Tag Archives: crime fiction

The Monster’s Daughter by Michelle Pretorius

I was sent a copy of this by the publishers Melville House, and I agreed to review it having already said that historical fiction isn’t really my thing. This however sounded interesting as it was described as a historical thriller set in South Africa which is a country that has always intrigued me.

The Monster’s Daughter is the debut novel by Michelle Pretorius. The novel is a story in three parts. It’s a thriller, a historical novel and also a bit science fiction. It starts in 2010 when we are introduced to Alet, a disgraced police constable who has been reassigned to the small town of Unie. Here she discovers the body of a woman burned beyond all recognition. Her investigations soon lead her to believe there is a serial killer stalking women.  Alongside this murder mystery we are treated to a potted history of the country’s violent past, starting in 1901 at the height of the Boer war. Linking these two elements are Tessa and Benjamin who were in a British concentration camp where a doctor was conducting some grim experiments.  

This was not an easy read. There were a lot of characters to keep track of, and the jumping around of the timelines meant that it was sometimes hard to keep up with the story. However considering it included both science fiction and historical elements, two things I’m not a huge fan of in my crime novels, this was completely worth the effort.

This was a superb novel. The writing was incredibly evocative and upsetting at times. I had a very basic knowledge of South African history and found this part of the novel absolutely fascinating. The violence and hatred jumped out of the page as we travelled from the Boer War, through Apartheid to the present day. The landscape and the heat, alongside the tensions of the time were evident, all the while with the back drop of a modern day murder investigation.

The characters themselves, whilst perfectly well rounded, for me did come secondary to the historical elements. The story was interesting and I think just the modern day part on its own would have been a decent story, yet the rest of elements were really what made this an absolute stand out book.

Sometimes it is good to read something out of your usual type and The Monster’s Daughter was definitely one of those times.

 

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Little Sister by Isabel Ashdown – a review

I went along to a few of the fringe events at this year’s festival, one of which was a writing masterclass which was fascinating. Whilst there I picked up a copy of a couple of Isabel’s novels and as Little Sister was on the top of the pile when I got home this was the first of my new books I read and I’m glad I did.

Little Sister is set on the Isle of Wight. Jess and Emily are sisters who were estranged when young, but recently reconciled. Emily is married to James and she brought up his daughter Chloe as her own. Chloe was delighted when she became an older half sister to Daisy. However now Daisy has gone missing, taken from the family home on New Year’s Eve whilst Jess was supposedly looking after her. The story follows the grief and fear within the family as they struggle to deal with their missing child. We also gradually find out more of the relationship between Emily and Jess and what happened all those years ago.

This was a great quick read that I thoroughly enjoyed. The cast of characters was quite small which gave the story a claustrophobic feel which is further compounded by the setting on the Island. The story itself is a little bit slow to start but I liked that as it felt the tension was being built up quite realistically. The novel is mainly told from the viewpoints of Emily and Daisy. This means that you are forever questioning who is right and who is wrong, every time you think you know what is happening another twist was thrown at you.

I would thoroughly recommend this novel. It is a great summer read, especially if like me you have ever spent a childhood holiday on the Isle of Wight.

 

 

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Marked for life – Q and A with Emelie Schepp BLOG TOUR

Today I’m delighted to welcome Emelie Schepp to acrimereadersblog. I was lucky enough to receive a copy of Emelie’s great new novel Marked for Life. This is the first in a trilogy set in Sweden featuring public prosecuter Jana Berzelius.

Thanks for joining me Emelie, I thought Marked for life was a great novel dealing with some very harrowing events. What was the inspiration behind Marked for Life?

Thinking of a good story it is not always about how a victim was murdered, it is the characters and the interaction between characters that readers remember. And in my debut novel MARKED FOR LIFE I wanted to write about a woman that was odd. But I did not know how odd she was about to be until I read an article about child soldiers. In 2012 there was a huge debate about child soldiers after the viral movie “Kony 2012”.  The movie was about Joseph R. Kony who is the leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) a guerilla group that formerly operated in Uganda. He has been accused by government entities of ordering the abduction of children to become child soldiers. Over 66 000 children became soldiers. As I read the article I remember starting to question myself: “What happens when a child is forced to be a solider? And what if that solider wants to be a child again? Is it even possible?” I also started to think about what would happen if there were child soldiers in Sweden. If I wanted to use the child soldiers in my novel, where in Sweden would I find these children? I know it sounds very strange, but I had to find children that no one would miss, nor search for. Abducting a child in a playground leads to a media storm and I  did not needed the abduction to take place in secret, without anyone knowing.  

One evening as I watched the news I saw a truck with a container that had overturned on a highway. And when the police arrived at the scene they found several refugees in the container. They had not been registered at the border. They were illegal. No one knew they were in Sweden. So, I went down to the port of Norrköping and looked around. When I saw all the thousand containers I realized that anything could be hiding in them, including children, that’s how I come up with the story about Jana Berzelius. 

Do you have a ‘day job’? Or do you write full time?

I have now sold almost one million copies of my books in 29 countries around the world, so I am lucky to be a writer full time today!
Can you tell us what a typical working day looks like for you? 

I usually get up at 06.15, making coffee before waking up my kids and getting them to school. Then I sit down in front of my computer and write. The time between 8 am and 12 am is my writing time. I usually never answer my phone or any e-mail, I just write. At 12 I have lunch with my husband and he usually walks me through my author schedule – travels, signing-tours, book-fairs, and such. I am very blessed to have my husband working full time with me. We are partners in crime, business, and love. 

After lunch, I read the text through, and do some editing. Around 3 pm, me and my husband go for a walk or run, discussing the plot, a character, or a scene. 

At 4 pm, our kids come home from school and then we help them with homework or drive them to their soccer, or tennis practice. 

After dinner, or when our kids have fallen asleep, me and my husband work for a couple more hours. Then we always end the day watching a tv-series or a movie. 

How would you spend a perfect afternoon away from work?

For me, the idea of an “extra” day is simply too good to let pass by. I have tried so many times but I am really bad at doing nothing. If it was a sunny, warm afternoon, I would definitely spend the afternoon with my husband and kids, preferably we would have a picnic on the beach. 

A picnic on the beach sounds like a great way to spend an afternoon to me! Are you an avid reader yourself? If so, which authors do you find yourself returning to time and again?

Yes, I am an avid reader. My favourite authors and recommended reads are Jo Nesbø’s Phantom, Lars Kepler´s The Sandman and Roger Hobbs’ Ghostman. 

I’m a big fan of Jo Nesbo too, I haven’t read any Roger Hobbs though so will look out for him. Finally, can you tell us a little bit about what you’re working on next?

Right now, I am reading, editing and polishing the fourth book in the series about Jana Berzelius and it is called Daddy’s Boy. The book will be available in Sweden August 21, 2017. Hopefully it will be available in UK in a couple of years. I am really looking forward to having Marked for Revenge and Slowly We Die available in UK and I do hope that readers will enjoy the first in the series: MARKED FOR LIFE.

Thanks very much for joining me Emelie, I’m very much looking forward to reading the rest of the series.

Emelie Schepp’s Marked for Life is out 6th July (HQ, £7.99)

Find out more at her website http://www.emelieschepp.com

Instagram @emelieschepp

Twitter @emelieschepp

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Don’t Say A Word by AL Bird – a review BLOG TOUR

Recently I had a week over in Finland, and was very excited to receive a bumper crop of books through the post on my return. One of said bumber crop was the latest novel by author AL Bird, Don’t Say A Word, and I’m very pleased to be taking part in this blog tour.
Jen is working as a legal secretary and devotes her life to looking after her son Josh. When she gets asked by her boss to help out on the case of Rhea Stevens she sees it as a good opportunity to further her career. However unfortunately it soon seems that the case is a little too close to home. When Jen receives cards from people in her past, she begins to fear both for herself and her son.

I very much enjoyed this novel. It’s obvious from the beginning that something has happened which makes Jen go into hiding. What this is becomes clear as the story unfolds, but there is a twist that I really didn’t see coming.  I have to say it was this bit that really made the story stand out amongst others for me.

I really liked the ending and whilst I am not one for giving spoilers away I felt it made a nice realistic end to a novel rather than just the ending that people would want. I did feel that some of the actions of the main character of Jen weren’t really in keeping for a person who had been through what she had. I also felt that there were a few too many characters that were involved in the final ‘reveal’ which did make it a bit confusing but this was a very minor irritant.

Most of the story is told from the viewpoint of Jen. We get a lot of her internal thoughts and feelings which gives us a real sense of the fear and claustrophobia that Jen is feeling.

I really enjoyed this story and would like to thank HQ publishers for my preview.

This is the second novel by AL Bird, my review of her first novel is here https://acrimereadersblog.com/2016/04/07/the-good-mother-by-al-bird-a-review-blog-tour-2/

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The Girl Before by JP Delaney – a review

I read this on a recent quick train trip to London.

The Girl Before is set in a house. A house unlike any other house. Everything is controlled via computers, from the lighting that is set based on the sunlight available, to the shower that only activities when you step into it. The house has a list of rules that are frankly ridiculous, but the characters in the book still seem to think it is a good idea to move in. The house even tells those living in it their weight and their current mood thanks to a series of questions that they have to answer at regular intervals. The story is told from two viewpoints. Emma moves in with her boyfriend after suffering a serious breakin that has left her scared to be at home. Unfortunately Emma doesn’t get to stay in the house too long due to an accident. A few years later and Jane moves in after a heartbreaking bereavement and soon discovers that living by the rules isn’t easy. We follow both of the women as the stories start to collide, linked together by the owner of the house the rather controlling Edward.

I thought this was a bizarre but really good read. It isn’t a particularly believable book. Surely no one would actually live somewhere they were not allowed to keep books? Yet as I’ve often said, in fiction fact doesn’t always matter. I enjoyed both the different viewpoints, and both stories were interesting without revealing any important details too soon. If I had any criticism of it however it would be that the two voices are not actually that different. This did mean that occasionally I had to go back and check which woman I was reading about. Yet this could have been done on purpose due to the fact that the two women are so similar. I did enjoy all the elements of the house though. Can you imagine having to sit down and answer some psychological profile before you are allowed hot water for a shower?

Whilst I don’t think this was necessarily the best book I have read and the mystery ending wasn’t that much of a shock it was a quick fun read. Don’t let the fact it is yet another book using the word girl in the title put you off, as it is an interesting premise of how far some people will go when life gets out of control. Apparently it is being made into a film soon which I think will be excellent and The Girl Before was a good way to pass a dull train trip.

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Here and Gone by Haylen Beck – a review

I was given a copy of this via netgalley, and have to admit it did kind of fall off my reading radar until very recently.

Here and Gone by Haylen Beck starts with Audra and her two children driving across Arizona, in an attempt to flee her abusive husband. When she gets stopped by the police she is clearly nervous about being caught. However she soon realises that she is in more trouble than she could possibly have dreamt of.

This was an interesting novel that certainly kept my attention. However I must admit I didn’t think it was the most original storyline. Without wishing to give away too much information the story itself was relatively predictable, the motives behind the crime will probably be obvious to most avid crime fiction fans early on. However despite that, this book was an absolute page turner.

Books are often described as ‘roller coasters’ and without wishing to sound clichéd this is a perfect description for this novel. As soon as the police stop Audra you know that bad things are going to happen, and when they do the reactions of the characters will have you on the ‘edge of your seat’.

Cliches aside, I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. The writing is superb and I really liked the way that this was a story that relied on good writing to push it along, not just throwing in twists and turns at every moment. The descriptions of the characters and the emotions they are going through are gripping. The overall premise is about a woman and her fierce desire to protect her children, no matter the danger to herself. The sheer determination of Audra will keep you turning the pages.

To me this felt different from a lot of novels written about women protecting their children. Audra was a person who teamed up with a man. Yet she didn’t expect him to rescue her or her children, she was going to do that herself.  There is violence and some disturbing details in this story, but it is all relevant to setting the atmosphere.

Haylen Beck is the pen name of Stuart Neville, yet it is only the name that has changed not the superb writing. This was a great, if disturbing read that I’m glad came back onto my radar.

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The Silence – Q and A with Katharine Johnson BLOG TOUR

Today I am delighted to welcome Katharine Johnson to acrimereadersblog. Katharine is the author of The Silence, a great novel about secrets and lies.

Thanks for joining me Katharine. I thoroughly enjoyed The Silence and thought it was a great story. Did your writing skills come natural or did you have to attend courses to help you develop that creative side?

I’ve always liked writing and I’ve been a non-fiction writer for years but when I decided to look more seriously into writing fiction a few years ago I did a writing course with the Writers Bureau. I also read lots of advice pieces about creative writing because the rules change all the time. Things that were acceptable or even encouraged a few years ago are frowned on today,  like using exclamation marks and adverbs.

What books/authors inspired your writing journey?

So many! Whenever I read a good book it makes me want to write one.

I know that feeling! How does it feel to know that your books inspire others? Whether readers with a response to the content or other aspiring authors?

I’m not sure that’s happened yet but being able to connect with people in this way is a lovely thought.

Do you have any writing rituals? What are they?

Not really – I just write when the I get the chance.

If you could have written any literary character, who would it be and why?

Great question! I suppose Rebecca – such a vivid character and we never even see her.

Great answer! Thanks very much for joining me today Katharine. If you want to find our more about Katharine’s novel the Silence make sure you look out for other posts on this tour. Tomorrow visit:

https://keeperofpages.wordpress.com/

https://cluesandreviews.wordpress.com/

http://www.mistimoobookreview.co.uk/

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