Tag Archives: crime fiction

Trap by Lilja Sigurdardottir – a review BLOG TOUR

I have a confession to make, when I was invited to take part in the blog tour for Lilja Sigurdardottir’s new novel Trap I jumped at the chance as there was a copy of her first novel Snare on the bookshelf and I had thoroughly enjoyed her appearance at the TOPCWF. However it wasn’t until I started reading Trap that I realised I had never actually got around to reading Snare (not a surprise if you knew the size of my ‘to be read’ pile. Well I might be reading them in the wrong order but Snare is definitely going to the top of the pile now I’ve read Trap.

Trap starts with Sonja and her son Thomas living in Florida, enjoying the sunshine but on the run and looking over her shoulder. The reason for this soon becomes clear as Thomas is kidnaped by his father. Sonja and Thomas have to return to Iceland where her lover Agla is waiting. Agla is awaiting sentencing for financial misconduct, yet she also owes a lot of money to some rather unpleasant people. Sonja has a plan to bring down her ex-husband and the drug barons running the city, along with help from customs officer Bragi. However things don’t go to plan and Sonja is soon in more trouble than she can handle.

Trap is a fast paced crime novel that will keep you turning the pages (or pressing the kindle button) The title of the novel is a fitting description of both Sonja’s predicament and also the overall feeling you get when reading it. The writing draws you into the story and you feel the frustrations of the characters as they try to deal with the fallout and things don’t go to plan. I really enjoyed the characters within this novel, especially the relationships between Sonja and her son and also between Sonja and Bragi who is torn between doing his job and helping Sonja.

The setting is interesting, with the action mainly taking place in Reykjavik and the descriptions of the place add to the chilling tone of this novel. Some of the financial elements went a bit over my head but that in no way detracts from my enjoyment.

I absolutely recommend Trap if you are a fan of a fast paced Nordic set novel, I can’t wait to go back and find out how the series began.

Make sure to visit the other stops on the blog tour to find out more about this fantastic series of novels.

 

Trap is available to purchase now at Amazon.

 

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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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The Infinite Blacktop by Sara Gran – a review BLOG TOUR

Whilst normally I wouldn’t post twice in one day, sometimes there are just books that it is impossible to say no to, and this was one of them. The Infinite Blacktop is the first I have read by Sara Gran, although it is actually the third novel featuring Private Investigator Claire De Witt.

The book starts with a bang, literally, as Claire comes round after a car accident and realises that someone is trying to kill her. This starts off a novel that is actually three stories in one. There is the mystery in the present day of who is trying to kill Claire. We then shoot back to 1986 where Claire and her friends are teenage detectives until one of them goes missing. Then in the middle we visit 1999 where Claire is trying to get enough hours under her belt to qualify for her PI license investigating a murder in the art world.

I must confess that this took a little while for me to get into. It read at first as a bit Agatha Raisin with each title being The Case of something. (Yes I know lots of other classic detective stories also use this idea that’s just the one that sprang to my mind!) However Agatha Raisin this certainly wasn’t. Claire is moody, violent, has a penchant for drug taking and is happy to use whatever methods necessary to protect herself and solve her cases. I think I would probably have warmed to her more if I had read the previous books whereas in this I didn’t really take to her much. However the stories themselves were interesting. I especially liked the younger version of Claire and it was clever how all the parts interwove throughout.

This was an good read, despite the three timelines it was easy to keep track of and the story went along at speed. Once you get into the swing of the writing I really enjoyed it. Despite my odd reservation about some of Claire’s actions it shows what people are capable of when they are pushed. It is also fascinating to find out about Claire’s previous life and these other time lines give a great insight into why Claire is like she is.

If you like strong female lead characters who take no prisoners then you can’t go far wrong with this gritty tale of a female PI. I will definitely be starting this series from the beginning.

Sara Gran is the author of five critically acclaimed novels, including Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead, Come Closer and Dope. She also writes for film and TV, including ’Southland’ and ’Chance’, and has published in The New York Times, The New Orleans Times Picayune and USA Today.

Her latest novel is available here

 Visit the other blog tour stops to find out more:

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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:

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Dead of Night by Michael Stanley – BLOG TOUR Q & A

I am lucky enough to have a hobby that brings me into contact with loads of fantastic books and authors. It is always an absolute pleasure to be contacted by authors and publishers and invited to read their books. However every now and again I get emails that truly send my excitement levels rocketing, and one recently inviting me onto the blog tour for the latest by crime writing duo Michael Stanley was just such an email.

I am a huge fan of their Detective Kubu series having read my first one as part of my TOPCWFC a couple of years ago (after the challenge finished unfortunately) and absolutely love them. Their latest however is a departure from Detective Kubu, still set in South Africa, it introduces us to journalist Crystal Nguyen. When her friend goes missing whilst investigating a rhino poaching ring she is determined to find out what has happened.

I am absolutely delighted therefore to welcome Michael Sears and Stanley Trollip to acrimereadersblog. Thanks so much for joining me.

Firstly I have to ask, what inspired Dead of Night and why the move away from Detective Kubu?

We haven’t moved away from Detective Kubu. We really enjoy writing about him and his cases in Botswana, each set against a different backstory arising from the realities of southern Africa. There are certainly more Kubu books ahead! However, when you write a series, there are some inevitable constraints. Although every story stands alone, the focus always needs to be the series protagonist. And the very features that make the series appealing – the history of the main characters and their development – also constrain where one can go. Finally, a police procedural has an internal structure that must be respected.

Writers always need to be challenged to avoid their work becoming stale and boring, both to them and to their readers. We wanted to write a novel with a backstory of the South African rhino poaching and rhino-horn smuggling, but we wanted it to have the structure of a thriller – quite different from the police procedural. In a thriller, the action and the protagonist have to be believable, but they don’t have to follow the laws and evidence as police procedurals do. The rhino issues are really complex, and we wanted to get right into the action rather than pick up the pieces afterwards, as one does in a mystery.

So we imagined Crystal Nguyen. A strong female protagonist, born in Vietnam, she has a passion for conservation and a strong commitment to the American Gray Wolf. And she is someone who is willing to go beyond the rules when she feels it’s necessary. She is commissioned by National Geographic to visit South Africa to complete an article exploring the rhino-horn trade at the same time as trying to find the National Geographic reporter who disappeared while working on it. It turns out to be a much more dangerous and challenging assignment than she could ever have imagined. 

I’m glad there will be more Kubo, although I have to say I loved the character of Crystal, as someone who on the whole prefers animals to people I certainly warmed to her passion and commitment to conservation!  Have you both always been writers?

Well, Michael tried his hand at science fiction when he was at university, but we came late to mystery fiction. We started working on our debut book, A Carrion Death, in 2003. In another sense, however, we both have always been writers – in the academic non-fiction space. Both of us have written many research papers, and Stanley has written four text books on topics ranging from the use of computers in education to human factors in aviation. And most of our work has been done in collaboration with other people, so it seemed very natural to us to work on a novel as a collaborative project.

Can you tell us what a typical working day looks like for you?

Michael: I’m involved in a lot of things, including image processing research and graduate students at the university, and being a director of a start-up company in the geophysics area. Then, there are many communication activities around the books, including blogs and reviewing for ITW and the New York Journal of Books. Eventually – usually in the evenings – the dust settles enough to write. I feel very fortunate that I can do all these things for the pleasure of doing them rather than to earn a living.

Stanley: I am not disciplined at all when it comes to daily writing. I, too, have many interests including travel, various sporting activities and attending classical-music concerts. So, I write in between all of these and have developed the ability to write anywhere, even when sitting next to a screaming baby on a plane. I can block out almost anything.

It certainly sounds like you are both busy. How would you spend a perfect afternoon away from work?

Michael: Doing what I’m doing right now – sitting by the Olifants River at my place in the African bush near the Kruger National Park, relaxing and appreciating the complete wildness of the area and the beauty of its animal and bird life. The more afternoons like that you put together, the better it gets.

Stanley: Being in the bush would be my first choice too. I think too few people take the time to completely relax for extended periods of time.

That sounds absolutely amazing. South Africa is definitely on my list for places I’d like to visit. One of the things I love about your books are the real sense of the beauty and wildness of the country that comes across in the writing. Are you an avid readers yourselves? If so, which authors do you find yourself returning to time and again?

Michael: Yes I read a lot; most of the fiction is mysteries or thrillers of one sort or another. I write a monthly piece called Africa Scene for the International Thriller Writers in which I feature a book set in Africa and its author. My favourite South African crime fiction author is Deon Meyer. I think his latest book Fever (which is a near future post-apocalypse novel set in the South African karoo) is one of his most powerful books. I’m also a great John Le Carré fan. I think he is one of the best writers in the genre – or in any genre. (Henning Mankel reputedly said that Le Carré is the best author who will never win a Nobel prize.) His semiautobiographical A Perfect Spy is brilliant – I’ve read it several times and keep learning about writing from it.

Stanley: I mainly read mysteries, but also some historical non-fiction. I’m attracted to stories that are in translation, giving me an insight into different cultures. I enjoy Sunshine Noir because I prefer being warm to being cold!

Sunshine Noir is a great term! Finally can you tell us a little about what you are working on next?

We’re writing a prequel in the Detective Kubu series. In the book, Kubu is a new detective joining the Criminal Investigation Department. He has a tough time; because he hasn’t followed the usual route to being a detective, and the current detectives don’t like it. Then the CID is thrown into turmoil by a daring heist of diamonds from the world’s richest diamond mine at Jwaneng. Kubu has to prove himself in short order. Our working title is Facets of Death.

I can’t wait to read that one either. Thank you so much for joining me Michael and Stanley and taking the time to answer my questions, and thanks to the lovely Anne Cater of Random Things for inviting me onto this.

If you haven’t yet read Michael Stanley then you are in for a real treat and I’d highly recommend them.

Dead of Night is available now.

To find our more about Dead of Night and Michael Stanley make sure you visit some of the other stop on the blog tour:

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Death Rope by Leigh Russell – a review BLOG TOUR

I love a good crime story and I love living in York. Therefore any book that combines these two things is going to be winner for me. So I was very pleased to be invited onto the blog tour for Leigh Russell’s latest novel ‘Death Rope’

Death Rope is the latest in the series starring Geraldine Steele. She has moved to York after being demoted and is struggling with the fact that she no longer has the authority to go her own way in investigations. When Mark Abbot is found hanging at his home it is at first assumed to be a suicide. However his sister Amanda is adamant that he wouldn’t take his own life and suspicion points to his wife. Geraldine wants to investigate but it is not until Amanda goes missing that she can persuade the rest of the team to take an interest.

I very much enjoyed this story. Although it is obvious that the suicide is going to turn out to be more complicated than it seems (it would be a pretty short crime novel otherwise) the rest of the story doesn’t take any obvious routes. The novel starts relatively slowly but manages to hook you in from the beginning as the pace begins to quicken and the twists start coming.

The character of Geraldine is interesting. Death Rope is the eleventh in the series and although I have a read a few of the previous ones I haven’t yet read them all. However there is enough detail in Death Rope about Geraldine and her previous life that you can happily read this as a standalone. She is quite a sad character I felt. Clearly very lonely living in a new city, and trying to balance the demands of two tricky sisters, both with their own albeit different baggage. You get the impression that she isn’t particularly happy especially as she has been demoted and she is quite reserved which obviously doesn’t help with making new friends. Yet she is also smart with a good eye for a case.

This is a nice easy to read police procedural that is well written. The story keeps you guessing until the end. I would highly recommend this series. Find out Leigh’s top ten crime drama’s here: https://acrimereadersblog.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=2125&action=edit

Death Rope is available on Amazon.

Don’t forget to visit the other stops on the tour.:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Cold Desert Sky by Rod Reynolds – extract BLOG TOUR

Today I’m delighted to be on the Blog Tour for the new novel by Rod Reynolds, Cold Desert Sky and to be able to share an extract with you.

Cold Desert Sky is set in both Los Angeles and Las Vegas in 1946. Journalist Charlie Yates and his wife Lizzie are hiding out in motels on the run from gangster Benjamin Siegel. Rather than just move away Yates is determined to stay until he has found out what happened to two missing girls. Nancy and Julie were both aspiring actresses who have been missing for days and Yates has become obsessed with finding them.

Cold Desert Sky is a very atmospheric novel, evoking a real sense of 1940’s American noir. The book tells of cities that are dark and dangerous, filled with gangsters and seedy bars. The story itself is fascinating, with twists and turns that just keep coming throwing the story backwards and forwards across the two cities. This is the third novel from Rod that features the character of Charlie Yates. Although it is the first one I’ve read it won’t be the last. To find out more read on for an extract from chapter one which follows the extract you can find at Bibliophile Bookclub’s blog: https://bibliophilebookclub.com/

Cold Desert Sky by Rod Reynolds – extract

‘Charlie?’

‘Have a seat.’

He glanced around as if looking for his real guest, then slid down the backrest, realisation dawning. ‘You a gumshoe now, or am I a mark?’

‘How’ve you been, Whitey?’

‘Better than you, what I hear.’

I sat back, a glance over his shoulder, wrong-footed by the remark. ‘And what’s that?’

‘You don’t need me to tell you. It’s on your face.’

‘Make like I’m dumb.’

‘You must be. Being in town when he’s looking for you.’

I shrugged. ‘I’m not a hard man to find.’

‘You ought to reconsider that.’

I traced a line across the table. ‘I didn’t come here to talk about Bugsy Siegel.’

‘No?’ He showed real surprise. ‘Hard to believe you got big­ger troubles.’

‘How’s your luck with the horses?’

He set his cup down on the Formica. ‘Some days are better than others.’

I took my money clip out – two tens and a twenty wrapped around a wad of ones to pad the roll. ‘I’m looking for informa­tion on a couple women. Hollywood-dreamer types.’

He made a point of not looking at the cash, a stool pigeon in a fraying suit clinging to the remnants of his pride. ‘I don’t know Hollywood from dirt.’

‘They were fresh off the bus. They were living in a boarding house in Leimert Park. Nancy Hill and Julie Desjardins.’

He half-smiled. ‘Julie Desjardins from Kansas – sure. Real names?’

‘I don’t know.’

‘These are the missing dames your woman called me about?’ I nodded. ‘They’ve been gone more than a week.’

‘Were they turning tricks?’

My arms tensed.

‘What?’ he said. ‘How else would I hear anything about a couple starlets?’

I closed my eyes and flattened my free hand on the table again. The question was a fair one. ‘The names mean anything to you or not?’

‘Not. But you must’ve figured that, so my guess is you want me to ask around.’

I peeled a ten off.

He shook his head, held up two fingers. I breathed out through my nose and peeled the other one off.

To read more don’t forget to visit the other stops of the blog tour. COLD DESERT SKY_BLOG TOUR POSTER

Cold Desert Sky is available on amazon.

 

 

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