Do Not Disturb by Claire Douglas – a review BLOG TOUR

Do Not Disturb begins when Kirsty moves with her family into a small B&B in Wales which she is going to run with her Mother. Having had a hard time in London, Kirsty sees this as the opportunity for her husband Adrian and their two girls to all have a fresh start and are delighted when guests start arriving. Unfortunately one of their first guests is Kirsty’s cousin Selina, who Kirsty hasn’t seen for years after they fell out. Whilst they start to rebuild bridges strange things start happening around the house and soon Kirsty doesn’t know who she can trust.

The idea of a family having a fresh start is always an intriguing premise to me and this book didn’t disappoint. Do Not Disturb was a great story of a family with secrets all threatening to tumble down. I liked the dynamic between all the characters, which were well written and believable. All the usual family niggles were in this novel, the husband and wife trying to get along, the children at new schools throwing tanturms. The slightly strained relationship between Kirsty and her Mother who she is reliant on for the business adds to the tension of a family already on the edge.  Kirsty is clearly hanging on by a thread trying to keep her family together and not let her daughters know what is going on. Selina on the other hand plays the victim and comes across as the struggling single mother trying to care for her daughter and make amends to how she treated Kirsty in the past.

Whilst part of the Selina story was quite obvious from the start this didn’t at all detract from my enjoyment. There were lots of twists and red herrings, and every character has their own skeletons in the closet which just added to the tension.

This was a thoroughly enjoyable story that kept me guessing all the way along and I certainly didn’t see the end coming. Thanks to Katie at Penguin House Random UK for letting me read it. Do Not Disturb is available here 

To find out what others thought of Do Not Disturb make sure you visit the other stops on the blog tour:

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Dead of Night by Michael Stanley – BLOG TOUR Q & A

I am lucky enough to have a hobby that brings me into contact with loads of fantastic books and authors. It is always an absolute pleasure to be contacted by authors and publishers and invited to read their books. However every now and again I get emails that truly send my excitement levels rocketing, and one recently inviting me onto the blog tour for the latest by crime writing duo Michael Stanley was just such an email.

I am a huge fan of their Detective Kubu series having read my first one as part of my TOPCWFC a couple of years ago (after the challenge finished unfortunately) and absolutely love them. Their latest however is a departure from Detective Kubu, still set in South Africa, it introduces us to journalist Crystal Nguyen. When her friend goes missing whilst investigating a rhino poaching ring she is determined to find out what has happened.

I am absolutely delighted therefore to welcome Michael Sears and Stanley Trollip to acrimereadersblog. Thanks so much for joining me.

Firstly I have to ask, what inspired Dead of Night and why the move away from Detective Kubu?

We haven’t moved away from Detective Kubu. We really enjoy writing about him and his cases in Botswana, each set against a different backstory arising from the realities of southern Africa. There are certainly more Kubu books ahead! However, when you write a series, there are some inevitable constraints. Although every story stands alone, the focus always needs to be the series protagonist. And the very features that make the series appealing – the history of the main characters and their development – also constrain where one can go. Finally, a police procedural has an internal structure that must be respected.

Writers always need to be challenged to avoid their work becoming stale and boring, both to them and to their readers. We wanted to write a novel with a backstory of the South African rhino poaching and rhino-horn smuggling, but we wanted it to have the structure of a thriller – quite different from the police procedural. In a thriller, the action and the protagonist have to be believable, but they don’t have to follow the laws and evidence as police procedurals do. The rhino issues are really complex, and we wanted to get right into the action rather than pick up the pieces afterwards, as one does in a mystery.

So we imagined Crystal Nguyen. A strong female protagonist, born in Vietnam, she has a passion for conservation and a strong commitment to the American Gray Wolf. And she is someone who is willing to go beyond the rules when she feels it’s necessary. She is commissioned by National Geographic to visit South Africa to complete an article exploring the rhino-horn trade at the same time as trying to find the National Geographic reporter who disappeared while working on it. It turns out to be a much more dangerous and challenging assignment than she could ever have imagined. 

I’m glad there will be more Kubo, although I have to say I loved the character of Crystal, as someone who on the whole prefers animals to people I certainly warmed to her passion and commitment to conservation!  Have you both always been writers?

Well, Michael tried his hand at science fiction when he was at university, but we came late to mystery fiction. We started working on our debut book, A Carrion Death, in 2003. In another sense, however, we both have always been writers – in the academic non-fiction space. Both of us have written many research papers, and Stanley has written four text books on topics ranging from the use of computers in education to human factors in aviation. And most of our work has been done in collaboration with other people, so it seemed very natural to us to work on a novel as a collaborative project.

Can you tell us what a typical working day looks like for you?

Michael: I’m involved in a lot of things, including image processing research and graduate students at the university, and being a director of a start-up company in the geophysics area. Then, there are many communication activities around the books, including blogs and reviewing for ITW and the New York Journal of Books. Eventually – usually in the evenings – the dust settles enough to write. I feel very fortunate that I can do all these things for the pleasure of doing them rather than to earn a living.

Stanley: I am not disciplined at all when it comes to daily writing. I, too, have many interests including travel, various sporting activities and attending classical-music concerts. So, I write in between all of these and have developed the ability to write anywhere, even when sitting next to a screaming baby on a plane. I can block out almost anything.

It certainly sounds like you are both busy. How would you spend a perfect afternoon away from work?

Michael: Doing what I’m doing right now – sitting by the Olifants River at my place in the African bush near the Kruger National Park, relaxing and appreciating the complete wildness of the area and the beauty of its animal and bird life. The more afternoons like that you put together, the better it gets.

Stanley: Being in the bush would be my first choice too. I think too few people take the time to completely relax for extended periods of time.

That sounds absolutely amazing. South Africa is definitely on my list for places I’d like to visit. One of the things I love about your books are the real sense of the beauty and wildness of the country that comes across in the writing. Are you an avid readers yourselves? If so, which authors do you find yourself returning to time and again?

Michael: Yes I read a lot; most of the fiction is mysteries or thrillers of one sort or another. I write a monthly piece called Africa Scene for the International Thriller Writers in which I feature a book set in Africa and its author. My favourite South African crime fiction author is Deon Meyer. I think his latest book Fever (which is a near future post-apocalypse novel set in the South African karoo) is one of his most powerful books. I’m also a great John Le Carré fan. I think he is one of the best writers in the genre – or in any genre. (Henning Mankel reputedly said that Le Carré is the best author who will never win a Nobel prize.) His semiautobiographical A Perfect Spy is brilliant – I’ve read it several times and keep learning about writing from it.

Stanley: I mainly read mysteries, but also some historical non-fiction. I’m attracted to stories that are in translation, giving me an insight into different cultures. I enjoy Sunshine Noir because I prefer being warm to being cold!

Sunshine Noir is a great term! Finally can you tell us a little about what you are working on next?

We’re writing a prequel in the Detective Kubu series. In the book, Kubu is a new detective joining the Criminal Investigation Department. He has a tough time; because he hasn’t followed the usual route to being a detective, and the current detectives don’t like it. Then the CID is thrown into turmoil by a daring heist of diamonds from the world’s richest diamond mine at Jwaneng. Kubu has to prove himself in short order. Our working title is Facets of Death.

I can’t wait to read that one either. Thank you so much for joining me Michael and Stanley and taking the time to answer my questions, and thanks to the lovely Anne Cater of Random Things for inviting me onto this.

If you haven’t yet read Michael Stanley then you are in for a real treat and I’d highly recommend them.

Dead of Night is available now.

To find our more about Dead of Night and Michael Stanley make sure you visit some of the other stop on the blog tour:

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Unrest by Jesper Stein – a review BLOG TOUR

For my second post of the day, I have been reading Unrest by Jesper Stein. I am a big fan of the Nordic Noir thriller, therefore when I was invited to read Unrest by Jesper Stein I was more than happy to do so. Especially as this novel is set in Copenhagen a place I am visiting with work next month and I always like to read books set in places I visit.
Unrest opens when the city is under siege from a group called Autonomists. They are rioting and the city is literally burning. As the police are trying to regain control they come across a body in a cemetery, a place that was cordoned of with only the police allowed access. Detective Axel Steen is assigned to the case and soon links it to the demolition of the nearby Youth House. The demolition of which was the spark for the riots. However things soon become even more complicated.
Unrest was an interesting novel although I found it quite tricky to keep track of what is going on in parts. The characters are all a bit ‘shady’ for want of a better term including the lead Detective Axel Steen. He lives alone and is still in love with his ex wife who isn’t happy about him seeing his daughter. He tries to manage his loneliness and insomnia with smoking joints and work. I wouldn’t say he was a character I particularly liked, but he was interesting.
This is a tricky novel to review as I did enjoy it, yet it was disturbing in parts. It’s a book that throws everything at it, murder, drugs, riots, corruption, politics and drama. The story was complicated and there were a lot of characters to keep track of. However the novel was well written and is a story that makes you think. I especially enjoyed the setting in Copenhagen and the descriptions of the city itself which was almost another character in the novel.
For those who are fans of gritty, dark and disturbing crime then I’d recommend Unrest by Jesper Stein available on Amazon.

To find out more you can visit the other stops on the blog tour:

 

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Death Rope by Leigh Russell – a review BLOG TOUR

I love a good crime story and I love living in York. Therefore any book that combines these two things is going to be winner for me. So I was very pleased to be invited onto the blog tour for Leigh Russell’s latest novel ‘Death Rope’

Death Rope is the latest in the series starring Geraldine Steele. She has moved to York after being demoted and is struggling with the fact that she no longer has the authority to go her own way in investigations. When Mark Abbot is found hanging at his home it is at first assumed to be a suicide. However his sister Amanda is adamant that he wouldn’t take his own life and suspicion points to his wife. Geraldine wants to investigate but it is not until Amanda goes missing that she can persuade the rest of the team to take an interest.

I very much enjoyed this story. Although it is obvious that the suicide is going to turn out to be more complicated than it seems (it would be a pretty short crime novel otherwise) the rest of the story doesn’t take any obvious routes. The novel starts relatively slowly but manages to hook you in from the beginning as the pace begins to quicken and the twists start coming.

The character of Geraldine is interesting. Death Rope is the eleventh in the series and although I have a read a few of the previous ones I haven’t yet read them all. However there is enough detail in Death Rope about Geraldine and her previous life that you can happily read this as a standalone. She is quite a sad character I felt. Clearly very lonely living in a new city, and trying to balance the demands of two tricky sisters, both with their own albeit different baggage. You get the impression that she isn’t particularly happy especially as she has been demoted and she is quite reserved which obviously doesn’t help with making new friends. Yet she is also smart with a good eye for a case.

This is a nice easy to read police procedural that is well written. The story keeps you guessing until the end. I would highly recommend this series. Find out Leigh’s top ten crime drama’s here: https://acrimereadersblog.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=2125&action=edit

Death Rope is available on Amazon.

Don’t forget to visit the other stops on the tour.:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Cold Desert Sky by Rod Reynolds – extract BLOG TOUR

Today I’m delighted to be on the Blog Tour for the new novel by Rod Reynolds, Cold Desert Sky and to be able to share an extract with you.

Cold Desert Sky is set in both Los Angeles and Las Vegas in 1946. Journalist Charlie Yates and his wife Lizzie are hiding out in motels on the run from gangster Benjamin Siegel. Rather than just move away Yates is determined to stay until he has found out what happened to two missing girls. Nancy and Julie were both aspiring actresses who have been missing for days and Yates has become obsessed with finding them.

Cold Desert Sky is a very atmospheric novel, evoking a real sense of 1940’s American noir. The book tells of cities that are dark and dangerous, filled with gangsters and seedy bars. The story itself is fascinating, with twists and turns that just keep coming throwing the story backwards and forwards across the two cities. This is the third novel from Rod that features the character of Charlie Yates. Although it is the first one I’ve read it won’t be the last. To find out more read on for an extract from chapter one which follows the extract you can find at Bibliophile Bookclub’s blog: https://bibliophilebookclub.com/

Cold Desert Sky by Rod Reynolds – extract

‘Charlie?’

‘Have a seat.’

He glanced around as if looking for his real guest, then slid down the backrest, realisation dawning. ‘You a gumshoe now, or am I a mark?’

‘How’ve you been, Whitey?’

‘Better than you, what I hear.’

I sat back, a glance over his shoulder, wrong-footed by the remark. ‘And what’s that?’

‘You don’t need me to tell you. It’s on your face.’

‘Make like I’m dumb.’

‘You must be. Being in town when he’s looking for you.’

I shrugged. ‘I’m not a hard man to find.’

‘You ought to reconsider that.’

I traced a line across the table. ‘I didn’t come here to talk about Bugsy Siegel.’

‘No?’ He showed real surprise. ‘Hard to believe you got big­ger troubles.’

‘How’s your luck with the horses?’

He set his cup down on the Formica. ‘Some days are better than others.’

I took my money clip out – two tens and a twenty wrapped around a wad of ones to pad the roll. ‘I’m looking for informa­tion on a couple women. Hollywood-dreamer types.’

He made a point of not looking at the cash, a stool pigeon in a fraying suit clinging to the remnants of his pride. ‘I don’t know Hollywood from dirt.’

‘They were fresh off the bus. They were living in a boarding house in Leimert Park. Nancy Hill and Julie Desjardins.’

He half-smiled. ‘Julie Desjardins from Kansas – sure. Real names?’

‘I don’t know.’

‘These are the missing dames your woman called me about?’ I nodded. ‘They’ve been gone more than a week.’

‘Were they turning tricks?’

My arms tensed.

‘What?’ he said. ‘How else would I hear anything about a couple starlets?’

I closed my eyes and flattened my free hand on the table again. The question was a fair one. ‘The names mean anything to you or not?’

‘Not. But you must’ve figured that, so my guess is you want me to ask around.’

I peeled a ten off.

He shook his head, held up two fingers. I breathed out through my nose and peeled the other one off.

To read more don’t forget to visit the other stops of the blog tour. COLD DESERT SKY_BLOG TOUR POSTER

Cold Desert Sky is available on amazon.

 

 

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Big Sister by Gunnar Staalesen – BLOG TOUR

Thanks to Anne Cater and Orenda Books for inviting me onto the blog tour for Big Sister.

Big Sister is set in Norway and features Private Detective Varg Veum. Varg is visited by someone who he thinks is just a new client, until she arrives and introduces herself as his half sister.  However she doesn’t just want to meet new family, she actually wants him to try and find her god-daughter Emma. Emma is a student nurse who has gone missing from her student accommodation in Bergen. Varg starts his search but the further he delves into Emma’s background and her troubled home life the more he realises that this is much more than a simple missing persons case as he gets drawn into a world of biker gangs and family secrets.

This is the first of the series that I have read although is the 20th novel to feature the main character. Varg is an interesting person that is the archetypal gruff single private detective on the one hand, but shows a slightly softer intriguing side as well. Seemingly very lonely but through choice rather than circumstance. His life seems to be focused purely on his work with the odd personal relationship an afterthought. Personally I felt it was nice to read about an older character (Varg being in his 60s) which I have to admit I didn’t realise he was to start with.

I enjoyed the story and although it seemed rather slow to start with this was necessary to set the scene and introduce the other characters. The second half does pick up the pace though and there are frequent twists and turns. This is quite a dark feeling novel, with almost a menacing tone to some of the writing.  Although I think that it would help understand the main character more if you had read the previous novels, the actual story works well as a stand-alone too. Towards the end this is one of those books where you think it is about to conclude, but then suddenly another twist is thrown in and your thoughts change again.

I enjoy reading Scandinavian noir and this could well be the start of a great new series to try. Once again I think my ‘to be read’ pile is going to get bigger.

Don’t forget to visit the other stops on the blog tour. Big Sister is available now on amazon.

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Just by Jenny Morton Potts – Q&A BLOG TOUR

Today I am delighted to welcome Jenny Morton Potts to acrimereadersblog. Jenny is the author of Just, an intriguing story of ‘love and loss, terror and triumph’ Thanks for joining me Jenny. firstly what inspired Just?

It feels like the major problems of the complex modern world are very present among us. We’re filmed wherever we go and we watch everyone closely, for weapons at school, for bombs on the underground. Our threats walk alongside us daily. It’s inescapable. I wanted innocent characters to get caught up in all that, to be pawns in today’s global greed and prejudice.

 Have you always been a writer?

 Pretty much, since about nine years old, writing plays. Quite gory as I recall. Half the cast would be dead by the end of Act I. I loved every minute of it.

 Can you tell us what a typical working day looks like for you?

My day is very 9 to 5. I don’t take a lunch break though. And I don’t take days off during a draft of a book. I have a cabin where I work. Animals wander in and out. Just domestic pets, nothing too hefty or predatory.

How would you spend a perfect afternoon away from work?

Probably at the theatre. I’ve got Wimbledon tickets this year, so that will be a favourite afternoon off

Are you an avid reader yourself? If so, which authors do you find yourself returning to time and again?

I have blasts of reading a lot and then not reading at all. It’s of course useful to see what other authors are up to, in a technical sense, but I’m quite instinctive and don’t like to be influenced during the draft of a book. I’m always receptive to new authors but there are certainly a few whose books are numerous on my shelves, E Annie Proulx, Paul Auster, Jane Smiley, Sheen Mackay, Lesley Glaister, Zadie Smith, Philip Roth, Martin Amis, Solzhenitsyn, Nabokov, Woolf

 Finally can you tell us a little about what you are working on

I’m working on a triptych novel with three intertwining stories set in different times but they all have a cello link. It’s not necessary to know anything about the cello to enjoy the book. It’s structure is like The Hours, a book and film I loved.

I’m also working on a memoir for a ballet star from the golden era. This will ruffle a few feathers at The Royal Ballet

Then in the autumn, I’m back to thrillers!

 That all sounds like you are going be rather busy! Thanks so much for taking the time to answer my questions today.

Just is out now and is available here.

 

 

 

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