Category Archives: book review

Sunburn by Laura Lippman – a review BLOG TOUR

sunburnI was lucky enough to meet Laura Lippman at the Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival a couple of year’s ago and have always been a fan of her books. Therefore I jumped at the chance to be the final stop on the blog tour for her latest novel Sunburn.

Polly is on a family holiday to the beach when she walks off leaving behind her husband and daughter. She lands in a small town in Delaware and gets a job at the High Ho restaurant. She is soon joined by the mysterious Adam who gets a job as a cook. Whilst he is obviously following Polly for some reason, it is soon clear that he also has secrets. As they both become more drawn into each other’s worlds the lines between truth and lies get more blurred.

This was a really intriguing story. Whilst it wasn’t one you’d class as fast paced, it felt almost hypnotic in it’s telling. It has been likened to some of the classic noir tales such as those by James M. Cain and that is a great comparison. It starts off as a relatively simple premise, we are lead to believe that Polly is the kind of woman who can leave her child behind and therefore is uncaring. Yet as the story flows you realise that things are not as black and white as they seem. Adam could be Polly’s hero turning up just when she needs someone. Yet there is more to him than meets the eye and it soon becomes clear he is not necessarily the person we are first led to believe.

This was change from my usual books, but I really enjoyed it. The gentle pace made for a nice relaxing read on a train. However the twists were certainly there and even though you feel you know most of the story by the time you are halfway through there is still so much that is unknown you just have to carry on. I really liked the fact that everytime I thought I had a handle on who was good and who was bad something else became clear and thoughts changed.

It’s hard to say more without giving away the plot, but suffice to say for me the ending was perfect. I would thoroughly recommend Sunburn especially if like me you enjoy reading a strong female lead in a very compelling story.

Sunburn is available here

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

SUNBURN_blog tour (1)


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Closer Than You Know by Brad Parks – a review BLOG TOUR

Closer Than You Know by Brad Park introduces us to Melanie. Having survived a difficult childhood she is now happily married with a young son. Her life seems to be in control. Until she arrives to pick up her son from his child minder to find out that he has been removed by social services. Her problems then increase when she is arrested for drug possession and she realises that someone is trying to frame her.

The story is told not only from the point of view of Melanie, but also that of Amy who is the assistant commonwealth’s attorney. She is assigned to Melanie’s case, but is also hunting down a serial rapist who has been active for years.

This was a good read. The story itself was interesting although in parts it did feel a little implausible. However it is no lie that I couldn’t put this one down. The twists and turns just kept coming giving it a real rollercoaster feel. The characters of Melanie and Amy were both well written. Both women were in incredibly frustrating situations and despite their different circumstances they both felt powerless at times. One thing that really stood out for me was the fact that at no point did it become obvious that this was a man writing from a woman’s point of view. I find often certain words or phrases sound a bit out of kilter but not with this one.

This was the first I have read from Brad Park’s but I’ll certainly keep an eye out for the rest of his novels if they are all such a roller coast as this one was. Closer Than You Know is out on the 15th March. Don’t forget to visit the other stops on the blog tour.

Closer Than You Know_BLOG TOUR POSTER

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The Collector by Fiona Cummins – a review

Today is World Book Day, and I suspect there are scores of children everywhere dressed as Harry Potter, for once slightly gutted that school is shut due to snow.

Every day is book day in my world, just without the fancy dress. So today a cancelled train to Edinburgh gives me the perfect opportunity to read. However my latest read certainly isn’t one for children. It was The Collector, the second novel by author Fiona Cummins. Her debut novel Rattle was one of my favourite books of a couple of years ago, so I was very excited to get a copy of her follow up in my Festival goody bag last year and the Collector certainly didn’t disappoint.

The Collector starts shortly after the first book finished. There is a girl missing, and Brian Howley, the Bone Collector is on the run. In Rattle, Howley’s collection was destroyed and now he is trying to rebuild it. Detective Etta Fitzroy is back on his trail and is determined to prove she is up to the job of catching him again. Jakey is also back and having escaped from The Bone Collector once he is determined that no one else will suffer. This time we also meet Saul, with an alcoholic mother he meets Mr Silver and is soon under his spell.

This was another gripping read. The Collector grabs you from the start and continues at break neck speed until it reaches it’s disturbing conclusion. The Collector is terrifying and I think one of the reasons it is so creepy is that everyone can identify with collecting things. I was always collecting something when I was younger, even now I have a collection of fridge magnets. So collecting is something that you can understand, although hopefully no one reading this is collecting body parts!

The writing is superb in this novel, and the characters are that great mix of both good and bad that keeps them realistic. The viewpoints change throughout giving us an insight into not only Etta but also Howley and Saul which makes it a real page turner.

The Collector is an excellent novel. It is definitely best to read Rattle first but I would thoroughly recommend making your acquaintance with the Bone Collector and what more excuse do you need too treat yourself than in celebration of World Book Day.

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Evidence of Death by Peter Ritchie – a review BLOG TOUR

Today I am delighted to be kicking off the blog tour for Evidence of Death by Peter Ritchie published by Black and White Publishing.

In Evidence of Death Billy Nelson returns to his loyalist roots following his discharge from army service and leads a gang in a series of violent attacks. Being forced out of Belfast which has changed since he was there he moves to Edinburgh. Here he decides to get into the drugs business and take on the criminal underworld that stretches from Edinburgh to Glasgow and back to Belfast. It is newly promoted Grace Macallan who has to try and keep the streets of Scotland safe whilst dealing with police in Scotland, and Northern Ireland.

Evidence of Death by Peter Ritchie is the second in the Grace Macallan book, and although I hadn’t read his previous one there is enough in the story to fill in some of the background. This was a really interesting read that grabbed my attention from the start.

It is quite a violent novel, yet it doesn’t seem out of kilter with the book. Rather the violence draws you into the incredibly seedy and disturbing world that Billy Nelson inhabits. I particularly liked the character of Grace Macallan. She is tough, and doesn’t take any nonsense as you would expect. However we also get glimpses into a softer side of her.

There is a lot of police procedural in this book, yet that in no way distracts from the story. I actually found it fascinating learning details about how the police work. You almost felt like you were part of the investigation. I was also bizarrely drawn to some of the characters, even those who you are not meant to like, which says something about the quality of writing. Even mindless thugs have a different side sometimes!

I very much enjoyed this novel and look forward to reading more from Peter.

Evidence of Death is out on the 22nd February and can be purchased here.

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While You Sleep by Stephanie Merritt – a review

I was recently sent a copy of this from the publisher. When I’d originally agreed to read it the name hadn’t rung any bells. So it wasn’t until I received a copy of the book that it clicked Stephanie Merritt was SJ Parris, an author who I had had the pleasure of joining for dinner a few years ago at the Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival.

It begins, they say, with a woman screaming… Well in the case of While You Sleep in begins with Zoe arriving on a remote Scottish island from America. She wants to get away from her marriage and is hoping that some time away from everything will help restart her painting career. However things within the house are not as peaceful as she hopes. She starts hearing singing and ghostly happenings, which gets worse as she starts to learn more about the spooky history of the McBride house.

This was a really intriguing story that certainly kept my interest even though I’m not usually a fan of supernatural twists. However to me the supernatural element was very small and almost felt like an extra element rather than a way of making unbelievable things happen as can often be the case.

I have recently read a few novels that use a similar plot device (which I can’t say as I don’t want to give anything away) so I did guess partly one of the big twists. Yet this didn’t spoil my enjoyment in anyway.

I must confess to finding the sex scenes all a bit gratutuous, I understand the reasoning behind them in order to build up the suspense. Yet for me personally they just felt a bit at odds with the rest of the book. However the rest of the novel more than made up for it. The setting of this novel on a small remote island is incredibly evocative. The descriptions are suitably earie evoking the feeling of claustrophobia and isolation that is heightened by our main character arriving from America and settling into a place that is so different from where she has come from.

This is great story that keeps you interested until the end. I would recommend it to anyone who likes stories where the place plays as big a part as the characters.  

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Deep Blue Trouble by Steph Broadribb – a review BLOG TOUR

I am a big fan of crime stories featuring gutsy females. In fact one of my favourite females of all time is the fantastic Stephanie Plum by Janet Evanovich. Therefore when I heard that there was a new bounty hunter on the shelf I jumped at the chance to read her.

Deep Blue Trouble is actually the second novel by Steph Broadribb to feature her character Lori Anderson. Lori is a single mother to Dakota and a fearless bounty hunter. In Deep Blue Trouble Lori’s daughter has cancer and she needs help from Dakota’s father JT. Unfortunately JT is on death row. In order to try and save him Lori takes a deal whereby if she can capture Gibson ‘The Fish’ Fletcher then the FBI will allow JT to walk free. As Fletcher heads to California, Lori follows him and here she teams up with local bounty hunter McGregor. However their different ways of working soon cause problems.

This was a superb novel that I thoroughly enjoyed reading. It is a thrilling, action packed read that once you pick up you find hard to put down. Lori Anderson is a great character that manages to combine her caring mothering side, with an action packed no nonsense streak. It’s great to be able to read about a strong independent woman who is fierce and loyal and able to look after herself.

I must confess to being surprised that this was an American setting (yes the clue is in the bounty hunter bit!) Having heard Steph speak in Hull I’d assumed that it would be British. However it is clearly a testament to the quality of writing that within a couple of pages I had completely forgotten my British bias and was swept up in Lori’s world. The story zips along at a fair old rate, however there are also moments of calm where you can feel how desperate Lori’s situation is.

Although I wish I had read Deep Down Dead first, this novel completely works as a standalone as there is enough information to catch up on the story. I will certainly be going back and reading Deep Down Dead now and I can’t wait to find out what will happen next in Book 3.

For more reviews of Deep Blue Trouble and to find out more about author Steph Broadribb please do visit the other stops on this blog tour, including my fellow blogger today

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City Without Stars by Tim Baker – a review BLOG TOUR

A while ago I read Fever City which was a fascinating portrayal of the Kennedy era (review here) Therefore I was delighted to be asked to join the blog tour for his latest novel City Without Stars.

City Without Stars is described as an epic novel. Which I have to say would normally put me off as I find in the film world that just means overly long. However I’m glad I hadn’t seen that before I agreed to read it as this was absolutely fascinating and certainly not too long.

The novel is based in Ciudad Real, Mexico where a deadly war is erupting between rival drug cartels. Alongside this, hundreds of female sweatshop workers are being murdered, which policeman Fuentes believes is linked to the main drug lord El Santo.  Activist Pilar is trying to take matters into her own hands and arranging protests at the sweatshops to try and improve conditions and make people take the killings seriously. She starts working with Fuentes and also gets involved with journalist Ventura. As they investigate further the name that keeps arising is that of the Padre Marcio, a local hero who is known for his work with orphans. No one wants to believe that he can be involved, yet there is evidence they can’t ignore.

This was an interesting read. It’s certainly not one for the feint hearted. As with Tim Baker’s previous novel, this is a story that intertwines fact and fiction to create a fascinating insight into a corrupt and dangerous society. It is a violent novel, by necessity, as the world it is depicting is cruel and harsh. Yet it is also a story of hope and good trying to overcome evil.

Mainly the story is told with chapters focussing on the main characters. Yet they are also interspersed with other personalities and scenes including some women who end up victims. However despite the many characters, it is easy to keep track of and I felt the writing flowed easily. For me, one of the strengths of the novel is the portrayal of the females within it. Despite the high number of victims, there are also some incredibly strong characters that are standing up for change throughout immensely difficult circumstances.

This is an incredibly evocative novel, that is disturbing yet captivating at the same time. I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys a powerful story with characters that will stay with you long after the final page.





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