Retriever of Souls by Lorraine Mace – spotlight

Today it’s my spot on the blog tour for author Lorraine Mace, and her debut novel Retriever of Souls.

Author Lorraine Mace was born and raised in South East London, Lorraine lived and worked in South Africa, on the Island of Gozo and in France before settling on the Costa del Sol in Spain. She lives with her partner in a traditional Spanish village inland from the coast and enjoys sampling the regional dishes and ever-changing tapas in the local bars. Her knowledge of Spanish is expanding. To stop her waistline from doing the same, she runs five times a week.

Her debut novel is ‘Retriever of Souls’ and it introduces us to DI Paolo Sterling. This novel is described as the start of a dark and gritty crime series, which is a pretty good description as this is certainly a rather grim story. The book is written from both the point of view of the Detective and the killer. The killer believes that sex is the devil’s work and is trying to save his victims souls. This is a good story that certainly isn’t for the feint hearted.

When not working on the D.I. Sterling series of crime novels, Lorraine is engaged in many writing-related activities. She is a columnist for both Writing Magazine and Writers’ Forum and is head judge for Writers’ Forum monthly fiction competitions.

1. Retriever of SoulsIf you would like to try Retriever of Souls for yourself you can buy one here:
Amazon UK

Book Blurb:

The first title in a dark and gritty crime series.

Brought up believing that sex is the devil’s work, a killer only finds release once he has saved his victim’s souls. Abiding by his vision, he marks them as his. A gift to guide his chosen ones on the rightful path to redemption.

Detective Inspector Paolo Sterling is out to stop him, but Paolo has problems of his own. Hunting down the killer as the death toll rises, the lines soon blur between Paolo’s personal and professional lives.

To find out more about Lorraine Mace visit her social media:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/lomace

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lorraine.mace.52

Website: www.lorrainemace.com

Blog: http://thewritersabcchecklist.blogspot.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mace_lorraine/

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The Sixth Wicked Child by JD Barker – a review

I read the Fourth Monkey by JD Barker a while ago and loved it. I then got sent the Fifth to Die which sat on my bookshelf for a while forgotten, until the Sixth Wicked Child landed loudly through the letterbox. The problem with these novels is that they are pretty hefty tomes. As someone who does most of my reading whilst travelling, large books tend to get overlooked in favour of the handy kindle type. So on my recent week off I decided to treat myself by reading Fifth to Die, swiftly followed by Sixth Wicked Child, and what a treat!

6thThe Sixth Wicked Child is the final novel in the 4MK trilogy. The story takes off immediately following Fifth to Die, the hospital is in lock down due to the threat of a virus outbreak, and Detective Sam Porter is on the run. The body count is increasing, and the only link is the words ‘Father Forgive me’ written near them.  Porter is still hoping that he can catch Anson Bishop, the main suspect in the killings. Yet when Bishop hands himself in Porter realises that actually in this deadly game of cat and mouse he is not necessarily the cat.

The Sixth Wicked Child is a novel I literally couldn’t put down (luckily I was on holiday!) This is definitely a story where you need to have read the first two before you get to the final one, but they are a treat in themselves. I have thoroughly enjoyed all three of these novels and honestly feel that they are one of the best series I have read for a long time. The crimes are gruesome but the pace of the novels meant that you don’t dwell on that bit. The characters are all well rounded, yet the twists just keep coming, and the final reveal is just not something I saw coming at all.

All the stories are told with the inclusion of diary entries, none of which I  have been keen on. Certainly in the Sixth Wicked Child I didn’t feel they worked as diary entries, to me personally they didn’t sound like they were actually written like someone would write a diary. However forget the diary part and read them as ‘flashbacks’ and they add an extra layer to the story.

This is one of those stories where you feel you get to know the characters and can separate good from bad. Then something happens and suddenly you feel like you don’t know who to trust after all. Although this is meant to be a review of The Sixth Wicked Child it is impossible to review it as a stand alone. I am actually really pleased that I had waited to read Fifth to Die because it meant that when I got to the end of it I didn’t have to wait to start the next one. These are a gripping, gruesome, superb novels that I would highly recommend. Just beware that once you start you won’t to stop.

The Sixth Child is available here.

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The Secret of Cold Hill by Peter James – a review

I am a big fan of Peter James and so when his latest popped up on netgalley I downloaded it onto my kindle ready for a trip to Birmingham.

The Secret of Cold Hill is the sequel to The House on Cold Hill. The house itself has been torn down and in its place a new estate has been created. When James and Emily move in they believe they have found their perfect home. James is an artist and there is a studio room with fabulous views. Kate is a chef running her own business and there is plenty of space for her to create her ideal professional kitchen. This is a house with all the mod cons you could ask for, and even the slightly odd neighbours or the unfriendly locals can’t dampen their enthusiasm. However when things start to go wrong they begin to question their move. Anyone who has ever read any fiction with a ‘state of the art’ house will know that things are always going to go wrong, and this is no exception.  

I thoroughly enjoyed this creepy story. It was an interesting take on the haunted house theme using a brand new building, but with old style creepy house storytelling. The noises and odd occurrences are soon escalating as the story takes hold through to an ending that I most definitely did not see coming.

I wasn’t too keen on the main couple to be honest, I found them both a little annoying and did feel that they jumped straight to the idea of ‘haunting’ a bit quickly. Personally I would have thought it was more likely an electrical fault. However the way the couple acted actually added to the tension. You weren’t sure whether they were overreacting or if it really was something more sinister. I particularly liked their interaction with the odd couple over the road. The Penze-Weedells were funny caricatures’ of your neighbourhood snobs, which added a great humour to the story yet didn’t give any kind of let up to the creepiness.

I have read most of Peter James’ books and although the Roy Grace series is still my favourite I hope I haven’t seen the last of Cold Hill House.

The Secret of Cold Hill is available here

 

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The Chain by Adrian McKinty – a review

I am unfortunately not the type of person who wins things. I rarely enter competitions as I know I won’t win, I don’t buy lottery tickets and when it comes to any kind of race, well suffice to say I have absolutely no competitive spirit whatsoever.

Therefore I was completely surprised to find out that I had actually recently won a giveaway by the lovelyEmma at Damppebbles to get a book of my choice from Book Depository. Now normally like a kid in a sweetshop it would take me hours to decide what book to pick, I’m not good with a lot of choice. However for once this decision was easy. Whilst at the TOPCWF I went to a session with both Adrian McKinty and Ian Rankin and thought that Adrian’s book sounded fascinating so that was my first choice. Well I certainly wasn’t disappointed.

The Chain starts with Rachel picking up the phone to hear a stranger tell her that her daughter has been kidnapped. In order for her daughter to be freed Rachel will have to kidnap another child. Any child ill do but if she goes to the police her daughter will die, if she doesn’t kidnap a child her daughter will die, if she deviates from her instructions in any way her daughter will die. Rachel is now part of the chain.

This was a novel that grabbed me by the throat and wouldn’t let me go. The story moves along with a terrific pace as Rachel suddenly turns from mild mannered mother to gun-toting kidnapper.

I liked the fact that despite the main focus of the book being The Chain and the kidnappings, the main characters were all well rounded and had back stories that meant the crimes they had to commit were even more out of context. Rachel is a divorcee who thinks that the cancer she thought she had beaten has returned. Her brother in law who becomes her partner in crime is Pete who is an ex-forces man suffering PTSD and a drug addict. The story shows us the fall out of the crimes and how the characters try to move on with their lives which is impossible when the chain still exists.

I did feel that the first half was a little better than the second. The second half gives us the insight into the perpetrators and what led to the creation of the chain which was interesting. Yet  I felt it slowed a little in the middle, until the pace suddenly kicked up again towards the end. Saying that you almost needed the slight breather in order to continue on until the end. The premise of this story is something that I find really interesting, how far will ‘normal’ humans go if they are backed into a corner? This is a novel that explores exactly that.

I think this is the first novel I have read by Adrian McKinty and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I would like to thank Damppebbles for my copy.

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Dead Flowers by Nicola Monaghan – Blog Tour

I was delighted to be invited onto the blog tour for Dead Flowers by Nicola Monaghan and am pleased to be able to share this extract to whet your appetite.

Set in Nottingham, Dead Flowers follows Dr Sian Love as she moves into a new house. After ten years on the police force as a detective she is no stranger to murder victims. However when she find human remains in her new home, having left the force behind her things are different. This time it’s personal…

Dead Flowers was shortlisted for the 2019 Little Brown, UEA Crime Writing Award and Nicola Monaghan has previous won the Betty Trask Award, the Authors’ Club Best First Novel Prize and the Waverton Good Read. I for one can’t wait to read this!

EXTRACT FROM DEAD FLOWERS BY NICOLA MONAGHAN

Cellar

Narrow Marsh, Nottingham

Sian came down the steep steps past the Contemporary art gallery, her eyes tracing the Nottingham lace patterns in its concrete walls. She could feel the history around her; Narrow Marsh, as it used to be, full of crime and squalor. She felt separated from the slums and violence by the finest membrane, like if she pushed hard enough she could burst through and find herself years back in time.

The sign from the old Loggerheads pub was rattling in the wind, making a crashing sound against its frame. Sian checked up and down the street for any signs of trouble but could see nothing except leaves being blown and buffeted against the pavement. She could hear Elvis, barking and howling the other side of the door. He wasn’t usually that bothered when she went out for a couple of hours but the combination of the high winds and being somewhere new were probably to blame. She dug into her bag to get her keys and his barking got more urgent. ‘It’s just me, you silly sod,’ she said. She opened the door and he came bounding over, doing the dance of love he did whenever she came home, nuzzling her, then rocking from back to front paws. She leaned down to gives the German Shepperd a proper scratch behind the ears and let him lick her nose, then locked and bolted the front door, shutting out Narrow Marsh and the dark.

Elvis ran though the hallway to the back door. Sian grabbed the key from a hook on the wall; he was trying to force the door open before she could unlock it. Finally, he burst outside and jumped into the air, barking at the night sky. The house felt damp and chilly so Sian went into the kitchen and tuned the heating on. She wasn’t sleepy enough for bed. She rooted through the boxes searching for something to drink, and glasses. She could only find old bottle of amaretto and the plastic beakers from the bathroom. She poured herself a drink and slipped through to the living room, collapsing on the sofa and kicking off her shoes.

Sitting back, Sian tried to relax. She took a sip from her drink. It had a thickness and a rich, high taste. She couldn’t shake the idea that part of the slick flavour was old toothpaste. She heard Elvis, scratching at the cellar door again. She ignored him for as long as she could. Then he popped his head into the room and stared at her. ‘Fine,’ she said, putting down her drink and walking back through to the hall. She closed and locked the back door. ‘I can see I’m not going to get any peace here. Let’s go and find out what’s down there’

Sian moved her toolbox and opened the cellar door, flicking on the light switch. There was a bright flash below and then darkness as the bulb blew. ‘How’s that for a sign,’ she muttered, with a nervous laugh. She tilted the door back and reached into her toolbox, finding a torch. Then she picked up the box in case she needed tools when she got down there. Elvis scratched at the door again then looked up at her expectantly. ‘You know, boy, the rule is never go down into he cellar.’ She smiled at her own joke. And then she pushed open the door and he barged past her and rushed down the stairs, barking. Sian followed him, shinning the torch ahead of her. She tripped slightly as she misjudged the last step then righted herself. At the bottom of the stairs there was a high, sweet smell, reminiscent of old bins. She put the toolbox down on the floor. Elvis was scratching at the far wall and turned towards her, barking. He started to whimper and then pace the floor in a way she’d never seen him do before.

Sian felt the temperature of the room drop. She knew this was the effect of adrenaline on her body but the feeling stuck home, nonetheless. Because Elvis wasn’t any old retired police dog. He was a cadaver dog. Elvis had been trained to find the dead.

Dead Flowers was released on the 5th September and is available here

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Time for the Dead by Lin Anderson – a review

When I was asked to join the blog tour for the latest novel by Lin Anderson I was convinced that I had read previous by her, and the blurb for this one was so intriguing of course I said yes. However it actually turns out I don’t think I have read any of her’s before (this is why I need to start writing down everything I read) Well I have to say if Time for the Dead is anything to go by, I will definitely be reading the rest of her novels as this was terrific.

Time for the Dead is the 14th book in the Rhona MacLeod series and this one is set on the Isle of Skye. Forensic scientist Rhona is recovering from a hideous ordeal that has left her quite traumatised. Rather than go to the rehabilitation centre that is suggested she takes herself off to the remote island, agreeing to keep in touch with her colleague DS McNab via regular skype calls. When she finds what seems to be some kind of crime scene her curiosity kicks in. A body is then found at the base of the famous cliff known as Kilt Rock and Rhona begins to suspect that a group of army medics visiting the island after a tour of Afghanistan might not be just on the island for a holiday.

Time for the Dead was a cracking read that I thoroughly enjoyed. This is one of those novels where the setting is as much a character as any of the people being written about. I loved how the remoteness of the island added to the tension of the plot. As well as following the investigation on Skye, we also have chapters set in Afghanistan where we find out more about the medics and what they went through during their time in the country. These chapters were quite harrowing at times to read and the heat of Afghanistan contrasted darkly with the cold of Skye.

Rhona MacLeod was definitely one of the best characters I’ve read recently, especially once she teemed up with Blaze, the detective dog (well search and rescue but detective dog sounds better) I found her slightly frustrating, yet also incredibly strong and resilient. I liked her interaction with both McNab who has his own investigation to contend with, and with Detective Olsen who was visiting Skye on a walking holiday.

I do feel that I would have enjoyed this book even more had I read the previous novels in the series, yet there was enough background in this to ensure I knew what was happening. I very much enjoyed my first Rhona MacLeod story and will definitely be reading more.

To find out what others thought visit the other stops on the tour. Time for the Dead in available here.

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Truth or Die by Katerina Diamond – a review BLOG TOUR

I have read a couple of previous Katerina Diamond’s books and so was pleased to be invited to join the blog tour for her latest novel Truth or Die.

Truth Or Die starts with the death of a teenager after falling from a building. This is followed quickly by the body of a professor being found in his private office having been brutally murdered. DS Imogen Grey and DS Adrian Miles are sent to Exeter University to investigate as this body is only the first of many. Someone is playing a deadly game and Miles gets caught up in it in a very personal way. As the body count rises the past comes back to haunt the detectives.

I have to say that it wasn’t until I started reading this that I realised I had obviously read the novels out of order. This was actually the 5th in the series, yet it did work as a standalone. As with most series I think you get the most out of them if you read them in order but then this is definitely a series that you should want to read from the start.

The dynamic between Grey and Miles is interesting and this slow burn of a relationship is at the centre of the narrative. They are both characters who have had issues in the past and struggle to trust other people which is part of what draws them together. I enjoyed the interaction with the characters and felt that this was a couple I want to see work out.

The actual mystery part of the story was also good, and the reasons behind the murders was quite disturbing. However I did feel that it lacked a bit of motive at the end and seemed a bit of a rushed ending to what was a good story. I enjoy a bit of grisly murder and this didn’t disappoint with the crimes and descriptions. We also see the return of a previous character and for me that really ramped up the tension as they are one of those characters whose calm menace really jumps off the page.  This is definitely as it says on the cover ‘not for the faint hearted’ and I think it shows the quality of the writing that you flit between reading about gruesome murder and caring about characters without blinking.

I would recommend Katerina Diamond’s novels if you like a good crime thriller with a twist, but I would suggest starting at the beginning of the series in order to enjoy them at their best.

Truth or Die is out now, get your copy here. To find out what others thought of Truth or Die don’t forget to visit the other stops on the tour.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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