was hungry! I can drive but I was afraid of doing so because I didn’t feel safe – I was that tired. So I also walked when I had to but mostly I stayed home with a screaming, puking baby. It was hell. So I connected with Louisa pretty quickly.

By setting The Missing Wife in a small village in Devon, the sense of being isolated and trapped is intensified. Apart from her husband and teenage daughter, Louisa only has one real friend – Tiff. But Tiff puts that friendship in jeopardy when she throws a surprise 40th birthday party for Louisa and includes an ex-boyfriend on the invite list. Has any good come from inviting exes to parties or any other events?

Right from the start it’s clear that something’s not quite right about Oliver. Louisa has enough problems with her mind playing tricks on her with the sleep deprivation. But Oliver’s reappearance has triggered old, buried memories. Sam Carrington skilfully takes us through Louisa’s growing paranoia until Louisa can’t trust anyone – not even herself.

One thing I did miss with this book is the police. Sam Carrington has a couple of wonderful detectives called DI Lindsey Wade and DS Mack who have appeared in her previous novels. Although they feature very briefly, I would have loved to have seen their take on the case of ‘the missing wife’. By keeping it to one point of view, the book is gloriously claustrophobic but I missed Lindsey’s very down-to-earth and direct approach.

Ultimately, I think this book is about trust. Not just who you can trust but whether you can trust yourself. Our memories of past events are often our own interpretation of what’s happened rather than a real factual account. So with more secrets and devious behaviour than a Cabinet Minister, can anyone be relied upon in The Missing Wife? You’ll have to read it to find out. A first rate psychological thriller.

 

You can find out more about Sam Carrington and buy her books here.

 

About the Author

Sam Carrington

Sam Carrington lives in Devon with her husband, two border terriers and a cat. She has three adult children and a new grandson! She worked for the NHS for fifteen years, during which time she qualified as a nurse. Following the completion of a Psychology degree she went to work for the prison service as an Offending Behaviour Programme Facilitator. Her experiences within this field inspired her writing. She left the service to spend time with her family and to follow her dream of being a novelist. Saving Sophie, her debut psychological thriller, published in September 2016. It became a Kindle eBook bestseller, with the paperback hitting The Bookseller Heatseeker chart at #8. Sam was named an Amazon Rising Star of 2016. Her second psychological thriller, Bad Sister, published in 2017 followed by One Little Lie in July 2018. The Missing Wife publishes in June 2019 with her fifth due on 12th December.

 

Murder Most Indian with Vaseem Khan and Alex Khan at West Barnes Library @VaseemKhanUK @alexkhanauthor @MertonLibraries

Murder Most Indian Poster

With a threatened heatwave this week, it seemed most appropriate to have books set in a hot country – far hotter than ours! Vaseem Khan and Alex Khan came to West Barnes Library to tell us about their India-set novels – Murder at the Grand Raj Palace and Bollywood Wives.

My first question was for them to tell us about their books. To help them (or maybe hinder) I gave them some props to help describe their stories. Alex had a toy Mercedes car, a picture of Colin Firth as Mr Darcy along with a copy of Pride and Prejudice and a red rose. At the beginning of Bollywood Wives, the main character,  Zara Das, has just stepped out of a white Mercedes to attend the premiere of her latest Bollywood movie. Minutes later, her car explodes. Someone is trying to kill her. To keep her safe, she and the cast of her new film based on Pride and Prejudice are moved to London. Despite staying in a 7 star hotel with personal security, someone manages to leave a red rose full of blood on Zara’s bed.

 

Vaseem had a picture of an Indian painting, a little elephant and some ornate bangles which represented wedding jewellery. Inspector Chopra is called to discreetly investigate the suspicious death of an American billionaire at the Grand Raj Palace hotel. Not long before his death, the American had bought India’s most expensive painting. Chopra does his best to be discreet but it’s a little hard with a baby elephant in tow! Meanwhile, Chopra’s wife, Poppy, is a bit cross with her husband who’s showing no interest in celebrating their wedding anniversary. She manages to get a suite at the hotel to be nearer to him and ends up involved in a missing bride case. Can she find the bride before the wedding?

There’s a lot going on at the Grand Raj Palace because a film is also being made. It’s not a Bollywood movie though but Tollywood. Vaseem and Alex enlightened us on the Indian film industry. Tollywood is based in South Indian and the language is Tamil. Bollywood is based in Mumbai and because of the Indian diaspora, it’s Bollywood that’s known more around the world. In the past, the films didn’t really have a genre. They were a mixture of thriller, romance, comedy and a very long death scene usually followed by a big song and dance routine.

 

As well as the Indian film industry, the other link between the two books is hotels. Both have top star hotels with no CCTV in the corridors of the most expensive suites. Was this a writer’s dream? It certainly made it easier for both writers for events to occur. It was hard to know who had been able to access the American billionaire’s suite to kill him in Murder at the Grand Raj Palace or who had left the rose in Zara’s room in Bollywood Wives. Vaseem knows first hand about upmarket hotels in India because he was a hotel management consultant for ten years in Mumbai.

Another question I had was about genre and being labelled in a particular sub-genre. Was it helpful or not? Although Bollywood Wives has a fantastic thriller at the heart of the plot, it is (as its title suggests) quite erotic and has been put in that category on Amazon. Alex doesn’t mind too much but it has prevented him from advertising it on Facebook in any way. Vaseem gets very hot under the collar about the term ‘Cosy Crime’, a label often given to Crime books that feature animals. Having spent 10 years in Mumbai, Vaseem is keen to include the reality of India. In his debut, The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra, Vaseem takes his readers into the Mumbai slums where 6 or 7 people live in one room with no sanitary conditions and there’s 1 doctor for 10k people. In his latest book, there is a very tragic event based on a real-life event in India. I found it incredibly moving when I read it. Definitely not cosy.

 

I had lots more questions but it’s not easy to remember the answers as I couldn’t take notes. But since this was our last event before the summer break, I asked Vaseem and Alex for their recommended summer reads. Alex has just finished reading The Pool House by Tasmina Perry – a sexy, dark thriller. Vaseem has been a judge for the Betty Trask Awards this year and his recommendation is The Water Cure by Sophie Mackintosh, described by Margaret Atwood as ‘a dark, sinister fable’. I chose The Chain by Adrian McKinty and my review will be out on 17th July for the blog tour but it’s one of the most gripping stories I’ve read this year.

I’d like to thank Vaseem and Alex for trekking across London to our little library and to the Friends of West Barnes Library who hosted the event. And thanks to my daughter who takes all the photos. To find out more about the authors and buy their books, just click on their names.

Vaseem Khan

Alex Khan or Alex Caan

 

We’re having a break now until Tuesday 1st October when we’ll be back with ‘Death on the Beach’ with Mark Hill and William Shaw.