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37 hours


** My thanks to Noelle & Kate at Thick as Thieves Book Publicity and Promo for the opportunity to read and review this book, and for inviting me to take part in the blog tour **



The only way to hunt down a killer is to become one.
Imprisoned by MI6 for two long years in solitary, Nadia suddenly finds herself free again. But there is a price to pay for her release. Another dangerous and near impossible mission – retrieve the Russian nuclear warhead stolen by her old nemesis, the deadliest of terrorists.
But he is always one step ahead, and soon Nadia finds herself at the front line of preventing London from disappearing into a cloud of ash. Only this time, she is ready to pull the trigger at any cost.
And with the clock counting down from 37 hours, time is running out…
My Thoughts & Review:
You know that feeling when you finish a book and cannot wait to get started on the next one in the series?  Well that’s a tiny bit like the anticipation I had for this book, 37 Hours is the second in the Nadia Laksheva series and it begins with a bang that sets the pace throughout.
For readers new to this series, you can read 37 Hours straight away, there is more than enough information included in the narrative to explain who people are and the connections between them, but I would highly recommend reading 66 Metres first as the writing is fantastic and the small details you will pick up from that book will absolutely enhance your enjoyment of 37 Hours.
As always, I won’t say too much about the plot, there is a blurb above to give you some idea of what goes on in this book, and suffice to say Nadia seems to be back in the middle of a dangerous situation that will push her to the limits of her abilities and mental capacity.
When I read 66 Metres I was astounded by how strong a character Nadia is (you can read my review here) and this instalment has firmly cemented my liking of this character.  Her tenacity in the face of danger is almost chilling, she’s calculating and careful in some aspects, but at other times she will take risks which increase the tension and enjoyment of the book.  Her strong connection to her family makes her that little more relatable, often a female protagonist such as this ends up being portrayed in a less realistic way.
I am a big fan of Kirwan’s writing style, it’s easy to follow despite it covering some topics I have no knowledge about.  I don’t profess to know anything about diving and yet I was able to read this book and not feel that I was missing any details because of the care that the author has taken to ensure that all of his readers will be able to grasp the facts of what is happening.  The vivid images I could conjure of scenes were down to the wonderful descriptions included, and for me this makes a book more enjoyable as I feel that I can “see” everything as it plays out.
Now to wait patiently to see what happens next……….
You can buy a copy of 37 Hours via:
About the Author:

In his day job, J. F. Kirwan travels worldwide, working on aviation safety. He lives in Paris, where he first joined a fiction class – and became hooked! So when a back injury stopped him scuba diving for two years, he wrote a thriller about a young Russian woman, Nadia, where a lot of the action occurred in dangerously deep waters. It was the only way he could carry on diving! But as the story and characters grew, he realised it was not one book, but three…

You can connect with the J. F. Kirwan via:
Follow the blog tour & pop over to my tour buddy’s blog to check out what Meggy has to share with you at  Chocolate ‘n’ Waffles
37 Hours Blog Tour

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Published: 28 August 2017



A red gash of a mouth rimmed with impossibly tiny, razor-sharp teeth yawned wide, then swift as a snake, she bent and struck . . . “
For Sandra, daughter of illusionists, Adam and Ophelia, life’s never been run of the mill. But when Adam’s wandering eye lights on yet another conquest, it proves a chorus girl too far, and Sandra’s caught in the reverberations of her parents acrimonious parting. Coerced into restoring her depressed Mother to the bosom of a family Sandra never knew existed, she’s sucked into a situation that even for her is unnerving.
From being without a single relative, she suddenly acquires several she’d rather do without, and learns a few home truths she’d prefer not to know. Ophelia it appears, has not been entirely honest about any number of things. There’s no doubt in Sandra’s mind, the sooner she puts as much distance as possible between herself, her newly discovered nearest and dearest, their peculiar tendencies and their failing hotel business, the very much happier she’s going to be.
Dire straits call for desperate measures and Sandra reluctantly rises to the occasion. A hanged housemaid, a fly-on-the-wall documentary, The Psychic Society and a quasi co-operative journalist all handled correctly should, she reckons, get the family business up and running, which will allow her to do the same – as fast as she can, and in the opposite direction. Things unfortunately move swiftly from bad to farce and then get a hell of a lot darker. One moment Sandra’s struggling to save the family’s income, the next, she’s battling to save their lives.
Turns out, some darknesses, once buried, are best left undisturbed.

My Thoughts & Review:

The reader meets Sandra just as her life begins to unravel slightly, her mother Ophelia appears and as dramatic as ever announces that she and Sandra’s father have argued and that she’s left him for good.  The fight between the two became physical and she hit him over the head before leaving, not caring if he were dead or alive.  Ophelia declares she has had enough of Adam’s roving eye and womanising ways, and this time it’s the end.
And just as the reader grasps what’s happening, Sandra begins to recount her childhood, how it was to grow up the daughter of the great illusionists Adam and Ophelia.  The relationship between daughter and parents never appears as that of the stereotypical one, Sandra was often left behind or forgotten about and the much needed parental figure coming in the form of the couples’ manager.  The way in which Sandra describes the relationship of her parents gives readers an insight into this stormy pairing.  Both seeming to spark something in the other that gives rise to an argument or heated exchange, but ultimately this chemistry is the thing that keeps their stage act alive and popular.

Back in the present, Ophelia is in full diva mode, demanding that Sandra take time off work and drive her to Stratford, she however fails to inform her daughter of the significance of the address to which they are heading.  Upon arrival at the hotel, Sandra is astounded to realise that she has family that Ophelia omitted to tell her about, having believed her mother’s tales whilst growing up that she had no family.
The family hotel is failing and Sandra decides to help out whilst she is there, and Ophelia true to her nature, disappears at the mention of helping out by doing some work.

What then follows is a tale of madness, chaos and ghostly goings on with quite possibly the strangest collection of characters.

I found this was a quick read, once I’d started I wanted to keep reading to find out what happened and where Sandra would end up in the grand scheme of things.

The characters in this have been created well, their descriptions are well rounded and show off their quirks as well as making them quite interesting to read about.

I will admit that it’s a little outside my usual crime thriller reads to it did take a little time to switch off my logical thinking brain and just let the story flow.

You can buy a copy of Witch Dust via Amazon

My thanks to Noelle and Kate at Thick as Thieves Book Publicity and Promo for the opportunity to read and review this book, and for inviting me to take part in the blog tour.

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66 metres



The only thing worth killing for is family.
Everyone said she had her father’s eyes.  A killer’s eyes.  Nadia knew that on the bitterly cold streets of Moscow,  she could never escape her past – but in just a few days, she would finally be free.
Bound to work for Kadinsky for five years, she has one last mission to complete.  Yet when she is instructed to capture The Rose,  a military weapon shrouded in secrecy,  Nadia finds herself trapped in a deadly game of global espionage.
And the only man she can trust is the one sent to spy on her…

“A masterfully paced action thriller that takes readers to unexplored depths. The first novel in J. F. Kirwan’s Nadia Laksheva series introduces a heroine that readers are bound to fall hard for.” BestThrillers.com

My Thoughts & Review:

Being a fan of spy thrillers I was keen to read 66 Metres to see if it lived up to the immensely intriguing book description.  The cover states this is “A chilling thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat!” and they’re not wrong!
From the opening pages the reader is faced with an intense storyline and is first introduced to a young Nadia Laksheva who is yet to face up to the harsh realities of her dysfunctional family.  As she ages she learns that her father was not the man she thought he was, not a saint, but a killer.  Her sister is a drug addicted prostitute and her mother is a cold and distant figure who is quick to remind her that her father was a killer.  Combine these things with the harsh freezing temperatures of Russia and you begin to see the insufferably difficult life that Nadia is living.  Seeing a way out, a means of escaping this torturous existence for herself and her sister Katya, Nadia takes the “option” given to her by Russian mob boss Kadinsky.  I say option, because really the only other choice would be a concrete overcoat or perhaps ventilation holes in their heads.

After undergoing rigorous training at the hands of Russian experts, Nadia is ready to take on her 5 years of missions for Kadinsky in return for her and Katya’s freedom.  The final mission means the end is in sight, but Nadia needs to complete it successfully first.

Thankfully I read this book whilst on holiday so I could curl up on a deckchair in the sun and completely shut off from the world around me for a few hours.  This is definitely a book that you want to keep reading, you want to find out what is going to happen next, see what characters will do next and find out whether Nadia comes out of this all unscathed.

Characterisation is brilliant, Nadia develops well throughout the book and her motivations become clearer as the reader gets to know her.  The glimpses of the vulnerable side of her really bring her to life.  Sometimes I wonder if it’s all too easy for authors to keep their trained assassins as cold hearted and strictly functioning “machines”, but here the author has gone under the surface of this character to give readers a real insight to Nadia which I think does make her more likeable.
The switching perspective between characters adds to the intensity and intrigue of this book no end!  Being able to step into the mind of the “baddies” always makes the plot more exciting, but here some of the “baddies” showed remorse for some of their actions, or showed humility which I found caught me off guard and in turn had be liking this book even more.

The descriptive abilities that Kirwan possesses are incredible – I’ve never dived, don’t really think it’s something I would ever do but just reading the underwater scenes had me feeling like I was there, in the wrecks with Nadia and the dive crew, the way it played out on the page was almost hypnotic.  I will admit to initial worries that some of the information about the diving would be too technical for me to grasp but somehow Kirwan has managed to portray the dangers and the ecstasy of diving clearly and concisely so that even a heathen like me can understand it.

A breakneck paced spy thriller that will leave you holding your breath in anticipation of what might happen next!  Now I just need to wait patiently for the next book in the series………

You can buy a copy of 66 Metres via Amazon

My thanks to Noelle and Kate at Thick as Thieves Book Publicity and Promo for the opportunity to read and review this book, and for inviting me to take part in the blog tour.

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Valerie Keogh TOTMS



When Kelly Johnson’s husband disappears, her perfect world in the Foxrock suburb of Dublin falls apart. Then she stumbles on a dead body in the graveyard behind her house.
A coincidence? Garda Sergeant Mike West thinks so until he finds a link between the dead body and Kelly’s missing husband.
And then to add to the problem, Kelly disappears.
The investigation takes West first to Cornwall and then to Cork, on the trail of a tangled case involving identity theft, blackmail and illegal drugs. And as if the complications of the case weren’t enough there is the constant, irritating – and definitely unsuitable – attraction, to the beautiful Kelly, who will keep disappearing!.

My Thoughts & Review:

There’s something about Scottish and Irish crime fiction that I adore, perhaps it calls to my roots being a humble 1/2 and 1/2 lass, or perhaps its the wonderfully rich personalities that inevitably shine through in these books…

“That One May Smile” begins with Kelly Johnson beginning another day, barely surviving after her husband vanished three months ago without any explanation.  Her life has fallen apart, she fails to see that her beautiful home as turned into a midden, that personal hygiene is no longer of importance to and all she wants is her husband Simon home.  Realising she is without her lifeline coffee, she quickly dashes out to the shops and on the way  back home she discovers a dead body in the graveyard behind her home.  Suitably shaken, she phones the Guards to report it who come out to investigate.

Garda Sergeant Mike West is curious about the case, and as a detail driven character he is determined to find out every minor detail that he can to tie things up.  He discovers a link between the dead body and the missing Simon Johnson and quickly realises there is far more to this case that initially thought.  The case would be a whole lot less troublesome if Kelly Johnson stayed put, making discoveries of her own she heads off to search out answers to her own questions.

From the very outset this was a very intriguing read, and I had many questions.  What happened to Simon Johnson, who was the body in the graveyard, what did that clue on the body mean, what was the connection between it all??  Valerie Keogh spins a fantastic tale that twists and turns, keeping her readers guessing at what might happen next.  The characters that have been created are interesting and challenging.  I found that initially I struggled to connect with Kelly Johnson,  but on reflection the situation that she was in was not an easy one and who knows how they would react in those circumstances.  The development that she undertakes throughout the book is well thought out, when revelations are unearthed Kelly is shocked but processes them logically and finds an inner strength to keep going.  Despite Kelly being the main character, I felt that I got to know Mike West better.  The details given about the detective showed a wonderful insight into this character, his torturous past is detailed later on in the story and gives a great understanding of why he is a stickler for detail and directions.  I really want to mention Detective Peter Andrews, one of West’s colleagues.  Whether this character was intended to be funny I do not know, but the quick wit of this character alone makes this book worth reading!

A very well written book with a gripping plot and well paced.  I cannot wait to read the next book in the series “Close Ranks”.

You can buy a copy of “That One May Smile” via Amazon here


My thanks to Noelle and Kate at Thick as Thieves Book Publicity and Promo for the opportunity to read and review this book, and for inviting me to take part in the blog tour.


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Vile City Cover

Published:  11 May 2017



DI Duncan Waddell has big problems. He’s borderline diabetic, his boss thinks he’s in the Army and the paperwork is piling up faster than the underwear at a porn shoot. The last thing he needs is the country’s biggest case to land on his lap.

Three women have gone missing in the city he’s fast coming to despise, victims of the GLASGOW GRABBER as their assailant has been dubbed by local hack and all round pain in the backside, Catriona Hastie.

Shelley Craig’s the Grabber’s latest victim, snatched as she and her boyfriend took a shortcut through Glasgow city centre. And she’ll do anything to make it home.

Handling this baffling case is stressful enough without Waddell’s pal DC Stevie Campbell, who’s in a coma after being attacked by a suspect, starting to talk to him. Trouble is, only Waddell can hear him.

My Thoughts & Review:

As a fan of Scottish crime fiction it seemed only natural for me to jump at the chance to read “Vile City”.
From the very opening pages the reader is faced with an action packed sequence as police officer is attacked, this helps to set the pace for what turns into a taut and chilling crime thriller.  Following the disappearance of two women from the City, DI Duncan Wardell and his team are struggling to find a suspect, motive or link between the cases when a third young woman is abducted and her boyfriend is knocked out and left lying in the gutter.  Shelley Craig’s disappearance sparks a media frenzy, and adds pressure to the already overstretched investigating team – one of their number is lying in a hospital bed in a comatose state.
As DI Wardell and his team delve into the connections between witnesses and evidence it soon becomes apparent there is more to this case than they imagined.  At the heart of the investigation are some sordid goings on involving human trafficking, swingers clubs and sex games gone wrong.  There are also several dangerous characters thrown into the mix to make it that little bit more treacherous.

Wardell is a police officer who has seen most things, investigated many crimes and still manages to have a heart of gold.  He cares about the victims of crimes and wants to do his utmost to catch the criminals that plague Glasgow’s streets.  He’s also a loving father and caring husband that tries to shield the harsh realities of his work from home.   The scenes where Wardell visits his friend DC Stevie Campbell are well written, Wardell questioning whether Stevie is recovering and talking to him or if it is merely his mind playing tricks on him in a state of exhaustion.  Either way, having Wardell go and talk over aspects of the case opens him up more to the reader and gives a wonderful insight into how he works through the case, Stevie almost acting as Wardell’s conscience.
His junior officer DC Brian McKeith is a different kettle of fish entirely.  A new addition to the investigating team, he feels that he doesn’t fit in with the team – his place being the one previously held by the comatose DC Stevie Campbell.  He’s quite an enigma, there are times he comes across as rash and foolish, but there are also moments where he is astutely perceptive.  It’s clear from Wardell’s narrative that this young detective has a lot of learning to do but also a lot of personal growth might be needed too.

The plot of this felt very current, human trafficking is a topic that is appearing more often in crime novels and with the migratory climate being as it is, it is not too difficult to imagine this is a scenario playing out in cities across Europe.
There is a chilling danger that leeches slowly from the plot of this book, there are many aspects of danger that hide in the shadows and knowing who to trust seems to be key.  The way that the author reveals shock after shock leaves readers reeling, momentarily stunned by the levels of deviance and deception that have played out on the pages.

“Vile City” is a good crime thriller that moves along at a swift pace and pulls readers in.
The writing is clever and concise, dialogue feels natural and characters seem believable and I would recommend it to fans of Scottish crime fiction as well as crime thriller fans.

You can buy a copy of “Vile City” via:

Amazon (UK)
Amazon (US)
Amazon (Canada)

My thanks to Kate and Noelle at Thick as Thieves Book Publicity & Promo for the opportunity to read and review this book, and for inviting me to take part in the blog tour.

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After She's Gone - cover

Published: 16 March 2017

Copy via by Thick as Thieves Book Publicity & Promo and Netgalley



Lori Golden’s family has had more than its fair share of troubles. But through it all, Lori and her sister, Jessie, have always supported each other. Then Jessie is killed. And Lori’s world turns upside down.

Devastated, Lori struggles to cope with her loss, and to learn to live in a world without her bright, bubbly sister by her side. Around her, her already fractured family starts to fall apart. And as Lori and her mother try to pick up the pieces of their shattered lives, secrets long thought buried are coming painfully to light.

Faced with the unthinkable, Lori is forced to ask herself how well she really knows those who are left behind…

My Thoughts & Review:

Have you ever started reading a book and found that you’re analysing each character, trying to get one step ahead of the author to see if you’re right?  “After She’s Gone” is one of those books that instantly had my brain working, who could be trusted, who was telling lies, what secrets are lurking in the shadows were all things running through my head as I worked my way through this novel.

Following the death of Jessie Golden, her family descends into a chaotic state of disbelief and heartbreaking grief.  Lori Golden, is devastated by the loss of her younger sister and inturn becomes suspicious of those around her.
Each character in this novel has a secret of some sort, and slowly Maggie James leads the reader to the truth with a well baited breadcrumb trail.  Whilst explanations are offered  at timely intervals, it’s hard for the reader not to jump ahead to a “perfect solution”, only to have that illusion shattered by another revelation in the narrative.  That’s all I really want to say about the plot, fearing I will let something slip about whodunnit or why!

Interesting characters always make for good reading, and I enjoyed seeing how well the emotions and thoughts of each was described.  From Spencer’s paranoia to Lori’s devastation there is enough detail to allow the reader to take from this book what they want, exploring the grief, anger, despair and helplessness of the characters.

As I was reading this, I was aware that there was a air of malevolence lurking, something just out of reach that I couldn’t quite put my finger on.  This helped add to the overall tension in the plot and kept me reading on to find out where the story was headed.

A quick and enjoyable read with the right amount of suspicion to keep a reader guessing.

You can buy a copy of “After She Was Gone” via Amazon here.


About the Author:

Maggie James is a British author who lives in Bristol. She writes psychological suspense novels.

Before turning her hand to writing, Maggie worked mainly as an accountant, with a diversion into practising as a nutritional therapist. Diet and health remain high on her list of interests, along with travel. Accountancy does not, but then it never did. The urge to pack a bag and go off travelling is always lurking in the background! When not writing, going to the gym, practising yoga or travelling, Maggie can be found seeking new four-legged friends to pet; animals are a lifelong love!

For more information about Maggie and her books please check out her social media links below:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MJamesFiction/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/mjamesfiction

Blog: http://www.maggiejamesfiction.com/blog

Website: http://www.maggiejamesfiction.com

Why not check out the other stops on the blog tour for more reviews and great content!

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