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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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Big Sister by Gunnar Staalesen – BLOG TOUR

Thanks to Anne Cater and Orenda Books for inviting me onto the blog tour for Big Sister.

Big Sister is set in Norway and features Private Detective Varg Veum. Varg is visited by someone who he thinks is just a new client, until she arrives and introduces herself as his half sister.  However she doesn’t just want to meet new family, she actually wants him to try and find her god-daughter Emma. Emma is a student nurse who has gone missing from her student accommodation in Bergen. Varg starts his search but the further he delves into Emma’s background and her troubled home life the more he realises that this is much more than a simple missing persons case as he gets drawn into a world of biker gangs and family secrets.

This is the first of the series that I have read although is the 20th novel to feature the main character. Varg is an interesting person that is the archetypal gruff single private detective on the one hand, but shows a slightly softer intriguing side as well. Seemingly very lonely but through choice rather than circumstance. His life seems to be focused purely on his work with the odd personal relationship an afterthought. Personally I felt it was nice to read about an older character (Varg being in his 60s) which I have to admit I didn’t realise he was to start with.

I enjoyed the story and although it seemed rather slow to start with this was necessary to set the scene and introduce the other characters. The second half does pick up the pace though and there are frequent twists and turns. This is quite a dark feeling novel, with almost a menacing tone to some of the writing.  Although I think that it would help understand the main character more if you had read the previous novels, the actual story works well as a stand-alone too. Towards the end this is one of those books where you think it is about to conclude, but then suddenly another twist is thrown in and your thoughts change again.

I enjoy reading Scandinavian noir and this could well be the start of a great new series to try. Once again I think my ‘to be read’ pile is going to get bigger.

Don’t forget to visit the other stops on the blog tour. Big Sister is available now on amazon.

Big Sister blog poster 2018

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The Old You by Louise Voss – Q and A BLOG TOUR

The Old You by Louise Voss is about Lynn and her husband Ed. Ed is diagnosed with dementia and then strange things start happening. Alongside the fact that there was suspicious around the death of Ed’s first wife Lynn starts to wonder who she can trust. This was an interesting read that I really enjoyed therefore I’m delighted to be able to welcome Louise Voss to acrimereadersblog.

Thanks for joining me Louise. The Old You is a great story, what inspired it?

The basis of the inspiration was dementia-related (although I hasten to add, this is not a book about dementia). I had to watch my beloved mother endure it for years, and the potential for a crime novel really struck me at the time – life with someone who has that illness is never straightforward; it’s never a case of lie versus truth. The sufferer is always convinced of the veracity of their statements, and these are often incorrect. But because he/she truly believes them, they can’t be accused of lying – they aren’t lying. This can be very confusing to them as well as the people around them as they attempt to extrapolate what’s true and what isn’t. And then there’s the potential for exploitation which, sadly, is also huge…

Have you always been a writer?

In some ways, yes, in so far as I have always loved it, and used to write lots of stories as a kid.  I kept diaries for many years too. I’ve been a professional writer for eighteen years now – I put my writing ‘anniversary’ at the point of signing my first publishing deal, for To Be Someone, which was in April 2000.

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

I don’t really have a typical working day.  I aim to do a minimum of 1300 words a day if I’m working on a novel, and if I’m in the zone I’ll keep going. It’s the admin – life and work – that takes up the most time!  I don’t know how writers sit down at their desks at 9am and stay there till 4 or 5pm or whatever.  I can only assume that they have people to do everything else for them – grocery shopping, paying bills, childcare (although I don’t have this anymore now mine’s all grown up), etc!

How would you spend a perfect afternoon away from work?

A long game of tennis in the sun followed by an even longer lunch with friends and wine…

Are you an avid reader yourself? If so, which authors do you find yourself returning to time and again?

I’m a huge reader. I don’t think you can be a good writer unless you read as well. The writers whose books I always automatically seek out are all women (although obviously I do enjoy books by men too!): Kate Atkinson, Margaret Atwood, Tammy Cohen, Erin Kelly, Kate Rhodes, Fiona Cummins, Susie Steiner, Robert Galbraith aka JKR… I could go on.

There are some great names there that I’m a big fan off too. Finally can you tell us a little about what you are working on next?

I’m halfway through a new whodunnit, about the manager of a gift shop of a small stately home in the Surrey Hills.  She lives a secluded existence these days, nobody knows that she used to be in a chart-topping band. She quit the limelight suddenly after a brutal kidnap and assault almost cost her life. Now, twenty years later, word of her identity and whereabouts gets out, and people close to her start dying under mysterious circumstances… Someone’s after her again – but who and why?

That sounds fascinating. Thanks very much for joining me Louise.

To find out more about The Old You visit the other stops on the blog tour. Click below to buy The Old You which is out on the 15th May.

THE OLD YOU new cover_preview

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Keeper by Johana Gustawsson – a review BLOG TOUR

It was with a bit of trepidation that I agreed to be part of the blog tour for the second novel by Johana Gustawsson. I had read Block 46 and it was one of my stand out novels of the year, so there  is always the worry that the second one won’t be quite so good. However I needn’t have been concerned, Keeper is a stunning novel from an author being hailed as the ‘Queen of French Noir’.

In Keeper we again meet Profiler Emily Roy and true crime writer Alexis Castells. An actor has been abducted from her home in a case similar to the Tower Hamlets murders ten years previously. Over in Sweden a body has been found, again identical to those in Tower Hamlets. However the perpetrator of those crimes is in prison. Have they got the wrong man locked up or is there a copycat? Alongside this is the Whitechapel of 1888. Jack the Ripper is at large and women are running scared.

This was another superb read that was absolutely gripping. From the outset you are drawn into a dark and disturbing world both of modern day serial killings and Victorian fear. I have always been fascinated by the Jack the Ripper story, the phantom killer whose crimes were never solved. Therefore I was utterly fascinated by these chapters. The writing is such that the sights and sounds of Victorian England completely engulf you and you feel like you are living through the filth and stench. Yet it seamlessly switches into modern day terror without any interruption to the fast flow of story.

I really like the characters in this novel, and although I still find Alexis a little annoying as a pair they have a great dynamic. One of the things I also think works well within this is the fact that there are lots of peripheral characters including parents, partners, other officers, yet for me they all had a place and were easy to keep track of. I love the fact that despite the majority of the book being very dark and seedy there were moments of humour that really lift the story.

I cannot recommend this novel enough. It is both a fascinating story linking past and present, and a thought provoking read that will stay with you long after you have finished it.

Make sure you visit the other stops on the blog tour, and get your copy here:

Keeper blog poster 2018

 

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Whiteout by Ragnar Jonasson – a review Blog Tour

I’ve recently been hearing a lot about Icelandic author Ragnar Jonasson so I was delighted when I was asked to take part in the blog tour for his novel Whiteout, the latest to be translated into English.

Whiteout is the perfect winter novel to pass a cold evening. Just before Christmas a young woman’s body is found at the bottom of a cliff. Detective Ari Thor gets a call from his old boss Tomas to help investigate the case. Ari, along with his pregnant partner Kristina, travels to a remote village to help investigate whether she fell, or was pushed. When he finds out that this is the same spot both the girl’s Mother and Sister were also found dead, he soon starts to suspect foul play.

Whiteout is a fantastic read. Set in Iceland the novel is incredibly atmospheric and gives you a real impression of a dark, cold, isolated place. The story itself is interesting being a classic whodunit that had me trying and failing to guess the outcome throughout. The crime is set in an abandoned village with only a small number of characters and so you get a real sense of claustrophobia surrounding the story. You also know whilst you are reading it that if indeed it is foul play there is only a very small number of suspects.

The characters were well drawn, and I especially liked the way we get to know the murder victim. Although I must admit to finding the whole pregnant partner story a bit unnecessary. However that may be because although this is the first of this series I have read, it is actually the 5th in the Dark Iceland series featuring Ari Thor. I suspect that there was a lot of back story that I had missed which would have given me a different impression of the characters. However that is not to say the book doesn’t work perfectly well as a standalone. The story alone is superb.

This is a fantastic novel for anyone who enjoys a good murder mystery. It is also a great example of the Icelandic traditional crime story, despite being bang up to date. I thoroughly recommend this to those of you who like your traditional crime stories with an added layer of ice and intrigue.

Thanks to Orenda Books and Anne Cater for my copy of Whiteout

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Maria in the Moon by Louise Beech – a review

I was sent this book as a surprise by the publisher. I have to confess to not really looking closely at it as I assumed it wasn’t really for me, the book not being a traditional murder mystery. However having recently seen some excellent reviews I decided to give it a go and I’m glad I did.
Sometimes as soon as you read the first page of a novel you can tell by the style of writing that it is going to be something special. This was definitely one of those books. Maria in the Moon is the story of Catherine. She is living with her friend Fern after her house was one of many flooded during the storms in 2007. She volunteers at the local flood crisis line. Until the age of 9 Catherine was always called by her full name, Catherine-Maria, however at some point during her ninth year people stopped using the Maria. She has no recollection of why or what else happened that year. However gradually she starts to remember things as memories of the past start to resurface.

This was a superb read that I genuinely stayed up stupidly late reading as I didn’t want to stop. It is utterly compelling and incredibly heartbreaking. Catherine is an interesting character. I flitted between feeling incredibly sorry for her and wanting her to just speak up for herself more. One of the elements I really liked about this book was that despite it being very disturbing there are also elements of humour that really bring the novel to life. The descriptions of the flooding are really heartbreaking, skips in the roads and people being displaced are quite upsetting especially when you know this actually happened. Yet this is what makes this book so great, it really is a superb read.

This is the first book I’ve read by Louise although I think it is actually her third novel and it definitely makes me want to read her others. Maria in the Moon is a heartrending book that will stay with you long after the finish, I thoroughly recommend it. 

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