Need You Dead by Peter James – a review BLOG TOUR

I am a huge fan of Peter  James and have met him a couple of times. Most notably when Me and the Sister went to see A Perfect Murder at the Opera House in York and unexpectedly and rather excitingly saw him outside. With hindsight I’m pretty sure we were the only two in the audience who had a clue who he was at that point, and I suspect we were maybe borderline stalking him for the rest of the show but it certainly added to our enjoyment (And it was a really good play)

Therefore I was thrilled to be asked to take part in this blog tour for his latest novel Need You Dead.

Need You Dead is the thirteenth book in the award winning Roy Grace series and as the tenth stop on the tour I get to take a quick look at the case file for his tenth book Want You Dead.

The victim in this case file is Red Westwood. Red was a single women who decided to try her hand at internet dating. Unfortunately things don’t go to plan and her and the man in question Bryce Laurent soon split up.

Whilst at first he seems to have taken the breakup ok, soon things start to go downhill and our victim Red ends up in police protection. The main suspect is her ex Bryce, but without witnesses  Grace needs his best team on the case.

Moving forward to the new book, Roy Grace is still with his wife Cleo (who he married in Want You Dead) but there are problems on the horizon as Roy brings his ‘long lost’ ten year old son Bruno to live with them. The victim in Need You Dead is Lorna Belling. She has been having an affair in a bid to escape her violent marriage, so when she is found dead in her bathtub it looks as though it is an easy to solve case. Yet soon the evidence starts to point elsewhere.

Need You Dead is another great novel from Peter James. It is a police procedural that is told in a simple straightforward timeline which makes a nice change from a lot of the previous backwards and forwards stories I’ve been reading. It was a really fast paced novel, with some very exciting chase scenes. I have to admit though there were some annoying bits where you know Roy is going to talk to someone, but we know he really shouldn’t. In fact this is probably the first book I’ve read in a long while that practically had me shouting at the pages, which shows just how engrossing it is.

One of the things I really like about this series is the amount of research in each novel. The police procedural part of the stories are fascinating, but at no point do the descriptions overpower the story. The characters are always well drawn and right from the beginning you really care about them when bad things start to happen.

There was quite a lot of back story involving Roy Grace and his family, so there are bits that if you haven’t read the previous novels you might find yourself skipping over. However the main storyline can still work as a stand alone novel, and it is definitely one that will keep you guessing until the end.

I would thoroughly recommend reading all of the Roy Grace series and Need You Dead doesn’t disappoint. I do wonder how many variations of titles using the word ‘dead’ Peter James can keep coming up with though, I certainly hope he doesn’t run out of ideas soon!

Need You Dead, the thirteenth in the award-winning DS Roy Grace series by Peter James, is out 18th May (Macmillan, £20.00)

For the next stop of the tour head over to https://forwinternights.wordpress.com/ who will be looking at a Person of Interest tomorrow.

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Block 46 by Johana Gustawsson – a review BLOG TOUR

I was delighted to be asked to be part of the blog tour for Block 46 by Johana Gustawsson.

BLOCK 46 COVER AW.inddBlock 46 is a novel that travels not only between cities but also time. In modern day London we meet true crime writer Alexis Castells. When her friend jewelry designer Linnea doesn’t show up for the launch of her new collection, at first it is thought she has just missed her flight back. However is not long before her body is discovered mutilated in Sweden, and links are soon made with a similar murder of a young boy in London. Alexis teams up with profiler Emily Roy to try and catch the perpetrator. Alongside this we are introduced to Erich Ebner in 1944. He has been transported to the Buchenwald Concentration Camp and is trying to survive the horrors of the Holocaust as best he can.

I thought this was an incredible debut novel that was absolutely gripping yet disturbing at the same time. Block 46 has been translated from French and is written with very short chapters. This is a style I personally like, and it suited the story.. Some of the scenes within the Camp were so disturbing that actually longer chapters would have been hard to deal with. Initially I did find that the story seemed a bit slow, although I suspect this was due to the chapters set in Buchenwald being so completely intense that they made the modern tale a little flat. This didn’t stay the case for long though and once I got into it the story was utterly compelling.

The characters were interesting, and I very much liked the rather standoffish and rude but brilliant Emily Roy. Alexis I found a bit more annoying, but still very readable and I felt the pair together made a good duo. This is a book full of twists that kept me reading, although I have to say that I did guess one person would be involved right from the start. However this is no way ruined the book, as how they were involved was a complete shock.

Block 46 did take me longer to read than is normal for me, yet I think this was because actually unusually for a speed reader like me, I was compelled to read every word. It is a very dark and disturbing book, so not for the fainthearted. Yet the story has a certain flare about it that makes you think, rather than just recoil. I would highly recommend this novel and think it is definitely one of the best I’ve read so far this year.

Thank you to the publishers Orenda Books and Anne Cater for my copy of the book.

 

 

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Death at the Seaside

I recently went on a little trip to Norfolk, a place I had spent a few years living as a child. It was only a short trip, with one night in Norwich and then one night in Cromer, as a visit here was one on my list of 40 things to do. Norwich was an interesting city, although unfortunately I made the mistake of going on a Monday night. Just in case anyone is planning on a holiday there, Norwich is shut on a Monday.

20170411_150025Tuesday night was spent in Cromer. One of my main memories from my Cromer childhood was obviously crab fishing off the pier. Many a weekend and evening were spent hanging over the pier barriers dangling a length of orange baler twine into the sea with a piece of fish on the end. Inevitably either a scary seagull would swipe the fish before it hit the sea, or the hook would get caught on the pier, never to be retrieved again. This would lead to us being ushered home in disgust for loosing yet another piece of fishing equipment. Very occasionally the line would make it down to the sea and an actual crab would be stupid enough to think a piece of Iceland’s frozen fish would be a tasty snack. All eyes would then be on the Father as he slowly winched up the line with the crab dangling off. Just when our waiting bucket might actually see a crab in it, said crab would let go of the fish and wave at us all as he made his way back down to the sea.

Nowadays of course everything is done very differently. Everyone uses nets on the end of the lines so that the crab just crawls its way in and gets hauled out whilst tucking into its fish. No skill needed whatsoever. What’s the betting all the grown up crabs are sat around drinking seaweed and liquorice tea, telling the kid crabs how health and safety has gone mad. They used to have to negotiate a bungee jump every time they wanted a bit of Iceland’s best, today’s crabs have got it easy.

My other main memory of our move to the coastal town is of staying in the Hotel du Paris on the seafront, and eating a prawn cocktail. This was the first prawn cocktail I ever ate. It had been deemed that as we were not footing the bill for this particular stay I could choose anything I wanted off the menu even though I might not like it (we are not a family known for our adventurous ways!) I remember really enjoying this particular prawn cocktail, although it was probably also the last ever prawn cocktail I had as I became a vegetarian not long after. Sadly even if I had decided I would give up the values I’ve had for the past 30 years and start eating fish again, we were there on a Tuesday. Prawn Cocktails are only served on a Thursday. Looking at the average age of those around us in the hotel I suspect that this might be because Friday is the day that the denture fixture cream arrives, so by Thursday they can only serve soft food.

We were put on the top floor which was probably also due to the age of those staying. With no working lift all the zimmer frames would have struggled to get up the stairs without at least a few of the owners not making it. The view from the room however couldn’t be faulted as we looked out across the sea and pier. We would have had an amazing view of the sunrise that we got up at 5am to watch, if a load of clouds hadn’t descended just as the sun started to rise.

For a trip back in time I would definitely recommend a visit to Cromer, as 25 years since I was last there very little had changed. Cromer is still a beautiful place. Plus it was yet another tick of the list of 40 things to do, and a visit to a National Trust house on the way out knocked off another one.

 

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My Sister by Michelle Adams – a review

I was given a free copy of this at the festival last year, and it has only just reached the top of my rather teetering ‘to be read’ pile.

My Sister is the debut novel by Michelle Adams. It tells the story of Irini who was given away by her parents at the age of three. They chose to keep her sister Elle rather than her,  a decision which she has never understood. Over the years Irini has had sporadic contact with her sister, but every time it has ended badly with her sister seemingly always getting her trouble. Now a grown up living with her boyfriend, Irini hasn’t had any contact with her family for years. However when she finds out that her mother has died she heads back to the family home for the funeral. It becomes clear that there are secrets around every corner and Irini becomes determined to find out the truth about why she was given away.

This was a good read, and I enjoyed it. The story was interesting and the intrigue behind why parent’s would chose one sister over the other kept the pages turning. Yet there was just something that didn’t really work for me. I have read quite a few books around Sisters over the past, being one of a pair of sisters myself this premise always intrigues me. Yet these two just left me a bit cold. Don’t get me wrong, the story itself was a good drama. The writing had a nice easy flow about it, and it was a fast read. Yet for me, I just felt that there were a few too many incidents that were a little implausible. I also thought personally that the ending was rather abrupt and slightly out of left field. Although on the other hand it may have been that I missed some of the hints as I did get a little bored in the middle and maybe didn’t concentrate as I should.

What I did like was the sense that this was a novel that could have been set in any era. Ignoring the obvious mobile phone references, it had quite an eerie feel to the story which was quite unusual. Most of the action takes place in a big Gothic style old house with dusty unused rooms. The house is in a village full of local people who love a gossip but won’t interact with strangers. Overall the story itself was good, and I wanted to find out the truth as much as Irini but it unfortunately just didn’t blow me away. However it is a debut novel and I would certainly look out for Michelle Adams’ next one.

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Porcelain: flesh of the innocents by Lee Cockburn – a review Spring Reading Week BLOG TOUR

​I was given a  copy of Porcelain: flesh of the innocents by Lee Cockburn from the publisher Clink Street Publishing and I am delighted to be part of their spring reading week.

Porcelain is described as vivid, dark and unsettling and it most certainly is. Set in Edinburgh, the story starts with two five year old’s being horrifically abused by their mother and her boyfriend. Fast forward twenty years and the police are dealing with a vigilante killer who is preying on people with links to paedophilia. At each murder scene a porcelain doll is found. DS Nicks is leading the investigation as she still struggles to come to terms with the outcome of her last big case.

This was actually the second novel by Lee Cockburn and I hadn’t read the first which is referred to quite a lot but this still seems to work as a stand alone novel.

Porcelain was a novel that very much divided my opinion. The storyline was definitely not for the fainthearted. It deals with some horrific issues, and it is pretty graphic. It’s testament to the quality of the writing though that you want to continue to the end.

However I really wasn’t keen on the main character of DS Nicks. I was disappointed by this as I usually love a good strong female lead, yet I struggled with Taylor Nicks. Her attitude to her colleagues seemed very much at odds with how a professional should act. She basically sleeps with every female she sets eyes on and this means practically every other chapter is a long description of her encounters. I have to admit to getting a bit bored of so many graphic sex scenes that I felt were just a distraction from the actual story so I did skip over them a bit. Of course this detachment may have been because I hadn’t read the first novel, so I may have felt more sympathy with the detective if I had had more knowledge of her background. I did like the character of family man Detectives Marcus Black though and he is a good contrast to his partner DS Nicks.

However despite my reservations the police procedural element of this book was excellent. Lee was previously in the police force and her knowledge is clear. Despite the dark elements of the plot the story moves along at a pace, and there are plenty of twists and turns. Every time I thought I knew how it was going to pan out there was a new twist ahead.

If you like your crime novels to be dark then this is definitely one for you although it’s probably a good idea to read her first novel Devil’s Demise before embarking on this one.

Thanks very much to Clink Street Publishing for letting me take part in the Spring Reading Week which is now at an end but has been a great way to find some new reads. 

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Spring Reads Guest Post – Matthew Redford

Now regular readers of my blog will be familiar with the hilarious world of Food Sapiens and our main carrot DI Wortel. Remember the case of the dead mince spy? For those of you who have no idea what I’m on about you can find out more here (Addicted to death by Matthew Redford – a reviewWho killed the Mince Spy BLOG TOUR – Guest post

Well as part of the Spring Reads 2017 I am delighted to welcome back Matthew Redford, author of Addicted to Death, which tops the list of funniest crime novel ever in my opinion. I was keen to find out more about the food sapiens. So I’ll hand you over to Matthew.

Thank you so much for letting me write a short piece for the readers of your blog. I have been asked to write on the subject of how I came up with my characters which I think is a really interesting question, because after all, how many Food Sapiens detectives do you really know about?

I’m sensing that I may have lost you there. Food Sapiens. Walking, talking, breathing food items who are integrated and part of our society. Still not with me? Check out the Genetically Modified Food Sapiens Act 1955 and you’ll find out that Food Sapiens were finally released from captivity after initially being held by Government scientists who discovered that genetically modified food items developed their own conscious. But once the Government realised they had above average intelligence and could set up business and of course, pay taxes, then their release was inevitable.

And over the years Food Sapiens have integrated fully into everyday life, so much so that they have blended in without anyone realising. And this is why I think it’s so interesting that I am often asked by people how I came up with my characters. The honest answer is that I didn’t create them, they actually exist, and I am writing about real life events. Now for anybody that has read ‘Addicted to Death’, or ‘Who Killed the Mince Spy?’ you might that hard to believe, but I guarantee that I speak the truth. In Addicted to Death, poor Benedict and Darcy Blacktail, two eggs very much in love, were brutally murdered by a hitman with a large metal spoon, (stop sniggAddicted to Deathering at the back, it’s no yolk), while a Christmas drama unfolded in Who Killed the Mince Spy? as an MI GasMark5 secret agent was deliberately over baked and charred. That was such a difficult case for the Food Related Crime Team as the death of the mince spy, while horrific, smelt so good.

So let me take a few moments to introduce you to some of the lead Food Sapiens characters:

Detective Inspector Willie Wortel – the Head of the Food Related Crime Team and the leading Food Sapiens detective of his generation, DI Willie Wortel, carrot, leads the fight against food crime. Renowned for his sharp mind, his bravery and courage, Wortel has tackled the psychopath Sammy the Shrimp, foiled the evil MadCow McBeef and managed to find work suits that somehow complement his tall, spiky green hair.

Oranges and Lemons – two fruit officers who work with DI Wortel. I would have said they support, help and assist Wortel but that would be a lie. Probably better to use words like torment, hinder, annoy…but, and this is just my opinion, I think he quite likes having them around really. One word of warning however. If you do bump into them and start chatting, please don’t ask them who borrowed five farthings because you might never get away.

MadCow McBeef – evil genius and nemesis of Wortel. Currently incarcerated at the Farmer Giles Mental Institution, but under close surveillance at all times. Avoid at all costs. Enough said.

USA President Rump Steak – a surprise election winner who some might say should be incarcerated alongside MadCow McBeef, but who nonetheless, is under close surveillance at all times. Avoid at all costs. Enough said.

Curly Kale Minogue – one of my favourite singers also happens to be a Food Sapiens icon. With her breakthrough song ‘I should be so leeky’ and the disco classic ‘Can’t get you out of my bread’ she is often top of the charts battling it out with Ham Smith and CornFed Sheeren.

Russell Toastie – now I need to be completely professional here when describing this actor. I need to make sure that I let you know I respect his acting ability and what I am about to say has nothing to do with his good looks and physique…hubba hubba hubba…

So that is a small insight into the world of Food Sapiens, who are not made up characters, but real life people who go about their daily business just like you and me. There are good Food sapiens and those who sometimes take a criminal turn. But we can rest assured for while we have Detective Inspector Willie Wortel, we can sleep safely tonight.

Thank you very much Matthew, I am very much looking forward to reading more about Food sapiens and finding out what DI Willie Wortel is up to.

 

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Close to me by Amanda Reynolds – a review BLOG TOUR

I was lucky enough to be invited onto the blog tour for Close to Me.

Close to Me is the debut novel by Amanda Reynolds. The story focuses on Jo who fell down the stairs in her house. This fall caused her to lose any memory of the last year. As Jo starts trying to piece together what happened in this missing year, she begins to think people are hiding things from her. She slowly begins to get her memories back as she tries to work out whether she fell or was pushed?

This was an interesting book that I found quite compelling. The story is told from the viewpoint of Jo with chapters alternating between the past and present day. The writing within this novel was good and it was a fast easy read.

I enjoyed the premise of the story. The idea of having a whole year of your life missing was fascinating. A lot can happen in a year. Knowing that everyone around you knows what happened but you don’t, must be quite disturbing.

The majority of the story focuses on the dynamics within the family rather than just the mystery. The characters are interesting although on the whole I found them all difficult to warm to. Her husband is rather controlling, her daughter acts like a spoilt brat, and her son barely speaks. Jo was seemingly the only caring one as shown with her volunteer work. It was during this work she met Rosie and the relationship between them is probably one of the nicest within the story.

It was a different take on the domestic setting to have a long term relationship at the centre of the story, rather than a young ‘married too fast’ type. I also enjoyed the way the story goes backwards and forwards until the two collide.

I don’t think there was a huge amount of mystery involved as the story line was relatively straightforward and to me it seemed rather obvious. However that doesn’t distract from a very enjoyable read. This was a great debut novel and I’ll definitely be reading more from Amanda Reynolds.

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