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Published: 1 June 2017

 

Description:

An irresistible mystery set in 1890s Edinburgh, Kaite Welsh’s THE WAGES OF SIN features a female medical student-turned-detective, and will thrill fans of Sarah Waters and Antonia Hodgson.

Sarah Gilchrist has fled from London to Edinburgh in disgrace and is determined to become a doctor, despite the misgivings of her family and society. As part of the University of Edinburgh’s first intake of female medical students, in 1892, Sarah comes up against resistance from lecturers, her male contemporaries, and – perhaps worst of all – her fellow women, who will do anything to avoid being associated with a fallen woman…

When one of Sarah’s patients turns up in the university dissecting room as a battered corpse, Sarah finds herself drawn into Edinburgh’s dangerous underworld of bribery, brothels and body snatchers – and a confrontation with her own past.

 

My Thoughts & Review:

“The Wages of Sin” is a wonderfully atmospheric fictional thriller, it is steeped in fantastically rich detail that portrays life in the late 1800s as both interesting as well as fraught with danger.

Society deemed that women in this era should know their place, that being in the home raising families, tending to the needs of their husbands or generally being gentile and “ladylike”, and most definitely not wielding scalpels and training to become surgeons at Edinburgh University.  Society clearly never encountered Sarah Gilchrist and her 12 like minded classmates it would seem.
Having disgraced her family in  London, Sarah is sent to live with her aunt and uncle in Edinburgh, and it is agreed that she can attend her studies at the university so long as she is ferried back and forth by a driver and kept from any temptations or situations that might besmirch the good family name any further.

The adversity and oppression faced by women in this era is demonstrated well by the author, attitudes of those around Sarah blatantly showing horror at her chosen career path, her fellow students keen to ridicule each other and the rivalry between both male and female students rife.  Indeed, there seems to be more rivalry between the female students who seem more eager to bring each other down than to support and hold one another up.

Through her work at the local Infirmary, Sarah comes into contact with those less fortunate, the poor and destitute pouring in through the doors in search of medical help as well as the women from the surrounding brothels.  Unfortunately for Sarah, one of these women seeks assistance that cannot be given, abortions being illegal at the time.  From here Sarah embarks on a journey of self destruction, believing that something is amiss and nefarious practises surround her.  Her detective skills might be somewhat lacking but her heart is in the right place, she is determined to find out the truth behind the death of a patient, even if it means casting accusations wildly.

This is a very well thought out and well researched book, the topic of female emancipation making for interesting reading.  The descriptiveness of characters and settings in this mean that readers can conjure vivid images in their heads of the squalor of the slums, the opulence of Society and the bitter chill of a Scottish winter.
Sarah is a character that is well crafted, initially a broken and seemingly fragile creature, her studies give her hope and something to work towards, she develops well but still retains some vulnerabilities and naivety.

Kaite Welsh has crafted a clever tale of corruption, wickedness and discrimination that seeps into all tiers of Victorian society.

You can buy a copy of “The Wages of Sin” via:

Amazon
The Book Depository
Wordery

My thanks to Headline and Tinder Press for the opportunity to read and review this book.

 

 

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Published: 23 March 2017

Copy provided by Headline & Netgalley

 

Description:

 Forensic psychologist Paula Maguire returns in BLOOD TIDE, the fifth novel in Claire McGowan’s acclaimed series.

Called in to investigate the disappearance of a young couple during a violent storm, Paula Maguire, forensic psychologist, has mixed feelings about going back to Bone Island. Her last family holiday as a child was spent on its beautiful, remote beaches and returning brings back haunting memories of her long-lost mother.

It soon becomes clear that outsiders aren’t welcome on the island, and with no choice but to investigate the local community, Paula soon suspects foul play, realising that the islanders are hiding secrets from her, and each other.

With another storm fast approaching, Paula is faced with a choice. Leave alive or risk being trapped with a killer on an inescapable island, as the blood tide rushes in…

My Thoughts & Review:

“Blood Tide” is the much awaited fifth book of the Dr Paula Maguire series penned by Claire McGowan.  Having followed this character through the previous four books I was so pleased to receive the opportunity to read an early copy of this to find out what happens next for my favourite forensic psychologist.

For fans of the series, this book goes some of the way to shining light on the mysteries surrounding Paula’s personal life – the tale of her long lost mother and also what’s happening with Aidan.  But this book provides a fresh opportunity for Dr Maguire to test her skills in a case that could prove to be one of the most dangerous she’s investigated.
If you’ve not read any of the series it is possible to read this book without feeling like you’ve missed huge chunks of information.  There is detail aplenty to ensure you are kept in the loop about past events and connections, and Claire McGowan writes in such a way that it’s not repetitive or cumbersome to remind readers about events from the past.

A cleverly constructed plot ensures that readers are kept guessing what will happen next, and the inquisitive Dr Maguire soon suspects that there is more to her newest case than the locals of Bone Island would have her believe.  At first glance it would see that Dr Fiona Watts and Matt Andrews have simply vanished, a bad storm is heading towards the island so an unfortunate accident is the conclusion that the locals have come to.  Paula is not so sure, she feels there is more to this, something about this case doesn’t sit right with her and she is determined to find out the truth.
The darkness of the approaching storm does little to help the claustrophobic atmosphere in this book, menace looms from within the pages.

Narration by Paula is interspersed with narration by Fiona Watts, recounting events leading up to her disappearance.
Running alongside this is the thrilling tale surrounding Paula’s personal life.  Her partner is in jail and she is searching for clues about her long lost mother, whilst juggling motherhood and working.  Hiring a private detective to look into Aidan’s case and also find out details about her mother’s disappearance is second nature to Paula, but what she doesn’t realise is the information is coming from a source she would never have imagined or trusted.  I have to admit, part of me was more hooked by the personal storyline at times, I’ve followed it through several books and cruelly Claire McGowan is holding is captive with the smallest snippets of information, ensuring we are hooked.

I am always impressed with the skill that McGowan possesses in her writing, her ability to simultaneously write in both past and present tenses throughout the novel, with a number of voices narrating and not losing the reader along the way.  The details that are written into the plot give an authenticity to story and the setting – the way in which the Troubles are included give a great insight to readers who may not be familiar with them, but also how the aftermath of it all impacts upon the lives of characters etc.

A superb continuation of the series and one I would absolutely recommend.

You can buy a copy of “Blood Tide” via Amazon here or Wordery here.

About the Author:

Claire McGowan grew up in a small village in Northern Ireland. After a degree in English and French from Oxford University she moved to London and worked in the charity sector. THE FALL is her first novel, which is followed by a series starring forensic psychologist Paula Maguire. She also writes as Eva Woods.

 

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Published: 3 November 2016
Reviewed: 18 October 2016

4 out of 5 stars

Copy supplied by Headline in return for an honest review

 

Description:

You wake. Confused. Disorientated.
A noose is round your neck.
You are bound, standing on a chair.
All you can focus on is the man in the mask tightening the rope.
You are about to die.
John Wallace has no idea why he has been targeted. No idea who his attacker is. No idea how he will prevent the inevitable.
Then the pendulum of fate swings in his favour.
He has one chance to escape, find the truth and halt his destruction.
The momentum is in his favour for now.
But with a killer on his tail, everything can change with one swing of this deadly pendulum…

My Thoughts & Review:

Pendulum is the second book by Adam Hamdy to feature John Wallace, the first book Run is set whilst John is still in Afghanistan.  Pendulum does read well without having read Run, there is ample detail provided to explain links between the books.

John Wallace is about to be hanged in his own home by a masked assailant wearing serious body armour.  Wallace has no idea who this assailant is or why he has been targeted,  but he does know that he wished the wooden beams in the roof had woodworm.
When the hanging attempt fails Wallace makes a run for freedom but the would be killer isn’t going to give up his prize too easily.

What then follows is an adrenaline filled whirlwind of activity, Wallace trying to keep out of sight of his would be killer and desperately seeking answers to why someone is after him.  Travelling from the UK to America in search of clues, answers, help, Wallace walks a tightrope of danger and seems to be in the wrong place at the wrong time too often.

As the first instalment in a trilogy, this book sets the bar high for the books to follow.  The levels of intrigue, mystery, action and danger are intense and utterly immersive.  Hamdy writes with an efficient style that lulls the reader in with short and snappy chapters.  Effortlessly he throws the reader straight into the action from the beginning of the book and continues in this way throughout with numerous high octane escapades.

The characters in this are interesting and although the protagonist wasn’t especially likeable I still wanted a good outcome for him and felt sympathy/empathy at times towards him.  The supporting characters all added depth to the story, indeed some were incredibly intriguing and the descriptiveness of Hamdy’s writing meant that it was possible to envision them all, especially the killer!

The concept of the story is captivating, the description has the right level of mystery in it to hook a reader’s interest and hold it till at least half way through the book, well this was  where I became a little less enthused,  when things seemed to take a turn towards being less credible, less realistic and a little too sensational.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good book and very well written, I just felt that it was a little far fetched in places and I wanted to skim read some bits as it felt a little too “wordy”.

I would definitely look out for the next book in the series to see how Wallace fared after this lethal game of cat and mouse and to see what Hamdy had planned next for him.

You can buy a copy of Pendulum here.

 

About the Author:

Adam Hamdy is the author of the forthcoming Pendulum trilogy, which will be published by Headline in November 2016. New York Times bestselling author, James Patterson, said: “I read Pendulum in one gloriously suspenseful weekend. Definitely one of the best thrillers of the year.”

As a screenwriter, Adam has worked with studios and production companies on both sides of the Atlantic, and is currently developing original TV dramas with networks in the UK and US.

In addition to his film and television work, Adam is building a reputation as an author. After garnering critical acclaim, Adam’s self-published second novel, Out of Reach, was republished by Endeavour Press in 2015.

Prior to embarking on his writing career, Adam was a strategy consultant and advised global businesses in the medical systems, robotics, technology and financial services sectors.

Adam has a degree in Law from Oxford University and a degree in Philosophy from the University of London. Adam is a seasoned skier, rock climber, CPSA marksman, and is a member of the International Thriller Writers Organisation, the Society of Authors, the Crime Writers Association, and the Writers Guild of Great Britain.

For more information about Adam Hamdy’s books check out his website http://www.adamhamdy.com or follow him on Twitter @adamhamdy

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Author: Jenny Blackhurst

Published: 28 August 2016
Reviewed: 1 September 2016

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

 

Description:

Karen is meant to be the one who fixes problems.

It’s her job, as a psychiatrist – and it’s always been her role as a friend.

But Jessica is different. She should be the patient, the one that Karen helps.

But she knows things about Karen. Her friends, her personal life. Things no patient should.

My thoughts & Review:

Before I Let You In is the second novel from Jenny Blackhurst, her first was How I Lost You.

This book centres around three women, Karen, Eleanor and Bea, who have been friends since school.  The women now in their 30s are still very close despite each having their own lives to lead.  When psychiatrist Karen takes on a new patient (self referred) called Jessica something about her just doesn’t sit right and Karen becomes increasingly uncomfortable with the knowledge Jessica seems to have.   Jessica seems to know a lot about Karen and her friends, but Karen is bound by the rules of patient confidentiality so she must ensure that Jessica poses a real threat before she can do something.

The plotting in this is superb, so cleverly done and there are enough twists and red herrings to keep the reader guessing.  The simplicity of the author’s direction/misdirection belies just how immensely clever this story really is.  Short and sharp chapters ensure that this is a quick read, which is a good thing because once you start reading you will want to get to the end so you can take a breath!

With narration from the main characters the reader is privy to their innermost feelings, this gives a greater insight into these women and makes them more realistic.  The narration from the anonymous source was very intriguing, it added to the intensity and darkness of the story.

All too often the next novel that follows a sensational début can fall flat, or just not have that spark, but in this instance, Before I Let You In has met that standard and gone beyond it!  Here’s to book three!

As far as psychological thrillers go, this one is suspenseful, gripping and a bit creepy – the perfect combination.

You can buy a copy of Before I Let You In here.

 

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