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** My thanks to Finn at HarperCollins for my copy of this book and for inviting me to be part of the blog tour **

 

Description:

Play with fire and you get burned…

A gripping crime thriller, from a new star in British crime fiction. Perfect for fans of Ian Rankin.

Five men burnt alive.
In the crippling heat of August in Rome, a flat goes up in flames, the doors sealed from the outside. Five illegal immigrants are trapped and burnt alive – their charred bodies barely distinguishable amidst the debris.

One man cut into pieces.
When Detective Inspectors Rossi and Carrara begin to investigate, a terror organisation shakes the city to its foundations. Then a priest is found murdered and mutilated post-mortem – his injuries almost satanic in their ferocity.

One city on the edge of ruin.
Rome is hurtling towards disaster. A horrifying pattern of violence is beginning to emerge, with a ruthless killer overseeing its design. But can Rossi and Carrara stop him before all those in his path are reduced to ashes?

 

My Thoughts & Review:

Despite being the second book in the Detective Rossi series, I was able to break my own rule about not reading books out of series order. For those that want to follow the series, the first book A Known Evil was published earlier this year. I should say that A Cold Flame does read well as a stand alone book, but to get fuller picture of the characters and their backgrounds I wonder if it might be a good idea to have read the previous book first.

There are so many things that I want to say about A Cold Flame, the plot in particular, but this is definitely a book that you do not want spoilers for. It’s the sort of book that it’s better to go into blind and allow the momentum of it all carry you off.
I would say that this is an intriguing, and well written novel. The characters are multilayered and feel realistic.  Plotting feels very current and with the different strands to it, there is plenty to keep readers guessing and on the edge of their seats.
Conway writes some incredibly detailed descriptions of settings and sights, which in turn allows readers to “see” and “experience” things through his characters, even down to the details of holding a gun, it all seems so striking.

Short chapters keep the pace of this brisk and whilst the pace does slow a little in the middle of the book, it is necessary to allow the audience to take stock of what has occurred so far and ready them for what happens next.

On the whole, an interesting and exciting read that will keep readers guessing.

 

About the Author:

Aidan Conway was born in Birmingham to Irish Parents and has been living in Italy since 2001. He holds an MA in Irish Writing from Queen’s University Belfast and has been a bookseller, a proofreader, a language consultant, as well as a freelance teacher, translator, and editor for the United Nations FAO. He is currently an assistant university lecturer in Rome, where he lives with his family. A Cold Flame is his second novel.

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Today I am delighted to welcome you to my stop on the blog tour for Jackie Baldwin’s latest novel, Perfect Dead.  It’s an honour to be part of the buzz around publication and even more of an honour to share an extract with you from the book.  Before you get the chance to have a sneaky look at chapter one, lets find out a little more about the book.

 

Description:

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Each murder brings him one step closer to the perfect death.

Ex-priest, DI Farrell is called on to investigate a gruesome death in rural Scotland. All evidence points to suicide, except for one loose end: every light in the cottage was switched off. Why would he kill himself in the dark?

The question sparks a murder investigation that leads to the mysterious Ivy House, home of ‘The Collective,’ a sinister commune of artists who will do anything to keep their twisted secrets hidden.

And when the remains of a young girl are uncovered on a barren stretch of coastline, Farrell realises that there is something rotten in this tight-knit community. Now he must track down a ruthless killer before another person dies, this time much closer to home…

 

Extract – from chapter one:

 

7th January 2013

DI Frank Farrell glanced across at Mhairi as the police car slid and bumped its way along an icy farm track towards a small stonewashed cottage. It was 10.10 a.m. and the sky was bright with a pale wintery sun. A young police officer who worked out of Kirkcudbright stood in front of the blue and white tape and walked towards them as they parked alongside the SOCO van.

Farrell exited the car with a feeling of dread in his stomach. In his time as a practising Catholic priest, suicides, in particular, always had a profound effect on him. The thought that someone might be driven to die at their own hand was unfathomable.

‘SOCO nearly done in there, PC McGhie?’

‘Yes, sir, they reckon it’s fairly cut and dried. The police surgeon is in there too. Didn’t exactly have to look for a pulse. Blood and brains everywhere.’

Farrell quelled him with a look.

‘Do we know the name of the deceased yet?’

‘Monro Stevenson, according to the opened mail, sir.’

Silently, Mhairi and Farrell suited up in their protective plastic coveralls and overshoes. Even if it was suicide, care had to be taken not to contaminate the scene, just in case.

‘Right, let’s get this over with,’ said Farrell.

He opened the door and entered with Mhairi.

A middle-aged man in a tweed jacket and cords was packing away his stethoscope in a brown leather satchel in the hall. He straightened up as they approached. Farrell noticed that he had an unhealthy greyish tinge to his face and that his hands were shaking.

‘Morning, Doctor. DI Farrell and DC McLeod.’

‘Dr Allison. Cause appears to be suicide. A terrible business,’ he said. ‘A patient of mine, as it turns out. He was only twenty-seven.’

‘It must be difficult when you know the deceased,’ said Mhairi.

‘Yes, if only he had come to me. I could have got him some help. Anything to avoid this,’ he said, gesturing towards the other room.

‘Any chance you can give us an indication of the time of death?’ asked Farrell.

‘Well, as you know, my role here is restricted to pronouncing life extinct. However, given that rigor is at its peak, I would hazard a guess, strictly off the record, that he died somewhere around fifteen hours ago. However, you’ll need to wait for the preliminary findings from the pathologist for any degree of certainty.’

‘Thanks, Doctor,’ said Farrell. ‘I appreciate the heads-up.’

The doctor turned to leave. Farrell approached the two experienced Scene of Crime officers, Janet White and Phil Tait, who were gathering their stuff together at the rear of the hall.

‘Janet, what have you got for us?’

‘It looks like a suicide,’ she said. ‘Gun placed in the mouth and trigger pulled. We lifted prints from the gun. Gunshot residue on the right hand of the deceased matches that scenario.’

‘There’s a note,’ Phil said. ‘It’s in a sealed envelope. We’ll get you a copy once we’ve done the necessary checks back at the station. We’ve also removed the gun for ballistics analysis.’

‘What was it?’

‘A PPK 380 mm. We recovered the bullet from the wall behind the chair.’

‘How on earth did he get hold of one of those in this neck of the woods?’

‘Your guess is as good as mine,’ shrugged Phil.

‘A suicide note,’ said Mhairi. ‘That means it’s unlikely to be a murder?’

‘Unless he was coerced, or it was staged,’ said Farrell.

I don’t know about you, but that has me really keen to read more!

 

 

About the Author:

Jackie Baldwin is a Scottish crime writer. Her debut crime novel, Dead Man’s Prayer, was published by Killer Reads, Harper Collins on 2nd September 2016. The second in the series, Perfect Dead was published on 15th June 2018. For most of her working life, she has been a solicitor specialising in Family and Criminal Law. However, she now practices in Dumfries as a hypnotherapist which is where her novels are set. Married, with two grown up children, she has filled her empty nest with Golden Retrievers. She can often be found in a forest walking the dogs, covered in mud and with twigs in her hair.

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I am so excited to welcome you to my stop on the blog tour for “99 Red Balloons” by Elisabeth Carpenter (stop singing the 1980s pop song by Nena!) and share an extract from this gripping thriller!

Description:

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Two girls go missing, decades apart. What would you do if one was your daughter?

When eight-year-old Grace goes missing from a sweetshop on the way home from school, her mother Emma is plunged into a nightmare. Her family rallies around, but as the police hunt begins, cracks begin to emerge.

What are the secret emails sent between Emma’s husband and her sister? Why does her mother take so long to join the search? And is Emma really as innocent as she seems?

Meanwhile, ageing widow Maggie Taylor sees Grace’s picture in the newspaper. It’s a photograph that jolts her from the pain of her existence into a spiralling obsession with another girl – the first girl who disappeared…

This is a gripping psychological thriller with a killer twist that will take your breath away.

You can buy a copy of “99 Red Balloons” via:

Amazon
Wordery
Book Depository


Extract: Chapter 20 p.105-107

The bingo restarts, but I still can’t concentrate. Without saying, Jim has taken over my next card. I look at him from the corner of my eye. He never was a looker, bless him, but he looks better now he’s older. What’s it they say about growing into your face? It must be the case with Jim. I think about what’s happened over the last couple of days and I don’t know what I’d have done without him.

‘Come on then, let’s get your winnings,’ he says.

‘They can’t have played three games already.’

‘They have indeed. You’re away with the fairies. But I don’t blame you. You’ve enough on your plate.’

Jim’s up and ready in seconds. He kept his coat on the whole time we’ve been here. He must have cold bones these days. He stands waiting, patiently. I know I’m being slow, but there’s something about that woman that unnerves me. I’m in no rush to get to her.

He almost drags me there; my feet are so heavy. She watches us while we walk and stands when we reach the table.

‘It’s nice to see you, Maggie.’

She holds out her hand. I’ve never seen her before in my life. Her hair is too dark for her age; she must dye it – there’s not a grey in sight. She’s wearing a velvet blouse in maroon that reminds me of my great-grandmother’s curtains.

‘Do you two know each other?’ asks Jim.

‘I’ve never met you before,’ I say to her.

‘Sorry about that, love,’ Jim says to the stranger. ‘Not one for niceties, isn’t Mags.’

‘That’s okay. Sorry,’ she says. ‘I could’ve sworn we’d met before.’

She sits back down. I look at the table and what I thought were playing cards have strange pictures on them, rimmed with gold.

‘I’ll just get your prize ready.’

She counts out five ten-pound notes and puts them in an envelope. Before she seals it, she puts in what looks like a business card. She looks up. ‘Just in case you need to contact me.’

I’ve never heard anything so ridiculous. Why would I need to contact her?

Jim rubs his hands, again. ‘I’m just off to the gents while we wait for the taxi. Won’t be a min.’

I want to follow him, but that would be a little undignified.

‘I’ll wait in reception,’ I say, trying not to look at her.

I only get a few feet away when I feel a hand grab my elbow.

‘Wait, Maggie.’

I turn slowly, knowing it’s her. ‘How do you know my name?’

She glances at the floor, before looking me straight in the eye.

‘I’m sorry,’ she says. ‘My name’s Dee. I remember you from years ago. When your poor granddaughter went missing.’

‘Right.’

I don’t know why I didn’t think of that before, but strangers haven’t approached me for years. I knew they meant well, but it was mortifying, heartbreaking. It was why we hardly went out.

‘I’d better be going,’ I say.

‘Maggie, please wait a minute.’

‘Hang on. Why do you keep calling me Maggie? I was always Margaret in the newspapers.’

She comes closer to me; I step back.

‘I know you probably think I’m insane – I get that a lot. But . . .’ She takes a few breaths and taps her chest. ‘Zoe’s still alive.’

 


I don’t know about you, but that’s got be seriously intrigued and desperate to know what happens next!

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

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Published: 25 November 2016
Reviewed: 1 February 2017

4 out of 5 stars

Copy provided by Killer Reads

 

Description:

You can’t escape the past…

Juliet and Chrissy were best friends until one fateful summer forced them apart. Now, nearly twenty years later, Juliet wants to be back in Chrissy’s life.

But Chrissy doesn’t want Juliet anywhere near her, or her teenage daughter Eloise. After all, Juliet is the only person who knows what happened that night – and her return threatens to destroy the life that Chrissy has so carefully built.

Because when the past is reawakened, it can prove difficult to bury. And soon all three of them will realize how dangerous it can get once the truth is out there…

My Thoughts & Review:

This was one of those books that instantly appealed to me when I read the description, something about it screamed twisted, dark and intense – just the sort of book I love to devour.

Narrated from different points of view, the story is told from both the past and the present and the reader learns that Chrissy is reminiscing about her friend from university who has made contact with Eloise, Chrissy’s daughter.  Eloise cannot understand her mother’s reluctance to speak to her old friend Juliet, but in order to explain Chrissy must recount what happened all those years ago when they were in France.
This first part of the book was incredibly detailed, Taylor brings her characters to life fleshing them out with wonderful backstories, carefully drawing a picture of the background that led to the friendship between Chrissy and Juliet before it all fell apart.
Whilst it is a bit of a slow burner, the reader is rewarded with some wonderfully intense moments, and when you reach the second part of the book set in Italy the pace picks up dramatically as lies are uncovered and the truth is finally told.

I really liked in this was the way in which June Taylor kept me guessing which voice to trust.  An unreliable narrator makes a book more interesting and thrilling, but here with so many twists, turns and red herrings it was exhilarating.

June Taylor is a new author to me, and I admit I had no preconceived notions going into this book but I will certainly be keeping an eye out for more books by this author.

Overall, a very well written thriller with a well constructed plot and rich characters.

 

Many thanks to Killer Reads / HarperCollins UK & Netgalley for the opportunity to read this book.

 

About the Author:

June Taylor is a UK writer who was runner-up in the 2011 Times/Chicken House Children’s Fiction competition with her Young Adult book Lovely me, Lovely You. But she mainly writes Adult psychological thrillers, and Losing Juliet is her debut novel. She was a TV promos writer/producer for many years before becoming a full-time writer. June also writes plays as well as fiction. She is very active in the Yorkshire writing scene, on the Board of Script Yorkshire and part of Leeds Big Bookend.

Follow her on Twitter: @joonLT
Visit her website at: www.junetaylor.co.uk

 

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eBook & Paperback publishes 23rd February 2017

‘A stunning read from a superb storyteller.’ Clare Mackintosh

 

What if you were the worst crime your mother ever committed?

Dahlia Waller’s childhood memories consist of stuffy cars, seedy motels, and a rootless existence travelling the country with her eccentric mother. Now grown, she desperately wants to distance herself from that life. Yet one thing is stopping her from moving forward: she has questions.

In order to understand her past, Dahlia must go back. Back to her mother in the stifling town of Aurora, Texas. Back into the past of a woman on the brink of madness. But after she discovers three grave-like mounds on a neighbouring farm, she’ll learn that in her mother’s world of secrets, not all questions are meant to be answered…

The Good Daughter is a compelling take on a genre that shows no sign of slowing down. The perfect read for fans of Gillian Flynn and Paula Hawkins.

You can pre order a copy via Amazon

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I am delighted to welcome you to my stop on Katerina Diamond’s blog tour for The Secret and share an extract from this utterly dark and twisted thriller.

Can you keep a secret? Your life depends on it…

When Bridget Reid wakes up in a locked room, terrifying memories come flooding back – of blood, pain, and desperate fear. Her captor knows things she’s never told anyone. How can she escape someone who knows all of her secrets?

As DS Imogen Grey and DS Adrian Miles search for Bridget, they uncover a horrifying web of abuse, betrayal and murder right under their noses in Exeter.

And as the past comes back to haunt her, Grey must confront her own demons. Because she knows that it can be those closest to us who hurt us the most…


Extract from The Secret:

‘Detective Grey?’ DCI David Stanton’s voice snapped her out of her trance; she put the photos down and turned around. He stood in the doorway to his office, looking sullen and stern like he always did. Sullen and stern, but undoubtedly attractive. Imogen felt her stomach flip slightly.

‘Sir?’

‘My office!’

She walked across the room, aware that the sound of her heels carried, hoping no one would look up. The day was coming to an end; only the brown-nosers would be around now. The brown-nosers and her. She stood to attention as Stanton closed the door behind her. Her boss was a tall man, a good few inches over six foot. He had medium-brown hair with flashes of grey at the temples and he was never completely clean-shaven, almost, but not completely.

‘Is there a problem, sir?’

‘I thought you were gone for the day?’

‘Just wanted to get my paperwork done tonight, sir. You know, while it was fresh in my mind.’

‘I admire that work ethic, Grey.’ He walked back around and released the shutter on the blind. ‘It couldn’t wait till tomorrow?’

‘It could have, yes.’

He was a foot taller than her. She could feel his warm breath brush the top of her ear as he stood behind her, close but not touching.

‘So, why are you really here?’ he whispered. The hairs on the back of her neck stood on end, her skin prickled as he said the words. She could feel his body heat, he was right there, right behind her. She wanted him to throw her down on to the desk.

‘I’m not sure, sir,’ said Imogen at last.

‘Stop calling me sir, Imogen.’

He was really close now, as close as it was possible to be without contact. She could feel the desire in him, feel his temperature rising. They were touching without touching, longing to put skin on skin. To feel fingers tracing the lines of each other’s body, to kiss, to lick, to bite. Their flirtation had almost reached breaking point. How much longer could they play this game?

‘What should I call you, then?’ she asked quietly, suggestively. Every part of him was leaning towards her. She was delirious with excitement and anticipation. As he leaned closer still, there was a sudden knock at the door and she felt Stanton take an abrupt step backwards. The spell was broken.

‘Come in,’ he said, clearing his throat, moving away from her. Imogen swallowed hard, trying to slow her heart rate back down.

The door opened as Stanton smoothed his tie and sat down behind his desk, in an obvious attempt to hide his stimulated body. He didn’t look at Imogen.

Jamie, the desk sergeant, entered and handed a file to Stanton.

‘Thanks, Jamie. Detective Grey—’ He looked up at her. She could feel the heat in her cheeks. ‘You can go home now; finish your paperwork tomorrow. You’re done for tonight.’

Imogen nodded. Without making eye contact with him, she walked out of his office and grabbed her stuff from her desk. Looking back once, she saw Stanton putting his jacket on, shrugging his arms into the sleeves. She forced herself to look away. She needed to get home, and she needed a cold shower.

You can buy a copy of The Secret here


Did you manage to work out the previous hosts of  Blog Tour?
Who will be next?  Follow for daily clues about your next host!

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 Author: Hazel Gaynor

Published: 8 September 2016
Reviewed: 26 September 2016

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

 

Description:

Presenting a dazzling new historical novel … The Girl From The Savoy is as sparkling as champagne and as thrilling as the era itself.

‘Sometimes life gives you cotton stockings. Sometimes it gives you a Chanel gown …’

Dolly Lane is a dreamer; a downtrodden maid who longs to dance on the London stage, but her life has been fractured by the Great War. Memories of the soldier she loved, of secret shame and profound loss, by turns pull her back and spur her on to make a better life.

When she finds employment as a chambermaid at London’s grandest hotel, The Savoy, Dolly takes a step closer to the glittering lives of the Bright Young Things who thrive on champagne, jazz and rebellion. Right now, she must exist on the fringes of power, wealth and glamor—she must remain invisible and unimportant.

But her fortunes take an unexpected turn when she responds to a struggling songwriter’s advertisement for a ‘muse’ and finds herself thrust into London’s exhilarating theatre scene and into the lives of celebrated actress, Loretta May, and her brother, Perry. Loretta and Perry may have the life Dolly aspires to, but they too are searching for something.

Now, at the precipice of the life she has and the one she longs for, the girl from The Savoy must make difficult choices: between two men; between two classes, between everything she knows and everything she dreams of. A brighter future is tantalizingly close—but can a girl like Dolly ever truly leave her past behind?

My Thoughts & Review:

Having been enticed with the beautiful cover of this book and the wonderful insights of the blog tour earlier in the month, I finally got time to sit down and read The Girl From The Savoy.

Charting the story of Dolly, a chambermaid at the Savoy in 1920s London, the reader is transported to the era by Hazel Gaynor’s eloquent prose.
Dolly has great dreams to be a star on stage, appearing in musicals like her idol Loretta May, so when she meets Loretta’s bother Perry and becomes friends with him and Loretta she is beside herself with excitement at the possibilities this poses.

Dolly is a wonderfully rich character, rich in spirit, and a delight to read about.  Despite her past and the secrets she keeps hidden, the reader cannot help but admire this character.  As her secrets are unearthed, they convey so much more about Dolly’s life before the Savoy.    Perry and Loretta are equally great characters, each has their secrets and this helps to bring them to life as believable and likeable characters.

The writing itself is great, Hazel Gaynor carefully captures the very essence of the period, the reader is swept away with the vivid details that Gaynor has taken time to include, you can almost picture the scenes as if it were a play or on the big screen.  It’s clear from the details included that much time has been spent researching the music and the celebrities of the time.  I was lucky enough to share a wonderful piece written by Hazel Gaynor about the music of the period that played a part in her research as part of the blog tour for The Girl From The Savoy.

You can buy a copy of The Girl From The Savoy here.

About The Author:

Hazel Gaynor, copyright Deasy Photographic

Hazel Gaynor’s 2014 debut THE GIRL WHO CAME HOME was a NYT and USA Today bestseller and winner of the 2015 RNA Historical Romantic Novel of the Year award. Her second novel A MEMORY OF VIOLETS was selected by WHSmith Travel as a ‘Fresh Talent’ title and was also a NYT and USA Today bestseller.

Hazel is one of nine contributing authors to WWI anthology FALL OF POPPIES – Stories of Love and the Great War. Her third novel, THE GIRL FROM THE SAVOY is available now.

Hazel writes a popular guest blog ‘Carry on Writing’ for national Irish writing website writing.ie and also contributes special guest features for the site, interviewing authors such as Philippa Gregory, Kate Mosse, Sebastian Faulks, Cheryl Strayed and Rachel Joyce among others.

Hazel was the recipient of the 2012 Cecil Day Lewis award for Emerging Writers and was selected by Library Journal as one of ten big breakout authors for 2015. Originally from Yorkshire, England, Hazel now lives in Ireland with her husband and two children.

To keep up-to-date with Hazel’s latest news, visit her website www.hazelgaynor.com or her Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/hazelgaynorbooks

 

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