Tag Archives: book review

Faceless by Vanda Symon – a review BLOG TOUR

I have been a fan of Vanda Symon since I saw her a few years ago at the Harrogate Crime Festival and have very much enjoyed her Sam Shepherd series so was looking forward to reading her latest.

Faceless is a stand alone novel set in New Zealand, that was an absolute cracker. It tells the story of three very different characters who’s lives collide with devastating consequences. Billy is a homeless artist who has to make money to survive anyway she can. Bradley is an office worker with a dark side that even he didn’t realise existed until a fateful night. Max has become Billy’s friend and despite living an unseen life now he’s having to come out of the shadows and face his demons to save a life.

Faceless was a story that I’ll be honest I was not expecting. I agreed to the tour because of the author and started reading without checking the blurb so it was certainly something unexpected, and all the better for it. What starts as a story of three separate people all in their own way completely ‘faceless’ to society, soon becomes a terrifying tale of kidnap, violence, mental health crisis and more.

The story is told mainly from the perspective of the three main characters with the chapters flitting backwards and forwards. Gradually the back story of the characters is revealed and the reasons they are in the situations they are becomes apparent. This was very much a character led story yet the plot was impeccable. The story was interesting and the writing was flawless. The face that it was told from the different viewpoints meant that you almost felt that you were learning about the characters at the same time as they were learning about themselves and what they were capable of.

This is a really difficult story to review because it was harrowing but it was absolutely compelling and a fantastic change from her usual police procedural. I would highly recommend this as one of the best books I’ve read for a while.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The Long Weekend by Gilly McMillan – a review BLOG TOUR

The Long Weekend is sadly not a description of a nice few days away, instead it’s the focus of the latest  blog tour that I was lucky enough to be invited on to.

The Long Weekend by Gilly McMillan starts with three friends arriving for a weekend away at an isolated farm house in the middle of the Moors. When they arrive they find a note that has been left telling them that one of their husbands is going to be murdered. As a storm hits they are stranded in the farm house with no phone signal and no way of contacting their families to find out what is happening. As the three friends become increasingly desperate to find out what is going on their friendship starts to fracture and the tension boils over.

The Long Weekend was a good story that I read over a weekend. What started off as a seemingly ‘run of the mill’ wild weekend story soon became something more intriguing as the stranded wives start to fear for their husbands and you start to find out about their backgrounds and their relationships.

The characters were not particularly likeable, in fact other than the daughter they are all pretty unpleasant. However I felt that this gave the story a different edge. You weren’t really rooting for any of the main characters, yet still I was compelled to see how it all played out. The story is told from multiple points of view not only the main characters but also a mysterious third voice who is clearly unhinged. There was also a third strand to the story which was that of the farmer and his wife trying to make a living against the odds which was quite moving.

I found this quite a clever twisty story. The numerous unreliable narrators did get a little confusing at the start, but it soon became clear. I have a read a few of the novels by Gilly Macmillan and have always found them to be very enjoyable and this was no exception.

To find out what others thought of The Long Weekend look out for the next stops on the blog tour.

Leave a comment

Filed under book review

Bitter Flowers by Gunnar Staaleson – a review

I enjoy a good ‘ScandiNoir’ and have read and enjoyed a number of Gunnar Staaleson previous novels from his impressive back catalogue therefore I was lucky to get a place on the Orenda blog tour for his latest novel Bitter Flowers.

Bitter Flowers sees main character PI Varg Veum returning to work after a stint in rehab. His first job is offered to him by his physio Lisbeth. It should be a simple case of house sitting but on his arrival at the house he is met with a dead body in the swimming pool, and Lisbeth goes missing. As Varg starts to investigate he finds a tangled web of lies involving shocking environmental crimes, big business and protestors. It’s not long before there are links to the disappearance of a little girl eight years ago who was never found and Varg is thrown headlong into his most challenging case yet.

Bitter Flowers was another great novel from prolific Norwegian author Gunnar Staaleson that I really enjoyed. The story is just as twisty as you would expect from Gunnar with some great characters that you’ll both love and hate.

Although this is part of a series the books most definitely work as stand alone novels and I have not read them in any order (I believe this is the first time that Bitter Flowers has been translated into English) One of the things I like about these is that the life of Varg is not the central element of the book. The focus of the story is the mystery of the dead and missing, with just enough of Varg’s life to make him an interesting character but not take over.

This story was set in the early 80’s which I’ll admit to not really realising at first but as soon as I worked that out things started to click into place. I enjoy stories set in different cultures and the fact this was set over twenty years ago in Norway gave it an added dimension.

I found Bitter Flowers a good read that was a slow burner but one that will draw you in and keep you guessing until the end!

To find out what others thought of Bitter Flowers visit the other stops on the blog tour.

Leave a comment

Filed under book review, crime fiction

Demon by Matt Wesolowski – a review BLOG TOUR

I am a huge fan of the Six Stories series by Matt Wesolowski so was pleased to be invited onto the blog tour for his latest novel – Demon.

Demon sees podcaster Scott King investigating the murder of 12 year old Sidney Parsons, who in 1995 was killed by 2 school friends. The ‘Demonic Duo’ were released from prison under new identities but refused to ever give any reason or explanation for what had happened on that terrible night. Ever since then the quiet village has been plagued with stories of superstition and supernatural behaviour. As Scott begins to investigate the circumstances surrounding the crime he soon realises that this is an investigation that is leading him towards danger.

Demon was another fantastic read from Matt Wesolowski. As with all this series, the book follows the traditional podcast structure and so is split into six ‘episodes’. Each episode focusses on the interview of one central character and their take on the so called Demonic Duo. I really enjoy this style of writing. The six episode structure gives it a unique feel, and I find it really does move the story along easily.

One of the clever things about this series is the mix of horror and crime. It can be a tricky balance to pull off but it’s a balance that Matt Wesolowski manages expertly. Throughout the story the demons are at the forefront, but the crime element is still perfectly executed. The sense of foreboding created by the writing is palpable, with menace and fear pouring off the page. Yet at it’s heart this is not a supernatural story but an investigation into human behaviour and the consequences of actions and reactions.

There are a range of characters within this story and they all have their flaws yet the human elements also come across to the reader with all of them having secrets and guilt that influences the way they act. Another big part of this novel is the setting. Demon is set in a small fictional village called Ussalthwaite. This is a place filled with folklore and stories and based in North York Moors which give it a bleakness that adds to the menace bubbling under the surface.

I think this is one of the best series I have read for a long time and each novel feels like it’s just getting better. Whilst this would work as a stand alone, I would recommend starting at the beginning (Review of the second in the series Hydra is here) and enjoying them all.

I thoroughly enjoyed this story and would recommend the whole series to anyone who hasn’t yet read them.

Don’t forget to find out what others on the tour thought of the book:

Leave a comment

Filed under book review