I have to admit that I had actually never heard of Damien Boyd prior to receiving an email inviting me to the blog tour. However the premise of the book sounded too good to pass up so I am delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for the novel Dead Lock.
Ten year old Alesha Daniels is reported missing by her father. Her mother is a known drug user with a boyfriend that the police want to interview. However as the hunt for Alesha starts to become more desperate another girl goes missing. DI Nick Dixon is on holiday in the Lake District with his partner Jane. Alesha was known to social services and Jane is part of the safeguarding coordination unit so has to come home early. When a second girl is reported missing Nick knows the family so heads straight home and soon starts clashing with his superiors when he links the two cases.
This was a really interesting story that continually had me changing my mind as to the outcomes. Dead Lock is the 8th novel from Damien Boyd and I believe they all feature Detective Nick Dixon. However there is enough back story that you don’t feel you are missing out. For me personally all it means is that I now want to go back and read all the novels.
Although Dead Lock doesn’t start as a classic murder mystery this was a novel that sucks you in. The story is a slow burner but that isn’t a negative as this was one of those books that you realise you are still reading at 2 o’clock in the morning desperate to find out what happens. I enjoyed the characters and even though I’m new to them I soon cared about what happened and became engaged in their lives. I have to admit to there being the odd element that didn’t really fit, such as the police consulting with a hippy who has visions. However that may be me missing something from previous books.
Overall this was a good read that introduced me to a new pair of protagonists that I will definitely be following in future.
Dead Lock is available on amazon
Don’t forget to visit some of the other stops on the blog tour.
I was invited to review this via the publisher and the premise certainly sounded interesting.
Two twins were born and one was given up for adoption. Mallory stayed with her mother who struggled to make ends meet. Now her mother is dead and Mallory is working as a waitress (am I the only person who can’t say that line without wanting to burst into song – if you are under 40 don’t answer that question and go and google The Human League instead) When someone mistakes Mallory for someone else she tries to track down her twin sister. Charley was adopted into a wealthy family and is now married to Ben who works at her father’s company. Ben however has other ideas and has a proposal for Mallory that could change all their lives.
This novel was a real dilemma for me. On the one hand the writing and the story kept me enthralled until the end. I was instantly drawn into the characters of the twins and was interested to know how it would pan out. Ben is a great villain hatching a truly despicable plot in order to keep the lifestyle that he has become accustomed to. As the story progresses he gets more dastardly and the twists and turns keep coming..
However that’s why I’m in a bit of a dilemma with this review. As I’m afraid that some of the plot does require a bit of suspension of belief. Firstly someone tells Mallory that she looks the spitting image of their friend. From that she jumps immediately to the conclusion that she has a twin sister. Really? A few people over the years have told me they have seen my doppelganger in York, including people who know me extremely well. Now whilst I suppose there is a chance I have a twin sister around I think it’s probably much more likely that there is just someone who looks me.
Plus Ben as a villain was just a bit too cartoonish for me. The whole plot seemed so far fetched that it was comical rather than thrilling. However that is not to say I didn’t enjoy it, I did very much so. You just need to read it as it is, a piece of fiction with a good story!
I have to say that when I received an email with the blog tour pack for The Kindness of Strangers I was a bit surprised as I had no recollection of signing up for it. It was clearly something I did on the spur of the moment when busy. Looking at the cover of this book I wasn’t convinced it was for me as I only review crime fiction and this looked more like a romance. However I wouldn’t want to let anyone down so I started reading, and it just goes to show you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover.
The Kindness of Strangers introduces us to three main characters. There is Helen who has recently been widowed and is struggling to adjust to her new life. This is made even harder when she discovers her husband has been hiding a big secret. Martin is an army veteran suffering from PTSD and trying to put things right with his family. Then we meet Charley a young pregnant artist who is determined to do the best for her baby. All of them are brought together in a way by Audrey who volunteers in the local charity shop.
This story starts off as a nice gentle story of three struggling characters, all being helped in their own way by other people. Told in the first person, you get drawn into their lives and begin to really hope they all get the predicted nice happy ending. Until part 2 hits. Here the story switches to third person, and the pace cranks up incredibly. I am not going to say any more as I wouldn’t want to ruin it for anyone. Yet it completely blindsided me, and made it impossible to stop reading.
It was a truly shocking turnaround between part 1 and part 2 which made it all the more compelling. The characters are all cleverly written and once you finish you can look back at part 1 and realise the clues to some of the actions are there. However they are well hidden so as to make part 2 such a shock.
To an extent it was a departure from my usual type of read which normally starts with a crime and finishes with it being solved. This was very much character lead, with the crimes being secondary to an exploration of perceived kindness and human nature. However that was exactly what made it so superb. I’m really glad I signed up for this tour. I would thoroughly recommend this novel and can’t wait to read Julie Newman’s first novel Beware the Cuckoo.
Buy The Kindness of Strangers here https://amzn.to/2HzNkeA
Don’t forget to visit some of the other stops on the blog tour.
I must confess to never having read any of the previous novels by Kjell Ola Dhal. However when he was introduced to me as the Godfather of Nordic Noir I jumped at the chance to be on the blog tour for his latest novel, and I’m glad I did.
In the Ice Swimmer it is a few days before Christmas and a woman is being pursued onto a tube station in Oslo. When she is then run over by a train it is at first assumed to be a suicide. Elsewhere a body has been pulled from a frozen lake. This time it is thought that he just fell whilst drunk and the cold got him. However as Detective Lena Stigersand and her colleagues Gunnarstranda and Frølich start to investigate, they begin to realise that there are more sinister forces at work, which reach far wider than they thought.
This is a superb novel that I genuinely couldn’t put down. Set in the cold streets of a Winter Oslo the atmosphere was chilly to say the least. It’s the kind of book where when you are reading the descriptions of the place you feel the need to put an extra jumper on as the cold seeps off the page.
I really enjoyed the character of Lena. Personally I felt she was a really welcome change to a lot of the current female leads out there. Often females are portrayed as either being whisky drinking, one night stand, no feeling types, or weak and pathetic needing to be ‘rescued’ Yet she wasn’t either. She was a tough police officer who could look after herself. However she had a natural vulnerable side to her that helped in her policing. Her health scare, and her blossoming relationship with a local reporter also helped to give her a multidimensional character that worked really well. Although her taste in music was little dodgy (Does anyone really like listening to Christmas music??)
The story itself is fast paced with a huge amount of twists and turns, yet it was easy to follow. The novel is the sixth in the Oslo detective series however it works as a standalone and although I would like to know more about the detectives, that’s because I enjoyed the characters so much rather than I felt I was missing anything. One thing that I also really liked was that to me this didn’t actually feel like it was a translation. Sometimes when reading translated books I find myself having to re-read bits to make sense of them, yet this didn’t which is testament to the translator Don Bartlett.
If you like novels where the story is gripping and the writing is so good that you actually feel like you are in the place it is set then I would highly recommend The Ice Swimmer. I will definitely be reading the rest of Kjell Ola Dahl’s novels.
Find out more about the Ice Swimmer and Kjell Ola Dahl by visiting the other stops on the blog tour or buy the book here:
Last month was the York Literature Festival. I was absolutely thrilled when the festival offered to do a book collection for Bookcase for All and they were fantastic in publicising the project throughout the festival. Therefore I was very excited when I found out that the final event was going to be a Crime themed one at Waterstones.
The theme of the event was Northern Noir and it was a discussion by two authors Robert Scragg and AA Dhand. Obviously as always I cannot resist buying new books so I had a very enjoyable evening and left with two new signed books.
The first I read was What Falls Between the Cracks by Robert Scragg. It starts with a severed hand being found, which DNA identify as having belonged to Natasha. She hasn’t been seen for 30 years but nobody has reported her missing. It is down to detectives Porter and Styles to find out what has happened, and why her family didn’t track her down. Their case soon becomes even more complicated when it links with another investigation and sparks begin to fly.
This was certainly an accomplished debut novel. It starts relatively slowly which draws you in. As the pace of the investigation ramps up so does the pace of the novel. The writing flows naturally, especially the conversation elements. However there were an awful lot of characters which it was sometimes hard to keep track of in the middle, but as the story progressed things slotted into place.
I liked the characters of Jake Porter and Nick Styles. They complemented each other very well and I enjoyed the banter between them. The story itself is also good, you know early on who the ‘baddies’ are but as the story progresses as with all good crime fiction things are never quite what they seem.
Overall this was a good read and I look forward to reading more featuring Porter and Styles. It was also a fantastic closing event to a great festival.
I’m sat here typing this in front of my laptop which has a little camera hole at the top. I have to say I am rather freaked out having just finished The Intrusions by Stav Sherez. I have read Stav Sherez’s previous novels and thoroughly enjoyed them so after hearing him talk in Hull I had to break my self-imposed ban on buying any more books (that day) and picked up a copy of the The Intrusions. I’m glad I did, despite it freaking me out a little.
The Intrusions starts when a clearly distressed young woman arrives at the station claiming her friend has been abducted and that the man is going to come back for her. At first it seems to Detectives Carrigan and Miller that it is a case of someone abducting woman from a back packers hostel. However it soon becomes much more sinister. It is tricky to say more about the story without giving anything away, but it involves online stalking and webcams.
I am a big fan of this pair of detectives. Geneva Miller is a strong woman who despite her occasionally annoying habits I really like. The pairing with the slightly gruff and reckless Jack Carrigan works really well.
The plot is fascinating. It is a story that you think is going to be one thing, yet twists and turns into something else entirely. One of the things I really like about these novels is the style of writing which seems to flow effortlessly. Whilst it is clearly fiction by the end you feel like you have learnt something and somehow your thoughts on society have changed slightly. I like novels that make you think differently, and this will certainly do that. However this in no way detracts from the story which kept me gripped throughout. It was a very modern thriller that is all the more scary because of the very real premise it is based on.
This is the third novel to feature Carrigan and Miller however I think it would still work well as a standalone. If you like police procedurals with a modern day moral tale included then I would thoroughly recommend those by Stav Sherez. However you might want to disable your laptop camera before you start reading!
I was lucky enough to meet Laura Lippman at the Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival a couple of year’s ago and have always been a fan of her books. Therefore I jumped at the chance to be the final stop on the blog tour for her latest novel Sunburn.
Polly is on a family holiday to the beach when she walks off leaving behind her husband and daughter. She lands in a small town in Delaware and gets a job at the High Ho restaurant. She is soon joined by the mysterious Adam who gets a job as a cook. Whilst he is obviously following Polly for some reason, it is soon clear that he also has secrets. As they both become more drawn into each other’s worlds the lines between truth and lies get more blurred.
This was a really intriguing story. Whilst it wasn’t one you’d class as fast paced, it felt almost hypnotic in it’s telling. It has been likened to some of the classic noir tales such as those by James M. Cain and that is a great comparison. It starts off as a relatively simple premise, we are lead to believe that Polly is the kind of woman who can leave her child behind and therefore is uncaring. Yet as the story flows you realise that things are not as black and white as they seem. Adam could be Polly’s hero turning up just when she needs someone. Yet there is more to him than meets the eye and it soon becomes clear he is not necessarily the person we are first led to believe.
This was change from my usual books, but I really enjoyed it. The gentle pace made for a nice relaxing read on a train. However the twists were certainly there and even though you feel you know most of the story by the time you are halfway through there is still so much that is unknown you just have to carry on. I really liked the fact that everytime I thought I had a handle on who was good and who was bad something else became clear and thoughts changed.
It’s hard to say more without giving away the plot, but suffice to say for me the ending was perfect. I would thoroughly recommend Sunburn especially if like me you enjoy reading a strong female lead in a very compelling story.
Sunburn is available here https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sunburn-Laura-Lippman-ebook/dp/B0771X1KMX
Don’t forget to visit the other stops on the blog tour.