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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His Perfect Wife by Natasha Bell – a review BLOG TOUR

His Perfect Wife follows artist Alex who lives a perfect life with her husband Marc and their two children in York. When she goes missing, at first it’s thought to be an abduction, until her clothing and belongings are found near the riverbank and the police think it’s a murder case. However, Alex hasn’t died, she is being kept against her will far away from her family. Marc is determined to find out what has happened to his wife, even though it means uncovering secrets proving he didn’t really know her at all.

Told from the point of view of Alex, the story switches backwards and forwards between the past and present. Alex imagines the scenes at home after she has gone, alongside replaying how her and Marc met and built their life together. We also find out about Alex’s previous and rather exciting life as a performance artist in New York via letters from her former roommate. These letters show a slightly different side of our perfect wife, who gave up a glamourous career to be with the man she loved.

This was an interesting take on the domestic set novel that I really enjoyed. Clearly you know that the perfect marriage portrayed at the start is going to start tumbling down as soon as Marc starts investigating. Yet the way this pans out led to an ending I did not see coming and actually made me re-read some chapters to see what I had missed.

The character of Alex is frankly annoying from the start which did make the reading a little uncomfortable at times as you know you should feel sorry for her but it’s a struggle. Yet despite not feeling sorry for her the story kept me gripped. I was a little disappointed that the setting of York didn’t make more of an appearance. Although you knew it was set in the city as it said so, it could have really been in any city with a river, but that is probably because I am a bit biased.

I’m not sure how true to life this is, without wishing to give away any spoilers there are certain parts that just would not be possible. Yet as I always say with fiction you can get away with stretching boundaries somewhat. Overall it was an easy enjoyable story that I thought had a clever twist.

Thanks to Penguin Random house for my copy of His Perfect Wife. Available here.

Don’t forget to visit the other stops on the blog tour to find out more.

 

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The Last Act by Brad Parks – an extract

Today I am excited to be able to share with you an extract from the thrilling new page-turner from the author of Say Nothing, Brad Parks.

The Last Act follows former Broadway star Tommy Jump. As his final run as Sancho Ponza draws to a close, Tommy is getting ready to give up the stage, find a steady paycheck, and settle down with his fiancée.

Cue Special Agent Danny Ruiz. An old school friend of Tommy’s, now with the FBI, Ruiz makes Tommy an offer that sounds too good to refuse. All Tommy has to do is spend six months in prison, acting as failed bank robber ’Pete Goodrich’.

Inside, he must find and befriend Mitchell Dupree, who has hidden a secret cache of documents incriminating enough to take down New Colima, one of Mexico’s largest drug cartels. If Tommy can get Dupree and reveal where the documents are hidden, the FBI will give him $300,000, more than enough to jumpstart a new life. But does he have what it takes to pull off this one final role?

Read on for an extract from this fantastic sounding novel.

We spent the next few hours getting granular with the details.
By the time we had something workable, it was three
o’clock in the afternoon. I felt ready to confront Danny Ruiz. Or as
ready as I could be.
We had decided I would make the call from a burner phone. If I
used the Randolph phones, the Bureau of Prisons would be
listening— which, if nothing else, would prevent Danny from being
able to talk freely. With Mrs. Lembo’s blessing, Agent Hall went out
and procured a flip phone that, by appearances, had not set the FBI
back much.
I told them I didn’t want to make the call in front of them, which
Hines had originally fought against. But I convinced her my job was
already difficult enough, without the added pressure of performing
for a live audience. I won the argument when I pointed out that we
were each going to have to trust each other a lot in the coming days
if this plan was ever going to succeed.
Eventually, she acquiesced. They set me up in an empty office
down the hall from the conference room. It was strange— strange
and powerful— being gifted with cellular technology again after two
months in the dark ages. In my hands, that cheap burner phone felt
like Excalibur.
Now sitting at a desk, like some midlevel BOP bureaucrat, I took
a few deep breaths to mentally prepare myself. I had to be the same
actor Ruiz and Gilmartin had hired. They couldn’t suspect I had
switched roles behind their backs.
I dialed Danny’s number. After three rings, he answered with a
cautious, “Hello?”
This was the first time I had actually talked to him since learning
what he really was. His treachery, the ease with which he had manipulated
me— and the unwitting guilelessness I had shown throughout
most of it— was coming back to me as both humiliation and anger.
But I swallowed the bile rising in my throat and, in my regular
voice— not my Pete Goodrich accent— said, “Hey. It’s Tommy.”
“Slugbomb? What’s this number you’re calling me on?”
“It’s a burner phone. I had a CO smuggle it in for me. I wanted
us to be able to talk without the Bureau of Prisons listening in.”
“Oh, right. Smart. So what’s up? Did Mitch finally make up
his mind?”
“Yeah, he did.”
“What did he say?”
“Not yet. We’ve got some business to discuss first,” I said, then
presented my newfound knowledge without adornment: “I know
what you really are, Danny. I know who you really work for.”
“I’m sorry, what?”
“I know you’re not an FBI agent.”
“I’m not?” And then, in typical smooth- Danny fashion, he tried
to made a joke out of it: “Then why am I wearing this suit right now?”
“Knock it off, Danny. I know about the drug charges you faced.
I know you killed Kris Langetieg. I know you threatened David
Drayer into cooperating. I know you have been lying to me about
everything.”
“Slow down, slow down. I have no idea what you’re talking about.
Did someone…… Did you hear something that got you upset? Help
me out here. I’m confused about where this is coming from.”
“Stop it. Stop pretending. It’s over.”

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Clarissa’s Warning by Isobel Blackthorn – a review

As regular readers will know I’m not normally a fan of a supernatural novel, preferring a sensible conclusion to my mysteries. However I don’t mind a ghost story, if it’s clearly labelled as such therefore when I received an email from the lovely Rachel I was intrigued.

Clarissa’s Warning begins with lottery winner Claire travelling to Fuerteventura  where she has bought a run-down old house that she wants to restore to its former beauty. Despite the warnings from her psychic Aunt Clarissa that someone is going to harm her, she refuses to be persuaded against her dream. However when Clarissa arrives she soon realises that things are not all what they seem. She begins to doubt herself, especially when not only are local builders refusing to work on the project but weird and scary things start happening around the site. Claire befriends the local café owner and is determined to complete her project despite there clearly being someone or something wanting to stop her.

This was a fun and easy read. It’s not particularly a scary book, and there is nothing that will make you jump. However there is an underlying menace throughout the story that gradually builds up as the tale progresses and Claire becomes in more and more danger.  Whilst the characters themselves are not that memorable if I’m honest, I did enjoy reading about them and I liked Claire’s interaction with some of the local people and the builders. You got a sense of how isolating it would be to move to a strange country all on your own and try to complete a project like this.

Within the novel I especially liked the way the story mixed up descriptions of the island with some history and some supernatural events yet kept things grounded with the detailed paragraphs about the restoration work. By the end you felt as invested in wanting it all to work as Claire did.

All in all this was an easy and enjoyable story that almost needs a category of its own of ‘Cosy Ghost Stories to read by the fire on a cold winters night’ Even if the story doesn’t make you jump the descriptions of the Island will certainly warm you up!

Purchase Link – viewbook.at/ClarissaWarning

Author Bio –  Isobel Blackthorn is a prolific novelist of brilliant, original fiction across a range of genres, including dark psychological thrillers, gripping mystery novels, captivating travel fiction, and hilarious dark satire. Isobel holds a PhD in Western Esotericism and carries a lifelong passion for the Canary Islands, Spain. A Londoner originally, Isobel currently lives near Melbourne, Australia, with her little white cat.

Social Media Links – https://www.facebook.com/Lovesick.Isobel.Blackthorn/

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5768657.Isobel_Blackthorn

@IBlackthorn

 

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