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Published: 1 June 2017

 

Description:

An irresistible mystery set in 1890s Edinburgh, Kaite Welsh’s THE WAGES OF SIN features a female medical student-turned-detective, and will thrill fans of Sarah Waters and Antonia Hodgson.

Sarah Gilchrist has fled from London to Edinburgh in disgrace and is determined to become a doctor, despite the misgivings of her family and society. As part of the University of Edinburgh’s first intake of female medical students, in 1892, Sarah comes up against resistance from lecturers, her male contemporaries, and – perhaps worst of all – her fellow women, who will do anything to avoid being associated with a fallen woman…

When one of Sarah’s patients turns up in the university dissecting room as a battered corpse, Sarah finds herself drawn into Edinburgh’s dangerous underworld of bribery, brothels and body snatchers – and a confrontation with her own past.

 

My Thoughts & Review:

“The Wages of Sin” is a wonderfully atmospheric fictional thriller, it is steeped in fantastically rich detail that portrays life in the late 1800s as both interesting as well as fraught with danger.

Society deemed that women in this era should know their place, that being in the home raising families, tending to the needs of their husbands or generally being gentile and “ladylike”, and most definitely not wielding scalpels and training to become surgeons at Edinburgh University.  Society clearly never encountered Sarah Gilchrist and her 12 like minded classmates it would seem.
Having disgraced her family in  London, Sarah is sent to live with her aunt and uncle in Edinburgh, and it is agreed that she can attend her studies at the university so long as she is ferried back and forth by a driver and kept from any temptations or situations that might besmirch the good family name any further.

The adversity and oppression faced by women in this era is demonstrated well by the author, attitudes of those around Sarah blatantly showing horror at her chosen career path, her fellow students keen to ridicule each other and the rivalry between both male and female students rife.  Indeed, there seems to be more rivalry between the female students who seem more eager to bring each other down than to support and hold one another up.

Through her work at the local Infirmary, Sarah comes into contact with those less fortunate, the poor and destitute pouring in through the doors in search of medical help as well as the women from the surrounding brothels.  Unfortunately for Sarah, one of these women seeks assistance that cannot be given, abortions being illegal at the time.  From here Sarah embarks on a journey of self destruction, believing that something is amiss and nefarious practises surround her.  Her detective skills might be somewhat lacking but her heart is in the right place, she is determined to find out the truth behind the death of a patient, even if it means casting accusations wildly.

This is a very well thought out and well researched book, the topic of female emancipation making for interesting reading.  The descriptiveness of characters and settings in this mean that readers can conjure vivid images in their heads of the squalor of the slums, the opulence of Society and the bitter chill of a Scottish winter.
Sarah is a character that is well crafted, initially a broken and seemingly fragile creature, her studies give her hope and something to work towards, she develops well but still retains some vulnerabilities and naivety.

Kaite Welsh has crafted a clever tale of corruption, wickedness and discrimination that seeps into all tiers of Victorian society.

You can buy a copy of “The Wages of Sin” via:

Amazon
The Book Depository
Wordery

My thanks to Headline and Tinder Press for the opportunity to read and review this book.

 

 

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Published:  11 May 2017

 

Description:

DI Duncan Waddell has big problems. He’s borderline diabetic, his boss thinks he’s in the Army and the paperwork is piling up faster than the underwear at a porn shoot. The last thing he needs is the country’s biggest case to land on his lap.

Three women have gone missing in the city he’s fast coming to despise, victims of the GLASGOW GRABBER as their assailant has been dubbed by local hack and all round pain in the backside, Catriona Hastie.

Shelley Craig’s the Grabber’s latest victim, snatched as she and her boyfriend took a shortcut through Glasgow city centre. And she’ll do anything to make it home.

Handling this baffling case is stressful enough without Waddell’s pal DC Stevie Campbell, who’s in a coma after being attacked by a suspect, starting to talk to him. Trouble is, only Waddell can hear him.

My Thoughts & Review:

As a fan of Scottish crime fiction it seemed only natural for me to jump at the chance to read “Vile City”.
From the very opening pages the reader is faced with an action packed sequence as police officer is attacked, this helps to set the pace for what turns into a taut and chilling crime thriller.  Following the disappearance of two women from the City, DI Duncan Wardell and his team are struggling to find a suspect, motive or link between the cases when a third young woman is abducted and her boyfriend is knocked out and left lying in the gutter.  Shelley Craig’s disappearance sparks a media frenzy, and adds pressure to the already overstretched investigating team – one of their number is lying in a hospital bed in a comatose state.
As DI Wardell and his team delve into the connections between witnesses and evidence it soon becomes apparent there is more to this case than they imagined.  At the heart of the investigation are some sordid goings on involving human trafficking, swingers clubs and sex games gone wrong.  There are also several dangerous characters thrown into the mix to make it that little bit more treacherous.

Wardell is a police officer who has seen most things, investigated many crimes and still manages to have a heart of gold.  He cares about the victims of crimes and wants to do his utmost to catch the criminals that plague Glasgow’s streets.  He’s also a loving father and caring husband that tries to shield the harsh realities of his work from home.   The scenes where Wardell visits his friend DC Stevie Campbell are well written, Wardell questioning whether Stevie is recovering and talking to him or if it is merely his mind playing tricks on him in a state of exhaustion.  Either way, having Wardell go and talk over aspects of the case opens him up more to the reader and gives a wonderful insight into how he works through the case, Stevie almost acting as Wardell’s conscience.
His junior officer DC Brian McKeith is a different kettle of fish entirely.  A new addition to the investigating team, he feels that he doesn’t fit in with the team – his place being the one previously held by the comatose DC Stevie Campbell.  He’s quite an enigma, there are times he comes across as rash and foolish, but there are also moments where he is astutely perceptive.  It’s clear from Wardell’s narrative that this young detective has a lot of learning to do but also a lot of personal growth might be needed too.

The plot of this felt very current, human trafficking is a topic that is appearing more often in crime novels and with the migratory climate being as it is, it is not too difficult to imagine this is a scenario playing out in cities across Europe.
There is a chilling danger that leeches slowly from the plot of this book, there are many aspects of danger that hide in the shadows and knowing who to trust seems to be key.  The way that the author reveals shock after shock leaves readers reeling, momentarily stunned by the levels of deviance and deception that have played out on the pages.

“Vile City” is a good crime thriller that moves along at a swift pace and pulls readers in.
The writing is clever and concise, dialogue feels natural and characters seem believable and I would recommend it to fans of Scottish crime fiction as well as crime thriller fans.

You can buy a copy of “Vile City” via:

Amazon (UK)
Amazon (US)
Amazon (Canada)

My thanks to Kate and Noelle at Thick as Thieves Book Publicity & Promo for the opportunity to read and review this book, and for inviting me to take part in the blog tour.

Follow the blog tour:

Copy of @TAsTPublicity (1)

 

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Published: 4 April 2017

Description:

A woman’s body washes up on a remote beach on the Inishowen peninsula. Partially-clothed, with a strange tattoo on her thigh, she is identified as Marguerite Etienne, a French woman who has been living in the area.

Solicitor Benedicta ‘Ben’ O’Keeffe is consumed by guilt; Marguerite was her client, and for the second time in her life Ben has failed someone who needed her, with tragic consequences. So when local Sergeant Tom Molloy dismisses Marguerite’s death as the suicide of a disturbed and lonely woman, Ben cannot let it lie.

Ben uncovers Marguerite’s strange past as a member of a French doomsday cult, which she escaped twenty years previously but not without leaving her baby daughter behind. Disturbed by what appears to be chilling local indifference to Marguerite’s death, Ben pieces together the last few weeks of the French woman’s life in Inishowen. What she discovers causes her to question the fragile nature of her own position in the area, and she finds herself crossing boundaries both personal and professional to unearth local secrets long buried.

 

My Thoughts & Review:

When I heard there was a follow up to Andrea Carter’s “Death at Whitewater Church” I was instantly curious, having thoroughly enjoyed the first book of the Inishowen Mystery series I was keen to see if the second instalment would live up to the standard in place and I should never have doubted the author, once again she has penned an amazing novel that grabbed my attention from the first page.

Solicitor Ben O’Keeffe really should have looked into a career as a rally driver, indeed when we first encounter her in this book she is driving at breakneck pace along the coast roads of Inishowen to where a body has washed ashore.  Fearing the worst, Ben wants to find out if it is her client Marguerite Etienne and sadly Ben is able to identify the body as being Marguerite.  The Guards write it off as suicide, especially after hearing from Ben that Marguerite had been to see her to draw up a will, thinking that she was putting her affairs in order before taking her own life.  Ben is not so sure and demands answers.

Ben is a tenacious character, her determination to do the right thing for those she cares about can often lead her into dangerous situations and at times she seems to have a reckless regard for her own safety.  But her kindness and compassion towards others offsets this, always taking the time to speak to the locals in the village she works and lives in, visiting the bookshop to chat with Phyllis (and rehome a few bundles of orphan books – good lass!), and being an integral part of the local community.
The chemistry between Ben and Guard Tom Molloy is wonderfully scripted, as the reader only sees their interactions from Ben’s point of view it’s hard to tell is the gruff and stoic Molloy feels the same way, but you do get a feeling there is ‘something’ between them, but both have their secrets and won’t open up to each other.

The clever way that the plot is woven means there are links and clues that the reader will try to piece together to preempt where the tale is heading (unsuccessfully in my case),  but Andrea Carter masterfully draws it all together with a fantastic conclusion.

As I mentioned, this is the second instalment in the Inishowen Mystery series, and this book is perfectly readable as a standalone, there are hints to previous events and Ben’s past before she settled in Glendara but the author includes enough detail so that you don’t feel you’ve missed out on anything pertinent.  I would however recommend reading the series in order purely for enjoyment if nothing else.  This is a wonderfully atmospheric setting for a crime thriller, the windswept beaches, the jagged coastal settings and the small villages make for a brilliant backdrop and add to the tension that builds throughout the plot.

Now to wait patiently for the third instalment……….

You can buy a copy of “Treacherous Strand” via:

Amazon
The Book Depository
Wordery

My thanks to Helen at Little, Brown Book Group for the opportunity to read and review this book.

 

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Published: 26 January 2017

 

Description:

A serial killer to chill your bones

A psychopath more frightening than Hannibal Lecter.

He has planned well. He leads two lives. In one he’s just like anyone else. But in the other he is the caretaker of his family’s macabre museum.

Now the time has come to add to his collection. He is ready to feed his obsession, and he is on the hunt.

Jakey Frith and Clara Foyle have something in common. They have what he needs.

What begins is a terrifying cat-and-mouse game between the sinister collector, Jakey’s father and Etta Fitzroy, a troubled detective investigating a spate of abductions.

Set in London’s Blackheath, Rattle by Fiona Cummins explores the seam of darkness that runs through us all; the struggle between light and shadow, redemption and revenge.

It is a glimpse into the mind of a sinister psychopath. And it’s also a story about not giving up hope when it seems that all hope is already lost.

My Thoughts & Review:

I have to admit that I stumbled upon “Rattle” quite by accident on social media one day, lots of fellow book bloggers were chattering about an amazing psychological thriller that needed to be read and savoured – what more encouragement did I need to get reading?

Fiona Cummins is a new author to me, and so in this respect I had little idea what to expect when I picked up a copy of “Rattle”, but happily I was hooked from the opening pages.  The plot is intriguing and cleverly woven through the novel, there is a prevailing darkness that leeches from the pages of this book, making this an incredibly addictive and gripping read.

Because I hate giving spoilers I will avoid saying too much about the plot, but I will mention the Bone Collector.  The Bone Collector is a serial killer like no other I’ve had the ‘pleasure’ of encountering (perhaps not the best word to use but I will certainly give you an idea of the malevolence of this character).  He’s the sort of character you should only read about in daylight hours, sinister doesn’t begin to describe this psychopath.  Utterly terrifying and lacking in empathy as any decent psychopathic serial killer is, the reader is then given a glimpse into the mind of the Bone Collector through his thoughts – oh how I appreciate a well written killer.
All of the characters are interesting in their own respects and the way in which they are written makes the reader feel empathy towards their fates.

As far as thrillers go, this is definitely one that raises the bar.  Fiona Cummins has written an incredibly sinister debut that moves swiftly and enthrals the reader.  She introduces an unnerving antagonist that creeps out most readers, and creates a cast of characters that readers become so invested in that they are driven to keep reading despite the evil emanating from the Bone Collector.
The writing itself it atmospheric and the vivid descriptions make this book stand out for me.

You can buy a copy of Rattle via Amazon here or Wordery here

 

Many thanks to Pan Macmillan and Netgalley for the opportunity to read and review this book.

 

 

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Published: 17 February 2017

Copy provided by Bookouture as part of blog tour

 

Description:

Two sisters. One murder. And an unbreakable bond.

Growing up in squalor with their drug-addicted prostitute mother, sisters Georgie and Marnie Parker have had to endure the very darkest side of life. 

When their mother is sentenced for brutally murdering a client, Georgie and Marnie’s already precarious lives are blown apart and they now share a terrible secret. Sent to a children’s home, the sisters hope this might finally be their safe haven after years of neglect. But they soon discover they’re in real danger.

Desperate to find a place of safety, Georgie and Marnie run for their lives, but end up in the hands of Delray Anderton. A violent London gangster and notorious pimp, Delray has big plans for beautiful teenager Georgie, seeing her as a chance to make some serious money.

Fiercely protective of each other, Georgie and Marnie must escape the clutches of a man who will do anything to keep the sisters for himself. And, they must keep the promise they made to each other – no one can ever know the truth. 

My Thoughts & Review:

“The Promise” is a book that I might not have ordinarily picked up to read, Casey Kelleher isn’t an author I’ve read much from but she came highly recommended by some wonderful and trustworthy bloggers so I figured it was worth taking a chance.

This is a very gritty read, with topics that make for uncomfortable reading but they are handled with sensitivity and the writing is superb.  The pace of this was matched well to the plot, catching the attention of the reader quickly and remaining enthralling throughout.  I enjoyed that the plot kept me hooked in,  needing to read on to see what happened next, see how the characters developed.
The characters were incredibly well crafted, some so absolutely beyond redemption that the reader cannot help but be drawn to them, utterly fascinating specimens of the human race for their abhorrence.  The juxtaposition of Georgie and Marnie, witnessing and enduring some truly awful things and remaining strong in the face of adversity is magnificent writing.

I’d say it’s not a read for the faint hearted, this book certainly packs a punch.  It reminds me somewhat of Martina Cole’s books, there’s the same sort of gritty, gripping toughness about it, but also a vulnerability just under the surface waiting to grab the reader and pull on their heart strings.  I may well have to go back and read some of Kelleher’s previous books now, just to see what I’ve been missing out on!

You can buy a copy of “The Promise” here

 

My thanks to Bookouture and Netgalley for the opportunity to read this book.

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Published: 5 December 2016
Reviewed: 26 January 2017

4 out of 5 stars

Copy provided by Oldcastle Books

Description:

I don’t really want to say too much about the plot, it’s very clever constructed so to give away any of the subtle nuances would spoil it for other readers.

What I really liked about this one was the way in which Luke McCallin took details of Berlin’s history and wove them tightly with a thrilling plot where spy networks and undercover agents appeared.  Being able to transport the reader to the rundown scenes in Berlin at that time is incredibly powerful, the war damaged buildings loom on every street, the distrust towards ‘informers’ and occupying nationals is evident through the writing and offers the reader a glimpse into a world they may not have experienced.

Reinhardt is a very well constructed character, a very richly detailed character that McCallin has taken great time and care over.  The back story for Reinhardt is interesting and makes him easier to connect with, his guilt and fear are palpable.  His constant struggle with trying to do the right thing makes for engrossing reading.

I was surprised to find out this was actually the third book to feature this character and will definitely be going back to read the previous two books.  I felt there was a ‘Bernie Gunther’ sort of ethos to this, which personally was a good thing as I really like Philip Kerr’s books.  This can definitely be read as a stand alone, there is more than enough detail given about Reinhardt to form opinions of the character and his personality etc.

Overall an enjoyable read, a slow burner that has just the right amount of thriller, intrigue and menace.

My thanks to Oldcastle Books and No Exit Press for the opportunity to read and review this book.

You can buy a copy of “The Ashes of Berlin” here.

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I am delighted to welcome you to my stop on the blog tour for Helen Fields fantastic thriller “Perfect Remains” which was published 26th January 2017 by Avon Books.

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If you’ve been following the blog tour you will know that the author, Helen Fields has been killed and the breadcrumb trail of clues is slowly revealing more about her killer.  Today I can share clue number 6 with you, can you work out who it is yet?

Follow the blog tour for clues about Helen’s demise and who the culprit is.

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You can buy a copy from Amazon UK | Amazon US

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