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Rogue Killer by Leigh Russell – BLOG TOUR

I am a big fan of writer Leigh Russell and so I jumped at the chance to read her latest novel Rogue Killer. In Rogue Killer we again meet up with Detective Geraldine Steel. She is still living in York and starts to investigate when a man is killed, and suspicion falls on a gang of opportune muggers. Geraldine Steel is the only one who thinks this is work of a murderer. When two more victims are found, the muggers are tracked down. However, it soon becomes clear that it isn’t them, and that a killer is on the loose. One who seemingly believes that he is invincible despite there being DNA found. Yet he hadn’t banked on the tenacity of Geraldine.

Rogue Killer is an interesting story that kept me hooked throughout. I felt the story was very clever, and especially enjoyed the setting in York. This is one of those stories that walks you through the streets of the city it is set in and as a York dweller myself you can imagine the routes taken.

Although the crimes are pretty gruesome, this isn’t a graphic novel with most of the violence happening off the page which I think can often make things even more chilling. There were also chapters from the killers point of view, which personally I always really enjoy, although I suppose enjoy isn’t really the right word they were rather disturbing.

Although this is the latest in a long series it can still be read as a standalone. There were plenty of background references given, and you can soon work out the relationships between Geraldine and her two very different sisters and the tension between Geraldine and her now superior officer Ian. One of the things I really like about Leigh Russell’s books is the attention given to somewhat peripheral characters, in this case the gang of muggers. The interaction between the three was interesting and showed a sense of vulnerability alongside the arrogance and unpleasantness that makes you think they deserve whatever they get. Of course the standout character is Geraldine, and despite her being a little annoying at times when she can be a bit slow on the uptake, she is a character that on the whole I like.

I very much enjoyed this story and would recommend Leigh Russell’s series to anyone who likes a gritty thriller.

To find out more about Rogue Killer pop over to the other spots on the Blog Tour tomorrow is the turn of Short Book and Scribes.

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His Perfect Wife by Natasha Bell – a review BLOG TOUR

His Perfect Wife follows artist Alex who lives a perfect life with her husband Marc and their two children in York. When she goes missing, at first it’s thought to be an abduction, until her clothing and belongings are found near the riverbank and the police think it’s a murder case. However, Alex hasn’t died, she is being kept against her will far away from her family. Marc is determined to find out what has happened to his wife, even though it means uncovering secrets proving he didn’t really know her at all.

Told from the point of view of Alex, the story switches backwards and forwards between the past and present. Alex imagines the scenes at home after she has gone, alongside replaying how her and Marc met and built their life together. We also find out about Alex’s previous and rather exciting life as a performance artist in New York via letters from her former roommate. These letters show a slightly different side of our perfect wife, who gave up a glamourous career to be with the man she loved.

This was an interesting take on the domestic set novel that I really enjoyed. Clearly you know that the perfect marriage portrayed at the start is going to start tumbling down as soon as Marc starts investigating. Yet the way this pans out led to an ending I did not see coming and actually made me re-read some chapters to see what I had missed.

The character of Alex is frankly annoying from the start which did make the reading a little uncomfortable at times as you know you should feel sorry for her but it’s a struggle. Yet despite not feeling sorry for her the story kept me gripped. I was a little disappointed that the setting of York didn’t make more of an appearance. Although you knew it was set in the city as it said so, it could have really been in any city with a river, but that is probably because I am a bit biased.

I’m not sure how true to life this is, without wishing to give away any spoilers there are certain parts that just would not be possible. Yet as I always say with fiction you can get away with stretching boundaries somewhat. Overall it was an easy enjoyable story that I thought had a clever twist.

Thanks to Penguin Random house for my copy of His Perfect Wife. Available here.

Don’t forget to visit the other stops on the blog tour to find out more.

 

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Clarissa’s Warning by Isobel Blackthorn – a review

As regular readers will know I’m not normally a fan of a supernatural novel, preferring a sensible conclusion to my mysteries. However I don’t mind a ghost story, if it’s clearly labelled as such therefore when I received an email from the lovely Rachel I was intrigued.

Clarissa’s Warning begins with lottery winner Claire travelling to Fuerteventura  where she has bought a run-down old house that she wants to restore to its former beauty. Despite the warnings from her psychic Aunt Clarissa that someone is going to harm her, she refuses to be persuaded against her dream. However when Clarissa arrives she soon realises that things are not all what they seem. She begins to doubt herself, especially when not only are local builders refusing to work on the project but weird and scary things start happening around the site. Claire befriends the local café owner and is determined to complete her project despite there clearly being someone or something wanting to stop her.

This was a fun and easy read. It’s not particularly a scary book, and there is nothing that will make you jump. However there is an underlying menace throughout the story that gradually builds up as the tale progresses and Claire becomes in more and more danger.  Whilst the characters themselves are not that memorable if I’m honest, I did enjoy reading about them and I liked Claire’s interaction with some of the local people and the builders. You got a sense of how isolating it would be to move to a strange country all on your own and try to complete a project like this.

Within the novel I especially liked the way the story mixed up descriptions of the island with some history and some supernatural events yet kept things grounded with the detailed paragraphs about the restoration work. By the end you felt as invested in wanting it all to work as Claire did.

All in all this was an easy and enjoyable story that almost needs a category of its own of ‘Cosy Ghost Stories to read by the fire on a cold winters night’ Even if the story doesn’t make you jump the descriptions of the Island will certainly warm you up!

Purchase Link – viewbook.at/ClarissaWarning

Author Bio –  Isobel Blackthorn is a prolific novelist of brilliant, original fiction across a range of genres, including dark psychological thrillers, gripping mystery novels, captivating travel fiction, and hilarious dark satire. Isobel holds a PhD in Western Esotericism and carries a lifelong passion for the Canary Islands, Spain. A Londoner originally, Isobel currently lives near Melbourne, Australia, with her little white cat.

Social Media Links – https://www.facebook.com/Lovesick.Isobel.Blackthorn/

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5768657.Isobel_Blackthorn

@IBlackthorn

 

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I’ve Got My Eyes On You by Mary Higgins Clark – a review

As a young girl (obviously only a few years ago) one of the first mystery writers I ever picked up was Mary Higgins Clark. Therefore I was very excited to be offered the chance to read a copy of her latest novel I’ve Got My Eyes On You’

The story starts with the body of Kerry being found in her parent’s swimming pool. Her parent’s had been away and she had thrown a party but despite the house being packed with people no one saw anything. Her boyfriend is the main suspect to start with, as they were known to have a pretty argumentative relationship. However there are other suspects including the boy next door who was upset that he didn’t get invited to the party and the mysterious big guy that was spotted by the neighbour. Kerry’s sister has just returned after travelling to work as a guidance counsellor at her sister’s old school and as well as dealing with her own grief she has to help her sister’s friends deal with theirs.

This was a great quick read that I thoroughly enjoyed. I must confess it wasn’t the most difficult mystery to solve, it was pretty obvious early on what the outcome might be. However that at no point spoils the story. The key to Mary Higgins Clark longevity is her characterisation and writing style. Short chapters make it an easy read that keeps you doing the classic just one more chapter then I’ll put the book down until early morning. The characters are all well rounded and there is a good mix of likeable and annoying ones. Of course as well as the mystery there is also a romance, and that just adds to the intrigue in the book. 

As with all her novels this isn’t gruesome graphic novel, it is a story of a murder and of why it happened. I would recommend this if you want an easy fast yet satisfying read.

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The Bone Keeper by Luca Veste – a review

I am lucky enough to read many debut novelists which means I often get hooked on a series from the beginning. However the downside of having so many debut authors to read of course, is that it sometimes means that an authors later novels get pushed down the ever increasing ‘want to read’ pile in favour of debuts. This is what happened with Luca Veste. I read both the first two in the excellent Murphy and Rossi series and I have book three ‘Bloodstream’ and four ‘Then She Was Gone’ on the pile. Therefore when I realised that the new one by Luca Veste was available on netgalley and was a standalone story I jumped at the chance to read it.

luca vesteThe Bone Keeper starts with 4 children playing in the woods talking about the local mythical killer – ‘The Bone Keeper’ . The Bone Keeper steals children, slices them up and as you can probably guess, hangs onto the bones. The 4 children dare each other to walk through the tunnel where the Bone Keeper lives but only three of them come out the other side. Forward twenty years and a woman is found wandering round the streets covered in slash marks and saying that the bone keeper did it. DC Louise Henderson starts to investigate whilst dealing with her own issues and trying not to let herself believe that the Bone Keeper might actually be real.

This was a superb book that kept me absolutely engrossed on a recent trip up to Edinburgh. Everyone can recall stories from when they were young of the bogeyman in the woods, with every different place having a slight twist in the tale meaning they all have some personal connection. Therefore a tale about one of these stories coming to life is always going to be a page turner.

The Bone Keeper is set in Liverpool and this is a place that is as much a part of the book as the story itself. I can’t say I was particularly fond of the central character Louise, in fact I found her rather insipid, with very little that actually made me care about her at all. I did however like her partner Shipley, and the way the characters interacted.  However the story is the element that really makes this novel stand out. In parts this crossed to being more of a horror story rather than a simple crime story which I really enjoyed. It takes real skill to write a novel that can scare whilst being realistic.

Whilst for fans of the Murphy and Rossi series this is a bit of a departure I would definitely recommend it if you like fiction that scares.

The Bone Keeper by Luca Veste is available on amazon

 

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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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After He Died by Michael J. Malone – a review BLOG TOUR

I am on a role recently with excellent books and my next one was no exception. After He Died by Michael J. Malone.

After He Died starts as you might expect from the title with a death. Thomas Gadd the husband of Paula has died of a heart attack. Paula had seemingly been leading a rather charmed life until the death of her son in a car accident a few years previously and now the death of her husband who she adored. Whilst at the funeral a young woman called Cara comes up to Paula and slips a note in her pocket telling her that her husband is not the man she thought he was. Paula eventually agrees to meet up with the woman to find out what she means. This meeting leads to Paula soon realising she may not have known her husband of thirty years as well as she thought she did and that both her and Cara might be in more danger than she had ever known.

After He Died was an intriguing story that kept me guessing to the end. At first it is easy to assume that Thomas Gadd has another family which is often how this kind of story pans out, but not in this case. The plot is a twisty and clever weaving of hidden facts and characters that drag you along until the end. I liked the two main female characters of Paula and Cara although at some times their actions were a little frustrating. The male characters namely Thomas’ two brothers were very much chalk and cheese and balanced each other out nicely, as well as giving an added dimension to the story outside the marriage of Paula and Thomas.

The writing style is quite poetic (not surprisingly given that Michael J Malone is a poet as well as a novelist) and it has a flow that is propelled along by the short snappy chapters.  There is quite a lot of complicated financial mystery within this story, which gives it an added element taking it to a different place than just your normal domestic noir. One really stand out element of this book is the setting. The story takes place in Glasgow and the surrounding area, with some fantastic descriptions of places that make you want to visit. Occasionally there were Scottish phrases and words among the paragraphs yet this didn’t distract from the story even for a non-Scottish speaker like me, it just added to the charm and intrigue.

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, and would recommend if you like your fiction with strong characters and great writing.

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