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Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year – new challenge

In the absence of a full TOPCWF this year, I thought I’d have a go at reading the full long list of the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year as my challenge. Unfortunately I haven’t managed to complete it ahead of the announcement of the shortlist tomorrow but it’s my challenge and my rules therefore my aim is to read them all before the announcement of the winner later in the year.

The 18 authors listed are:

  • My Sister the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite (Read – see review here)
  • Fallen Angel by Chris Brookmyre 
  • Nothing Important Happened Today by Will Carver (Read)
  • Cruel Acts by Jane Casey (Read)
  • Blue Moon by Lee Child
  • The Long Call by Ann Cleeves
  • Red Snow by Will Dean 
  • Platform Seven by Louise Doughty (Read – it’s set in Peterborough so I had to read a book from my home town)
  • Worst Case Scenario by Helen Fitzgerald (Read)
  • The Lost Man by Jane Harper (Read)
  • Joe Country by Mick Herron 
  • How the Dead Speak by Val McDermid 
  • The Chain by Adrian McKinty (Read – see review here)
  • Conviction by Denise Mina
  • Smoke and Ashes by Abir Mukherjee (Read)
  • The Whisper Man by Alex North (Read)
  • Blood & Sugar by Laura Shepherd-Robinson 
  • Blood Orange by Harriet Tyce  (Read)

Ok, well firstly that list confirms that I am very behind with writing reviews. Secondly assuming the winner is announced on the dates that the festival should have been held, voting for the winner will probably close a bit before then. That gives me around 6 weeks to read 9 books. I suppose there are some bonuses about the lock down, with the pubs closed the evenings can be given over to book reading!

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Time for the Dead by Lin Anderson – a review

When I was asked to join the blog tour for the latest novel by Lin Anderson I was convinced that I had read previous by her, and the blurb for this one was so intriguing of course I said yes. However it actually turns out I don’t think I have read any of her’s before (this is why I need to start writing down everything I read) Well I have to say if Time for the Dead is anything to go by, I will definitely be reading the rest of her novels as this was terrific.

Time for the Dead is the 14th book in the Rhona MacLeod series and this one is set on the Isle of Skye. Forensic scientist Rhona is recovering from a hideous ordeal that has left her quite traumatised. Rather than go to the rehabilitation centre that is suggested she takes herself off to the remote island, agreeing to keep in touch with her colleague DS McNab via regular skype calls. When she finds what seems to be some kind of crime scene her curiosity kicks in. A body is then found at the base of the famous cliff known as Kilt Rock and Rhona begins to suspect that a group of army medics visiting the island after a tour of Afghanistan might not be just on the island for a holiday.

Time for the Dead was a cracking read that I thoroughly enjoyed. This is one of those novels where the setting is as much a character as any of the people being written about. I loved how the remoteness of the island added to the tension of the plot. As well as following the investigation on Skye, we also have chapters set in Afghanistan where we find out more about the medics and what they went through during their time in the country. These chapters were quite harrowing at times to read and the heat of Afghanistan contrasted darkly with the cold of Skye.

Rhona MacLeod was definitely one of the best characters I’ve read recently, especially once she teemed up with Blaze, the detective dog (well search and rescue but detective dog sounds better) I found her slightly frustrating, yet also incredibly strong and resilient. I liked her interaction with both McNab who has his own investigation to contend with, and with Detective Olsen who was visiting Skye on a walking holiday.

I do feel that I would have enjoyed this book even more had I read the previous novels in the series, yet there was enough background in this to ensure I knew what was happening. I very much enjoyed my first Rhona MacLeod story and will definitely be reading more.

To find out what others thought visit the other stops on the tour. Time for the Dead in available here.

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A Good Enough Mother by Bev Thomas – BLOG TOUR

I was delighted to be invited onto the blog tour for author Bev Thomas’s debut novel A Good Enough Mother.
A Good Enough Mother follows Ruth Hartland, the Director of a trauma therapy unit in London. She is well respected psychotherapist with a fantastic career, yet her personal life is in bits. Tom her seventeen year old son has been missing for two years and has had no contact with anyone, her marriage has crumbled, and she has a difficult relationship with her daughter Tom’s twin sister. When a disturbed patient is referred she is shocked by the fact that Dan looks exactly like her missing son, and things soon start to spiral out of control as her professional boundaries start to blur.
This is a story of families told from the perspective of a mother dealing with both grief and guilt about her own part in the breakdown of the family. It was a gripping tale that I found fascinating. The author was a trained clinical psychologist and that comes across in the writing. As well as learning about Dan we also find out about other patients, they are background characters but give us a great insight into how Ruth usually works to contrast with her relationship with Dan.
This isn’t necessarily an easy read as it is emotional and sad. The quality of the writing draws you in as it weaves through to its inevitable car crash which I found quite shocking. The character of Ruth is intriguing. For someone who is supposedly at the top of the tree in her career she certainly makes some annoying mistakes, yet that is partly a consequence of her emotional state.
A Good Enough Mother is part mystery and part emotional drama both of which are utterly compelling. I would highly recommend this debut novel.

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Do Not Disturb by Claire Douglas – a review BLOG TOUR

Do Not Disturb begins when Kirsty moves with her family into a small B&B in Wales which she is going to run with her Mother. Having had a hard time in London, Kirsty sees this as the opportunity for her husband Adrian and their two girls to all have a fresh start and are delighted when guests start arriving. Unfortunately one of their first guests is Kirsty’s cousin Selina, who Kirsty hasn’t seen for years after they fell out. Whilst they start to rebuild bridges strange things start happening around the house and soon Kirsty doesn’t know who she can trust.

The idea of a family having a fresh start is always an intriguing premise to me and this book didn’t disappoint. Do Not Disturb was a great story of a family with secrets all threatening to tumble down. I liked the dynamic between all the characters, which were well written and believable. All the usual family niggles were in this novel, the husband and wife trying to get along, the children at new schools throwing tanturms. The slightly strained relationship between Kirsty and her Mother who she is reliant on for the business adds to the tension of a family already on the edge.  Kirsty is clearly hanging on by a thread trying to keep her family together and not let her daughters know what is going on. Selina on the other hand plays the victim and comes across as the struggling single mother trying to care for her daughter and make amends to how she treated Kirsty in the past.

Whilst part of the Selina story was quite obvious from the start this didn’t at all detract from my enjoyment. There were lots of twists and red herrings, and every character has their own skeletons in the closet which just added to the tension.

This was a thoroughly enjoyable story that kept me guessing all the way along and I certainly didn’t see the end coming. Thanks to Katie at Penguin House Random UK for letting me read it. Do Not Disturb is available here 

To find out what others thought of Do Not Disturb make sure you visit the other stops on the blog tour:

Do Not Disturb Twitter Card

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