Category Archives: crime fiction

Expectant by Vanda Symon – a review BLOG TOUR

I am a huge fan of Vanda Symon so was really excited to join the blog tour for her latest novel Expectant, the 5th novel in the author’s Sam Shepherd series.

In Expectant the New Zealand town of Dunedin is devastated by the callous murder of a pregnant woman. Detective Sam Shepherd must find the killer before they strike again. However there is an added complication as Sam is heavily pregnant herself and about to head off on maternity leave. It soon becomes clear that someone is targeting pregnant woman and Sam finds herself as the hunted as well as the hunter.

Expectant was another superb read that kept me on the edge of my seat. The writing is as always spot on, and the short chapters with punchy sentences make it a fast read that is difficult to put down. The plot will keep you guessing and even when you think you’ve cracked it there will be another cog thrown into the mix.

The story in this felt like it was slightly lower paced than her previous ones. This gave it a sense of authenticity when the central character was about to give birth, but still kept the intrigue and the page turning suspense that we’ve come to expect from a Vanda Symon novel.

I love the character of Sam, she’s clever and sharp and funny, yet still makes daft decisions and goes off on mad tangents without always thinking of the consequences. It was nice to see her settling down a bit and I enjoyed how the family and friend dynamics are changing throughout the series. Whilst this can be read as a standalone I’d recommend reading the full series first because they are such good novels.

Expectant was another superb read by a writer who is fast becoming one of my favourite authors.

Find out what others thought of the book by visiting the other stops on the tour:

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How To Kill Your Family by Bella Mackie – a review

I bought this novel a while ago as Bella Mackie was due to appear at the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate. Unfortunately she was ill at the time, so it ended up at the bottom of my book pile until recently.

How to kill your family is the debut crime fiction novel from Bella. It introduces us to Grace. Grace is in prison for a murder she didn’t committee, however there is the matter of a few murders she did commit but just hasn’t been caught for. When Grace found out that her absentee father was rich and had refused to acknowledge her Mother she decided to make him pay by killing off members of his family.

How to kill your family was an at time hilarious, at times dark read, that I thoroughly enjoyed. The premise of the book was relatively simple – a wronged woman taking revenge, but there was much more to it than that. We find out about Grace’s real crimes through her diary which she starts in prison (lets skip the probably not sensible plan of admitting to things in writing whilst in prison!) and details all the whys and hows of her crimes.

The character of Grace was a bit of a mixed one for me, although there were bits of her I liked, there were also bits that just seemed a bit too needy for someone who had killed 6 people. Her observations on life and the people around her were exactly what so many of us think but don’t want to admit. It reminded me a little of American Psycho but with a more likeable protagonist. There was a lot of rambling about the state of the world and the varying groups that Grace didn’t like (think everyone but her!) but these observations were often funny and very sharp. They did occasionally make for some longish chapters but they added to the overall tone of the story.

I loved the way the story went backwards and forwards between the prison and the planning and execution of the killings. Each murder is planned to be a fitting end to the family members life so they are all different and take Grace from a frog conservation pond to Puerto Banus in order to realise her plan.

How to kill your family was a superb novel that I very much enjoyed and I look forward to reading more from Bella Mackie.

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Keep It In The Family by John Marrs – BLOG TOUR

I am a huge fan of John Marrs so was excited to be invited onto the blog tour for his latest Keep It In The Family. 

Keep It In The Family begins with Mia and Finn who have bought a derelict house to do up and turn into their dream family home. When Mia falls pregnant, they rush to get it finished. All is going well until Mia discovers a message written on a skirting board: I WILL SAVE THEM FROM THE ATTIC. When they head up to the attic they soon realise that the house is hiding a terrible secret. It’s a secret that Mia becomes obsessed with and as she searches for the truth, she realises that she and her family are in danger.

Keep It In The Family was a great read. With John Marr’s you know that you are going to get a twisty tale with a dark undertone and this certainly didn’t disappoint. The story kept me hooked from the beginning as Mia and Finn start to fall apart whilst the family secrets become exposed and nobody is who they first seemed.

Most of the characters were intentionally unlikeable and even those who I really wanted to feel sympathy for such as Finn made it very difficult with some of their actions. I found the character of Mia supremely frustrating at times. Whilst I do understand her compulsion to work out what had happened, her actions put her and her son in danger and you just wanted her to stop!

One of the things I like about John Marr’s books are the fact that the stories often don’t just focus on the crime but also the actual repercussions of it. Even once we found out the perpetrator the story doesn’t stop but continues to throw in twists and turns until the main finale.

The writing is slick, with short chapters that keep you gripped throughout and I read it over the course of a few nights. I absolutely love John Marrs books and would definitely recommend this.

Find out what others thought by visiting the other blog tour stops.



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Red as blood by Lilja Sigurdardóttir – a review BLOG TOUR

I am a big fan of Icelandic crime fiction, and very much enjoyed Lilja Sigurdardóttir’s previous novels so I was looking forward to reading her latest Red As Blood.

Red As Blood starts with the wife of millionaire Flossi going missing. He comes home to find the house in dissaray and a ransom demand of two million euros. As someone who specialises in finding missing assets Aurora is asked to help look into the finances of the couple in the hope that the money may throw up some leads. Realising she’s out of her depth she calls in police friend Daniel. They have to race to solve the case without the kidnappers finding out they are involved. Alongside this Aurora is still looking for her missing sister whilst struggling to navigate the path between grief and hope.

Red as blood was another great read from Lilja Sigurdardóttir. The story is told from multiple view points and written with nice short chapters so the story zips along.

There is a large array of characters and at the start it was a little tricky keeping track of them all but I soon found that the story almost had a rhythm that I fell into. I then really enjoyed this cast of characters from the feisty, hands on Aurora to the more measured calm Daniel, through his vibrant drag queen neighbour Lady Gugula. They are all intertwined and bounce of each other as the story progresses and each character is given enough back story to become fully alive.

The story itself was good, and although I did guess part of it there were also plenty of red herrings and twists to keep you on tenterhooks. I always enjoy reading about other places and this was no exception with the cold foggy weather creating a good background for the story.

Although this is the second in the series it can be read as a standalone but you will get more of a sense of Aurora and Daniel if you have read Cold as Hell first.

If you like your scandanvian crime, and sassy interesting characters then this is definitely a read for you.

Don’t forget to find out what others thought by visiting the other stops on the tour:

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