A big thanks to Damp Pebbles for inviting me onto the blog tour for Last Place You Look which is a new police procedural series by Louisa Scarr.
Last Place You Look introduces us to DS Robin Butler and his new partner DC Freya West. Jonathan Miller is found dead in his hotel room, just four days after attending his best friends birthday party. It is assumed that it was a solitary sex act gone wrong as Butler and West head off to go and inform the widow. Unfortunately their first assignment doesn’t get off to a great start as Butler sees West acting like it’s her first day on the job. Unbeknownst to Butler, West was having an affair with the dead man. She is certain that he wouldn’t have died in the way he did, and is determined to find out the truth. However things soon start to get even more complicated as the relationship between Butler and West is tested more than they could have imagined and secrets start to be unveiled.
I like a police procedural novel and this one was no exception. This was an intriguing tale that I found drew me in from the start. You know that the death is going to be more complicated that it first seems as any book that starts with a swingers party isn’t going to end up heading to St Mary’s Mead. I did think the actual police procedure part was almost secondary to the story, there weren’t great long paragraphs recounting minute details regarding the investigation, but that wasn’t a bad thing. The dialogue between the characters swept the story along, and with it all being written in the third person you get to know inside all the characters minds.
Despite the fact that both the main characters are hiding big (and career changing) secrets I still actually liked them both. Of course they are flawed, but certainly with Robin Butler you begin to see why he is the way he is as we find out more about his background and his family. Equally with Freya West, her decision making was a bit flawed in my eyes but I still thought she was a good character.
The story had a relatively slow start but I found myself quickly getting caught up in the moment and I raced through to the end. This was a good start to a series and I look forward to reading more in this series.
To find out what others thought of Last Place You Look head over to the other stops on the blog tour:
Back in the days of old when we had face to face events I was lucky enough to attend the Antipodean Noir session at the Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival 2019 and heard Vanda Symon speak. I’ve been a big fan ever since and therefore was really excited to be invited onto the blog tour for her latest novel Bound, and it certainly didn’t disappoint.
Bound begins when a businessman is murdered in his home while his wife is bound and gagged, and forced to watch her husband die. Detective Sam Shephard and her team start investigating the case, and soon discover that the victim had links with some dubious characters.
The case seems cut and dried, but Sam has other ideas and in need a distraction from her personal life she launches her own investigation. When another murder throws the official case into chaos, it’s up to Sam to prove that the killer is someone no one could ever suspect.
This is the 4th in the series starring Detective Sam Shephard and I would go so far as to say that Sam is one of my most favourite Detective’s of the moment. She’s funny, confident and sassy, yet believable. In this book we see a more vulnerable side of her as she deals with her father’s cancer diagnosis, as well as within her relationship with partner Paul.
The story itself is a great twisty read that starts down one path and then keeps throwing you down other routes as it picks up pace to the final reveal. I liked the short chapters and each one kept me wanting to just read one more. Although the story itself focusses on some rather somber subjects there are light hearted moments and an element of comedy that really helps lift it throughout.
Set in New Zealand you get a real sense of the place, and I enjoyed learning about the city of Dunedin through the descriptions flawlessly written in the story. Yes the real focus throughout is Sam and how she navigates her way through her personally and professional life. Although this is the fourth in the series it could be read as a standalone, but I would recommend reading the others first as you’ll get to know Sam so much better and appreciate how she seems to have matured in this novel.
I would definitely recommend Bound and do hope that this isn’t the last in the series.
Don’t forget to visit the other stops on the Blog Tour to find out what they thought of Bound.
You can also revisit some of the highlights of the TOPCWF including Antipodean Noir here:
I am a big fan of Before I Go To Sleep by SJ Watson, therefore I was really pleased to get the chance to read his latest novel, Final Cut.
Final Cut is set in the fictional town of Blackwood Bay, a formally busy seaside town now struggling to survive in a world of cheap package holidays. Alex is a film maker who grew up in the Bay and is commissioned to make a ‘fly on the wall’ style documentary about the town. She is not keen to revisit the place she grew up in and knows that something bad happened to her, yet she has no memory of the events. When a young girl goes missing the lives of the villagers start to unravel as secrets start to emerge.
I really enjoyed this novel. Final Cut is an interesting premise starting with the idea that everyone nowadays is a filmmaker, as people in the village are being encouraged to film themselves and then upload it to a website. It was not what I would call fast paced, it is very character led and there is a lot of conversation, but that for me was what made it interesting. It felt a very compelling read with a sense of menace running through.
The writing is excellent and conjours up some vivid pictures of a quaint but run down seaside town. The book follows a ‘now and then’ storyline as we find out what happened to Alex after she left the town, and also the village as it is now. I found both plots to be interesting which is often not the case in dual narratives where I often find myself skipping through one storyline fast to get back to the more interesting one. The story itself is good although it did go a little flat in the middle, but I suspect that was mainly because I was so keen to find out what was going on that I got a bit frustrated with no one talking. I like the unreliable narrator as a hook, and you can’t get much more unreliable than someone who has little memory of her past.
Overall I very much enjoyed Final Cut. To find out what others on the tour thought of it visit the other stops on the blog tour.
I have read a couple of previous Katerina Diamond’s books and so was pleased to be invited to join the blog tour for her latest novel Truth or Die.
Truth Or Die starts with the death of a teenager after falling from a building. This is followed quickly by the body of a professor being found in his private office having been brutally murdered. DS Imogen Grey and DS Adrian Miles are sent to Exeter University to investigate as this body is only the first of many. Someone is playing a deadly game and Miles gets caught up in it in a very personal way. As the body count rises the past comes back to haunt the detectives.
I have to say that it wasn’t until I started reading this that I realised I had obviously read the novels out of order. This was actually the 5th in the series, yet it did work as a standalone. As with most series I think you get the most out of them if you read them in order but then this is definitely a series that you should want to read from the start.
The dynamic between Grey and Miles is interesting and this slow burn of a relationship is at the centre of the narrative. They are both characters who have had issues in the past and struggle to trust other people which is part of what draws them together. I enjoyed the interaction with the characters and felt that this was a couple I want to see work out.
The actual mystery part of the story was also good, and the reasons behind the murders was quite disturbing. However I did feel that it lacked a bit of motive at the end and seemed a bit of a rushed ending to what was a good story. I enjoy a bit of grisly murder and this didn’t disappoint with the crimes and descriptions. We also see the return of a previous character and for me that really ramped up the tension as they are one of those characters whose calm menace really jumps off the page. This is definitely as it says on the cover ‘not for the faint hearted’ and I think it shows the quality of the writing that you flit between reading about gruesome murder and caring about characters without blinking.
I would recommend Katerina Diamond’s novels if you like a good crime thriller with a twist, but I would suggest starting at the beginning of the series in order to enjoy them at their best.
Truth or Die is out now, get your copy here. To find out what others thought of Truth or Die don’t forget to visit the other stops on the tour.