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Published: 4 May 2017

Description:

How far would you go to save your reputation? The stunning new noir thriller from the author of the bestselling The Missing One and The Other Child. Perfect for fans of I Let You Go and Lie With Me.

Professor Olivia Sweetman has worked hard to achieve the life she loves, with a high-flying career as a TV presenter and historian, three children and a talented husband. But as she stands before a crowd at the launch of her new bestseller she can barely pretend to smile. Her life has spiralled into deceit and if the truth comes out, she will lose everything.

Only one person knows what Olivia has done. Vivian Tester is the socially awkward sixty-year-old housekeeper of a Sussex manor who found the Victorian diary on which Olivia’s book is based. She has now become Olivia’s unofficial research assistant. And Vivian has secrets of her own.

As events move between London, Sussex and the idyllic South of France, the relationship between these two women grows more entangled and complex. Then a bizarre act of violence changes everything.

The Night Visitor is a compelling exploration of ambition, morality and deception that asks the question: how far would you go to save your reputation?

My Thoughts & Review:

“The Night Visitor” is the first book by Lucy Atkins that I’ve read, and if I’m honest I really had no idea what to expect when I picked this up.  I’d seen a fair bit of praise for this book and was curious to see if it lived up to the hype.

Following two characters, Olivia Sweetman and Vivian Tester, the author expertly weaves an intricate plot that will leave readers stunned, the story makes for uncomfortable reading in places but it is also spectacularly clever.  The way in which this book has been written is magnificent, each word, each phrase, each nuance is used for maximum effect and is perfectly placed to ensure that readers are entranced under Atkins spell.
Olivia Sweetman is an interesting character who on the surface appears to have the quintessential perfect life.  She is a highly successful academic, a minor celebrity, has a happy marriage and three children.  But below the surface there is tension bubbling, from the very beginning it is clear there is something bothering her, and the relationships around her are not as stable as they might seem.
Vivian Tester, well there’s a character that I found incredibly difficult to work out.  A true hat tip to Atkins here, as this must have been a character that took time and work to get just right on paper.  Vivian Tester is cold, distant, blunt and for want of a better word, strange.  She likes routine, and does not like anyone upsetting it.  She clearly has a secret or two to hide, but what could be behind her sinister aura.
Both of these women make for unreliable narrators, but it’s up to the reader to decide which is the most unreliable……

At times there is a claustrophobic feel to reading this book, suspicion runs rife throughout the plot, there are secrets being kept that could potentially ruin the lives of many and there is an underlying menace that presents in many forms – the book perfectly titled when you consider the events in the tower in France and Vivian’s terrifying nightmares.  All of this combines to form an incredibly rich and atmospheric read, and one that is filled with intrigue.

The attention to detail in the writing absolutely blew me away, Lucy Atkins has clearly spent a lot of time researching her subject matter, intricate details given about dung beetles, the publishing world and academia add a real feeling of authenticity as well as providing fascinating in-depth reading.

A wonderfully gripping thriller, that haunts the reader long after they’ve turned the final pages.

My thanks to Alainna Hadjigeorgiou and Quercus Books for the opportunity to read this book and take part in the blog tour.

You can buy a copy of “The Night Visitor” via:

Amazon
Wordery
The Book Depository


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

 

Night Visitor Blog Tour Poster

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It’s an honour to welcome you along to The Quiet Knitter for my stop on the blog tour for Isabelle Grey’s “The Special Girls” and I am so excited to be able to share an extract from Chapter One of this brilliant book!

 

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Description:

A seemingly perfect man is accused of horrendous crimes. It should be an open and shut case – but is there more to it than meets the eye?

An intelligent, timely thriller from award-winning screenwriter Isabelle Grey – a must-read for fans of Lynda La Plante’s Prime Suspect and Sarah Hilary

A young psychiatric registrar is found dead in the woods outside a summer camp for young eating disorder patients, run by the charismatic, world-renowned Professor Ned Chesham. DI Grace Fisher investigates, but it is not long before she is pulled from the case – to head up a Metropolitan Police review into a cold case involving Chesham himself.

Nearly twenty years ago, one of Chesham’s patients made allegations that he sexually assaulted her. The investigation at the time found no conclusive proof, but Grace soon discovers another victim, and a witness whose account never reached the police. Does this mean the original investigation was bungled? Scotland Yard would certainly like her to conclude otherwise.

As Grace uncovers the lies that led to the young doctor’s murder, she discovers the full extent of the damage done to Chesham’s ‘special girls’ – and the danger they are still in.

You can buy a copy of “The Special Girls” via Amazon here or via Wordery here.


Book Extract:

Chapter One:

Detective Inspector Grace Fisher heard an owl hoot as she got out of the car. It was somewhere off away in the thick darkness of the woods on the opposite side of the road. The faintest whisper of a breeze in the night air rustled the treetops and brushed her cheek as she inhaled the dry, earthy smell of last winter’s leaf litter.
‘What genius thought it would be a good idea to stop there?’ she asked, shaking her head at the two marked police cars pulled up on the verge beside a five-bar gate. ‘Right where the perpetrator might have left a vehicle if they had one.’
‘Idiots,’ agreed Detective Sergeant Blake Langley.
Although she had invited Blake’s comment, it annoyed her, and she reminded herself to leave her own negative thoughts unspoken. Chiding herself for her lapse and trying to undo it, she nodded towards the uniformed constable who stood beside the gate ready to escort them to the body. ‘It’s probably not his fault,’ she said. ‘No fun hanging about here for an hour in the dark waiting for us to show up.’
‘He must have done something to draw the short straw.’ Grace sighed. Not for the first time since Blake had joined the Major Investigation Team in Colchester three months ago, she missed her familiar wingman, DS Lance Cooper. Still, this was neither the time nor the place for regrets; she would just have to keep in mind that the new sergeant had a good reputation as a thief-taker and was easy enough to get along with as long as she ignored his default- mode scornful attitude.
Taking a forensic suit from the boot of their car, she went ahead to identify herself to the young constable and thank him for what she hoped hadn’t been too long a wait. ‘So where exactly are we?’ she asked him.
‘On the northern perimeter of the grounds of Wryford Hall,’ he said. ‘The village, that’s Long Wryford, is off to the west.’
‘And this road, where does it go?’
‘Nowhere really. It winds around a few farms and a small hamlet about three miles away before joining back up with the main Long Wryford to East Fordholt road. Most people just take that.’
‘So you mean we’re slap bang in the middle of nowhere,’ said Blake, joining them.
‘Pretty much,’ the constable agreed.
‘At least house‑to‑house won’t use up too much manpower then,’ said Blake cheerfully.
‘There are some people staying at the hall,’ said the constable.
‘Or camping in the grounds, anyway.’
‘OK,’ said Grace. ‘Lead on.’


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

The Special Blog Tour Poster

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Published: 4 April 2017

 

Description:

It’s 1956 and Bernie Gunther is on the run. Ordered by Erich Mielke, deputy head of the East German Stasi, to murder Bernie’s former lover by thallium poisoning, he finds his conscience is stronger than his desire not to be murdered in turn. Now he must stay one step ahead of Mielke’s retribution.

The man Mielke has sent to hunt him is an ex-Kripo colleague, and as Bernie pushes towards Germany he recalls their last case together. In 1939, Bernie was summoned by Reinhard Heydrich to the Berghof: Hitler’s mountain home in Obersalzberg. A low-level German bureaucrat had been murdered, and the Reichstag deputy Martin Bormann, in charge of overseeing renovations to the Berghof, wants the case solved quickly. If the Fuhrer were ever to find out that his own house had been the scene of a recent murder – the consequences wouldn’t bear thinking about.

And so begins perhaps the strangest of Bernie Gunther’s adventures, for although several countries and seventeen years separate the murder at the Berghof from his current predicament, Bernie will find there is some unfinished business awaiting him in Germany. 

My Thoughts & Review:

“Prussian Blue” is the twelfth book in the series penned by Philip Kerr to feature ex Kripo detective Bernie Gunther and once again the events during WWII are coming back to haunt the anti hero.  For fans of the series this is a wonderful continuation of the chronicles of Bernie Gunther, picking up a storyline from 1939 when he was under instruction of Heydrich to investigate a murder of the Berghof (Hitler’s home in Obersalzberg) but also to find some information on Martin Bormann etc that could be used in the future by Heydrich.  But there is the another timeline running parallel to this with action in 1956 when Bernie Gunther is cornered by Erich Mielke, Deputy Head of the Stasi and ordered to carry out an assassination.

Taking evasive action to free himself of his guards, Bernie makes a dash for freedom, not knowing whether he will make it or not.  But in doing so, this triggers memories from 1939 when he was sent to Obersalzberg to investigate the death of a low level engineer at Hitler’s  mountain home.  The man sent to accompany Bernie on his assassination mission is the same man that assisted him with the investigation in the 30s.  What then follows is a clever narrative that twists between the two timelines perfectly.

By 1958 Bernie Gunther has lived a charmed existence, knowing when to cut and run from situations, relying on his wit and courage to get him where he needs to be.  Thankfully, there seems to be more of the character that fans have come to know and love.  His smart mouth getting him into trouble like it did in the days of pre war Germany, the argumentative maverick is back and I’m so pleased!  I did worry that after reading book 11 (“The Other Side of Silence”) that this character was becoming tired, resigned and lacking but Philip Kerr has brought that spark back for me with his latest offering.

The parallels that can be drawn from the Nazis and the Stasis are so very clear in the writing, the far reach of both organisations is astounding to read about even in a fictional setting.  As always Philip Kerr includes little details that add an authenticity to his work and writes tense scenes so wonderfully that the reader cannot help but feel drawn in.

I particularly like that Kerr gives information on the fates of the characters mentioned in his book, thus allowing the reader a closure of sorts, knowing what actually happened to the likes of Martin Bormann etc.

I have to add that if you are new to the series then you will be able to read this book without having read the previous ones, there is enough detail given to past characters and events to keep a reader in the loop without repeating plots etc.  A superb series and I keenly await book thirteen!

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

You can buy a copy of “Prussian Blue” via Amazon here or via Wordery here

 

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Published: 9 March 2017

Copy provided by Quercus Books & Netgalley

 

Description:

The bestselling author of The Villa and The Saffron Trail returns with a gorgeous summer read about love and starting over – set in West Dorset and beautiful Sardinia. Perfect for fans of Santa Montefiore, Dinah Jefferies and Harriet Evans.

Faye has just completed her degree in interior design when she finds herself jobless and boyfriend-less. While debating what to do next she receives a surprise phone call from her old college friend Charlotte who now lives in Sardinia and is married to Italian hotelier, Fabio.

When Charlotte suggests that Faye relocate for a month to house-sit, Faye wonders if a summer break in sunny Sardinia might be the perfect way to recharge her batteries and think about her future. But then Charlotte tells Faye that there’s something more behind the sudden invitation: her friends Marisa and Alessandro are looking for a designer to renovate a crumbling old theatre they own in the scenic village of Deriu. The idea certainly sounds appealing to Faye, but little does she know what she’s letting herself in for if she accepts this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity . . .

My Thoughts & Review:

“The Little Theatre by The Sea” is only the second book by Rosanna Ley that I’ve read, and I really must get round to reading more of her books as they are like a breath of fresh air.  The way in which Ley writes utterly transports the reader, not only to the Mediterranean setting of Sardinia but also to the rugged coastal setting of Dorset.  She writes with such descriptive flair that the reader cannot help but feel the settings come alive between the pages, the vibrancy of Deriu, the smells, the architecture all of it leaps from the pages before your eyes.

Faye was a character that I felt an easy connection towards at times, I relished her passion for her vocation, her compassion towards others and the need to understand “why” in so many situations reminded me of someone I know.  But at the same time, her need to know “why” was infuriating, sometimes there is no answer to that question, well certainly not an easy to give answer.
Marisa and Alessandro were also interesting characters, the brooding presence of Alessandro providing much delight for Faye at times.  Both complex characters, strongly driven by their family ties but also very individual.  Pasquale was a character that was incredibly well written, and one that I struggled to work out, was he merely a saddened villager trying to relive his younger days on stage by visiting the derelict theatre, did he have a motive behind befriending Faye – whether to glean information on the restoration project to feed back to other villagers or was he planning to sabotage the restoration project himself?  Characterisation seems to be a key aspect of Ley’s writing, strong characters, with terrific detail make the story flow fluidly and it’s easy to lose track of time completely when reading this book.

The plot is superb, combining the tales of Faye in Deriu and the history of the picturesque village and it’s theatre, as well as the lives of her parents back in Dorset.  With so much going on you would be forgiven for worrying that you’d not keep up, but fear not.  Each strand of the plot is masterfully woven together, no detail is forgotten and Ley manages to sneak a few surprises in the narrative.
At the heart of this book is the overarching theme of secrets, everyone has their secret and its who they chose to share it with that makes it more or less of a burden.  Whether a person is trying to save another by not imparting a knowledge, or merely saving themself by keeping information locked away, the secret still exists and the price to keep it such has to be paid.

This is a wonderfully rich tale, perfect for holiday reading or even just curling up on the sofa for a quiet afternoon – the perfect escape.

You can buy a copy of “The Little Theatre by The Sea” via Amazon here or via Wordery here.

 

 

 

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Published: 17 March 2016
Reviewed: 24 October 2016

3.5 out of 5 stars

Copy supplied by publisher in return for an honest review

 

Description:

The Hatton Garden Heist captured the public’s imagination more than another other crime since The Great Train Robbery. It was supposed to make a fortune for a team of old time professional criminals. Their last hurrah. A final lucrative job that would send the old codgers off on happy retirements to the badlands of Spain and beyond. It seemed to be the stuff of legends. Tens of millions of pounds worth of valuables grabbed from secretive safety deposit boxes in a vault beneath one of the most famous gold and jewellery districts in the world.

But where did it all go wrong for this band of old time villains? And why did the gang’s bid to pull off the world’s biggest burglary turn into a deadly game of cat and mouse featuring the police and London’s most dangerous crime lords?

Nobody is better placed to reveal the full story of the Hatton Garden Raid than Britain’s best-connected true crime writer Wensley Clarkson. Through his unique contacts inside the London underworld, he’s persuaded those who really know the truth to reveal the chilling details behind Britain’s biggest ever burglary.

My Thoughts & Review:

This is an informative look behind the scenes of a world that many readers may have little to no knowledge of, except from what they may have read or seen on screen – The London Underworld and organised crime.  This book gives a detailed insight into the workings of the criminal activity involved in the raid dubbed the Hatton Garden Heist, and Wensley Clarkson gives his unique perspective on the proceedings.

For the most part I felt that Clarkson wrote fairly about the individuals and their parts in the proceedings with openness and for the most part with impartiality.  Through his connections inside the London underworld Clarkson is able to methodically recount the details of the daring burglary but also to shine a light on the connection between this and the Brink’s-Mat Robbery which makes for fascinating reading.
Despite some of the material being similar if not the same as was reported in the media at the time of the burglary and subsequent court cases, Clarkson is able to provide his readers with background information about the gang members and give insights into their histories which makes for fascinating reading.

The pace of the book is good, it is quite a quick read and one that you can easily pick up and put down if you need to without losing track of what is going on.

The conundrum of Basil’s identity is a puzzle that will rattle around in my head for a while I feel.  I desperately want to put an identity to this ghost, tie it all up with a bow, but alas if even the members of the gang have no idea who he is, there is no chance I will ever know.

You can buy a copy of Sexy Beasts: The Inside Story of the Hatton Garden Heist here.

About the Author:

Wensley Clarkson is one of Britain’s most knowledgeable writers when it comes to the criminal underworld.  His books – published in more than thirty countries – have sold almost two  million copies.  He has also written movie screenplays and made numerous TV documentaries in the UK, US and Spain.

For more information on Wensley’s books go to his website http://wensleyclarkson.com or follow him on Twitter @wensleyclarkson

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Author: Jo Spain

Published 22 September 2016
Reviewed: 8 October 2016

4 out of 5 stars
Copy supplied by Quercus Books in return for an honest review

 

Description:

From top-ten Irish bestselling author Jo Spain comes the second novel in the Inspector Tom Reynolds series

Did I know it would come to this? That I was playing Russian Roulette? I would give anything to turn back time and to be with my girls. There is no shot at redemption. I am going to die. The gun is in my eye-line as the second bullet is fired. That’s the one that kills me.

Late at night, two powerful men meet in a secret location to discuss a long nurtured plan about to come to fruition. One is desperate to know there is nothing standing in their way – the other assures him everything is taken care of. Hours later, a high-ranking government official called Ryan Finnegan is brutally slain in the most secure building in Ireland – Leinster House, the seat of parliament. Inspector Tom Reynolds and his team are called in to uncover the truth behind the murder.

At first, all the evidence hints at a politically motivated crime, until a surprise discovery takes the investigation in a dramatically different direction. Suddenly the motive for murder has got a lot more personal. . . but who benefits the most from Ryan’s death?

My Thoughts & Review:

Beneath The Surface is the second book by Jo Spain to feature Inspector Tom Reynolds, the first being With Our Blessing and can be read as a standalone.

The horrific murder of a government official in the parliament building, the most secure building in Ireland leads to an investigation headed up by DI Reynolds and his team.  Discovering a compromising photograph under the body of the victim opens up the investigation to realms of political skulduggery, corruption and scandal.

The development of Tom Reynolds in this book is great, the reader gets to know more about this character and his team.  The dynamic of home life and work life made for interesting reading and gave the characters a more realistic feel. There seemed to be so much going on in this book, with so many characters involved it must have taken the author some serious homework to keep track of them all, which in turn means that the reader has to pay some attention to who’s who and what their story is in order to keep up, not a book you can drift in and out of.
The story itself is interesting enough, but for me the political angle just wasn’t for me.

Jo Spain’s knowledge of working within Leinster House shows through the detail written in to this book, it adds an authenticity to it all.  The writing is enjoyable, the story flows well and the tantalising epilogue opens up the possibility of a third instalment in the Tom Reynolds series.

You can buy a copy of Beneath the Surface here.

 

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The Lavender House

Author: Hilary Boyd
Published: 4 August 2016
Reviewed: 19 August 2016

3.5 out of 5 stars
Copy supplied by Quercus Books in return for an honest review as part of Quercus Summer Reading Book Club

 

Description:

Nancy de Freitas is the glue that holds her family together. Caught between her ageing, ailing mother Frances, and her struggling daughter Louise, frequent user of Nancy’s babysitting services, it seems Nancy’s fate is to quietly go on shouldering the burden of responsibility for all four generations. Her divorce four years ago put paid to any thoughts of a partner to share her later years with. Now it looks like her family is all she has.

Then she meets Jim. Smoker, drinker, unsuccessful country singer and wearer of cowboy boots, he should be completely unsuited to the very together Nancy. And yet, there is a real spark.
But Nancy’s family don’t trust Jim one bit. They’re convinced he’ll break her heart, maybe run off with her money – he certainly distracts her from her family responsibilities.

Can she be brave enough to follow her heart? Or will she remain glued to her family’s side and walk away from one last chance for love?

My Thoughts & Review:

Lavender House is the final instalment of the Quercus Summer Reads and what a great way to round off a summer of reading.

Having not read any of Boyd’s previous books I had no idea what to expect with this one, for some reason I never seemed to pick up her books when looking for something new to read.

I did struggle slightly with this book, perhaps it was because the protagonist was many years ahead of me in age so I found it difficult to relate to her, or perhaps because I’ve not been in the same situation.

Nancy is left heartbroken and devastated when her husband leaves her for a younger woman.  Thinking she will never find love again she becomes caretaker of her family, looking after her mother, helping her daughter and babysitting her granddaughters become her main focusses in life.  When she meets Jim at a friend’s party, she feels a spark of something she’d long forgotten.

Nancy was a hard character for me to connect with, I desperately wanted her to build her confidence, tell her family to let her make her own decisions and decide where things were going with Jim, but I guess when a person has been so used to putting others before herself it will be hard, near impossible to change overnight.  Jim was an interesting character, coming across as warm and charming but despite that Nancy’s family viewed him as the representation of everything wrong for her.

I read somewhere that Boyd has carved out a niche for ‘love between the older generations’ and I would definitely agree with this, however there are themes in this book that are universal to all age groups – family, love, loyalty, financial constraints and dealing with older parents (perhaps I will take note for future use with my mother!).

The plot moved along well, more of a cosy read than a page turner for me, but it was still an alright read.  Maybe not a book I would pick up myself, but one I might buy for my mother or grandmother.

 

About the Author

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Author information courtesy of wikipedia, image courtesy of Twitter

Hilary Boyd trained as a nurse at Great Ormond Street Hospital, London, and subsequently as a marriage guidance counsellor with Relate before reading English Literature at London University.  After college, Boyd became a health journalist, writing about depression, step-parenting and pregnancy. She began writing fiction as a hobby whilst raising three children and working at various day jobs including running a cancer charity, Survive Cancer, working for an engineering company, and an online vitamin site.  She published six non-fiction books on health-related subjects before turning to fiction and writing a string of bestsellers, starting with Thursdays in the Park.  Hilary is married to film director/producer Don Boyd.

To find out more about Hilary’s books follow her on Twitter @HilaryBoyd

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