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** My thanks to Thomas at Transworld Books for my copy of The Cornoner’s Daughter **

 

Description:

1816 was the year without a summer. A rare climatic event has brought frost to July, and a lingering fog casts a pall over a Dublin stirred by zealotry and civil unrest, torn between evangelical and rationalist dogma.

Amid the disquiet, a young nursemaid in a pious household conceals a pregnancy and then murders her newborn. Rumours swirl about the identity of the child’s father, but before an inquest can be held, the maid is found dead. When Abigail Lawless, the eighteen-year-old daughter of Dublin’s coroner, by chance discovers a message from the maid’s seducer, she is drawn into a world of hidden meanings and deceit.

An only child, Abigail has been raised amid the books and instruments of her father’s grim profession. Pushing against the restrictions society places on a girl her age, she pursues an increasingly dangerous investigation. As she leads us through dissection rooms and dead houses, Gothic churches and elegant ballrooms, a sinister figure watches from the shadows – an individual she believes has already killed twice, and is waiting to kill again…

Determined, resourceful and intuitive, Abigail Lawless emerges as a memorable young sleuth operating at the dawn of forensic science.

My Thoughts & Review:

When the opening line of a book reads: “For my eighteenth birthday, Father promised me the hand of a handsome young man, which he duly delivered mounted in a glass bell-jar“, you can’t help but fall somewhat in love with the way Andrew Hughes writes.  That one sentence sums up Abigail Lawless perfectly, inquisitive and headstrong, pushing back against the notions of what is deemed appropriate for her in the time.

Abigail Lawless is not what society would expect of an 18 year-old woman, her unique upbringing surrounded by medical texts and the wealth of knowledge from her father has given her an interest that some may describe as unsavoury, almost borderline macabre.  But that does not dampen her thirst for knowledge, and having an inquisitive mind is what leads her to ask questions that she really should leave well alone.

Set in Dublin in 1816, the reader is transported to the gloomy streets where trouble and rumour are rife.  Unease is prevalent with the upsurgence of the Brethren, a religious group who seem to have connections throughout society and are not afraid to share their righteous messages with others.
The discovery of a dead newborn at the home of a Brethren household prompts an investigation by the coroner, which in turn captures the interest of his daughter.  Abigail seems almost disturbed at the notion that the nursemaid murdered her own child and resolves to find out what really happened.  Her quest for answers leads her down some dark alleys and facing unknown dangers, but it would seem that our plucky protagonist will not be deterred.  Despite her plucky attitude, she must conform to some social constructs and asks her father’s assistant Ewan Weir to accompany her when venturing out.

The way that the plot is constructed is nicely done, the details that develop into the bigger picture are cleverly sewn into the narrative, small hints and clues scattered throughout for readers to enjoy.  Alice’s love of science makes for some interesting reading and indeed the lessons taught by her father give readers extra information that proves useful later in the plot – I certainly learned something new about a plant I’d never considered poisonous before.
The mystery element to the plot coupled with the increasing tension makes this a very enjoyable read and one that my mind kept coming back to when I reluctantly had to stop reading.  I loved the way that things linked up, and despite being told not to think any further about things, Abigail’s mind kept working on ideas and notions, questioning anything that didn’t sit right, the same way that my own mind would.

Wonderfully descriptive settings transport the reader whether it’s to the dissection rooms, the gloomy lecture theatre or lavish ball, there’s a great sense of realism there that leaves a reader feeling that they can conjure clear images to enable them to enjoy that story that little more.

An absolutely wonderful historical fiction novel full of mystery, intrigue and forensic science!

You can buy a copy of The Coroner’s Daughter via:

Amazon UK
Wordery
Book Depository

 

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** My thanks to Noelle & Kim at Bookouture for the opportunity to read this and for inviting me to be part of the blog tour **

 

Description:

She fell in love with a killer, now she’s one too.
The suitcase was badly rusted, and took Erika several attempts, but it yielded and sagged open as she unzipped it. Nothing could prepare her for what she would find inside…

When a battered suitcase containing the dismembered body of a young man washes up on the shore of the river Thames, Detective Erika Foster is shocked. She’s worked on some terrifying cases but never seen anything like this before. 

As Erika and her team set to work, she makes the link with another victim – the body of a young woman dumped in an identical suitcase two weeks ago. 

Erika quickly realises she’s on the trail of a serial killer who’s already made their next move. Yet just as Erika starts to make headway with the investigation, she is the victim of a brutal attack. 

But nothing will stop Erika. As the body count rises, the twin daughters of her colleague Commander Marsh are abducted, and the stakes are higher than ever before. Can Erika save the lives of two innocent children before it’s too late? She’s running out of time and about to make a disturbing discovery…there’s more than one killer

Brilliantly gripping, Cold Blood will have you hooked from the first page and holding your breath to the heart-stopping and shocking ending. 

My Thoughts & Review:

We all have those authors who’s books we will buy without a moment of hesitation, the ones we will patiently wait for publication dates to roll round so we can get our mitts on a copy to devour and Robert Bryndza is one of those authors for me.  The moment I heard about Cold Blood I rushed to Amazon to pre order a copy and then proceeded to wait impatiently until it appeared on my kindle.

DCI Erika Foster returns in the fifth book of the series, and life isn’t quite ready to go easy on her.  The discovery of a dismembered body in a suitcase washed up from the river Thames is just the start Erika’s problems.  Soon another body is discovered with a similar MO and Erika is convinced they have a serial killer on their hands, but the discovery of cocaine hidden inside one of the bodies prompts Erika’s superiors to pass the case to another team, freeing Erika to deal with other cases.  Unfortunately for Erika she is attacked whilst carrying out her duties and this leaves her incapacitated while the case is mothballed.

Robert Bryndza has mastered the art of layering complex threads throughout his plots and holding them perfectly taught to ensure that readers are taken on a spine chillingly twisted journey with his characters.  The clever use of short chapters make this such a gripping read and one of those “I’ll just read one more chapter” sorts of books….
Atmosphere is absolutely key in this book, and readers cannot help but feel drawn to the situations our protagonist charges into.
Erika Foster is battered, bruised but never gives up.  Her mental state has taken some helluva knocks in recent years and the fact she picks herself up, shakes off the muck and gets back in the fight is superb to see.  It’s so good to see a strong and determined female detective who as developed well over the course of the series.  The dynamic between Erika Foster and her DI Kate Moss is still great, they work well together and there is a great chemistry between them.  It is good to see that the team can work well without one of their own, Petersen of course was injured at the end of the last book so his absence makes sense and does not seem to impact on the team dynamic as a whole.

This is a heart racing, hold your breath, drama packed instalment of one of the best crime thriller series available!  Robert Bryndza is a genius and raises the bar for the genre!   I would urge you to discover this series now if you don’t already follow it!

You can buy a copy of Cold Blood via:

Amazon UK 🇬🇧
Amazon US 🇺🇸

 

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** My thanks to Sarah at Bloodhound Books for the opportunity to read a copy of this book and for inviting me to be part of the blog tour **

 

Description:

Pre-teen girls are being abducted from their homes and their families murdered. When Frank Rogers, once a DI with the Met and now running his own debt collection agency, is told that his own daughter is missing, his son murdered, he naturally wants to become involved with the case.

Soon Frank’s face is all over the news. In an unexpected turn of events, the killer contacts the police and says he is willing to talk, but only to Frank.

When the body of the first abducted girl is discovered, Frank realises it is a race against time to save his daughter.

In order to solve the case, Frank must work out how the killer is picking his victims.

But how do you catch a murderer who is hiding in plain sight? And can Frank solve the mystery, when he has so much to lose?

 

My Thoughts & Review

Beginning with such a petrifying opening chapter, Tony J Forder sets the tone quickly for a chilling and claustrophobic thriller.  The panic and fear felt by Laura was so well written that I found myself worrying for her and on the edge of my seat desperate to find out what was going to happen next.  What then follows is a deviously twisted case with one of the most twisted killers out there, that draws the reader in and holds them effortlessly.

The plot of this book is wonderfully crafted, and I loved the way that narration switched between Laura, Frank and the killer.  Switching just at the right time to keep tension high and readers on edge – perfect!  There were moments that I did squirm and wanted to hide behind a cushion, this is a seriously abhorrent killer and not one that can be underestimated or outwitted easily by the Police or his captives.
I really appreciated the creeping unease that Forder wove through his book, making me worry for the safety of the characters and their families, something so small but effective from the perspective of a reader.

The strong survival instincts of Laura were something I wanted to applaud at times, and at her young age were commendable.  Her ability to stop and think coherently was something that helped her and made her stand out as such a strong character.  Her father Frank was also an interesting character.  He was a broken man after the murder of his son Gary and his ex wife Janet, but his determination to get Laura back kept him functioning.  The comradeship between Frank and his ex police colleagues was one of great respect (well most colleagues….), and in particular the relationship with his ex partner on the force was wonderfully written.  Their easy conversations about the case acting as a therapy for Frank as well as helping the investigation.

Such a brilliant, frenetic read that kept me on the edge of my seat and lingered in my head when I did manage to prise my kindle out of my hands (only when I had to do the dishes or something I needed to pay attention to).  Would highly recommend this book!

You can buy a copy of Degrees of Darkness via:

Amazon

 

About the Author:

On 1st February 2017, Tony signed to Bloodhound Books, who published his edgy crime thriller Bad to the Bone in spring. It is the first in a series.

Later this year, Tony’s second novel for Bloodhound Books, Degrees of Darkness, featuring ex-detective Frank Rogers, will be published.

Tony has been writing stories since childhood, but it was only when he won a short story competition judged by an editor from Pan Books, that he realised he might actually be half decent at this writing business.

The story, Gino’s Bar and Grille, went on to be published in Dark Voices 2, part of the celebrated Pan Book of Horror series. Three further short story sales followed: Book End, published in Dark Voices 4, Character Role, in FEAR magazine, and finally A Grim Story, which featured in A Rattler’s Tale.

During a book singing for Dark Voices 2, Tony was seated next to author Brian Lumley. At one point, Tony revealed to Brian that he felt out of place alongside all the proper writers. Brian then told Tony something he has never forgotten: “The moment you sat down and pulled a story out of your imagination and put it to paper, you became a proper writer.”

Subsequently, Tony began to focus on novel writing. He admits that his initial attempts were exploratory and somewhat derivative, although there was some interest from an agent – who oddly enough turned out to be Brian Lumley’s wife, Dorothy.

Tony wrote Degrees of Darkness, which he was happy with. He wasn’t so happy with a follow-up, so that never saw the light of day.

As a part-time writer with a full-time job, plus some ill-health, life got in the way and, although Tony continued writing, it took a back seat to making a living.

This year, however, Tony has been inspired by new ideas, and has been working hard on two new books, both of which should be completed in 2017.

Connect with Tony:

https://www.facebook.com/tonyjforder/?fref=ts

https://twitter.com/TonyJForder?lang=en-gb

 

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Description:

Danny Bird and the gang are back.

In this, the 3rd book of the popular series, life at The Marquess of Queensberry public house has returned to something resembling normality. Although his complicated love life is still in a state of some disarray, things are looking pretty rosy for Danny Bird.

Not for long…

Something horrible is discovered in the cellar, someone horrible comes to threaten one of the gang, and Danny and Lady Caroline are faced with some of their biggest challenges yet.

With local crime-lord Chopper Falzone keeping a watchful eye on his investment, Danny and Lady Caz must unmask a murderer, find some stolen diamonds and thwart a blackmailer – just another day at The Marq.

As the plot races breathlessly towards its conclusion, everyone realises that secrets, no matter how well hidden, can’t stay buried forever.

My Thoughts & Review:

I have to admit I did give a little squeal of delight when I heard that the third book in the Danny Bird series was going to be out soon and then headed over to Amazon to pre order it as soon as the publisher tweeted the pre order link was working.  Then there was the (impatient) wait until publication day….finally Death of a Devil arrived on my kindle and I took some time away from my review books to savour this one.

Death of a Devil sees the return of the prodigal Danny Bird and Lady Caroline Holloway who worked their way into my heart back in November 2015 when they first appeared in Death of a Diva and since then have delighted and amused me in equal measure.
Farrell’s writing has always been fantastic, but this latest offering feels different, like he’s developed a newer level of plotting and story telling that exceeds all expectation.
Beautifully clever plotting keeps readers guessing and completely off guard throughout.
The varied cast of characters add colour and shape to the series and each in their own right is superb.  Having followed the series it is nice to see the development of the additional characters, as well as the stars.
In this book it was interesting to explore more of the London gangster background as well as learn more about Ali the bar manager and see a different side to her that many readers might not have ever imagined.

The madcap adventures that Danny and Caz end up embroiled in are chaotic to say the least, but they somehow seem to have more lives than the proverbial cat and come out of it all relatively unscathed – just a little wiser for their troubles.

For those not familiar with the Danny Bird series, the first book Death of a Diva, the second book Death of a Nobody, and then finally Death of a Devil.  These books are fantastic to read and I would recommend reading them in order, but if you fancy picking up the latest installment it can be read as a stand alone book as there is ample information woven throughout the plot to inform you of previous events.

Another impressive novel from Derek Farrell, I just hope he doesn’t keep us waiting too long for his next book!!

You can buy a copy of Death of a Devil via:

Amazon

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Hello and happy Friday!  And you all know what Friday brings, yes,  its time to share another post to celebrate Indie Publishing and this time it’s No Exit Press, part of the Oldcastle Books Group in the spotlight!   Today I have a review of “The Unquiet Dead” by Ausma Zehanat Khan.


Description:

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One man is dead.

But thousands were his victims.

Can a single murder avenge that of many?

Scarborough Bluffs, Toronto: the body of Christopher Drayton is found at the foot of the cliffs. Muslim Detective Esa Khattak, head of the Community Policing Unit, and his partner Rachel Getty are called in to investigate. As the secrets of Drayton’s role in the 1995 Srebrenica genocide of Bosnian Muslims surface, the harrowing significance of his death makes it difficult to remain objective. In a community haunted by the atrocities of war, anyone could be a suspect. And when the victim is a man with so many deaths to his name, could it be that justice has at long last been served?

In this important debut novel, Ausma Zehanat Khan has written a compelling and provocative mystery exploring the complexities of identity, loss, and redemption.

Winner of the Barry Award, Arthur Ellis Award, and Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award for Best First Novel

My Thoughts & Review:

I don’t think I was fully prepared for the journey that this book would take me on when I started reading – it’s such an powerful and evocative read.
Beautiful descriptions of locations and the fantastic settings juxtapose perfectly with the brutal realities expertly woven throughout the plot.  Some aspects of the plot do make for difficult reading but these are important and perhaps due to my unfamiliarity of the massacre mentioned within in the pages of this book I found it all the more harrowing.

Fascinating characters really bring this book alive, each character is so vastly different from the next and their back stories are tantalisingly intriguing that I could not help but devour this book in order to find out more about them.

Khan handles the topics within this book with a sensitivity and confidence that never sensationalises or belittles the facts of what has passed.  Her writing evokes great emotion from readers in the way she deftly weaves together a plot with many strands and characters, somehow she manages to keep everything tightly bound so that the reader is kept utterly entranced by each page.
The cultural and religious details that are included within the narrative are fascinating and add a feeling of authenticity to the characters involved, I found that I was almost taking notes of things to look up once I’d finished reading to find out more.

The plot is well constructed and despite there being so much going on in this book it works so well.  This is an expertly crafted novel that has readers trying to follow the clues along with the detectives to join the dots but never quite managing to beat them at their own game.  Including quotes at the start of each chapter from the various documents such as witness statements, testimony from the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and historical documents makes this stand out and is such an incredibly powerful tool to use. 

A haunting and moving book with a story that will stay with you long after you’ve put the book away.

 

You can buy a copy of The Unquiet Dead via:

Amazon

My thanks to No Exit Press for sending me a copy of this book to read and enjoy.

 

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Published: 13 July 2017

 

Description:

There are some surprises that no-one should ever have to experience. Standing over the body of your beloved – and murdered – niece is one of them. For Detective Inspector Harry Virdee, a man perilously close to the edge, it feels like the beginning of the end.

His boss may be telling him he’s too close to work the case, but this isn’t something that Harry can just let lie. He needs to dive into the murky depths of the Bradford underworld and find the monster that lurks there who killed his flesh and blood.

But before he can, he must tell his brother, Ron, the terrible news. And there is no predicting how he will react. Impulsive, dangerous and alarmingly well connected, Ron will act first and think later. Harry may have a murderer to find but if he isn’t careful, he may also have a murder to prevent.

My Thoughts & Review:

To say I was excited to hear the follow up to “Streets of Darkness” was available would be a little bit of an understatement.  I devoured the first book of this series in one day, and quite honestly if it hadn’t been for housework and life getting in the way I would have managed this book in one day too.  A.A. Dhand has a style of writing that grabs the reader and doesn’t let go easily.

For fans of the first book, you will be pleased to know that we catch up with Harry Virdee and see that he is still the pained and tortured soul that he was before, but now he has a one year old son, Aaron with his adoring wife Saima.
The discovery of a murder victim starts off a nightmare for Harry that he will never forget, the victim is his beloved niece Tara who also happens to be the daughter of his brother Ronnie.  Being excluded from the investigation won’t stop him searching for answers and finding out who murdered his niece.

Perfectly baited chapters with realistic and gritty writing make this an addictive read.  The seedy underbelly of Bradford is so vividly depicted through Dhand’s writing, it screams danger and the uncertainty that lurks in the shadows is enough to make this a thrilling read.  I’ve so far managed to type and delete everything I’ve written about the plot because I would end up giving something away, there are some very topical issues dealt with in this book and some of the revelations are sordid to say the least.
The cultural details that are included in this are fascinating, and once again I find that I’ve learned something from Dhand’s books.  I had no idea about taweez and the power they hold for those they are created for and found the discussion between Harry and Saima really interesting.  The importance of family and the traditions followed were details that piqued my interest as well as adding an authenticity to the characters.

The exploration of Harry’s character made for wonderful reading, the turmoil in doing the right thing and how far he would go when his family are concerned are a constant struggle for him.  His blurring the lines of the law show his desperation for answers and justice, but what will be the ultimate price?  It’s fair to say that danger stalks Harry and those close to him, he tries to keep them safe but cannot be there all the time.
The expanded history of the rift in his family is well written, I absolutely loved seeing the reactions of his family when they had to deal with Detective Inspector Virdee as opposed to shunned Harry Virdee.  His father’s anger felt so raw and being able to “hear” in his words his hatred towards Harry’s marriage and life decisions make for riveting reading.  But juxtaposed perfectly is the touching moment shared between Saima and Harry’s mother, for a few brief moments there is genuine love and happiness.

A.A. Dhand is a master of his craft, he writes some of the most gripping plots with some of the most tantalisingly dangerous situations and keeps readers begging for more!

My thanks to Vanessa Fox O’Loughlin for the recommendation and to A.A. Dhand for sending me a copy of this book, I am forever in your debts.

You can buy a copy of “Girl Zero” via:

Amazon
Book Depository
Wordery

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DECEIVED

Published: 24 June 2017

 

Description:

How well do you know your loved ones?

A girl struggling to cope with the murders of her mother and five-year-old brother.
A journalist chasing the ghost of a potential serial killer.
A thirteen-year-old girl who slaughtered her parents.
And a revenge-driven psychopath who is about to destroy everyone’s life.

After 9 years, a young writer is still coping with the brutal murders of her mother and five-year-old brother, as she moves into a house of horrors, to start a new life with her lover. Will friends and family be able to redeem Ally out of the impending doom in time? Will her infallible love become the key to the destruction of her already fragile world? Will madness prevail over love; true love over revenge?

Deceived is a gripping psychological thriller that mazes through the deepest, darkest emotions of human mind through the story of a vulnerable girl who treads in the mist of deception bred from a long unforgiven betrayal.

My Thoughts & Review:

“Deceived” was a book that I read a review of and was intrigued, not something I would usually pick up but this book screamed out “read me” and I was only too happy to oblige.

This is a very fast paced thriller that grabs readers from the very beginning, the explanation of the differences between a psychopath and a sociopath makes for very interesting reading and really sets the tone for this book – a book that will get under the skin of the reader.

Without retelling the plot, I will say that the book centres around Allison Stone (Ally), whose mother and younger brother were brutally murdered.  She suffers debilitating nightmares and is slowly working towards recovery from the painful memories of this loss with the help of her friend Sam, his dog Max, and her boyfriend Danny.  The plot then cleverly weaves together narrative from both the past and current time to keep the reader hooked.  The use of journal entries is fantastic, a great insight into the mind of a psychopath.   Running through the plot is also the story of Elizabeth Lawson, a 13 year old girl who murdered her parents in cold blood before running away in 1978.

This was a quick read for me, finding that I wanted to keep reading to find out if my suspicions were correct about the killer.  And I have to admit that I did like the way the ending was written, the author giving the reader something to ponder long after the book has been carefully placed on the bookshelf.  It’s a very impressive debut, and if I’m honest, it didn’t read as a debut.  It was well written, well thought out and very interesting.

My thanks to Emily at Citrus Publishers for the opportunity to read and review this book.

 

 

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