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Published 13 July 2017

 

Description:

The magical new summer novel by the author of Little Flower Shop by the Sea

One summer, property seeker, Serendipity Parker finds herself on the beautiful west coast of Ireland, hunting for a home for a wealthy Irish client. But when she finds the perfect house in the small town of Ballykiltara, there’s a problem; nobody seems to know who owns it.

‘The Welcome House’ is a local legend. Its front door is always open for those in need of shelter, and there’s always a plentiful supply of food in the cupboards for the hungry or poor.

While Ren desperately tries to find the owner to see if she can negotiate a sale, she begins to delve deeper into the history and legends that surround the old house and the town. But for a woman who has always been focussed on her work, she’s remarkably distracted by Finn, the attractive manager of the local hotel.

But will she ever discover the real truth behind the mysterious ‘Welcome House’? Or will the house cast its magical spell over Ren and help her to find true happiness?

My Thoughts & Review:

I must confess that this is the first book written by Ali McNamara that I’ve read, I do own a couple but they never seem to make it up to the top of the reading pile sadly.  But after reading “The Summer of Serendipity” I’ve rescued the other books, bought a few more and will be slowly losing myself in the wonderful world that McNamara creates for her readers.

The plot is full of mystery and intrigue, our leading lady Serendipity (Ren) is on a mission in Ballykiltara to find the perfect retirement home for a client with her assistant Kiki.  The dynamic duo eventually find the perfect house but cannot find out who owns the property to make an offer to purchase it.  The more they ask locals about The Welcome House, the more complex the mystery becomes.  No one knows for sure who owns the house, some saying that the house has always been there since the time of the monks and Viking invaders, some saying it’s a place of sanctuary for travellers, a shelter with food that asks nothing more of people to replace what they have used (if they can).  With so much folklore surrounding The Welcome House Ren and Kiki look to the local priest for help, but instead of shining light on their mystery, Father Duffy imparts wisdom onto Ren that makes things more complicated.  And if that wasn’t enough for Ren to struggle to get her head round, there’s also a wee romantic interest for her in the shape of the brooding and handsome hotel manager,  Finn.

The setting of Ballykiltara is so exquisitely described that you cannot help but imagine the hotel, the wonderful woodland walks, The Welcome House or even just the general tranquillity of it all.  Ali McNamara’s writing transports her readers to the settings she writes about, and has them invested in the characters being written about.  The way that relationships develop through the book is interesting, seeing the ups and downs of friendships makes this feel realistic as well as makes the characters stand out.  The way that they come to life from the pages is another reason to love this book, Kiki is a fantastic character, so lovely and endearing.  Her muddling of words just makes her even more appealing and she works well as a contrast to Ren.  Ren, whilst a friendly and cheery person has secrets she keeps locked away and sometimes forgets to take her business hat off.  Finn, well what can I say about the dishy hotel manager?  His charm and impish ways are so well written that I could almost see him as I read (swoon!).

This book has almost everything you need for a holiday read (whether it’s a staycation or far flung destination), it’s humorous, it’s magical and it’s so full of delightful charm that you can’t help but enjoy it!

You can buy a copy of The Summer of Serendipity via:

Amazon
Wordery
The Book Depository

My thanks to Clara Diaz at Little, Brown Book Group for the opportunity to read this book and to take part in the blog tour.

 

Follow the blog tour:

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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: 18 May 2017

Description:

A young man is found in a riverside park, his head bashed in with a rock. The only clue to his identity is an admission stamp for the local gay club.

DS Lucy Black is called in to investigate. As Lucy delves into the community, tensions begin to rise as the man’s death draws the attention of the local gay rights group to a hate-speech Pastor who, days earlier, had advocated the stoning of gay people and who refuses to retract his statement.

Things become more complicated with the emergence of a far right group targeting immigrants in a local working-class estate. As their attacks escalate, Lucy and her boss, Tom Fleming, must also deal with the building power struggle between an old paramilitary commander and his deputy that threatens to further enflame an already volatile situation.

Hatred and complicity abound in the days leading up to the Brexit vote in McGilloway’s new Lucy Black thriller. Compelling and current, Bad Blood is an expertly crafted and acutely observed page-turner.

My Thoughts & Review:

Bad Blood is the fourth book by Brian McGilloway to feature DS Lucy Black, and thankfully for me this can read well as a stand alone book, although after reading this I am very keen to go back and catch up on the previous three books.

There is a very current feel to this, the plot incorporating the Brexit referendum as well as issues of racism, immigration and homophobia.
DS Black and her superior officer, DI Tom Fleming are members of the Public Protection Unit which requires them to assist on numerous investigations including the murder of a gay teenager.   With the influx of crime on the Greenway estate, racist attacks and and building unrest it soon becomes clear that their investigations will be far from easy, the PPU having to sensitively navigate round certain figures within the communities to get the answers they need.  The way that Brian McGilloway manages to weave threads of different factions and their grievances is very interesting.  From those who would fight in favour of bakeries discriminating against homosexuality for religious reasons all the way through to people retaining anger at the injustices of the Troubles, the author manages to incorporate details that add to the plot but never overshadows the main storyline.

As a police procedural this is a good read, there are enough twists to the plot to keep a reader interested and keep them guessing as to what may happen.  There are some incredibly well created characters that will delight readers.  DS Lucy Black is a refreshing change from the usual detective, she does not appear to be damaged or have a horrendously sordid backstory and instead works well with others to do her job well.

My thanks to Hayley Camis and Corsair for the opportunity to read and review this book as well as for being part of the blog tour.

You can buy a copy of “Bad Blood” via:

Amazon
The Book Depository
Wordery

Don’t forget to check out the other stops on the tour for reviews and extracts!

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Published: 2 March 2017

 

Description:

The last time Tess de Vere saw William Benson she was a law student on work experience. He was a twenty-one year old, led from the dock of the Old Bailey to begin a life sentence for murder. He’d said he was innocent. She’d believed him.

Sixteen years later Tess overhears a couple of hacks mocking a newcomer to the London Bar, a no-hoper with a murder conviction, running his own show from an old fishmonger’s in Spitalfields. That night she walks back into Benson’s life. The price of his rehabilitation – and access to the Bar – is an admission of guilt to the killing of Paul Harbeton, whose family have vowed revenge. He’s an outcast. The government wants to shut him down and no solicitor will instruct him. But he’s subsidised by a mystery benefactor and a desperate woman has turned to him for help: Sarah Collingstone, mother of a child with special needs, accused of slaying her wealthy lover. It’s a hopeless case and the murder trial, Benson’s first, starts in four days. The evidence is overwhelming but like Benson long ago, she swears she’s innocent. Tess joins the defence team, determined to help Benson survive. But as Benson follows the twists and turns in the courtroom, Tess embarks upon a secret investigation of her own, determined to uncover the truth behind the death of Paul Harbeton on a lonely night in Soho.

True to life, fast-paced and absolutely compelling, Summary Justice introduces a new series of courtroom dramas featuring two maverick lawyers driven to fight injustice at any cost.

My Thoughts & Review:

“Summary Justice” is a legal thriller with a difference, the criminal defence barrister has a criminal conviction and is out on licence.  Perhaps it’s through ignorance, but I always assumed that if a person possessed a criminal conviction they would not be permitted to practice law , especially when that conviction was for murder.  However in this novel it is explained that this is not necessarily the case and more so it is vital to the plot.

When I started reading this book I initially thought I would read a chapter or two to see what I thought, perhaps finish the ironing and do some knitting….I underestimated the pull of this book.  From the opening chapters I was utterly hooked by the the intricately woven plot, clever storytelling and fantastic characters.

William Benson is an interesting character, having served a custodial sentence before being released on license, he had all the time he needed to study the complexities of law to enable him to step towards a career in this field, the major issue for him being access to the Bar.  His passion for law and determination to succeed is great reading, as is his performance in court – if they ever decide to turn this into a tv series I would absolutely love to see that played out!  His inner struggles make him more endearing towards the reader, feeling some sympathy towards his plight but at the same time, without concrete proof of his innocence the reader cannot be entirely sympathetic as there is still a chance he may be a murderer.
Tess de Vere is also very interesting, she wants to do the right thing, fight the good fight and believe the best in some people but this is not always the case and her wariness towards Benson causes her to reinvestigate his case to find out whether he really is as innocent as he told her 16 years ago.

I found the pace of this book relentless, in a good way of course.  I wanted to keep reading to find out what happened with the case, what happened with Benson (both professionally and personally) and how the tale would unravel.  There were plenty of red herrings to keep me guessing along the way and I absolutely loved it!

Now I just have to hope that there will be another book out soon, billed as a “new series of courtroom dramas featuring two maverick lawyers driven to fight injustice at any cost” means we should have more fantastic books to come, and I cannot wait!

My thanks to the publisher for a copy of this book to read and review.

You can buy a copy of “Summary Justice” via Amazon here or Wordery here

 

About the Author:

John Fairfax is the pen name of William Brodrick who practised as a barrister before becoming a full-time novelist.

Under his own name he is a previous winner of the Crime Writers Association Gold Dagger Award and his first novel was a Richard and Judy Selection.

 

 

 

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I am delighted to welcome you to my stop on the blog tour for Mark Hardie’s debut Burned and Broken, and share my review of this impressive novel.
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Description:

 An enigmatic policeman – currently the subject of an internal investigation – is found burned to death in his car on the Southend sea front.

A vulnerable young woman, fresh out of the care system, is trying to discover the truth behind the sudden death of her best friend.

As DS Frank Pearson and DC Catherine Russell from the Essex Police Major Investigation Team are brought in to solve the mystery that surrounds their colleague’s death, they’re under intense pressure to crack the case without damaging the force’s reputation. 

When a dramatic turn of events casts a whole new light on both cases, the way forward is far from clear. Were the victims connected in some way? And just how much should Pearson and Russell reveal to their bosses as they begin to unearth some dark secrets that the force would rather keep buried?

My Thoughts & Review:

The book opens with the horrific scene of DI Sean Carragher burning to death  in his car.  The discovery of his unrecognisable body in the burnt out vehicle sparks an investigation by DS Frank Pearson and the Essex Police Major Investigation Team.  As far as openings go, this is a pretty powerful one, it immediately grabs the reader’s attention.

The narrative jumps back four days, the author recounts the events leading up to the investigation of DI Carragher’s death.  During these four days the reader is introduced to Donna Freeman, a sixteen year old in her first year out of care.  Donna is convinced that her friend Alicia has been murdered and continuously tries to get someone to listen to her that it was not an accident.  We also discover that DI Carragher was being investigated by Professional Standards for suspected corruption, witness intimidation and assault to name but a few, and that there are no shortage of suspects connected with his death.

In amongst the sprawling investigation, DS Frank Pearson has his own troubles, in poor health and undergoing tests for suspected pancreatic cancer and estranged from his wife.  DC Catherine (Cat) Russell finds the reach of the Professional Standards investigation into her former partner (DI Carragher) is coming too close to home, falling under suspicion by association, she desperately wants to protect Sean Carragher, but remaining loyal will mean telling lies for him.
The death of one of their own sees the Police throwing resources at this case to solve it quickly, but that also means there are many pair of eyes watching the investigation, ones that will not approve of the discoveries made by Pearson and Russell.

This is a very cleverly written thriller, with layer upon layer of detail. The use of different perspectives for narration gives the reader a good insight into the Police investigation as well as the life of Donna in care.
The novel is split into three distinct parts, and this is a very effective technique for setting out the story, indeed this would also make this an idea book to transfer to screen.
Well paced plot, with brilliant little details added for that extra something special.  The characters are well crafted, realistic and credible.  The location used is a welcome change from the normal big cities, so thank you Mr Hardie, you’ve broken away from the “norm” and given the reader what we’ve been screaming out for.

A very impressive début novel and one I would have no hesitation to recommend.

You can buy a copy of Burned and Broken here.

About the Author:

Mark Hardie was born in 1960 in Bow, East London. He began writing fulltime after completely losing his eyesight in 2002. He has completed a creative writing course and an advanced creative writing course at the Open University, both with distinction.

Mark lives with his wife Debbie in Southend-on-Sea.


Don’t forget to check out the other stops on the blog tour!

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Published: 17 January 2017
Reviewed: 18 January 2017

4 out of 5 stars

Copy provided by Little, Brown Book Group

 

Description:

 

 

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I am delighted to welcome you to my stop on the blog tour for Keith Stuart’s wonderful  novel “A Boy Made of Blocks” and share my review with you.

Description:

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Discover a unique, funny and moving debut that will make you laugh, cry and smile.
Meet thirtysomething dad, Alex

He loves his wife Jody, but has forgotten how to show it. He loves his son Sam, but doesn’t understand him. Something has to change. And he needs to start with himself.
Meet eight-year-old Sam

Beautiful, surprising, autistic. To him the world is a puzzle he can’t solve on his own.
But when Sam starts to play Minecraft, it opens up a place where Alex and Sam begin to rediscover both themselves and each other . . .
Can one fragmented family put themselves back together, one piece at a time?
Inspired by the author’s experiences with his own son, A Boy Made of Blocks is an astonishingly authentic story of love, family and autism.

My Thoughts & Review:

A Boy Made of Blocks is one of those rare books that changes how a reader thinks, it makes you pause and re evaluate things you once took for granted and makes you appreciate the things you do have.

From the very beginning of the novel Alex is a character that many readers will struggle to connect with.  His attempts to rebuild his life after the breakdown of his marriage are awkward, showing incredible insensitivity, impatience and a complete lack of understanding.  Making the decision to try a trial separation from his marriage to Jody he moves in with a friend, his temporary break from the toils of parenting are welcomed.  However, there is no break for the long suffering Jody, she still has to parent Sam, their eight year old autistic son.
It’s at this point that I will freely admit to not having much knowledge of Autism and related spectrum disorders.  Having never encountered this disorder I did some research whilst reading this book and I can understand some of Alex’s struggles.

Narration by Alex opens this character up for a lot of criticism, but also lets the reader see what it can be like to struggle to adjust to something so huge.  There is no comprehensive parenting manual handed out when exiting the maternity hospital, and as a parent I know that sometimes “winging it” is the only thing you can do.  So when parents are faced with a life changing diagnosis of their young child this must make things 100% more confusing, more difficult, and more challenging.

As the story unfolds, the reader begins to empathise with Alex, understands his troubles and realises there’s a deep rooted issue that needs to be addressed.  I sympathised with Jody, she is the main carer for Sam having given up her job previously.  Alex feels that Jody has no time for him, and in a way he is right, Jody spends her day navigating the labyrinth of triggers with Sam whilst trying to keep a home for Alex to retu

rn to at the end of the working day and she is exhausted – physically and mentally drained.  It’s no wonder therefore that their relationship falters, they are both struggling and both need the others support.

Sam is a wonderfully rich character, the author’s writing really gives the reader a feel for how Sam struggles with everyday life.  How noises or changes to routine can upset him to the point of meltdown, and the fallout from it all is traumatic for both Sam and his parents.  His struggles with school and the interactions highlighted an issue faced by many parents in this situation and the need for more specialist schools equipped to help and support.

The turning point for the family is the discovery of Minecraft, a computer game that Sam discovers after Jody was given an old xbox for him to play with.  The effect it has on Sam is beautiful, Alex’s reaction when he watches Sam playing it was a joy to read.  Seeing that light bulb moment for Alex when he realises that his son has connected with the game, captivated by it.  Minecraft appearers a very structured game, things have purpose and a place which means that Sam can relate to this.  But through playing the game he and Alex begin to bond, a connection between them forms.

There is a very poignant aspect to this novel, but it’s also humorous and insightful at the same time.  Keith Stuart has written a story that evokes emotion and laughter whilst educating his audience, the fact that he has written it from personal experience adds an authenticity.

Utterly brilliant, tear jerking, funny and true to life are just some of the things I can say about this book, but it’s really one you need to read for yourself to decide.  Just make sure you have tissues near by….

You can buy a copy of A Boy Made of Blocks here.

 

About the Author:

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In 2012 one of KEITH STUART‘s two sons was diagnosed on the autism spectrum. The ramifications felt huge. But then Keith and both boys started playing videogames together – especially Minecraft. Keith had always played games and, since 1995, has been writing about them, first for specialist magazines like Edge and PC Gamer then, for the last ten years, as games editor for the Guardian. The powerful creative sharing as a family and the blossoming of communication that followed informed his debut novel.


Don’t forget to check out the other stops on the blog tour, a new set of bloggers each day right up to Friday 20th January 2017!

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Published: 12 January 2017
Reviewed: 11 January 2017

4 out of 5 stars

Copy supplied by Little, Brown Book Group UK as part of the blog tour

 

Description:

 

My Thoughts & Review:

The Dry was an example of a book I saw spoken about on social media, many commenting that this would be the book to look out for, a story so cleverly crafted and interwoven, atmospheric to the point of rendering the reader speechless.  Well that was more than enough to catch my interest and thankfully I managed to get a copy to review and see for myself just how good this book actually was.

Initially I found this slow to get into, perhaps it was the fact that previous to this I’ve been lucky enough to read some amazing pacy thrillers, but fellow reviewers suggested persevering, stating that they had loved this book, so I continued reading.
Looking back I can appreciate the slow opening now, working so well with the depressive atmosphere in Kiewarra, the arid heat causing people and animals to slowly wilt and languish.

Aaron Falk is an interesting character, not only because of his link to the deceased Luke Hadler and the secret they shared, but also for the person he has become since leaving the town twenty years ago.  His inability to say no to Hadler’s parents means he becomes involved in the investigation of the deaths of Hadler, his wife and his son.  The oppressive hostility he faces from the townspeople shows just have little their mindsets have advanced in the decades after his departure.  Working alongside Raco, the new chief of police they discover there may be more to things than initially thought.
Both of these characters were very interesting and readers will feel able to connect with them quite easily.  Conversely, Grant Dow was a character that I struggled with, malicious, nasty and downright horrible – a very well crafted character!  Emphasising the point that some bullies never change.
The juxtaposition of the open space of the town and the closed knit community always makes for engaging reading, and that is definitely the case here.  Outsiders are exactly that, people from outside the town, and are made to feel this the entire time they there – the atmosphere is very oppressive and claustrophobic.  None of this is aided by the drought that is ravaging the town, people are quick to mistrust, tempers are frayed and it only needs a small spark to ignite the arid landscape.   Adding to the overall enthralment of the novel.

Jane Harper has shown herself to be a very accomplished author with this impressive debut, and although it was slow to begin with I am very glad I stuck with it.

You can buy a copy of The Dry here.


Don’t forget to check out the other stops on the blog tour!

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Paperback Published: 6 April 2017
Reviewed: 20 November 2016

4.5 out of 5 stars

Copy supplied by Sphere in return for an honest review

 

Description:

TWO CHILDHOOD FRIENDS… ONE BECAME A DETECTIVE… ONE BECAME A KILLER…

One night changed their lives
Thirty years ago, the Longacre Children’s Home stood on a London street where once-grand Victorian homes lay derelict. There its children lived in terror of Gordon Tallis, the home’s manager.

Cries in the fire and smoke
Then Connor Laird arrived: a frighteningly intense boy who quickly became Tallis’ favourite criminal helper. Soon after, destruction befell the Longacre, and the facts of that night have lain buried . . . until today.

A truth both must hide
Now, a mysterious figure, the Two O’Clock Boy, is killing all who grew up there, one by one. DI Ray Drake will do whatever it take to stop the murders – but he will go even further to cover up the truth.

Discover the gripping, twist-filled start to a fantastic new London-set crime thriller series starring morally corrupt DI Ray Drake – the perfect new addiction for fans of Luther.

My Thoughts & Review:

When I started this book I was grabbed by the story, it was interesting and the explosive first pages really set the tone for the rest of the book.   The description promised mystery, intrigue and murder but this turned out to be so much more,  a brilliantly compelling read that was almost impossible to put down.

Skilfully, Mark Hill weaves together numerous threads to bring the reader an enticing story that tangles along the way with some dangerous and devastating events.  The reader is plunged into the chaotic and desolate Longacre Children’s Home in the 1980s, the details of the goings on there are harrowing reading at times, and the impacts of the abuse towards the children resident there are far reaching, so much so that some are still living in the shadows of their torment.  The tormentor in the home ruled with an iron fist, somewhat drunkenly and never missed an opportunity to exploit his charges for his criminal activities.

The recent promotion of DS Flick Crowley should be a cause for celebration, but for this character she is constantly checking herself, ensuring she is not reading subtle context into remarks of her mentor DI Ray Drake and superiors.  Determined not to show signs she is struggling under pressure or not up to the challenge of leading a murder investigation, Flick looks for connections between the victims not realising that someone is working hard to cover up the evidence she needs to solve the case.

Rich with lies and secrets, this is a well plotted novel, it draws the reader in and builds a level of tension that makes this an incredibly fast paced read.  The characters in this are very well written, each one of them is damaged in their own way, be it Elliot and his time at Longacre which turned him into an alcohol abusing criminal, Flick Crowley with her strained relationship with her father, or indeed Ray Drake who recently lost his wife to cancer and has a troubled relationship with his daughter.  Each character is a victim in their own way, and through clever and insightful writing Mark Hill makes the reader feel empathy towards their plights.  The strong characters really bring this book alive, there are elements of the personalities that readers will connect with,  and will understand but will ultimately feel driven to read on to discover what happens to that character(s). 

The writing itself is impressive, and it is hard to believe that this is a debut novel.  It’s chilling, it’s compelling and it’s brilliant.  The deception and danger in this book are so well constructed that the reader may guess what happens from time to time, but Hill ensures that they are kept on their toes with some of the unexpected twists he throws into the story.

Now I just need the details for the next outing for DI Drake and DS Crowley…….any hints when we can expect book two Mr Hill!?

 

About the Author:

Courtesy of http://markhillauthor.com/about

I’ve been a journalist and an award-winning music radio producer. I worked for about five minutes in PR.

But I write now, which is just as well, because I love writing. It’s my dream job.

It’s nice to see you here, thanks for coming, but you can also find me on social media.

I’m on Facebook right here. If you like The Two O’Clock Boy, if you’re interested in keeping up to date with news, events and giveaways – everything Drake and Crowley, basically – then head to my author page and, you know, ‘like’ the page.

Or if Twitter’s your thing then you can find me there, too, @markhillwriter. I tweet about all sorts: writing, books, movies, games, custard, otters, all the stuff you like. So give me a follow.

But wait, before you do any of that, make sure you buy my book.

 

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Published: 20 October 2016
Reviewed: 21 October 2016

5 out of 5 stars

Copy supplied by Sphere / Little, Brown Book Group in return for an honest review

Description:

It’s Christmas in the Cornish coastal village of Mount Polbearne – a time for family, friends and feasting.

Polly Waterford loves running the Little Beach Street Bakery. She’s at her happiest when she’s creating delicious, doughy treats and the festive season always inspires her to bake and knead something extra special for the village residents. In fact, the only thing she loves more than her bakery is curling up with her gorgeous boyfriend, Huckle. She’s determined that this Christmas is going to be their best one yet, but life doesn’t always work out as planned…

When Polly’s best friend Kerensa turns up with a secret that threatens the life Polly and Huckle have built together, the future begins to look uncertain. And then a face from Polly’s past reappears and things become even more complicated. Polly can usually find solace in baking but she has a feeling that’s not going to be enough this time. Can she get things back on track so that everyone has a merry Christmas?

My Thoughts & Review:

As much as I am a fan of crime and psychological thrillers, there’s something about Jenny Colgan’s writing that makes me do a meerkat impression whenever I hear she has a new book coming out and this one was no exception.  Christmas at the Little Beach Street Bakery is a heartwarminly wonderful slice of Christmas and it sees the return to the beautifully described coastal village of Mount Polbearne.  Even more exciting was “seeing” one of my favourite characters – Neil the puffin.  Yes, ok the other characters are alright too I suppose…..

I should point out that you can read this book as a standalone, if you’re looking to start your Christmas reading list this is an excellent book to include.  You don’t have to read the entire series to make sense of what happens in this book, the who’s who and why etc but with a series as lovely as this why would you want to miss out on the preceding books?  They are Little Beach Street Bakery and Summer at Little Beach Street Bakery.

We are reunited with Polly Waterford who is a great character, with baking skills that would rival any in the tent at the Great British Bake Off I reckon.  She has grown so much over the course of the previous books and the development of her character has been wonderful to watch.  This Christmas all she wants is a quiet time with her boyfriend Huckle, but alas, things never go as planned for her.  Throw in familial issues, friendship worries, trying to save the puffin sanctuary and trying to juggle running a business and it’s only a matter of time before Polly is faced with making some uncomfortable decisions about her present and her future.  The test of her character comes when trying to remain loyal to those she loves and keeping them all from being hurt by revelations that could ruin everything.

I absolutely loved catching up with the residents of the wee village, their stories are intertwined and it’s so lovely to see the community spirit between them all.  The fact that Polly has “pet” puffin living with her and Huckle is so funny and endearing, even more so when Colgan depicts him as such a heat loving, affection giving bird – the idea of  him warming up by the Aga made me chuckle.  I also loved the fact that because he’s overweight Polly and Huckle took him for a walk….expect Neil had other ideas and slept in a backpack.

Jenny Colgan writes with such a wonderful flair, the vivid descriptiveness means the reader can easily visualise the village, the crossing to get over to the island (tide permitting), the people and the mouthwatering bakes that Polly creates.  There is an easy going feel to the narration, almost as if the reader was having a chat with Jenny, the conversational tone really works and makes this such an enjoyable read that you don’t realise how quickly you are reading the book whilst savouring each detail.

The plot is filled with humour, romance, loyalty and friendship.  The festive feel of it all is cozy and uplifting.  It’s the perfect Christmas read!

A huge thank you to Jenny for the recipes at the back of the book, but don’t think that this will let you off the hook for making this the last book in the series!  I will be sad to say goodbye to Mount Polbearne and the villagers – especially Neil but I can honestly say it’s been a real delight to follow such a lovely series.  And it does mean that I will have to move on to Jenny’s next set of books, whatever they shall be!

You can buy a copy of Christmas at the Little Beach Street Bakery here.

About the Author:

Jenny Colgan is the author of numerous bestselling novels – Little Beach Street Bakery and the Top 5 bestseller Welcome to Rosie Hopkins’ Sweetshop of Dreams, which won the RNA Romantic Comedy Novel Award 2013. Meet Me at the Cupcake Café was also a Sunday Times Top 10 bestseller, and won the Melissa Nathan Award for Comedy Romance 2012.

Jenny is married with three children and lives in Scotland. For more about Jenny, visit her website and her Facebook page, or follow her on Twitter @jennycolgan

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