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Archive for the ‘mystery’ Category

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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Hello and welcome along to my stop on the blog tour for “Winter Downs” by Jan Edwards.  I am thrilled to be able to share chapter one of this book, which is the first in the “Bunch Courtney Investigates” series.

Description:

Winter Downs Jan Edwards front cover

In January of 1940 a small rural community on the Sussex Downs, already preparing for invasion from across the Channel, finds itself deep in the grip of a snowy landscape, with an ice-cold killer on the loose.

Bunch Courtney stumbles upon the body of Jonathan Frampton in a woodland clearing. Is this a case of suicide, or is it murder? Bunch is determined to discover the truth but can she persuade the dour Chief Inspector Wright to take her seriously?

 

 

 

You can buy a copy of “Winter Downs” via:

Amazon


Book Extract:
Chapter One

The first gunshot flushed a clamour of rooks into a yellowish sky to circle their tribal elms. Rose Courtney glanced at Daphne and wondered if she even noticed them. Since George’s funeral it was so difficult to know whether her younger sibling was wool gathering or had sunk so deep into mourning she simply failed to acknowledge her surroundings.  Understandable, Rose thought, but it’s still frustrating. She had intended this hack across the Downs to lift the spirits. It would be Rose and Daphne – or Bunch and Dodo as their family knew them – riding out just like old times. Except that it was anything but the old times, and even Bunch was beginning to concede that, on this occasion, horse riding might not provide the answer. She tucked rogue strands of dark hair beneath her hat, secured her plaid scarf, and thought how tempting it would be to return home. The sky had grown heavier in the half hour they had been out and fresh snow was beginning to fall in earnest.  The second blast was louder and deeper than the first, scattering rooks and pigeons in a fresh flurry, setting Dodo’s horse into a fidget. Bunch waited without comment for her sister to bring the animal under control.  ‘Pigeons.’ Dodo looked upwards, allowing snowflakes to flutter across her cheeks. ‘Georgie loved them. Cook bakes them with pears and a little port.’ It was the first time Bunch had heard Dodo mention her husband without prompting, and without tears, since the funeral. That’s a good sign, surely? ‘They don’t have a lot of meat on them,’ she said aloud. ‘Hardly worth the cartridge.’ She slapped her Fell pony’s neck, muttering, ‘Easy Perry, steady lad,’ though her mount had barely twitched so much as an ear. Her sister’s mare sidled nervously again so that its hooves slithered on the snow covered slope. ‘Everything all right, Dodo?’

‘The old girl’s a bit fresh from the box but I won’t let her get her head.’ Dodo backed her horse a few paces to prove control. ‘See? All tickety-boo.’ A seedling smile touched her face as she adjusted immaculate gloves and cuffs. Trust Dodo, Bunch thought. Middle of a windblown Sussex hillside and she still thinks it’s a fashion parade. Her own passions had been fixated on horses since she could first reach a stirrup which, their mother maintained, was why her eldest daughter had descended into old maid-dom at the ripe age of thirty-two. Bunch had always considered her habit of speaking her mind had far more to do with it. ‘You’re looking chilled, old thing. Want to go back?’  ‘No, I’m happy to carry on.’ Dodo resettled her tweed fedora over silk headscarf and waved toward the trees. ‘Let’s cut through Hascombe Wood. We’ll be out of the wind.’ ‘Absolutely. After you.’ Bunch allowed Dodo to take the lead and used the moment to stand in her stirrups to ease damaged joints. A few months on from the accident in France she still ached. She maintained that riding out every day would see it heal itself, and that Dodo would be fine if she would only follow suit. As this was Dodo’s first real show of animation since George’s death, Bunch was reluctant to squash that tiny spark by heading home. ‘Heel, Roger. Come here, damn you!’ She put two fingers in her mouth and whistled up her yellow Labrador. Roger snapped at the patch of snow as he ran, mouth wide in a canine grin, and in no special hurry to obey despite her cussing. He was getting on in years but allowing him to become victim to the pet culls of the previous year had been unthinkable for her boy.  A southerly gust, straight off the Channel, sliced across Bunch’s forehead. She pulled her hat down and scarf up to lessen the expanse of skin open to the elements. ‘Best keep moving,’ she mumbled, ‘before we freeze to death.’ They followed the wood’s perimeter to the bridle path that cut through its centre. Hascombe Wood now covered around fifteen acres, a mere scrap of the ancient forest that had once carpeted both the Sussex Weald and the Downs in a single swathe of green.  The rooks had circled back to their roost and were calling to each other in more conversational tones, and somewhere in a nearby field the estate’s David Brown tractor was being pushed to its limits; they were the only sounds to be heard as the women entered the wood.  They rode in near silence until they reached the first large clearing where several woodland giants had been felled and stacked to one side of the glade. Bunch pulled off her tweed hat and ruffled her wool-itched scalp. With her ears uncovered, the pitter-patter of gritty snow in the trees, the odd creak of branches, and the steady clumping of hooves on centuries of leaf litter were clearly audible. She breathed in the scents of sheer cold mixed with the rich tang of the old leaves stirred up beneath hoof. A peaceful moment until the dog cut across the stillness with a frantic barking.  ‘Roger, do shut up,’ Bunch shouted. ‘Be quiet!’ The Labrador ceased his yammering but continued with something closer to a howl. His tail and hackles were up as he harried a stand of sweet chestnut that sprouted at drunken angles to each other. Bunch slid from the saddle and walked to the trees but stopped just short of them as she glimpsed a motionless figure seated between the trunks.  ‘Hey, you there.’ Bunch edged forward. There had been many displaced people passing through in recent months, people who might take refuge in the wood, but it took a strange sort of person who did not to react to Roger’s noise. ‘Hello? Are you all right? Are you … oh, good heavens.’ She caught hold of Roger’s collar and tugged him into a sit as she realised what she was seeing. ‘Dear God,’ she muttered. A man was slumped in the bowl of a split tree. His hands hung loosely along thighs, legs stretched out before him. His head lolled forward obscuring what was left of its features. The rear of his skull had been blown away and smears of dark pinkish brain matter had spattered across the bark immediately behind, dotted with shards of bone. Bunch flexed her fingers against the blood rush tingling through them and released one deep breath before taking another, and edged forward for a closer look. Though she could not see his face she knew this was not the corpse of someone unknown. This body had a name, and she would have known him anywhere. Calm, she told herself, be calm. Bunch recognised the Westley Richards near the dead man’s feet and it left little doubt as to what had caused the massive damage to his skull. She clapped a hand across her mouth to stop her stomach adding more colour to the scene. She had seen a few corpses during her brief stint driving BEF staff cars in France. Many of the corpses had been far more mutilated than this one. Beside, they had been different. They had lacked identity but this corpse had a face and a name that Bunch had known all of her life. This body had not been slaughtered by a mindless steel capsule packed with explosives, dropped from far above. This corpse had come to be through a deliberate and very personal act of violence. This was Jonathan Frampton. She wiped at her eyes and shuddered out another draconic steaming into the cold air. Pull yourself together. Never waver. That’s the Courtney way.  ‘Oh Jonny,’ she whispered, ‘what in hell has been going on here?’ Bracing herself for the routine she had last practised with the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry, Bunch crouched to feel beneath his collar for the carotid artery though she knew finding a pulse would be highly unlikely. His flesh was cold in the refrigerating winter wind and unyielding to her touch, but not yet fully stiffened in rigor. The red splattering all around was dulling to brown, telling her that the blood had ceased flowing several hours ago. Long before those shots we’d heard just moments ago.  ‘Bunch?’ Dodo was dismounting and looping the reins of both horses over a fallen tree. ‘What’s going on?’ Bunch held her left hand, palm out, toward her sister as she pulled the excited dog away from the corpse with the other. ‘Stay there, Dodo. Please. Just stay there.’ ‘What is it? Oh dear, is he dead?’ ‘Yes, he is.’ ‘Is it … is it someone we know?’ Dodo craned her neck to see around Bunch, taking another step forward.  ‘You don’t need to see, truly. It’s Jonny. Jonathan Frampton.’ ‘No, it can’t be. Jonny’s away up north for another month or more. He told me so himself.’ ‘It is him. Absolutely. No question.’  Dodo stared at the body, her features asserting the quiet control they had both been raised to practise. The trembling in her hands that she held close to her face was evidence to the contrary.  Best get her as far away from this as quickly as possible. Bunch slipped her hand beneath her sister’s elbow and guided her back to the horses. ‘There may be evidence here so we shouldn’t trample around too much. Look Dodo, why don’t you ride on home and telephone for PC Botting? I’ll wait here. Somebody should.’ ‘Are you certain?’ ‘I am. Absolutely. Take Roger with you. He’ll only be a bloody nuisance here.’ She gave Dodo a boost into the saddle and watched her ride out of sight, with only a few words but a few dozen misgivings.  Perry nodded vigorously, snickering after his stable mate. Bunch worried that he would chill standing in the flow of the wind, and led him around to the far side of the log stack where there was some respite. She adjusted his quarter sheet to cover as much of his rump as possible and went to sit on the end of the log pile where she could watch over the body.  The trees towered around her; they felt not unlike a cathedral with the building’s whispered sibilance echoed by the surrounding woodland. Keeping vigil, she thought and shivered, not entirely through the chill. She missed Roger’s comforting presence. Dodo will need it more though, silly old sausage. She scrabbled through her inside pocket for the hip-flask and raised it toward the corpse. ‘God speed,’ she called, and took a small mouthful, swilling it around her gums and swallowing, feeling the warmth welling into her throat. She rattled the container and pulled a face. It was half empty and there was a good hour to wait before anyone came to help. It’s a long time cold. Bunch took another quick swig and swapped the flask for a cigarette case, taking her time in tapping the white cylinder on the silvered lid, glancing around the clearing, her gaze skating over the body. She struck a match, cupping her long hands to protect the flame, and once sure the tobacco glowed red leaned her head back to send the first lungful of smoke upwards into the falling snow. It was a ritual calming, a gathering of wits that came from habit. Even alone she would not willingly permit emotion to surface. The horse muttered at the waft of sulphurous match and tobacco smoke, which made her smile. ‘Yes, Perry, I know. All the bloody vices. You’re starting to sound like Mother.’ She flicked the spent matchstick in his general direction and drew again on the tailor-made cigarette, expelling blue-grey mist at the trees. There are matters that need to be addressed and I shall address them like a Courtney – once I’ve gathered a few wits about me.  Bunch waited and smoked and gazed across the space between her and the lifeless body of her old friend. She had a clear view of Jonny’s legs and torso but his face was obscured, and she was glad of that. She did not relish staring at what remained of it for however long it took Stan Botting to arrive.  Her attention began to wander over the surrounding terrain. Tracks in the snow were masked by dark slices of leaf mould, and she amused herself by guessing the cause of each line and heap. Her own boot prints were clearly discernible and Roger was the likely culprit for most of the rest. Other dips and furrows, however, had been made indistinct by fresh snow so that none could be read with any certainty. They could have been made by deer or sheep – or by Jonny. She lit another cigarette and as she scuffed the cold match beneath her boot a metallic glint caught her attention. Bunch bent to retrieve a spent .22 cartridge and held it up at eye level. Its strong cordite odour cut through the tobacco smoke. This was a fresh firing, no question in her mind. The Westley Richards lying at Jonny’s feet certainly posed another query.  There’s every chance the .22 has been ejected from some poacher’s rifle. The Jenner brothers are in these woods several times a week, she thought. Yet, it was in the surface snow. It can’t have been here much longer than poor Jonny has. She slipped the cartridge into her pocket and wandered across to stare at Jonny’s remains. He might be wearing his boots and a good wool suit but where’s his coat and scarf? And gloves? Jonny is – was – a chilly morsel despite all those years in drafty farm houses and freezing school dorms. ‘What were you doing out here, dressed this way?’ she said aloud.  Bunch rubbed at her arms, chilled now by more than the iced wind. ‘I do not believe you would kill yourself. I don’t believe it. I won’t believe it.’ Crouching down she stared long into his bloodied face. What were you thinking, my darling boy? This is not who you are. You were in the choir. You talked about taking the cloth. You’d never kill yourself. So what is this about? ‘Oh, damn it all to hell. It makes no sense.’ She wheeled back to her log seat, scrubbing out the cigarette against the bark before lighting another within a minute. She knew what this looked like, what other people would see, yet she could not, would not, believe that Jonathan Frampton would take his own life. The image of his placing the Westley’s barrel beneath his chin and pulling the trigger denied all he had ever believed in. What or who had brought her old friend to this secluded spot, surely it was not to kill himself. Of that she was utterly convinced.  ~~~ Noises coming from beyond the trees drew Bunch to her feet and she took out the flask for one final nip. As she returned the empty container to her pocket her fingers brushed against the brass cartridge. She drew it out and turned it end over end just a few inches from her eyes, mesmerised by its brilliance. ‘Whatever else happens, Jonny,’ she murmured, ‘I shall get to the truth.’ ‘Miss Rose.’ PC Stan Botting scrunched along the woodland path with a steady tread that spoke of many nights on the beat. He was a tall man of even proportions, his most defining features being a neatly trimmed moustache and serious brown eyes, which took in the scene with a professional calm. ‘This is a sorry thing, Miss Courtney.’ He saluted Bunch gravely. ‘Not what you might expect.’ ‘It certainly is not.’ She watched him pick his way over to the corpse and go through the same pointless ritual of confirming death. ‘Where is my sister?’ ‘Miss Daphne – beg pardon – Mrs Tinsley stayed at Perringham House, I imagine.’ He picked up the shotgun, out of the deepening snow, and trudged back to her. ‘A sorry day, indeed. He’s dead of course. No question. And from the state of him it’s the worst kind of passing.’ ‘What could possibly be worse than being killed?’ ‘Suicide, Miss. From what I can see here it’s the most logical explanation. He took his own life. Sad thing for a young man to do.’  It was all Bunch could do not to shout at him. Botting was not a stupid man and this stating of the seemingly obvious was beneath him. ‘Jonny would never do that,’ she muttered. ‘There’s folks do it every week of the year. Always a tragedy,’ Botting continued. ‘We’ll need the Coroner to confirm it, of course, but there’s little doubt in my mind.’ ‘Is the Coroner coming now?’ ‘Eventually. But you don’t need to stand around waitin’ for him, Miss. No need for you to catch your death. You pop along home now.’ He gestured at the path. ‘Someone’s coming now, so you cut along and I’ll be down the house for your statement later.’ ‘No, I’ll wait,’ she said.  ‘If you’re sure now?’ ‘I’m certain.’ She had barely sat back on her tree trunk before Major Barty Tinsley stumbled into view, puffing steam far harder than Botting had with the exertion of the climb.  ‘Rose, good to see you. Or it would be if it wasn’t in such sad circumstances.’ Dodo’s father-in-law swept off his Europeanstyled fur hat and used it to beat snow from his coat before cramming it back on his balding head. Barty was a big boned man, shorter then Botting by half a head, yet muscular enough to fill any doorway. He went to examine the scene at closer quarters and rose within moments, shaking his head emphatically. ‘Very sad. Suicide quite obviously. Is there a note?’ ‘I’ve looked,’ Bunch replied, ‘but nothing, so far as I can see.’ ‘That would be unusual. In my experience people are usually compelled to leave some final words. Perhaps it was blown away. Or he left it at the farm.’ Tinsley looked around the clearing with obvious disgust. ‘It hardly matters. The circumstances are clear enough.’ ‘I am not so sure about that,’ said Bunch. ‘Besides, it’s not for you or me to say. It’s up to the Coroner. What brings you here, in any case, Barty?’ ‘I was at lunch with Lewis when Botting called. I thought I should offer to assist.’ I bet you did, she thought. Never miss a chance to play at Army with your bloody LDV. ‘Where is Doctor Lewis?’ She looked past him. ‘He must be here to pronounce death before the Coroner arrives, one would think.’

‘He hoped to be along with the stretcher party but there was an emergency call. He thought the needs of the living were more urgent.’ ‘Of course. Anyway, the Coroner will be here soon.’ ‘Unlikely before the morning,’ said Tinsley. ‘I heard that snow has set in deeper along the coast road and if we have another fall tonight then he will be delayed further still. I am here as his proxy, in my official capacity as a magistrate, of course.’ Tinsley raised his chin, challenging Bunch to disagree. ‘Daphne told Botting it looked like suicide,’ he added. ‘She would appear to have been correct.’ He nodded agreement with his own judgement. ‘Jonathan was involved in some rather delicate war work, from what I gather. Pressure was too much for him, perhaps?’ He glanced at Bunch and clamped his lips together in a white line. ‘Saul Frampton told me the boy failed his RAF medical. Some chaps are just not up to the mark.’ There was an implication that Jonathan had somehow deliberately evaded service and it stung. Bunch had always recognised Jonny as a gentle man and it angered her that men like Tinsley mistook that for weakness. ‘I don’t think he did it. Jonny wasn’t the sort. I can’t quite see what’s what as yet but something very wrong occurred up here.’ ‘Wrong? Of course there is something wrong. A young man takes his own life? There’s nothing right in tha—’ He shook his head. ‘Not the time or place.’ ‘I concur, Barty. The Coroner will make a decision at the inquest, of course. I don’t know what procedure is but shouldn’t we make sure he views the scene intact?’ ‘There were two military incidents out at sea and the Coroner has a mortuary filled to the gunwales as a result. He can’t get along before tomorrow, and if we are in for a heavy snow tonight we cannot leave the body where it is. It simply is not practical, especially when the circumstances are so clear. You get along home before the snow gets any worse, Rose. Leave all this to us. No need to bother your head about it in the least bit.’ Bunch breathed harshly through her nose, fighting her impulse to be unspeakably rude. How dare he? The pompous arrogant old dinosaur. The shock of finding her old friend dead in such a ghastly fashion was painful enough. She had been closer to Jonny than almost anyone she knew; she had known him in every sense possible. They had grown from childhood friends into fumbling lovers, exploring the secrets of each other’s bodies in mutual wonder. To her lasting regret the affair had foundered though they had remained the best of friends. Being so comprehensively patronised by Barty Tinsley regarding somebody he barely knew, and who was so close to herself, was positively breath taking. She glanced at Botting, who looked away. Plainly he was not going to argue with the magistrate on her behalf. ‘I think we should wait for Doctor Lewis to give us the benefit of his experience. We two can agree to differ another time.’ She felt pleased at keeping so remarkably collected. Mother would be proud. Tinsley regarded her coldly. ‘What happened here is a terrible shame and totally obvious to everyone – except you, it seems. I realise you mean well, Rose, but you mustn’t get yourself involved. It’s not the right sort of thing for a young lady.’ ‘Jonathan was Georgie’s best pal. They were at Harrow together, and Balliol. It can only help Dodo if we can say Jonny didn’t do such an awful thing, surely?’ She smiled, dropping her chin to come as close as possible to looking up at someone shorter than herself. She was not a flatterer or a flirt by nature but it seemed to work on Tinsley well enough. ‘If speaking with Lewis will put your mind at rest then by all means,’ he said. ‘I’ve seen this sort of thing on the Bench, you know.’ He shook his head. ‘One has to feel sorry for the boy. He found himself unable to carry on with the responsibilities he had been given and shot himself. Some people are simply not cut out for times like these.’ ‘Times like what, exactly?’ said Bunch. ‘War, obviously.’ ‘Jonathan knew as much about war as any of us. Probably more. He was joining some new special Whitehall department,’ she said. ‘Look at him. Look at the shotgun,’ Tinsley said. ‘Stop digging around in things that don’t concern you, Rose Courtney. Or must I speak to your father about it? What young Frampton was working on is not for discussion. Careless tongues, my dear. There’s quite enough for you to worry about without making more.’

‘I doubt we’ve got a Jerry spy hiding in the leaf mould. Oh, and I found this.’ She scrabbled in her pocket and held out the cartridge casing. ‘It was fired today. You can still smell it.’ ‘A .22 wouldn’t make so much mess,’ Tinsley said, ‘not even at point blank. That, however, would be more than capable.’ He pointed to the shotgun. ‘The Major is right, Miss Courtney.’ Botting hefted the Westley and frowned at her. ‘It’s not your place to interfere with the process of law. You cut along, Miss. You’ve had a shock.’ Bunch glanced down at Botting’s other hand clamping her elbow and gently urging her toward the horse. She shook his hand free. She was cold and shocked, of course, but perfectly lucid and starting to realise she was getting nowhere. Tinsley was convinced he was right and Botting would agree out of deference to the magistrate, and because he had little choice. She mounted Perry in silence, compliant only because she was outnumbered. She had no intention of letting it drop. Jonathan Frampton had more joie de vivre than anyone she knew. You will not be remembered for blowing out your own brains, Jonny. I swear by all we held dear that I shall prove it.

 


About the Author:

Jan ps 1

Jan Edwards is a Sussex-born writer now living in the West Midlands with her husband and obligatory cats. She was a Master Locksmith for 20 years but also tried her hand at bookselling, microfiche photography, livery stable work, motorcycle sales and market gardening. She is a practising Reiki Master. She won a Winchester Slim Volume prize and her short fiction can be found in crime, horror and fantasy anthologies in UK, US and Europe; including The Mammoth Book of Dracula and The Mammoth Book of Moriarty. Jan edits anthologies for The Alchemy Press and Fox Spirit Press, and has written for Dr Who spinoffs with Reel Time Pictures.

For further information please contact Penkhull Press at: https://thepenkhullpress.wordpress.com/

 

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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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bluegoldcover

Published: 11 May 2017

Description:

The near future. Climate change and geopolitical tension have given rise to a new international threat – a world war for water. This most vital of resources has become a precious commodity and some will stop at nothing to control its flow.

When a satellite disappears over Iceland, Sim Atkins thinks he knows why. He is given the chance to join the hallowed Overseas Division and hunt for the terrorists responsible. But his new partner Freda Brightwell is aggrieved to be stuck with a rookie on such a deadly mission. Freda’s misgivings are well founded when their first assignment ends in disaster – a bomb destroys a valuable airship and those responsible evade capture. Seeking redemption, the British agents follow the trail to a billionaires’ tax haven in the middle of the Atlantic ocean and uncover a web of deceit that threatens global war. Whom can they trust?

As the world edges ever closer to destruction Sim and Freda must put their lives on the line to prevent Armageddon – and protect the future of ‘blue gold’. David Barker’s gripping debut will thrill fans of Scott Mariani, Steve Berry and Richard North Patterson.

My Thoughts & Review:

The plot of this book piqued my interest when I first heard about it, it’s a thriller with a very scientific and future world feel.  I don’t tend to read many scientific based novels, I’m a reader who likes the action to be set in the current world (or indeed a time period  that has already elapsed), but there was something about the way that this was written that made it very readable and captivating.

I’m sure most people will say that the start of this book really grabs their attention but it really does, the writing is so taut and atmospheric.  It’s hard for the reader not to feel like they are surrounded by the massive snowdrifts, gun toting choppers and danger.  And just as you prepare to get lost in a world of action and peril, the perspective shifts to a perilous situation of a different kind, Sim Atkins reminiscing that things had been so different two months previously when he was sat at home playing a computer game.

It is in the first section of the book that we meet the main characters and learn about their histories, and the concept of an international war over water.  Water is a resource that you don’t often think of as running out, and so by featuring it in this way it gives the reader something new.  I also found that this sparked a great conversation with my husband on “what if”, it was quite interesting to allow my imagination to wander freely for a while pondering this.

Sim is a character that readers will quickly come to like, his sense of humour and personality are on the right side of fun to lighten the situations he finds himself in.  Freda Brightwell is a character that has a backstory and one that as a reader I could not wait to delve into.  The snippets of her childhood she shares through classic film quotes are brilliant and show off a side of this character that I’d love to see developed in future novels.  Sim of course will feature in the next novel, the sneak preview of the sequel at the back of this book well and truly ensured that I would be hooked for “Rose Gold”, now I just need to find out when I can read it!

This is a very intelligently written novel, the timeline throughout is disjointed but in a way it gives the reader a wonderful feeling of being immersed in the action and means that they experience the unravelling of salient plot points at just the right time, however this may not be preferential for all readers.  The level of detail that David Barker includes in both the description of this characters as well as settings is top rate.  I felt that I was able to see the activity at the airstrip, taste the sands in the desert and feel the painful chill of the Himalayas as well as the perilous situations the characters found themselves in.

I thoroughly enjoyed this one and flew through it, eager to find out what happens next, now the wait for “Rose Gold”…..please don’t leave us waiting too long Mr Barker!!

You can buy a copy of “Blue Gold” via:

Urbane Publications
Amazon
Wordery
The Book Depository

My thanks to David Barker and Urbane Publications for the opportunity to read this and take part in the blog tour.


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

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Description:

‘Composed of over sixty per cent water itself, a human body isn’t naturally buoyant. It will float only for as long as there is air in its lungs, before gradually sinking to the bottom as the air seeps out. If the water is very cold or deep, it will remain there, undergoing a slow, dark dissolution that can take years. But if the water is warm enough for bacteria to feed and multiply, then it will continue to decompose. Gases will build up in the intestines, increasing the body’s buoyancy until it floats again.
And the dead will literally rise . . . ‘

Once one of the country’s most respected forensics experts, Dr David Hunter is facing an uncertain professional – and personal – future. So when he gets a call from Essex police, he’s eager for the chance to assist them.

A badly decomposed body has been found in a desolate area of tidal mudflats and saltmarsh called the Backwaters. Under pressure to close the case, the police want Hunter to help with the recovery and identification.

It’s thought the remains are those of Leo Villiers, the son of a prominent businessman who vanished weeks ago. To complicate matters, it was rumoured that Villiers was having an affair with a local woman. And she too is missing.

But Hunter has his doubts about the identity. He knows the condition of the unrecognizable body could hide a multitude of sins. Then more remains are discovered – and these remote wetlands begin to give up their secrets . . .

With its eerie, claustrophobic sense of place, viscerally authentic detail and explosive heart-in-mouth moments, The Restless Dead offers a masterclass in crime fiction and marks the stunning return of one of the genre’s best.

My Thoughts & Review:

I have to admit that this was the first book by Simon Beckett that I’d had the chance to read, but soon went back and bought the previous books so that I could devour them all.  Fear not though, this book reads perfectly well on it’s own as there is ample detail given as to David Hunter’s background etc so that you don’t feel you’ve missed anything salient.

The plotting of this novel is absolutely brilliant and keeps the reader hooked.  David Hunter is a forensic anthropologist, his consulting work with the Police has all but dried up and he is questioning whether his contract with his university will be renewed, so when he receives a phone call from DI Bob Lundy from Essex Police to help with the recovery of a body from an estuary he is only too keen to help.

The Police are already presuming the identity of the corpse, or more hoping that it’s the body of a man suspected of murdering his lover and subsequently committed suicide, but need Hunter’s expertise to aid with the recovery and identification due to nature having taken its toll on the body.
Hunter voices his doubts about the identity, and almost immediately finds himself at odds with the local police and the father of the (presumed) deceased.  Sir Stephen Villiers is very influential in the local area and has friends in the highest of places, including within the Police force.
Far from being a quick job, the investigation becomes incredibly convoluted, especially when more remains are discovered.  A conflict of interest makes Hunter’s job much harder, but that’s nothing compared to the family tensions, lies, secrets and local feuds that surround him.  Hunter and the Police have to tread a careful tightrope in order to solve the case.

What I liked most about this book was the fact that I could just become utterly lost within the pages, usually when you first encounter a character mid series there is the awkwardness of not having their full backstory, not knowing them overly well or in some cases not being familiar with the author’s style of writing, but in this case I immediately felt like I’d put on an old glove.  This book read so well as a stand alone story (I did go back and buy the previous books because I wanted to find out more about David Hunter and his life), the way in which the Backwaters are written makes them so incredibly dangerous and mysterious.  I had the delight of sharing a post from Simon Beckett about the importance of setting on the blog tour and I have to say that the detail he includes for his settings is phenomenal.  The plotting is brilliant, well fleshed out characters and the level of detail in this novel make it one of the best thrillers I’ve read so far this year!

You can buy a copy of “The Restless Dead” via:

Amazon
Wordery
The Book Depository

My thanks to Transworld Books for the opportunity to read and review this novel, as well as take part in the blog tour for publication of “The Restless Dead”.

 

 

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Published: 31 January 2017

 

Description:

She got into bed but sleep didn’t come easily. Every creak in the house made her alert. She was waiting for him to come and get her.

The small city of Stockleigh is in shock as three women are brutally attacked within days of each other. Are they random acts of violence or is there a link between the victims? For Detective Eden Berrisford, it’s her most chilling case yet.

The investigation leads Eden to cross paths with Carla, a woman trying to rebuild her life after her marriage to a cruel and abusive man ended in unimaginable tragedy. Her husband Ryan was imprisoned for his crimes but, now he’s out and coming for her.

As Eden starts to close in on the attacker, she also puts herself in grave danger. Can she stop him before he strikes again? And can Carla, terrified for her life, save herself – before the past wreaks a terrible revenge?

My Thoughts & Review:

“Don’t Look Behind You” sees the much anticipated return of Detective Eden Berrisford, who first appeared in Mel Sherratt’s “The Girls Next Door”.  I have to admit to being one of the many fans that eagerly awaited news of the follow up to the first book in the series and Sherratt did not disappoint with this one.

Despite containing some harrowing and disturbing crimes, Sherratt still draws her readers in with enough detail to give disclosure of the menacing and horrifying situations faced by her characters but without becoming gratuitous.
The escalating violent attacks mean that Detective Berrisford needs to catch the culprit before it’s too late, so she and her team have their work cut out for them.  Throw in personal issues for our protagonist and you’ve got the workings of a brilliant plot that weaves together brilliantly.  I found it hard not to become emotionally involved with this book when reading about Carla, it’s “hold your breath” reading.

As always with Mel Sherratt’s books, her ability to create characters that are realistic and engaging is second to none.  Eden Berrisford is a superb character that breaks from the stereotype female detective, there is so much more to her and with each new book the readers find out a little more about her history.  The survivors of the vicious attacks were all brilliantly drawn characters, the way in which their experiences are written is eye opening.

Whilst this can be read as a stand alone book, I would thoroughly recommend reading “The Girls Next Door” first, this is a series not to  miss out on!

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

You can buy a copy of “Don’t Look Behind You” in the UK here, and in USA here

 

About the Author:

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Mel writes gritty crime dramas, psychological suspense and fiction with a punch – or grit-lit, as she calls it. Shortlisted for the prestigious CWA (Crime Writer’s Association) Dagger in Library Award 2014, she finds inspiration comes from authors such as Martina Cole, Lynda la Plante, Mandasue Heller and Elizabeth Haynes. Since 2012, all nine of her crime novels have been bestsellers. Four of her books have been published by Amazon Publishing’s crime and thriller imprint, Thomas and Mercer and she has a new series out with Bookouture.

Mel lives in Stoke-on-Trent, with her husband and terrier, Dexter, named after the TV serial killer, and makes liberal use of her hometown as a backdrop for some of her books.

Website: www.melsherratt.co.uk

 

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Published: 6 October 2016

Copy provided by Bonnier Zaffre & Netgalley

 

Description:

A gripping psychological thriller with a devastating twist, perfect for fans of Apple Tree Yard, While My Eyes Were Closed and Between You and Me

You’d always recognise your own son. Wouldn’t you?

Heidi and Jason aren’t like other couples.

Six years ago, Heidi’s daughter was murdered. A year later, Jason’s son Barney disappeared. Their shared loss brought them together.

By chance, Heidi meets a boy she’s certain is Barney.

But Jason is equally convinced it’s not him.

Is Heidi mad? Or is Jason hiding something? And can their fragile marriage survive Heidi’s newfound quest for the truth . .

My Thoughts & Review:

“My Husband’s Son” was another of those books that I initially saw on social media around publication date and thought it sounded interesting, there were differing opinions on it but the general consensus was that it was a good thriller and rather chilling so worth checking out.

Heidi and Jason are a couple with a very unique past, each is parent to a lost child.  Heidi’s daughter was murdered and Jason’s son disappeared, but both parents are determined to try and move on with life and come to terms with those awful facts.
When Heidi spots a lad in the local off license one day she is certain is Jason’s son she becomes convinced she’s found Barney.  Her conviction about this sighting is not enough to persuade Jason, he cannot see any resemblance between the lad called Tommy and the computer images he has for what Barney might look like, adamant that he would know his own son if he saw him.

From here Heidi changes, she becomes obsessed with Tommy, and in turn her life begins to fall apart.  Her relationship with Jason is already one under a certain amount of strain.  Their shared grief does not make for the steadiest foundation, and the reported sightings of Barney over the years have been hard on the couple, especially when nothing conclusive has come from them.  Heidi’s suspicions drive her to make decisions that are questionable, but she is determined to find out the truth no matter what it takes.

The characters in this book are interesting, and O’Connor has done a tremendous job creating Tommy.  His skin crawling creepiness is enough to make readers shudder, the powerful hold he has over Heidi is so well written.  I was aware that I felt like I wanted to warn Heidi about him, urge her to break the hold he had and get away from him as fast as possible – I love it when a character can evoke such a strong response in a reader.
Heidi and Jason are damaged characters, initially Heidi is portrayed as determined to get through each day, the past haunts her but by getting up and taking on the day she might just survive.  The change in her to obsessively driven and descending into the realms of unsavoury actions is such a turning point in the story.
Jason on the other hand, he seems fragile and almost lost.  Divorcing his first wife (and mother of Barney), changing jobs – actions that should bring about huge change for him but his life seems stuck, he cannot move past that moment when his son went missing.

This was definitely a book that caught me off guard with the ending (no spoilers here!) but I will say it’s a good thriller, eerie and full of suspense.

You cam buy a copy of “My Husband’s Son” via Amazon here or Wordery here.

 

 

 

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