Category Archives: book review

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

Leave a comment

Filed under book review

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

 

Leave a comment

Filed under book review

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

 

Leave a comment

Filed under book review

Tick Tock by Mel Sherratt – a review BLOG TOUR

Today I am pleased to be hosting my stop on the blog tour for Mel Sherratt’s latest novel Tick Tock.

Tick Tock begins with the discovery of a girl’s body. She went missing during a school cross country race and is then found having been strangled in broad daylight. A couple of days later a young mother is abducted, later discovered murdered in the local park. DS Grace Allendale is leading the investigation but it seems hopeless with no connection between the victims, until a third person is targeted and the clock is ticking.

I have read a number of Mel’s books before and always enjoy them and this was no exception.

In Tick Tock the story goes along at a good pace and there are plenty of red herrings thrown in to keep you hooked. I particularly thought that the portrayal of the teenage friends of the first victim, one of whom is the daughter of Grace’s boyfriend, was very natural and their changing emotions swept the story along. The tension builds up throughout the novel, until it reaches an ending that I didn’t see it coming at all.

Grace is an interesting character, she has a complicated family life and although she seems to have a perfect boyfriend on the surface, he is a local journalist. This causes tensions between them as he obviously wants to have the inside scoop on the killer, yet Grace is a professional who doesn’t want to jeopardise her case. As a character I very much like her and felt that she had a real empathy with those around her which is unusual for female detectives who are often portrayed as hard and uncaring.

Although the book can be read as a standalone I do think that you would benefit from reading the first in the series, Hush Hush, as it helps fill in the background. Tick Tock is a great read that will grab you from the opening scene and doesn’t let up until the end and I was very pleased to be part of this tour.

To find out what others thought of the book don’t forget to visit the other stops on the tour.

Leave a comment

Filed under book review

Wilderness by B.E Jones – a review BLOG TOUR

I’m always a fan of a revenge story and so when I received an email inviting me to join the blog tour for the Wilderness by B.E Jones it sounded right up my street and I wasn’t wrong.

The Wilderness begins after Liv finds out that her husband was having an affair. Having moved from Wales to New York, Liv decides that the best way to try and fix their marriage is for them to spend two weeks on a road trip around America’s National Parks. However she isn’t quite ready to forgive him fully and so sets him three challenges that he will need to complete to prove that he is still worthy of being her husband. She doesn’t however tell him what those challenges are, and if he doesn’t complete them, well then there are plenty of ways a person might die out in the middle of nowhere.

This was an excellent story that made great use of the unreliable narrator vehicle. What could have been a relatively straightforward tale of a woman scorned who gets revenge, was not that simple. Wilderness is a slow burn of a story that had me hooked from the start. It was full of twists and turns with an ending that I found both satisfying and annoying in equal measure.

The fact that you only hear from the viewpoint of Liv means the novel has a real claustrophobic feel which is further heighted by the descriptions of their road trip through the vast American parks. This single viewpoint does of course mean that you are always slightly on edge as to what is going to happen next, as you are in the head of a rather disturbed woman. Although she isn’t a likeable character there was a part of me that felt sorry for her as she desperately tries to cling onto some form of sanity whilst feeling completely alone.

The novel’s settings switch between New York, Wales and the wildness of the American parks as we flit between current and past and gradually find out more about Liv and her relationships. I particularly liked the descriptions of America and the contrast between the hustle and bustle of New York, and the quiet emptiness of their holiday.

It is a well written story and has a great cast of characters on the periphery with Liv taking centre stage throughout. If you like the unreliable narrator style then I thoroughly recommend this as a perfect holiday read.

Thanks to DampPebbles Book Tours for my copy. You can buy your own copy of this here.

2 Comments

Filed under book review, crime fiction

Their Little Secret by Mark Billingham – a review

As regular readers probably know already, I am a huge fan of Mark Billingham (although not quite such a big fan as the sister who is a borderline

The stalking Sister

stalker at events!) so you can imagine the excitement in my house when through the letterbox came a copy of his latest novel ( ‘Not another bloody book’,  ‘Meow’)

Their Little Secret is the newest Tom Thorne novel. It begins when he is called to a body on the trainline that is an apparent suicide. However Thorne has a feeling that things are not that simple and starts to look into the woman’s past, and especially her relationships. Meanwhile Sarah seems to be just a normal mother picking up her son from school and chatting at the school gates with the other mothers, until she meets Conrad who soon whisks her off her feet. Yet not all couples are good together, and some become postively evil.

This was another cracking story that I really enjoyed. There was a bit of back story as you would expect, in what is the 16th in the series, but frankly it is needed for people like me with a shocking memory so it’s helpful to remind us. The character of Thorne is one of those characters that I actually feel I know as I’ve followed him for so many years. I really like the relationship he has with pathologist Phil Hendricks and they are back on form in ‘Their Little Secret’

The character of Sarah was an odd one and her actions a little far fetched. Admittedly I have only limited experience at picking up children from school but when I have the other parents are on any new blood like flies so it is surprising that Sarah gets away with what she does. However that is only a very minor issue and the story itself will keep you hooked throughout.

There was a twist at the end that was surprising, despite the clues being there with hindsight. I have to admit to a bit of frustration when I finished as it felt like there were loose ends that needed tidying up, however without giving away any spoilers there were some historic references in the book that made you realise why this might have been done, life doesn’t always tie up the loose ends!

I would definitely recommend Their Little Secret and despite the references to the previous novels it can be read as a stand alone. Yet I would say in the unlikely event that there are any crime fiction fans out there who haven’t yet read Mark Billingham then you are in for a treat and I’d start at the beginning so you get the fun of them all!

Thanks to the fantastic Little Brown and Laura Sherlock PR for my copy. You can get your hands on your own copy of Their Little Secret by Mark Billingham which is out today here

Leave a comment

Filed under book review, crime fiction

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under book review, Uncategorized