Category Archives: book review

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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Then She Vanishes by Claire Douglas a review – Blog Tour

I was delighted to be invited onto the blog tour for the latest novel by Claire Douglas as she has been a firm favourite of mine since we first met her in Harrogate a few years ago.
Then She Vanishes begins with the shooting of Colin and his elderly mother. When Heather is then found with a self inflicted gun shot wound the small seaside town they live in is stunned. Why would a seemingly happy young mother go on an apparently random shooting? Reporter Jess is sent to investigate the story and is horrified to find out the shooter is her best friend from school. Jess and Heather had been inseparable when young, until their friendship started to fall apart when Heather’s older sister went missing and was never found.
This was an interesting story focusing on two main narratives. Present day as we delve into why Heather would carry out a shooting with seemingly no motive, and past times looking at what happened around the disappearance of Heather’s sister. I personally enjoy this dual timeline way of telling stories and this was done masterfully.
The characters themselves were not particularly ones I warmed to. Jess was quite a cold person, she had had to leave her previous job due to scandal yet I felt she seemed to blame everyone but herself including her rather downtrodden boyfriend. Heather we know more from the chapters about her past and whilst there is sympathy again I felt she was a bit self centred. However this is actually what pushes the story along so well. All of the characters are entwined by circumstances yet they can’t see the wider picture.
The story itself was a slow burner that I found gripping. As with all good crime fiction all of the characters have secrets which lay hidden until the end, and this is no exception. The story picks up pace and the ending really did surprise. I had suspicions of who was to blame throughout, yet suffice to say I was way off the mark.
I would highly recommend Then She Vanishes for an interesting domestic crime fiction story that will keep you turning the pages until the unseen end.
Find out what others thought of Then She Vanishes by visiting the other stop so on the BlogTour.

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My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite – a review

sister

My latest read has been My Sister, The Serial Killer. No this is is not autobiographical (Well as far as I know, bearing in mind the Sister lives with our parent’s and they are both very much alive and fighting fit so I assume if she had murderous tendencies the patio area might have been much extended by now!)
My Sister the Serial Killer is actually the debut novel by Oyinkan Braithwaite. Set in Nigeria, it tells the story of Korede, the elder sister of Ayoola. The sisters are very close. So much so that Ayoola can ring Korede any time of the day or night knowing that she will drop everything to help her. Even when that help involves bleach, rubber gloves and the ability to move a body, for the third time.
I picked this novel up on a whim whilst browsing Waterstones, at the time I hadn’t realised that Oyinkan was appearing at the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival next weekend. Well once I started reading I couldn’t stop and I read this pretty much over two nights.
My Sister, the Serial Killer was a really engaging novel. This wasn’t a long book, and had it been formatted like a normal book I imagine it would have been very small but that was part of the charm. It felt like quite a simple story, yet for some reason it is one that really gets under your skin. It is a slow story that is hard to explain, as it feels like nothing happens, yet it also includes murder galore.
The sisters are two very different people. One is glamourous and exciting, the other is rather dowdy and dull yet they are bound together by a bond that only siblings will understand. I found the interaction between the two sisters interesting. There were moments where you just want to give Korede a good talking too and make her stop enabling her sister’s murderous ways. Yet equally you feel for her as she is trying to make the best of a situation that she didn’t create but is stuck in. This is mainly a story about relationships rather than murder. The writing is full of short quick sentences and the rather macabre topic is lifted by the deadpan humour of Korede.
I would highly recommend My Sister, the Serial Killer for a quick engaging read and I am very much looking forward to hearing Oyinkan speak next week.

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One WayOut by A.A. Dhand – a review BLOG TOUR

As part of the fantastic York Literature Festival in 2018 I went to a Northern Noir session featuring Robert Scraggs and AA Dhand. At the time neither of them were authors I had read before but of course I can’t possibly leave an event without buying new books and both of the authors soon became firm favourites. Therefore I was very pleased to be invited onto the blog tour for AA Dhand’s latest novel One Way Out.

One Way Out CoverOne Way Out is the fourth in the Detective Harry Virdee series and as always it is set in Bradford. One sunny afternoon Harry is with his Mother and Son at the Park. When an alert comes through, he only has minutes to get his family to safety before the bomb goes off. Worse is yet to come however as this was just a warning. A terrorist group called the Patriot’s have planted a bomb in one of the cities Mosques and in return for saving the lives of those at Friday prayers they want the four leaders of a radical Islamist group Almukhtaroon handed over to them. The Government doesn’t negotiate with terrorists even when thousands of lives are at risk. Therefore Harry must find his own way to negotiate through a case that is deeply personal, as his wife is inside one of the Mosque’s.

This was an absolutely fascinating novel that I really couldn’t put down. The story itself was gripping, and what could have been a relatively simple, hero takes down baddie and defuses bomb narrative, was infinitely more complicated. Every time you thought you were heading down one path something else got thrown in and you were sent down a different one.

However what I really enjoyed was learning more about the family dynamics and the cultures involved. The characters are all intriguing in their different beliefs and personalities. Harry is a bit of a rebel who will go off on his own if he thinks it’s the right thing to do. His wife Saima is an incredibly strong woman who will give her life to save her child. Harry’s Mother was a real revelation in this book, Harry was disowned for marrying a Muslim and his father has no relationship with him or Harry’s son. Yet when Harry’s Mother has to look after the little boy she will protect him at all costs even if it means going against her husbands wishes.

The writing style is one I personally love, with nice short chapters that will keep you saying ‘just one more’ and ultimately being late for work! I would definitely recommend this novel and although it is part of a series it works as a standalone.  We hopefully haven’t seen the last of Harry Virdee and I, for one, can’t wait to find out what happens next. 

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

One Way Out Blog Tour Poster

To purchase your own copy of One Way Out by A.A. Dhand visit Amazon

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The Last Widow by Karin Slaughter – a review BLOG TOUR

I was very excited to be invited onto the blog tour for the latest novel by Karin Slaughter, The Last Widow. I have been a huge fan of Karin Slaughter since I read her first novel Blindsighted. This introduced us to Sara Linton, paediatrician and medical examiner and I have followed both that series and her later ones featuring Special Agent Will Trent.

In The Last Widow, Mother Michelle Spivey had been snatched from the shopping mall and despite extensive searches it is like she has disappeared into thin air. A month later partners Will and Sara are enjoying a nice afternoon having dinner at her mother’s house. When they hear an explosion, they both run to help. However things soon spiral out of control as Sara is taken and ends up at a remote commune at the mercy of a radical violent group. Will has to go undercover in the hope that he can save the woman he loves.

The Last Widow was a novel that I felt started quite unusually in that we see the same scene played out from different viewpoints. This gave the book an interesting start as the points all diverge into one as the action heats up. This repetition also gave the book what felt to be a slow start which draws you in and is actually needed as once you are in this is a very dark, brutal yet utterly enthralling story.

I find the idea of communes and ‘living off the grid’ fascinating (not that I would ever want to do it, how would I feed my Criminal Minds addiction without a tv) and this novel took that idea to a whole new place. The chapters from Sara’s point of view as she is help captive were really brought to life. There is lots of well researched background to the crime element that taught me more than I really wanted to know about some frankly abhorrent groups of people. All the more scary when you put this into the context of todays climate.

Despite the dark nature of a story that covers paedophilia, rape, murder, terrorist attacks, and germ warfare, this was a story with lighter elements too. One of the things I love about Karin Slaughter’s novels are the characters, and the sarcastic humour of Faith, and her interaction with Will are one of the best parts of the story. Although this is the latest in the series personally I think it can be read as a stand-alone as it is very much a plot driven novel, rather than a character driven one. However as with all series you will get a better understanding of the motives and the family if you have read previous novels.

I really enjoyed The Last Widow and would highly recommend this fascinating story. To find out what others thought of The Last Widow visit the other stops on the tour.

You can purchase The Last Widow here

 

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The Friend Who Lied by Rachel Amphlett – a review BLOG TOUR

I have previously read author Rachel Amphlett’s detective Kay Hunter series which I have always enjoyed, so I was intrigued when I got the email inviting me onto the blog tour for her latest novel a stand-alone psychological thriller, The Friend Who Lied.

The Friend Who Lied starts as Lisa wakes up after a life saving kidney transplant. The last thing she remembered was being in an escape room with her friends. Now one of them is dead and Lisa’s life has been saved thanks to his kidney. As she starts to recover she tries to piece together exactly what happened in that room and begins to uncover a web of lies that shows they are all hiding something. As closely guarded secrets begin to emerge Lisa realises that she can trust no one and that someone doesn’t want her to uncover the truth.

This was an interesting read that kept me entertained during a couple of nights on my own in Liverpool. As someone who thinks the idea of entering an escape room is frankly ridiculous (You might as well just travel on LNER somewhere, it’s the same concept being trapped in a tiny box for a few hours with a bunch of people you don’t like and no way of escape until your time is up!) I thought the premise of this story was intriguing. You know that in a novel as soon as you meet a group of friends that knew each other at university it is never going to turn out well. There will always be some dark history between them and this group were no different. They have a bond that comes from long friendship and shared knowledge but this also hides fragile relationships and petty jealousy.

One of the things I really liked about this book was the way it was written from the different viewpoints of the main characters. None of them were particularly likeable and I really struggled to warm to any of them including Lisa. However this did not detract but rather added to the story. It meant that my opinions kept flitting back and forth as to how I hoped the novel would pan out. Each of the characters had their own quirks and issues that became clear as the story moved forward, and they soon started to intertwine towards a devastating conclusion.

I must confess that I did sort of guess the end pretty much from the start, however without giving any spoilers I was close but no cigar as they say. This was a good read that was an entertaining way to pass a few hours.

To find out what others thought of the novel visit the rest of the stops on the blog tour:

Author Bio:
Before turning to writing, USA Today bestselling author Rachel Amphlett played guitar in bands, worked as a TV and film extra, dabbled in radio as a presenter and freelance producer for the BBC, and worked in publishing as a sub-editor and editorial assistant.

She now wields a pen instead of a plectrum and writes crime fiction and spy novels, including the Dan Taylor and English Spy Mysteries espionage novels and theDetective Kay Hunter British police procedural series.

She’s a member of International Thriller Writers and the Crime Writers Association, with the Italian foreign rights for her debut novel, White Gold sold to Fanucci Editore’s TIMECrime imprint, and the first four books in the Dan Taylor espionage series contracted to Germany’s Luzifer Verlag.

Purchase your copy of the Friend Who Lied here

 

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