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.
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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.
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I find that often because I read so many new and debut authors I can often ignore established writers, especially those with long running series where I have probably missed out on a few of the books. Ann Cleaves is one of those authors but when I was offered a copy of her latest Vera novel I decided to give it a go, and I most certainly wasn’t disappointed.
In the Rising Tide we are transported to the Holy Island of Lindesfarne which is one of my favourite places. A group of friends are gathering for their regular reunion to remember a friend they lost during their first visit there fifty years ago. When one of the group is found hanged Vera Stanhope is called to investigate. The dead man had recently been fired from a very public role for misconduct and Vera soon realises that the friends are all hiding secrets.
This was an absolutely fantastic read that I thoroughly enjoyed. I had forgotten how much I love Vera Stanhope as a character. Her gruff exterior belies a heart that does really care and this case will test her resolve, especially at the heartbreaking finale. Vera is such an iconic character loved by everyone that it must be difficult to write her without having that always in the back of your head but Ann Cleeves manages to write a character that is both flawed and wonderful at the same time.
The story itself is intriguing. I enjoyed the mix of characters and liked the fact that we were introduced to them all individually at the beginning which gave us a real sense of who they all were. Ann Cleeves has a superb way of writing that absolutely flows of the page. There is a real sense of place about the books, and I thoroughly enjoyed the setting of Lindesfarne. It’s a beautiful place but within it is a real sense of menace and danger that comes from living somewhere that is cut off for a lot of the time.
The Rising Tide was a great read that was absolutely enthralling. I had forgotten what a superb author Ann Cleeves is and what a fantastic character we have in Vera!
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One of the best things about attending the Harrogate Theakstons Old Peculiar Crime Writing Festival is the amount of free books that you come away with and this year was not exception. The tricky part is working out what to read first but one of the books that found it’s way to the top of the pile was Alias Emma by Ava Glass.
I have to confess that spy thrillers are not my usual thing, I’ve never seen a James Bond and although I have read the odd spy thriller they wouldn’t be my first choice. However, this may just have changed my mind.
The Emma in Alias Emma is Emma Makepeace an undercover agent who has been infiltrating a group of activists until she is pulled off by her boss for a special assignment. That assignment is to bring in Michael who is being targeted by the Russians. The pair of them have to cross London at night avoiding cameras and assassins in any way they can. Not helped by the fact that Emma’s boss has gone underground and she no longer knows who she can trust at the agency.
I really enjoyed the slightly bonkers, slightly surreal atmosphere of this novel. The two main characters are obviously Emma and Michael, and the story follows them as they run through buildings, hijack boats and generally spend a lot of time very nearly getting caught.
Throughout the story we find out more details of Emma and her background, and gradually her reasons for being where she is come to light. Other than a slight ‘frisson’ between the two main characters there is very little in terms of other stories which was actually quite refreshing as the focus was completely on could they outrun the ‘baddies’. I really enjoyed the details of the city within this book, the underground rivers and the alleys and roads of the capital all play a big part. It felt well written, and clearly the author knows her stuff.
As I say this is not my usual type of thing but I thoroughly enjoyed suspending belief for a while and following Emma through a dark and scary London.