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.
I was a big fan of Broadchurch and the Missing, therefore when a blog tour invite came through with a book that was apparently for fans of both I could hardly say no.
Life Ruins by Danuta Kot introduces us to Becca, Jared and Kay, all of whom think that they have reached rock bottom. Becca has been thrown out of university and had to move away. She now works at a homeless kitchen. Jared is suffering both emotionally and physically after being involved in a caving incident. Kay has lost her husband and is struggling to move on. Jared is witness to a brutal attack that leaves a girl in a critical condition. Becca believes she knows who the victim is but no one will believe her, except Kay who used to foster the troubled teenager. As they meet they begin to realise that the danger could be heading for them all.
Life Ruins was a book that drew me in from the start. Told from the viewpoints of the three main characters the three plots start off as very separate apart from the odd phone call between Kay and her foster daughter. We find out slowly what happened to Jared and why he is addicted to painkillers, what happened to cause Becca to leave University and about Kay’s shattered life. These three stories individually I found fascinating. As they start to come together things I felt slowed down a little yet not to the detriment of the book. This to me wasn’t a story that was particularly shocking, instead it was the character led nature of it that drew me in.
Kay I especially felt for as she was clearly lost without her husband and stuck living a life that had been her husbands dream rather than her own. Jared was an interesting character, wracked with guilt he struggles to even get up in the morning after once being an accomplished potholer. I have to say as someone with a fear of getting stuck in a small place there was one description of a cave that I found incredibly difficult reading. A credit to the writing talent that drew such a vivid picture I had to put the book down and stick my head out of the window.
Life Ruins is set along the coast between Bridlington and Whitby so it’s a coast I’ve often travelled over the years and it was brilliantly painted in this novel. The descriptions with Kay out walking her husbands dog are moving and very atmospheric.
I thoroughly enjoyed Life Ruins by Dakota Kot and will definitely be looking up her previous novels.