Category Archives: crime fiction

The Man With No Face by Peter May – BLOG TOUR

isbn9781787472617I originally found Peter May as part of my TOPCWFC which you may recall was the original aim of this blog. His first novel for me was The Blackhouse, which is part of a trilogy set on the Isle of Lewis. This was an interesting novel and I went on to read the rest of the trilogy. Last year I was also privileged to be able to read I’ll Keep You Safe which was a cracking read (see review here)  However one of the downsides to there being so many great new books coming out all the time is that if you are anything like me you often don’t get the time to go back and read an author’s early works. Therefore I was excited to be given the chance to read Peter May’s latest novel The Man With No Face which is actually a re-issue of one of his early books, Hidden Faces.

The Man With No Face is set in 1970’s Brussels at the time when Britain had just committed itself to the new Europe. (You can see why this has been re-released now!) The story follows Scottish journalist Bannerman who is sent to Brussels to report on the European Union. However when he arrives in Brussels both the journalist he was meant to be staying with and a high ranking politician have been murdered. The only witness is the autistic daughter of the victim who communicates through drawings. She draws the crime scene and includes everything except the killers face. Bannerman soon starts to build a relationship with the girl as he is determined to track down the truth, whilst racing to protect the witness from a killer who doesn’t want her to finish her drawing.

I am a big fan of this author. His writing is flawless and it drags you into the story from the start. As with all of Peter May’s novels one of the standout things for me is how the settings always play as big a part as any characters. A lot of that is down to the amount of research he undertakes. The Man With No Face is no exception. May was working as a journalist himself when this was originally written, writing for The Scotsman reporting on the political and social upheaval of the time. In the late 1970’s Peter made the journey by train from Glasgow to Brussels which whilst financial necessity at the time, was perfect research for how to transport murder weapons!peter author photo 2017

The Man With No Face is a crime thriller that seems as relevant today as it was then and is a definite must read for anyone who likes their mysteries with a political backdrop and a hard hitting theme.

The Man With No Face is out on the 10th January 2019 from amazon.

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The Judas Tree by Susan Bacoyanis – Extract BLOG TOUR

Today I am delighted to share with you the opening extract of the latest novel by Susan Bacoyanis. The Judas Tree is an intriguing tale of a woman scorned who takes her revenge to scary new heights. When Mary moves to a small village she is hoping to put her ex husband and the bitter divorce behind her. When she befriends Jonas it seems that she is finally moving on, however it soon turns out that he isn’t the person she thought he was, and Mary is clearly not the quiet divorcee she at first seems.

This is an interesting tale that cleverly intersperses historical facts about Mary Tudor with the story of Mary Webster. If you like a tale with a serious amount of revenge then this is definitely the story for you. Read on for the opening chapter.

PART ONE: MARY, MARY, QUITE CONTRARY

A story of betrayal

Oh! What a tangled web we weave,
When first we practise to deceive
Sir Walter Scott

Why do people lie? To gain attention? To elevate their status, or reinvent themselves? Is it perhaps the need to control? To instill fear, exercise power or cultivate friendship and love?
People who lie are the ordinary, uninspired immature adults who were ignored as children. Whose siblings stole their parents’ affection. Who underachieved in school, were patronised, humiliated and scolded more than praised. These emotionally crippled beings continuously seek attention to distract from their self-disgust, which allows no liberty in their skin.
We honest people are the unsuspecting audience, naively watching their performance… captivated by their practised script. We listen to their stories, their memories, their family history recited with affectionate anecdotes. We perceive them as gentle and kind, with values that are admirable. We hang on every syllable, listening in earnest as they boost their ego at our expense and with glazed eyes, we reflect an image of love, which they have cultivated. It is undeserving. It is a lie.
To be undetected, successful liars must be clever, cunning and well practised in their art. But most of all… they must possess a good memory.

The Letter

Dear Frances,
You will be surprised to learn that I’ve written a book. I realise that I’m a mere novice compared with you – the famous author. So it’s with some trepidation that I’m sending you my manuscript for review.
It’s an account of a macabre episode in my life… and I warn you, it will be emotionally challenging as the raw facts I lay before you will chill you to the bone.
*
I sign the email ‘With love’, as siblings do, although I know I don’t feel it. There is a bond between us, but it is rivalry on my part.
I attach the manuscript and label it ‘For your eyes only’ and press ‘Send’. Fate will be the decider now, for there’s a chance that when she reads it I could be either incarcerated or dead.

To find out what others thought of The Judas Tree visit the other stops on the blog tour. The Judas Tree is available on amazon.

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Win 2 novels by Emma Viskic!

Today I am delighted to be able to offer a very exciting giveaway thanks to the lovely Pushkin Press, namely a copy of two novels from CWA Award shortlisted writer Emma Viskic.

If you haven’t yet tried her debut novel Resurrection Bay and its stunning sequel And Fire Came Down, then this is your chance to delve into the world of deaf detective Caleb Zelic. Caleb lives in Melbourne and has been deaf since the age of 5. We first meet him in Resurrection Bay where he discovers the body of a friend who has been brutally murdered. Determined to get to the truth and prove his innocence Caleb teams up with another friend Frankie, a former policewoman who struggles with addiction, to try and track down the killer.

I enjoyed Resurrection Bay, the Australian setting gives this novel a really original feel. The two main settings of big city and small coastal town gave a good contrast highlighting the differences between Caleb’s childhood and his grown up life. It was also interesting the way that Caleb is portrayed, he may have a disability but he is certainly not someone courting sympathy. The story was fast paced and kept me riveted.

I would highly recommend Emma Viskic’s novels and if you would like to give them a go then you can win a copy of both ‘Resurrection Bay’ and ‘And Fire Came Down’.

To enter simply comment below, retweet the tweet @cj_colbourn, comment on my facebook post or just email me at candic13@yahoo.co.uk. The winner will be chosen at random on December 21st 2018and will win a copy of both books.

Please note your name and address will be passed to Pushkin Press to distribute the prize but all details will be deleted after the competition.

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Strangers on a bridge by Louise Mangos – a review

Alice is out running one morning and meets a man called Manfred on a bridge threatening to throw himself off. She manages to talk him down and after chatting returns home feeling unnerved but relieved that she has helped. When Manfred turns up at her house initially it is just a nice gesture to say thanks, however things start to take rather dark turn and she soon realises that her family might be in danger.

This was a really hectic ride of a story. Told only from the viewpoint of Alice this is a fast pace story that draws you in from the moment that Manfred comes into view. Personally I thought that Alice as a character was quite annoying, but this is partly what
draws the story along. A lot of her actions seem a bit suspect, such as getting in a car with a complete stranger and driving them miles. However we all love a flawed character and Alice is certainly one of those. The fact that the book is told only from the viewpoint of Alice means that you can’t tell how true things are as obviously she is biased. It also means that it gives the story a very claustrophobic feel, as you feel as though you are in Alice’s head.

Strangers on a Bridge is set against the background of the Swiss Alps. Alice is a loner in the village, an outsider who the police think is just being an hysterical English woman. There are some lovely descriptions of the place and the writing conjures up a wonderful atmosphere that adds to the tension of the novel as Alice get more and more desperate. The beautiful scenery is a terrific contrast to the dark obsession that fuels the story.

The story starts out as a seemingly simple tale of one man obsessing over a woman. However the twists soon turn this into something more unique. I really enjoyed this novel and thought it was a compelling read. The tale becomes more gripping as the obsession within it grows and the ending was one I really didn’t see coming. I’d highly recommend this novel that will keep you questioning who is right and who is wrong throughout.

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The Marriage Pact by Michelle Richmond – a review

This is a book that had been sat on my kindle for a while and for some reason it had never made it to the top of my list until a recent trip to Manchester. When I realised I was sat in a bar with no new books to read and no internet connection I opened this without really knowing what it was about.

The Marriage Pact follows newlyweds Jake and Alice who are given a mysterious wedding gift, a membership of a very exclusive club that guarantees they will never get divorced. They just have to sign an agreement that states they will live by the rules of the Pact. Of course that seems to be an easy enough statement when they are still in that honeymoon phase, rules include always answering the phone when your spouse calls, buying them a present every month, arrange a trip away every three months. However these rules all seem fine and a bit of fun, until one of them gets broken and the full force of the pact takes effect. The crimes they committee against the marriage pact start off small, lawyer Alice is late at work a few days on the trot, she puts on a bit of weight so is made to see a personal trainer at 5am every morning. All of these things seem relatively small yet as the punishments keep coming the fear of the consequences of the pact become much bigger.

The Marriage Pact is a cracking little read, although you do have to suspend belief a bit. The concept that perfectly sane educated people would join what is essentially a cult that dictates how they have to act in their own lives is clearly not something that would happen in real life. However when you put that to one side this was a story that kept me hooked through to the end. The characters whilst a little annoying are quite likeable, and you feel for Alice as she tries to keep the full force of the punishments away from Jake. Yet on the other side you do wonder why both her and Jake don’t just say no!

I enjoyed the plot of this novel and the writing is good. The story is told from the point of view of Jake, and I think that was made me prefer Alice to him. He works as a marriage guidance counsellor and yet seems to completely miss the signs that there might be problems in his own relationship.

The Marriage Pact is an intriguing little tale, and whilst it is not going to be everyone’s cup of tea due to the unrealistic plot, personally I really enjoyed it. Thanks to netgalley for my copy. 

 

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Trap by Lilja Sigurdardottir – a review BLOG TOUR

I have a confession to make, when I was invited to take part in the blog tour for Lilja Sigurdardottir’s new novel Trap I jumped at the chance as there was a copy of her first novel Snare on the bookshelf and I had thoroughly enjoyed her appearance at the TOPCWF. However it wasn’t until I started reading Trap that I realised I had never actually got around to reading Snare (not a surprise if you knew the size of my ‘to be read’ pile. Well I might be reading them in the wrong order but Snare is definitely going to the top of the pile now I’ve read Trap.

Trap starts with Sonja and her son Thomas living in Florida, enjoying the sunshine but on the run and looking over her shoulder. The reason for this soon becomes clear as Thomas is kidnaped by his father. Sonja and Thomas have to return to Iceland where her lover Agla is waiting. Agla is awaiting sentencing for financial misconduct, yet she also owes a lot of money to some rather unpleasant people. Sonja has a plan to bring down her ex-husband and the drug barons running the city, along with help from customs officer Bragi. However things don’t go to plan and Sonja is soon in more trouble than she can handle.

Trap is a fast paced crime novel that will keep you turning the pages (or pressing the kindle button) The title of the novel is a fitting description of both Sonja’s predicament and also the overall feeling you get when reading it. The writing draws you into the story and you feel the frustrations of the characters as they try to deal with the fallout and things don’t go to plan. I really enjoyed the characters within this novel, especially the relationships between Sonja and her son and also between Sonja and Bragi who is torn between doing his job and helping Sonja.

The setting is interesting, with the action mainly taking place in Reykjavik and the descriptions of the place add to the chilling tone of this novel. Some of the financial elements went a bit over my head but that in no way detracts from my enjoyment.

I absolutely recommend Trap if you are a fan of a fast paced Nordic set novel, I can’t wait to go back and find out how the series began.

Make sure to visit the other stops on the blog tour to find out more about this fantastic series of novels.

 

Trap is available to purchase now at Amazon.

 

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The Secret Pilgrim by John Le Carre – giveaway BLOG TOUR

For my final review of the week I am very excited to be taking part in the John Le Carré blog tour. Now I must confess that I have never actually read any of John le Carré’s books before. I know that is shocking but then I’ve also never seen a James Bond film so I’m maybe not the normal target audience. However I do like to read books that I wouldn’t necessarily choose myself therefore when I was asked to take part in a blog tour by Penguin Modern Classics I jumped at the chance to discover a new (to me) author.

Yesterday Penguin completed a major nine-year project to publish twenty-one of John le Carré’s novels in Penguin Modern Classics. The last one to be published is The Little Drummer Girl which is also going to be the subject of a major six-part BBC adaptation this October produced by the team behind The Night Manager.

John Le Carré is the living author with the greatest number of works awarded this classic status. To celebrate this achievement I am delighted to say I have now read one of his books, namely The Secret Pilgrim.

The Secret Pilgrim, although following on from a trilogy, was actually probably a really good one for me to start with. The main character of George Smiley clearly features in this book however the main focus is actually on a character called Ned. Ned has asked George to give a speech to a group of pupils at a spy school. As George begins to talk Ned is reminded of varying points of his own career and we are then treated to stories from Ned’s past as we follow him from his first assignment through to his final interrogations and from a young single spy to a rather unfaithful married one.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Secret Pilgrim. The book almost felt like a series of short stories with George Smiley’s speech being rather peripheral. It was fascinating to read about the exploits of Ned and his colleagues and I really enjoyed the fact that due to the nature of the book each story was simple and easy to follow (perfect for someone like me with a rather short attention span!)  One thing that struck me was actually the story although written in 1990 still resonates today, with its ideas that things are not always what they seem and that sometimes the lines between right and wrong get blurred. Whilst I imagine that a lot of the characters make appearances in previous novels I think this works perfectly as a stand alone book and is a great introduction to the world of espionage.

If you would like to give The Secret Pilgrim a go yourself then as luck would have it thanks to the lovely people at Penguin Modern Classics I have a copy to give away. To be in with a chance to win simply comment, or share this post or retweet my tweet about it. The winner will be picked on Friday 5th October.

The Secret Pilgrim and all of the novels are available on amazon.

To find out about the other 20 books in the series make sure you visit the other stops on this exciting blog tour.

John le Carre - Blog Tour Card

 

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