Category Archives: book review

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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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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The Long Shadow by Celia Fremlin – a review BLOG TOUR

I have to confess that I hadn’t actually heard of Celia Fremlin until I opened up a nice surprise package from the lovely people at Faber and Faber, however I always like to discover new (to me) authors and so I jumped at the chance to be part of this blog tour.

The Long Shadow is the ninth novel by Celia Fremlin and tells a Christmas story with a difference. Imogen’s celebrated husband has died recently and she is trying to come to terms with the grief. In the run up to Christmas her house becomes full of her late husband’s family. However things take a rather sinister turn when she receives a phone call from a young man she met at a party accusing her of murdering her husband. As we begin to find out more about Ivor her husband, we also realise that things are never what they seem.

Celia Fremlin is described as Britain’s answer to Patricia Highsmith and I can completely understand why, this is domestic thriller writing at its best. The novel was originally published in 1975 and yet when reading it you wouldn’t have known it was 40 years old (apart from the obvious lack of mobile phones and other technology of course) The writing is superb and it draws you into the centre of the family as secrets are unearthed. Most of the action takes place in Imogen’s home and it gives it a claustrophobic, closed door mystery feel which was gripping.

I thought The Long Shadow was a fantastic piece of observational writing, Imogen’s place at the centre of the family is fragile as she is surrounded by people from her husband’s past that she is not sure she really wants there. All the usual niggles of family life are within these pages but they are heightened by distrust and grief as well as the pressure of Christmas.

The Long Shadow was a great read that was superbly written with a story that sped along, yet remained calm and almost gentle in its execution. I thoroughly enjoyed this and will definitely be searching out more of Celia Fremlin’s work.

Find out what other bloggers on the tour thought:

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The Lion Tamer Who Lost by Louise Beech – a review BLOG TOUR

thumbnail_Lion Tamer front cover finalWow, is the only word I can really think of to describe how this felt when I finished it. This is a story that grabbed me from the beginning and literally didn’t let me go until the end. I read The Lion Tamer Who Lost on a recent trip to Copenhagen and it certainly got me some rather concerned looks at times as it was hard not to be outwardly emotional whilst reading.

The Lion Tamer Who Lost is the second novel I have read by Louise Beech after Maria in the Moon and I have to say this I think this is even better than the first (which is good going as I loved the first one too, read my review here)

Ben is in Zimbabwee after the breakup of a relationship. He is fulfilling his childhood dream to go and work at a lion sanctuary. Andrew is a writer who is hoping for his big break. Their paths cross and events unfold that mean neither of them will ever be the same.

This was a truly fantastic read. Described as a love story, a phrase that would normally put me off a book, it is that but so much more. The story is told from both the characters viewpoints. It almost starts in the middle before going both backwards and forwards. Yet what could be a complicated structure is an absolutely flawless read which I suspect is testament to the quality of the writing.

The two main characters are both very intriguing. For the first half of the book I kept swinging between sympathy and irritation with them both, yet as the story weaved it’s way to the conclusion I was so deeply invested in the characters that I wanted nothing but a happy ending. Therefore as the twists kept getting more shocking the story just got more emotional.

There is a great sense of place within the novel. The descriptions of Zimbabwee and especially those of the sunrises that Ben enjoys are so vivid you almost feel like you are about to open the door onto a lion.

Louise Beech is a fabulous writer and her novels are definitely ones that will stay with you for long after you have finished them. Whilst this is certainly not a standard murder mystery and so not my usual fare I think this novel could quite possibly be my favourite book of the year.

The Lion Tamer Who Lost is available now.

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The Guilty Dead by PJ Tracy – a review BLOG TOUR

I have read alot of the previous PJ Tracy novels and their series is one of my favourites. Therefore I was delighted to receive an email from Katie at Michael Joseph, Penguin Random House inviting me onto the blog tour for the latest in the series The Guilty Dead.

The Guilty Dead starts with a suspected suicide. On the anniversary of his son’s fatal drug overdose Greg Norwood is found dead, apparently shooting himself after being overcome with grief. Detectives Magozzi and Rolseth are asked to go along and investigate. When it becomes apparent that the victim was left handed yet was shot with his right hand the investigation starts to take a different turn. Alongside this we meet up with our favourite computer wizards the Monkeewrench team. They are creating a new computer programme that will help track terrorists. When they receive a visit from the police asking for their help in outing a suspected terrorist attack on the city they have to work round the clock to try and get their programme finished.

The Guilty Dead is a twisting fast paced book that leads you through terror, politics, computers and family secrets. The stories all run alongside each other with a big list of characters all pulling the threads of their own narrative eventually linking together for the final conclusion.

To me this novel felt a little different to the previous one’s I’d read. Grace MacBride, previously a paranoid loner with only her Monkeewrench crew for company is now living with Detective Magozzi and expecting a baby. Also the detectives seemed to take a much more prominent role in this novel than the computer geeks do. However for me that was a good thing as I really enjoy the characters in this series. The oddball Monkeewrench team are a brilliant group and each one of them brings a different dynamic to the story. Having read them from the start it is interesting to see how they have all developed over the series. The detectives themselves are a great pair, and the banter between them certainly lightens up what can be some pretty dark stories.

The stand out part of all these novels though, is the whirlwind of a story which is complex yet easy to follow and will keep you hooked throughout. I would highly recommend this as a series if you haven’t yet been introduced to Detectives Leo Magozzi and Gino Rolseth, and if you want to just dive straight in then The Guilty Dead is a great place to start.

The Guilty Dead is available on amazon.

More about the author:

The Guilty Dead is the eagerly-awaited ninth instalment of the Twin Cities series which has sold over 1
million copies in the UK and more than 3 million worldwide.
P. J. Tracy was the pseudonym for the mother-and-daughter writing team of P. J. and Traci Lambrecht.
Together P. J. and Traci were authors of the bestselling thrillers Want to Play? (a Richard and Judy Book
Club pick), Live Bait, Dead Run, Snow Blind, Play to Kill, Two Evils, Cold Kill and Nothing Stays Buried.
P. J. passed away in 2016, but Traci is continuing the series with this book, The Guilty Dead

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Do Not Disturb by Claire Douglas – a review BLOG TOUR

Do Not Disturb begins when Kirsty moves with her family into a small B&B in Wales which she is going to run with her Mother. Having had a hard time in London, Kirsty sees this as the opportunity for her husband Adrian and their two girls to all have a fresh start and are delighted when guests start arriving. Unfortunately one of their first guests is Kirsty’s cousin Selina, who Kirsty hasn’t seen for years after they fell out. Whilst they start to rebuild bridges strange things start happening around the house and soon Kirsty doesn’t know who she can trust.

The idea of a family having a fresh start is always an intriguing premise to me and this book didn’t disappoint. Do Not Disturb was a great story of a family with secrets all threatening to tumble down. I liked the dynamic between all the characters, which were well written and believable. All the usual family niggles were in this novel, the husband and wife trying to get along, the children at new schools throwing tanturms. The slightly strained relationship between Kirsty and her Mother who she is reliant on for the business adds to the tension of a family already on the edge.  Kirsty is clearly hanging on by a thread trying to keep her family together and not let her daughters know what is going on. Selina on the other hand plays the victim and comes across as the struggling single mother trying to care for her daughter and make amends to how she treated Kirsty in the past.

Whilst part of the Selina story was quite obvious from the start this didn’t at all detract from my enjoyment. There were lots of twists and red herrings, and every character has their own skeletons in the closet which just added to the tension.

This was a thoroughly enjoyable story that kept me guessing all the way along and I certainly didn’t see the end coming. Thanks to Katie at Penguin House Random UK for letting me read it. Do Not Disturb is available here 

To find out what others thought of Do Not Disturb make sure you visit the other stops on the blog tour:

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Unrest by Jesper Stein – a review BLOG TOUR

For my second post of the day, I have been reading Unrest by Jesper Stein. I am a big fan of the Nordic Noir thriller, therefore when I was invited to read Unrest by Jesper Stein I was more than happy to do so. Especially as this novel is set in Copenhagen a place I am visiting with work next month and I always like to read books set in places I visit.
Unrest opens when the city is under siege from a group called Autonomists. They are rioting and the city is literally burning. As the police are trying to regain control they come across a body in a cemetery, a place that was cordoned of with only the police allowed access. Detective Axel Steen is assigned to the case and soon links it to the demolition of the nearby Youth House. The demolition of which was the spark for the riots. However things soon become even more complicated.
Unrest was an interesting novel although I found it quite tricky to keep track of what is going on in parts. The characters are all a bit ‘shady’ for want of a better term including the lead Detective Axel Steen. He lives alone and is still in love with his ex wife who isn’t happy about him seeing his daughter. He tries to manage his loneliness and insomnia with smoking joints and work. I wouldn’t say he was a character I particularly liked, but he was interesting.
This is a tricky novel to review as I did enjoy it, yet it was disturbing in parts. It’s a book that throws everything at it, murder, drugs, riots, corruption, politics and drama. The story was complicated and there were a lot of characters to keep track of. However the novel was well written and is a story that makes you think. I especially enjoyed the setting in Copenhagen and the descriptions of the city itself which was almost another character in the novel.
For those who are fans of gritty, dark and disturbing crime then I’d recommend Unrest by Jesper Stein available on Amazon.

To find out more you can visit the other stops on the blog tour:

 

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