Wilderness by B.E Jones – a review BLOG TOUR

I’m always a fan of a revenge story and so when I received an email inviting me to join the blog tour for the Wilderness by B.E Jones it sounded right up my street and I wasn’t wrong.

The Wilderness begins after Liv finds out that her husband was having an affair. Having moved from Wales to New York, Liv decides that the best way to try and fix their marriage is for them to spend two weeks on a road trip around America’s National Parks. However she isn’t quite ready to forgive him fully and so sets him three challenges that he will need to complete to prove that he is still worthy of being her husband. She doesn’t however tell him what those challenges are, and if he doesn’t complete them, well then there are plenty of ways a person might die out in the middle of nowhere.

This was an excellent story that made great use of the unreliable narrator vehicle. What could have been a relatively straightforward tale of a woman scorned who gets revenge, was not that simple. Wilderness is a slow burn of a story that had me hooked from the start. It was full of twists and turns with an ending that I found both satisfying and annoying in equal measure.

The fact that you only hear from the viewpoint of Liv means the novel has a real claustrophobic feel which is further heighted by the descriptions of their road trip through the vast American parks. This single viewpoint does of course mean that you are always slightly on edge as to what is going to happen next, as you are in the head of a rather disturbed woman. Although she isn’t a likeable character there was a part of me that felt sorry for her as she desperately tries to cling onto some form of sanity whilst feeling completely alone.

The novel’s settings switch between New York, Wales and the wildness of the American parks as we flit between current and past and gradually find out more about Liv and her relationships. I particularly liked the descriptions of America and the contrast between the hustle and bustle of New York, and the quiet emptiness of their holiday.

It is a well written story and has a great cast of characters on the periphery with Liv taking centre stage throughout. If you like the unreliable narrator style then I thoroughly recommend this as a perfect holiday read.

Thanks to DampPebbles Book Tours for my copy. You can buy your own copy of this here.

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Capital Crime line up announced!

Like most Crime Fiction lovers if I could spend all my time reading and talking about books I would be happy. Throw in a coffee or a nice glass of red (depending on the time of day) and life is complete. Yet unfortunately real life gets in the way and work has to happen. Sadly there just isn’t enough time in the day to do all the things I want to do, like attend every single one of the fantastic Crime Festivals that are happening this year. The latest event to announce itself is Capital Crime being held in London at the end of September. The announcement today of some fantastic names really does look like this is a festival not to missed, I’d best go and check how much holiday I have left!

Capital Crime today announces further names for its inaugural festival taking place this September at the Connaught Rooms in London. Mark Billingham, Martina Cole, Ian Rankin, Ann Cleeves, Don Winslow, Robert Glenister, Leye Adenle, Denise Mina, Catherine Steadman and Abir Mukherjee are among the guests announced today.

The first international crime and thriller festival in London, Capital Crime offers fans unprecedented access to their favourite crime and thriller creatives. Capital Crime is a celebration of books, films and TV and the line-up is an unrivalled mix of world class talent, rising stars and newcomers. Capital Crime is a must for fans of all things crime and thriller.

Among the stellar list of speakers are Kate Atkinson, David Baldacci, Ann Cleeves, Robert Harris, Peter James, Lynda La Plante, Simon Mayo, and Kate Mosse. (list of confirmed guests can be found here: https://www.capitalcrime.org/guests/).

The crime and thriller community is excited about Capital Crime.

Martina Cole (No Mercy – Headline – Autumn) said: ‘We have all been waiting for a London based festival like Capital Crime. It’s fantastic to see such a diverse line up of crime and thriller writers taking part. David Headley and Adam Hamdy have put together an amazing programme of events for the first crime festival in London and I’m thrilled to be part of it.’

Ann Cleeves (The Long Call – Pan Macmillan – September) ‘I’m delighted to be taking part in the very first Capital Crime and can’t wait to meet readers and writers in London in September.’

Best-selling London based author Abir Mukherjee (Smoke and Ashes – Vintage – June) said: ‘London is one of the world’s great cities, the setting, and often the inspiration, for some most infamous true crimes and some of the world’s best loved fictional detectives. It’s the home of Scotland Yard, Jack the Ripper and Sherlock Holmes and a natural location for a festival bringing together international fans and authors in a celebration of the very best and latest that crime fiction has to offer. It’s long overdue and I hope Capital Crime becomes a regular fixture in the crime fiction calendar.’

Panels of note include: The Interrogation of Mark Billingham: The bestselling author is put through his paces by Graham Bartlett, an experienced police interrogator; Ian Rankin discusses The Human Cost of Crime with Don Winslow. Also there is a quiz panel Whose Crime is it Anyway? pitting debut crime and thriller authors against each other with Paul Clayton hosting; The Forensic Mind: Denise Mina and Ann Cleeves discuss what makes a great detective, moderated by Chris Ewan; Plus Are We Living in An Espionage Thriller: Tom Bradby, Charles Cumming, Frank Gardner and Stella Rimington offer their unique insights into events that concern us all.

Capital Crime is a diverse, inclusive and socially responsible festival, running initiatives including social outreach to support students exploring a literary career, an innovative digital festival and the launch of their New Voices Award. The festival is the brainchild of British screenwriter Adam Hamdy and Managing Director of Goldsboro Books, David Headley.

Tickets for the festival are now on sale at https://www.capitalcrime.org/

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Their Little Secret by Mark Billingham – a review

As regular readers probably know already, I am a huge fan of Mark Billingham (although not quite such a big fan as the sister who is a borderline

The stalking Sister

stalker at events!) so you can imagine the excitement in my house when through the letterbox came a copy of his latest novel ( ‘Not another bloody book’,  ‘Meow’)

Their Little Secret is the newest Tom Thorne novel. It begins when he is called to a body on the trainline that is an apparent suicide. However Thorne has a feeling that things are not that simple and starts to look into the woman’s past, and especially her relationships. Meanwhile Sarah seems to be just a normal mother picking up her son from school and chatting at the school gates with the other mothers, until she meets Conrad who soon whisks her off her feet. Yet not all couples are good together, and some become postively evil.

This was another cracking story that I really enjoyed. There was a bit of back story as you would expect, in what is the 16th in the series, but frankly it is needed for people like me with a shocking memory so it’s helpful to remind us. The character of Thorne is one of those characters that I actually feel I know as I’ve followed him for so many years. I really like the relationship he has with pathologist Phil Hendricks and they are back on form in ‘Their Little Secret’

The character of Sarah was an odd one and her actions a little far fetched. Admittedly I have only limited experience at picking up children from school but when I have the other parents are on any new blood like flies so it is surprising that Sarah gets away with what she does. However that is only a very minor issue and the story itself will keep you hooked throughout.

There was a twist at the end that was surprising, despite the clues being there with hindsight. I have to admit to a bit of frustration when I finished as it felt like there were loose ends that needed tidying up, however without giving away any spoilers there were some historic references in the book that made you realise why this might have been done, life doesn’t always tie up the loose ends!

I would definitely recommend Their Little Secret and despite the references to the previous novels it can be read as a stand alone. Yet I would say in the unlikely event that there are any crime fiction fans out there who haven’t yet read Mark Billingham then you are in for a treat and I’d start at the beginning so you get the fun of them all!

Thanks to the fantastic Little Brown and Laura Sherlock PR for my copy. You can get your hands on your own copy of Their Little Secret by Mark Billingham which is out today here

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Sleep by CL Taylor – a review BLOG TOUR

I’ve read a few novels by CL Taylor so was very pleased to be invited onto the blog tour for her latest book, Sleep.

Sleep tells the tale of Anna who was involved in a crash that she struggles to come to terms with. She blames herself for the tragic outcome of it and is suffering from severe insomnia and paranoia. Believing that she is being targeted by a stalker, she moves to a remote island in Scotland to work at a guest house. With only 36 residents on the island she believes that it is a safe place. However when the first guests arrive, a storm follows quickly after them. It is so severe that it traps Anna and the guests on the Island with no internet or phone signal. As things go from bad to worse Anna’s paranoia escalates and it soon becomes clear that all the guests are hiding secrets, and she believes someone is out to get her.

Sleep was an interesting novel. It reminded me a bit of a ‘locked room’ Agatha Christie style crime, but with an entire island and peripheral characters involved. The main character of Anna was a sad and slightly annoying person in my opinion. Clearly the guilt she felt was overwhelming her, but it did feel a little as though her self pity was the only element of her character involved. However this flaw in her added to the tension in the novel which was palpable. The fact that you didn’t know if it was just her paranoia or if there was really someone out to get her made this a real page turner.

The story itself was good and it has some really creepy elements to it. I like a claustrophobic feel to a crime story and this has that in waves. The plot zips along with speed, and each time you  felt like you were closing in on the truth more red herrings were thrown in. CL Taylor’s novels are always entertaining and will keep you gripped throughout and Sleep is no exception. Thanks to Avon books for my copy.

You can purchase Sleep here.

Don’t forget to visit the other stops of the blog tour:

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A Good Enough Mother by Bev Thomas – BLOG TOUR

I was delighted to be invited onto the blog tour for author Bev Thomas’s debut novel A Good Enough Mother.
A Good Enough Mother follows Ruth Hartland, the Director of a trauma therapy unit in London. She is well respected psychotherapist with a fantastic career, yet her personal life is in bits. Tom her seventeen year old son has been missing for two years and has had no contact with anyone, her marriage has crumbled, and she has a difficult relationship with her daughter Tom’s twin sister. When a disturbed patient is referred she is shocked by the fact that Dan looks exactly like her missing son, and things soon start to spiral out of control as her professional boundaries start to blur.
This is a story of families told from the perspective of a mother dealing with both grief and guilt about her own part in the breakdown of the family. It was a gripping tale that I found fascinating. The author was a trained clinical psychologist and that comes across in the writing. As well as learning about Dan we also find out about other patients, they are background characters but give us a great insight into how Ruth usually works to contrast with her relationship with Dan.
This isn’t necessarily an easy read as it is emotional and sad. The quality of the writing draws you in as it weaves through to its inevitable car crash which I found quite shocking. The character of Ruth is intriguing. For someone who is supposedly at the top of the tree in her career she certainly makes some annoying mistakes, yet that is partly a consequence of her emotional state.
A Good Enough Mother is part mystery and part emotional drama both of which are utterly compelling. I would highly recommend this debut novel.

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Keep Her Close by MJ Ford – a review BLOG TOUR

Keep Her Close by MJ Ford is a police procedural set in Oxford. It opens with DS Josie Masters in therapy as she tries to come to turns with the horrific events of her past. When a young girl goes missing from Jesus College swiftly followed by two more, it soon becomes clear that this case is personal. As Josie hunts for the kidnapper she is also struggling to move on from her past with a new relationship she is in danger of ruining with her paranoia, unless of course her paranoia turns out to have a basis.

Clearly Keep Her Close is the follow up to MJ Ford’s debut novel Hold My Hand which sadly I hadn’t read, and although this does work as a standalone I wish I’d read that first as it sounds great. Saying that I did enjoy Keep Her Close. The character of Josie is the usual mess of clever detective and dysfunctional social skills which work together to make her a very interesting protagonist. The story itself I thought took a little bit to get going which I suspect was down to the amount of background needed to fill us in with her past, but once some connections had been made between the girls it really picked up.

I have to say I had my suspicions about who was to blame all along but I did keep changing my mind throughout which is the sign of a good storyteller that can throw in enough red herrings to make you doubt yourself. Once the final chapters revealed it I could have kicked myself for not sticking with my original assumptions.

Overall I enjoyed Keep her Close, it was a good story and I will definitely keep a look out for more about Detective Josie Masters.

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Rogue Killer by Leigh Russell – BLOG TOUR

I am a big fan of writer Leigh Russell and so I jumped at the chance to read her latest novel Rogue Killer. In Rogue Killer we again meet up with Detective Geraldine Steel. She is still living in York and starts to investigate when a man is killed, and suspicion falls on a gang of opportune muggers. Geraldine Steel is the only one who thinks this is work of a murderer. When two more victims are found, the muggers are tracked down. However, it soon becomes clear that it isn’t them, and that a killer is on the loose. One who seemingly believes that he is invincible despite there being DNA found. Yet he hadn’t banked on the tenacity of Geraldine.

Rogue Killer is an interesting story that kept me hooked throughout. I felt the story was very clever, and especially enjoyed the setting in York. This is one of those stories that walks you through the streets of the city it is set in and as a York dweller myself you can imagine the routes taken.

Although the crimes are pretty gruesome, this isn’t a graphic novel with most of the violence happening off the page which I think can often make things even more chilling. There were also chapters from the killers point of view, which personally I always really enjoy, although I suppose enjoy isn’t really the right word they were rather disturbing.

Although this is the latest in a long series it can still be read as a standalone. There were plenty of background references given, and you can soon work out the relationships between Geraldine and her two very different sisters and the tension between Geraldine and her now superior officer Ian. One of the things I really like about Leigh Russell’s books is the attention given to somewhat peripheral characters, in this case the gang of muggers. The interaction between the three was interesting and showed a sense of vulnerability alongside the arrogance and unpleasantness that makes you think they deserve whatever they get. Of course the standout character is Geraldine, and despite her being a little annoying at times when she can be a bit slow on the uptake, she is a character that on the whole I like.

I very much enjoyed this story and would recommend Leigh Russell’s series to anyone who likes a gritty thriller.

To find out more about Rogue Killer pop over to the other spots on the Blog Tour tomorrow is the turn of Short Book and Scribes.

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