Tag Archives: crime fiction

The Mother’s by Sarah J Naughton – a review

I find Christmas an odd break. I had two weeks off work, so therefore you’d think I’d have loads of time, yet it always disappears in a flash of seeing people, drinking and the constant round of ‘how was Christmas, what are you doing for new year’. Therefore although I’ve managed to fit in a bit of reading my reviewing has really gone done the pan. Despite being someone who refuses to make New Year’s resolutions, if I was going to make one it would be to review more in 2020. So I am kicking off 2020 with a great novel, The Mother’s by Sarah J Naughton.

The MothersI have had this on my TBR pile for ages, however to be honest the idea of four mothers in a novel put me off picking it up. I assumed it would be a lot of women moaning on about children and motherhood and how tired they are etc. However I couldn’t have been more wrong. This was a story of four women who had met because they were pregnant at the same time, and became friends. Skip to four years later and the friendship is still growing strong, until one of the husbands goes missing. The police are stumped as to where he has gone, and talking to the friends throws up more questions than answers. Are they really such good friends? Would they keep each others secrets?

I read this quickly in a couple of sittings as I found it really drew me in. The characters were an odd bunch of people. You knew that on paper they didn’t work as friends, but then you also know in real life often the most unlikely people form strong bonds for a ariety of reasons. I enjoyed the style of writing that seamlessly switched between then and now as the secrets were gradually unfolded.

I enjoyed all the characters, although I wasn’t too keen on the detective Iona. She didn’t seem very well rounded to me, and spent more time worrying about her love life than actually focusing on the crime. However that is only a minor criticism and actually the police investigation is a very small part of this story. They mystery unravels through the viewpoints of the women, and I found myself frequently changing my mind as to what was happening.

This was a very accomplished debut novel that I would very much recommend. The Mother’s is available on amazon

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The Recovery of Rose Gold by Stephanie Wrobel – a review

I am a huge fan of reading as you know, and I do read a lot (if not as much as I would like) Therefore whilst I read some fantastic books, and the last couple I’ve read have been superb, it’s not often that something really sticks out as unusual. This, however, was exactly the case with The Recovery of Rose Gold, by Stephanie Wrobel.

The Recovery of Rose Gold was one that I was given at last years festival and had been on my shelf for a while. It’s a proof copy so the blurb was sparse:

‘Once upon a time, they said, a wicked Mother gave birth to a Daughter’

The Recovery of Rose Gold is the story of a relationship between a Mother and Daughter. It starts with the release of Patty, the Mother. On the first page we find out she has been convicted of poisoning her daughter for years whilst she was a child. Rose Gold is her daughter and it is her testimony that sent Patty to prison. Now Patty is out and she wants to move back in with Rose Gold to help her care for her new grandson and to put the past behind them.

Well it is no exaggeration to say that this was truly a book that I could not put down once I had started. Luckily it was a weekend so other plans went out of the window.  This is a dark, and disturbing tale which completely drew me in. Yet despite the story matter, the writing gives it a light feel that almost has a humerous edge. The story is told from just two viewpoints – Patty and Rose Gold, Patty is the voice of the current day. Rose Gold’s story flits back to fill in the details of her life whilst Patty was in prison.

Throughout the book you have complete sympathy for Rose Gold as she suffered horrendously at the hands of her clearly disturbed mother. The after effects are obviously still being felt as Rose Gold struggles with normal relationships and life. Patty is also interesting as you end up with a degree of sympathy for her too as she also did not have a great upbringing.

This is a story of obsession and love and how the lines between the two are often blurred, in this case with terrible consequences. This is one of the best books I have read for a while and I’m sure will be huge hit next year. If you like unreliable narrators and stories that will keep you gripped from start to finish then I cannot recommend this highly enough. Unfortunately it isn’t available until March 2020 but it is definitely worth the wait!

You can pre-order your copy here

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The Sixth Wicked Child by JD Barker – a review

I read the Fourth Monkey by JD Barker a while ago and loved it. I then got sent the Fifth to Die which sat on my bookshelf for a while forgotten, until the Sixth Wicked Child landed loudly through the letterbox. The problem with these novels is that they are pretty hefty tomes. As someone who does most of my reading whilst travelling, large books tend to get overlooked in favour of the handy kindle type. So on my recent week off I decided to treat myself by reading Fifth to Die, swiftly followed by Sixth Wicked Child, and what a treat!

6thThe Sixth Wicked Child is the final novel in the 4MK trilogy. The story takes off immediately following Fifth to Die, the hospital is in lock down due to the threat of a virus outbreak, and Detective Sam Porter is on the run. The body count is increasing, and the only link is the words ‘Father Forgive me’ written near them.  Porter is still hoping that he can catch Anson Bishop, the main suspect in the killings. Yet when Bishop hands himself in Porter realises that actually in this deadly game of cat and mouse he is not necessarily the cat.

The Sixth Wicked Child is a novel I literally couldn’t put down (luckily I was on holiday!) This is definitely a story where you need to have read the first two before you get to the final one, but they are a treat in themselves. I have thoroughly enjoyed all three of these novels and honestly feel that they are one of the best series I have read for a long time. The crimes are gruesome but the pace of the novels meant that you don’t dwell on that bit. The characters are all well rounded, yet the twists just keep coming, and the final reveal is just not something I saw coming at all.

All the stories are told with the inclusion of diary entries, none of which I  have been keen on. Certainly in the Sixth Wicked Child I didn’t feel they worked as diary entries, to me personally they didn’t sound like they were actually written like someone would write a diary. However forget the diary part and read them as ‘flashbacks’ and they add an extra layer to the story.

This is one of those stories where you feel you get to know the characters and can separate good from bad. Then something happens and suddenly you feel like you don’t know who to trust after all. Although this is meant to be a review of The Sixth Wicked Child it is impossible to review it as a stand alone. I am actually really pleased that I had waited to read Fifth to Die because it meant that when I got to the end of it I didn’t have to wait to start the next one. These are a gripping, gruesome, superb novels that I would highly recommend. Just beware that once you start you won’t to stop.

The Sixth Child is available here.

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Dead Flowers by Nicola Monaghan – Blog Tour

I was delighted to be invited onto the blog tour for Dead Flowers by Nicola Monaghan and am pleased to be able to share this extract to whet your appetite.

Set in Nottingham, Dead Flowers follows Dr Sian Love as she moves into a new house. After ten years on the police force as a detective she is no stranger to murder victims. However when she find human remains in her new home, having left the force behind her things are different. This time it’s personal…

Dead Flowers was shortlisted for the 2019 Little Brown, UEA Crime Writing Award and Nicola Monaghan has previous won the Betty Trask Award, the Authors’ Club Best First Novel Prize and the Waverton Good Read. I for one can’t wait to read this!

EXTRACT FROM DEAD FLOWERS BY NICOLA MONAGHAN

Cellar

Narrow Marsh, Nottingham

Sian came down the steep steps past the Contemporary art gallery, her eyes tracing the Nottingham lace patterns in its concrete walls. She could feel the history around her; Narrow Marsh, as it used to be, full of crime and squalor. She felt separated from the slums and violence by the finest membrane, like if she pushed hard enough she could burst through and find herself years back in time.

The sign from the old Loggerheads pub was rattling in the wind, making a crashing sound against its frame. Sian checked up and down the street for any signs of trouble but could see nothing except leaves being blown and buffeted against the pavement. She could hear Elvis, barking and howling the other side of the door. He wasn’t usually that bothered when she went out for a couple of hours but the combination of the high winds and being somewhere new were probably to blame. She dug into her bag to get her keys and his barking got more urgent. ‘It’s just me, you silly sod,’ she said. She opened the door and he came bounding over, doing the dance of love he did whenever she came home, nuzzling her, then rocking from back to front paws. She leaned down to gives the German Shepperd a proper scratch behind the ears and let him lick her nose, then locked and bolted the front door, shutting out Narrow Marsh and the dark.

Elvis ran though the hallway to the back door. Sian grabbed the key from a hook on the wall; he was trying to force the door open before she could unlock it. Finally, he burst outside and jumped into the air, barking at the night sky. The house felt damp and chilly so Sian went into the kitchen and tuned the heating on. She wasn’t sleepy enough for bed. She rooted through the boxes searching for something to drink, and glasses. She could only find old bottle of amaretto and the plastic beakers from the bathroom. She poured herself a drink and slipped through to the living room, collapsing on the sofa and kicking off her shoes.

Sitting back, Sian tried to relax. She took a sip from her drink. It had a thickness and a rich, high taste. She couldn’t shake the idea that part of the slick flavour was old toothpaste. She heard Elvis, scratching at the cellar door again. She ignored him for as long as she could. Then he popped his head into the room and stared at her. ‘Fine,’ she said, putting down her drink and walking back through to the hall. She closed and locked the back door. ‘I can see I’m not going to get any peace here. Let’s go and find out what’s down there’

Sian moved her toolbox and opened the cellar door, flicking on the light switch. There was a bright flash below and then darkness as the bulb blew. ‘How’s that for a sign,’ she muttered, with a nervous laugh. She tilted the door back and reached into her toolbox, finding a torch. Then she picked up the box in case she needed tools when she got down there. Elvis scratched at the door again then looked up at her expectantly. ‘You know, boy, the rule is never go down into he cellar.’ She smiled at her own joke. And then she pushed open the door and he barged past her and rushed down the stairs, barking. Sian followed him, shinning the torch ahead of her. She tripped slightly as she misjudged the last step then righted herself. At the bottom of the stairs there was a high, sweet smell, reminiscent of old bins. She put the toolbox down on the floor. Elvis was scratching at the far wall and turned towards her, barking. He started to whimper and then pace the floor in a way she’d never seen him do before.

Sian felt the temperature of the room drop. She knew this was the effect of adrenaline on her body but the feeling stuck home, nonetheless. Because Elvis wasn’t any old retired police dog. He was a cadaver dog. Elvis had been trained to find the dead.

Dead Flowers was released on the 5th September and is available here

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Truth or Die by Katerina Diamond – a review 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Lady in the Lake by Laura Lippman – a review BLOG TOUR

I have read and enjoyed many of Laura Lippman’s novels therefore it is always a thrill to receive an email inviting me onto a blog tour for her latest one and I’m delighted to be closing this tour with my thought’s on Lady in the Lake.

The Lady in the Lake is set in Baltimore in the 60’s and tells the story of Maddie. Having married young she has decided that she wants more for herself and so has left her husband and teenage son to try and build a new life. She gets a job at the local paper helping out with the problems page. However she is keen to move up the ladder, and therefore when she discovers the body of a missing girl she thinks that finding out what happened to Cleo could be the story she needs.

Like all Laura Lippman’s novels this was a good story. I enjoyed the historical element of it and thought that it painted a good picture of a country that was changing. The novel touches on race, equality, religion, all blended into a mystery that was intriguing.

The story is mainly told from the perspective of Maddie, however between each chapter from her there is also a chapter from someone else’s point of view. I must confess that some of these I found a bit unnecessary. I appreciate that it was a way of moving the story on and it was interesting in parts as it did show how things that Maddie did affected other people, yet some of them were just a little annoying as I wanted to get back to the story.

The Lady in the Lake is almost two different stories in one. There is the mystery element surrounding Cleo’s death and why she was left in a fountain (not a lake like the title, still not sure why that is) Then there is the story of Maddie and her trying to find herself. Whilst she wasn’t the most likeable character I did feel for her and I like to see a woman making courageous choices.

As is often the case with Laura Lippman’s writing this was a slow burner of a story but the atmosphere that is created keeps you hooked. I would recommend this especially if you enjoy reading novels set during this period of history.

Thanks to Faber and Faber for my copy. To find out what others thought of this visit the other stops on the blog tour.

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Life Ruins by Danuta Kot – a review Blog Tour

I waLife Ruins Cover (1)s 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.
Life Ruins by Dakota Kot is available on amazon 
Thanks to Anne Cater and Simon Schauster UK for my copy.

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