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Paperback Published: 9 February 2017
4 out of 5 stars

Copy provided by Black Swan as part of blog tour

 

Description:

THE GLOBAL MILLION-COPY BESTSELLER
PUBLISHED IN 15 LANGUAGES WORLDWIDE
A 21ST-CENTURY HIGH-CONCEPT DISASTER THRILLER

Tomorrow will be too late.

A cold night in Milan, Piero Manzano wants to get home.

Then the traffic lights fail. Manzano is thrown from his Alfa as cars pile up. And not just on this street – every light in the city is dead.

Across Europe, controllers watch in disbelief as electricity grids collapse.

Plunged into darkness, people are freezing. Food and water supplies dry up. The death toll soars.

Former hacker and activist Manzano becomes a prime suspect. But he is also the only man capable of finding the real attackers.

Can he bring down a major terrorist network before it’s too late?

My Thoughts & Review:

“Blackout” is a thriller of high intensity, but alarmingly it also serves to enlighten us about how much we have come to rely on technology, and the resulting catastrophic fallout that will be endured should our beloved technologically advanced fail us.

When countries suffer blackouts throughout Europe they are plunged into a state of panic, traffic accidents occurring, petrol stations unable to function, homes without power, power grids descending into complete chaos.  Following an array of characters in each country, Marc Elsberg draws the reader in with his wonderful style of writing, holding readers in a trance as they frantically turn the pages of this book trying to find out what will happen next.  Former hacker Manzano becomes the prime suspect for this heinous crime, his background means that suspicion falls on him, but he is determined to untangle the mess to restore power (and clear his name!) before the death toll mounts any higher.

The most spectacular thing about this book was how realistic the scenario was.  Marc Elsberg has created a situation that is horrifyingly possible, and provides some brilliant narration as to the reactions of citizens, making for an addictive read.
A very thought provoking read and one I suspect will be a great conversation starter, I know that I’ve already posed a few questions to my husband about the likelihood of a similar scenario occurring.  Perhaps I’ll make sure we’ve plenty tins (and a tin opener), bottled water, and I’ll knit some more blankets just to be on the safe side…….

You can buy a copy of “Blackout” via Amazon here or Book Depository here.

Many thanks to Thomas Hill at Transworld Books for my copy of Blackout.

 

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Published: 17 March 2016
Reviewed: 15 May 2016

4 out of 5 stars
Copy supplied by Urbane Publications

 

Description:

The genteel façade of London’s Hampstead is shattered by a series of terrifying murders, and the ensuing police hunt is threatened by internal politics, and a burgeoning love triangle within the investigative team. Pressurised by senior officers desperate for a result a new initiative is clearly needed, but what?

Intellectual analysis and police procedure vie with the gut instinct of ‘copper’s nose’, and help appears to offer itself from a very unlikely source – a famous fictional detective. A psychological profile of the murderer allows the police to narrow down their search, but will Scotland Yard lose patience with the team before they can crack the case?
Praised by fellow authors and readers alike, this is a truly original crime story, speaking to a contemporary audience yet harking back to the Golden Age of detective fiction. Intelligent, quirky and mannered, it has been described as ‘a love letter to the detective novel’. Above it all hovers Hampstead, a magical village evoking the elegance of an earlier time, and the spirit of mystery-solving detectives.

My Thoughts & Review:

I’ve had notes written down about this book for months, but can’t believe that I’ve never actually moved this review from more than draft stage *bad reviewer*

Death in Profile encapsulates the feel of classic crime and is a wonderful change of pace from the modern day gritty (and sometimes gory) crime novels.
Written as a more intellectual crime novel as opposed to an action thriller, the story focuses on the investigation into the deaths of 5 women in Hampstead in London.

The characters in this are absolutely great, they are engaging and interesting, the author takes great care to ensure that they are portrayed well throughout the book.  I especially liked the dynamic between the “old school” detective and the “new school” detective, their differing techniques and approached to investigating were very well detailed and interesting to read.

The mystery in the story is superbly created, red herrings and twists aplenty to keep the reader guessing throughout.  My smug feeling that I had worked out “whodunnit” was short lived when turned the page – foiled!  There are clues scattered throughout the narrative, and it is possible to work out the culprit, it’s quite nice to feel that that you are piecing the clues together along with the detectives, trying to work it all out.

I appreciate that some people may not like this book, it may be too “cozy” for some, there is no gratuitous violence, it’s not dark and gritty.  Think Agatha Christie or Dorothy Sayers, back to the Golden Age of detective stories and you will be on the right track for this book, it’s a lovely change of pace from a gruesome and dark thriller.

I  don’t usually comment on the cover of books, purely because I am bad for being attracted by an interesting cover….yes I admit it, I sometimes only pick a book when my eye is caught by a cover….
But in this instance, I will make mention of the lovely cover.  The blood spatter over the artwork is brilliant, I absolutely love it!  It gives a hint towards what lies inside the book, there’s almost an eerie feeling emanating from it which adds to the intrigue.

I eagerly look forward to the next book from Guy Fraser-Sampson.

You can buy a copy of Death in Profile here.

 

About the Author:

Guy Fraser-Sampson is an established writer, having published not only fiction but also books on a diverse range of subjects including finance, investment, economics and cricket. His darkly disturbing economic history The Mess We’re In was nominated for the Orwell Prize. His Mapp & Lucia novels have all been optioned by BBC TV, and have won high praise from other authors including Alexander McCall Smith, Gyles Brandreth and Tom Holt. The second was featured in an exclusive interview with Mariella Forstrup on Radio 4, and Guy’s entertaining talks on the series have been heard at a number of literary events including the Sunday Times Festival in Oxford and the Daily Telegraph Festival in Dartington. With Death in Profile he begins a new series entitled The Hampstead Murders. Set in and around the iconic North London village, the first book in the series sees a team of detectives pursuing a serial sex killer while internal politics and a love triangle threaten to destabilise the enquiry. Harking back (sometimes explicitly) to the Golden Age of detective writing, Death in Profile introduces us to a group of likeable central characters whose loves, eccentricities and career ups and downs will be developed throughout the series. Very different from the contemporary model of detective novel, Guy’s innovative style and approach has been endorsed by leading crime writers such as Christopher Brookmyre and Ruth Dugdall.

 

 


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I am delighted to welcome you to my stop on Agnes Ravatn’s blog tour for The Bird Tribunal and share an extract from this utterly gripping and chilling thriller.the-bird-tribunal-a_w-v4

” Two people in exile. Two secrets. As the past tightens its grip, there may be no escape… TV presenter Allis Hagtorn leaves her partner and her job to take voluntary exile in a remote house on an isolated fjord. But her new job as housekeeper and gardener is not all that it seems, and her silent, surly employer, 44- year-old Sigurd Bagge, is not the old man she expected. As they await the return of his wife from her travels, their silent, uneasy encounters develop into a chilling, obsessive relationship, and it becomes clear that atonement for past sins may not be enough… Haunting, consuming and powerful, The Bird Tribunal is a taut, exquisitely written psychological thriller that builds to a shocking, dramatic crescendo that will leave you breathless.”

You can buy a copy of The Bird Tribunal here


 Extract from The Bird Tribunal:

My pulse raced as I traipsed through the silent forest. The occasional screech of a bird, and, other than that, only naked, grey deciduous trees, spindly young saplings and the odd blue-green sprig of juniper in the muted April sunlight. Where the narrow path rounded a boulder, an overgrown alley of straight, white birch trees came into view, each with a knot of branches protruding from the top like the tangled beginnings of birds’ nests. At the end of the alley of trees was a faded-white picket fence with a gate. Beyond the gate was the house, a small, old-fashioned wooden villa with a traditional slate roof. 

Silently I closed the gate behind me and walked towards the house, making my way up the few steps to the door. I knocked, but nobody opened; my heart sank. I placed my bag on the porch steps and walked back down them, then followed the stone slabs that formed a pathway around the house. 

At the front of the property, the landscape opened up. Violet mountains with a scattering of snow on their peaks lay across the fjord. 
Dense undergrowth surrounded the property on both sides. 

He was standing at the bottom of the garden by a few slender trees, a long back in a dark-blue woollen jumper. He jumped when I called out to greet him, then turned around, lifted a hand and trudged in a pair of heavy boots across the yellow-grey ground towards me. I took a deep breath. The face and body of a man somewhere in his forties, a man who didn’t look as if he were in the slightest need of nursing. I disguised my surprise with a smile and took a few steps towards him. He was dark and stocky. He didn’t look me in the eye but instead stared straight past me as he offered me an outstretched hand. 

Sigurd Bagge. 

Allis Hagtorn, I said, lightly squeezing his large hand. Nothing in his expression suggested that he recognised me. Perhaps he was just a good actor. 

Where are your bags? 

Around the back. 
The garden behind him was a grey winter tragedy of dead shrubbery, sodden straw and tangled rose thickets. When spring arrived, as it soon would, the garden would become a jungle. He caught my worried expression. 

Yes. Lots to be taken care of. 

I smiled, nodded. 

The garden is my wife’s domain. You can see why I need somebody to help out with it while she’s away. 
I followed him around the house. He picked up my bags, one in each hand, then stepped into the hallway. 
 
He showed me up to my room, marching up the old staircase. It was simply furnished with a narrow bed, a chest of drawers and a desk. It smelled clean. The bed had been made up with floral sheets. 

Nice room. 
He turned without replying, bowing his head and stepping out of the room, then nodded 

towards my bathroom and walked down the stairs, without indicating what was through the other door on the landing. 

I followed close behind him, out of the house and around the corner, across the garden and over to the small tool shed. The wooden door creaked as he opened it and pointed at the wall: rake, shovel, crowbar.  

For the longer grass you’ll need the scythe, if you know how to use it. 

I nodded, swallowing 

You’ll find most of what you need in here. Garden shears and the like, he continued. It would be good if you could neaten up the hedge 

Tell me if there’s anything else you need and I’ll see that you get the money to buy it. 

He didn’t seem particularly bothered about making eye contact with me as he spoke. I was the help; it was important to establish a certain distance from the outset.

Were there many responses to your advertisement? I asked, the question slipping out. 

He cast me a fleeting glance from under the dark hair that fell over his forehead. 

Quite a few. 

His arrogance seemed put on. But I kept my thoughts to myself:  was his property now – he could do as he liked. We continued making our way around the house and down into the garden, past the berries and fruit trees by the dry stone wall. The air was crisp and bracing, infused with the scent of damp earth and dead grass. He straddled a low, wrought-iron gate and turned back to look at me. 

Rusted shut, he said, maybe you can do something about it. 

I stepped over the gate and followed him. Steep stone steps led from the corner of the garden down to the fjord. I counted the steps on my way down: one hundred exactly. We arrived at a small, stone jetty with a run-down boathouse and a boat landing to its right. The rock walls of the fjord formed a semicircle around us, shielding the jetty from view on both sides. It reminded me of where I had first learned to swim almost thirty years before, near my parents’ friends’ summer house on a family holiday. 

It’s so beautiful out here. 

I’m thinking about knocking down the boathouse one of these days, he said, facing away from me. The breeze from the fjord ruffled his hair. 

Do you have a boat? 

No, he replied, curtly. Well. There’s not much for you to be getting on with down here. But now you’ve seen it, in any case. 

He turned around and started making his way back up the steps. 
 
His bedroom was on the ground floor. He motioned towards the closed door, just past the kitchen and living room and presumably facing out onto the garden. He accessed his workroom through his bedroom, he told me. 

I spend most of my time in there. You won’t see much of me, and I’d like as few interruptions as possible. 

I gave one deliberate nod, as if to demonstrate that I grasped the significance of his instructions. 

I don’t have a car, unfortunately, but there’s a bicycle with saddlebags. The shop is two kilometres north, just along the main road. I’d like breakfast at eight o’clock: two hard-boiled eggs, pickled herring, two slices of dark rye bread and black coffee, he quickly listed. 

The weekends are essentially yours to do as you please, but if you’re around then you can serve breakfast an hour later than usual. At one o’clock I have a light lunch. Dinner is at six, followed by coffee and brandy. 

After reeling off his requirements he disappeared into his workroom, and I was left in peace to acquaint myself with the kitchen. Most of the utensils were well used but still in good shape. I opened drawers and cupboard doors, trying to make as little noise as possible all the while. In the fridge I found the cod fillet that we were to share for dinner that evening. 
 
The tablecloths lay folded in the bottom kitchen drawer, I picked one out and smoothed it over the kitchen table before setting two places as quietly as possible. 

At six o’clock on the dot he emerged from his bedroom, pulled out a chair and took a seat at the head of the table. He waited. I placed the dish containing the fish in the middle of the table, then put the bowl of potatoes in front of him. I pulled out my chair and was about to sit down when he halted me with an abrupt wave. 

No. You eat afterwards. He stared straight ahead, making no eye contact. My mistake. Perhaps I wasn’t clear about that fact. 

I felt a lump form in my throat, picked up my plate and quickly moved it over to the kitchen worktop without uttering a word, a tall, miserable wretch, my head bowed. 

I filled the sink with water and washed the saucepan and spoons as he ate. He sat straight-backed, eating without a sound, never once glancing up. Fumbling slightly, I set the coffee to brew, found the brandy in the glass cabinet behind him and, once he had put down his cutlery, cleared the table. I poured coffee in a cup and brandy in a delicate glass, then placed both on a tray and picked it up with shaking hands, clattering in his direction. 

When he stood up afterwards, thanked me brusquely for the meal and returned to his workroom, I took my plate to the table and ate my own lukewarm portion, pouring the half-melted butter over the remaining potatoes. I finished the remainder of the washing up, wiped the table and worktop and headed up to my room. I unpacked all of my things and placed the clothes, socks and underwear in the chest of drawers, the books in a pile on the desk. 

I made sure my mobile phone was switched off before putting it away inside the desk drawer. I wouldn’t be switching it on again any time soon, not unless there was an emergency. I sat there, perfectly still and silent, afraid to make a sound. I could hear nothing from the floor below my own. Eventually I made my way to the bathroom before turning in for the night. 


For your chance to win a copy of this fantastic thriller all you have to do is comment on this post (the competition will close at midnight Thursday 6th October).
Good luck!


Don’t forget to check out the other stops on the blog tour for reviews, extracts and the chance to win more copies of The Bird Tribunal!

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About the Author:

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Agnes Ravatn (b. 1983) is a Norwegian author and columnist. She made her literary début
with the novel Week 53 in 2007. Since then she has written three critically acclaimed and
award-winning essay collections: Standing, Popular Reading and Operation Self-discipline, in which she recounts her experience with social media addiction, and how she overcame it. The Bird Tribunal won the cultural radio P2’s listener’s prize for this novel, a popular and important prize in Norway, in addition to The Youth’s Critic’s Prize. The Bird Tribunal was also made into a successful play, which premièred in Oslo in 2015.

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I’m very excited to welcome you to my stop on Paul Finch’s #Strangers blog tour.  It was published by Avon Books (part of the HarperCollins family) on 22nd September and is available in both electronic and paperback formats from Amazon.

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Description:

Unknown, alone, and fearing for your life.

As PC Lucy Clayburn is about to find out, going undercover is the most dangerous work there is. 

But, on the trail of a prolific female serial killer, there’s no other option – and these murders are as brutal as they come. 

Lucy must step into the line of fire – a stranger in a criminal underworld that butchers anyone who crosses the line. 

And, unknown to Lucy, she’s already treading it…

Always gripping. Always gruesome. Paul Finch will leave fans of Rachel Abbott and MJ Arlidge gasping for more.

My Thoughts & Review:

Shockingly, Strangers is the first book by Paul Finch that I have read, something I will be looking to remedy in the very near future – I’ve looked up the Detective Heckenburg series and will be downloading them at the weekend!

The reader is introduced to Lucy Clayburn, who has served 10 years as a uniform police officer and is keen to get into CID.  However the path to promotion is not as direct as she would have hoped after a mistake she made earlier in her career left her with a huge black mark against her name.  Seeing Operation Clearway as a way to prove her worth to her superiors, Lucy signs up despite the dangers involved.  She is determined to help catch the serial killer before she strikes again.

Refreshingly, the lead character in this crime fiction novel is a young and determined female officer.  It’s nice to deviate from the tried and tested formula of a middle aged male detective, who has issues with alcohol abuse and/or smokes like a chimney, and Lucy’s character works well in this novel.  Her maverick approach makes for a thrilling read, whilst leading her into some of the most dangerous settings.  She is a very determined police officer, but sometimes her enthusiasm can be interpreted as feckless or irresponsible, there are instances where she takes action before being in full possession of the facts.  That said, having a character that acts in this way makes the story more intense for the reader, avidly reading on to see how perilous the situation will become, utterly hooked to find out what will happen next but more importantly, if her cover will be blown.

The clever plotting of the storyline means this is a fast paced and thrilling read.  It’s the sort of book you will find keeps you reading well past bedtime – don’t make the mistake I did, thinking it would be possible to read a few chapters before bed……yes, I ended up reading into the wee hours of the next day!
The violent scenes in the narrative are well written, providing powerful detail about the criminal underworld and it’s hierarchy.  The characters involved in this were all incredibly fascinating (especially the villains), the misdirections in the plot make this a brilliant read – there is so much to keep the reader guessing and all the while Finch sneakily keeps the serial killer well hidden.

I really hope we see more of Lucy Clayburn, we need to know if she ever gets back into CID…..

You can buy a copy of Strangers here.

About The Author:

Paul Finch studied History at Goldsmiths, London, before becoming a cop in the north west of England. He then let his passion for writing allow him to follow a career in journalism. Now a full time writer, he first cut his literary teeth penning episodes of the British TV crime drama, THE BILL, and has written extensively in the field of children’s animation. However, he is probably best known for his work in thrillers and horrors.

His crime debut novel, STALKERS, was a no 1 ebook best seller in 2013 and introduced DS Mark ‘Heck’ Heckenburg. This was followed last July 2013 by the sequel, SACRIFICE, and May 2014 by the third in the series, THE KILLING CLUB. The fourth, DEAD MAN WALKING, will follow in November 2014, with the fifth, HUNTED, in February 2015. The Heck series is also to be published in Germany, Poland, Turkey, Hungary, and Japan.

In addition to his Heck novels, Paul has had twelve books and nearly 300 stories and novellas published on both sides of the Atlantic. His first collection, AFTER SHOCKS (Ash-Tree Press), won the British Fantasy Award in 2002, while he won the award again in 2007 for his novella, KID. Later in 2007, he won the International Horror Guild Award for his mid-length story, THE OLD NORTH ROAD. His short novel, CAPE WRATH (Telos), was short-listed for the Bram Stoker Award in 2002, and several other collections of his stories and novellas have been published since, all of them well received by fans and readers. His horror novel, STRONGHOLD, was published by Abaddon Books in 2010, and the same year Pendragon Press published his highly rated festive terror tale, SPARROWHAWK. Paul has also written three DR WHO audio dramas for Big Finish – LEVIATHAN, SENTINELS OF THE NEW DAWN and HEXAGORA, and THRESHOLD, the pilot episode for the DR WHO spin-off series, COUNTER MEASURES. Paul’s DR WHO novel, HUNTER’S MOON was published by BBC Books in 2011.

Paul is no stranger to film either, having written scripts for several horror movies. Two of these, SPIRIT TRAP and THE DEVIL’S ROCK, were released in 2005 and 2011 respectively, while his short story THE BELFRIES, is currently being adapted in Hollywood, and his movie script WAR WOLF is under development by Amber Entertainment.

Wearing an editor’s hat, Paul is also responsible for the TERROR TALES series from Gray Friar Press, a collection of ghost and horror anthologies exploring the folklore, history and geography of the various regions of Britain.

Paul Finch lives in Lancashire, UK, with his wife Cathy and his children, Eleanor and Harry.

For Paul’s blog go to www.paulfinch-author.blogspot.co.uk
For twitter follow Paul – @paulfinchauthor

Don’t forget to check out the other stops on the blog tour for some interesting posts by Paul as well as more about #Strangers

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I am very excited to share with you the cover of JA (Joyce) Schneider’s latest thriller, which sounds utterly fascinating and I cannot wait read it, my review will feature as part of the blog tour in October.

 
Her Last Breath, the second psychological thriller by J.A. Schneider, is due for release on October 21st.  #HerLastBreath is the second thriller – after Fear Dreams – featuring highly intuitive NYPD detective Kerri Blasco.


Here’s the blurb to whet your appetite…

A chilling psychological thriller about a woman caught between two men… 
Mari Gill wakes to horror in a strange apartment next to a murdered man, and can’t remember the night before. Accused of murder, she feels torn between her husband, a successful defense attorney, and a mysterious, kind man who wants to help. Can she trust either of them – or even her friends? Detective Kerri Blasco battles her police bosses believing Mari is innocent…but is she?

The Cover…..

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And if the cover reveal wasn’t enough of a treat, here’s an extract from the book to entice you to pre order now!

It begins in horror…
Mari Gill’s hand felt sticky.
That was the first thing to trouble her, still clinging to the safe, solid darkness of sleep. Next came pain in her head, a different kind of pain from the other thing, so she squeezed her eyes shut, dreading the day…
…but the stickiness bothered.
Involuntarily, she felt her fingers open and close.
Something was wrong there, in her hand. She squinted open; peered at it.
Red.
Her palm was smeared dark red.
She blinked. Saw more red smear on her forearm, then the torn cap sleeve of last night’s black dress, then the sheet under her arm, stained with…
“Huh?” Her eyes grew wide before her mind processed it.
Thrashing onto her back, Mari saw bloodied sheet reaching halfway up the torn front of her dress, and then saw an arm. A man’s arm, faintly blue and blood-smeared – and with a cry her whole body practically flipped from the bed. “Oh God!”
She hit the floor hard and then scrabbled back up, gaped wildly and saw him. Her shocked vision jumped and saw two then one then two of him on his back, eyes closed, mouth open dribbling caked blood. She froze; gasped. Couldn’t take in air seeing his black hair, his chest hidden under a tent of bloodied sheet.
“Mister?”
A high, involuntary whisper. Mari’s heart rocketed but she felt compelled; jerked ut a hand and pulled away the sheet.
Under it a knife, its handle long and black, protruding from his chest.
“Oh God!” Her scream got it out but used up breath as she spun on her knees, recognizing the new trouble. Where was her handbag? What was this place? Who was that guy?
Her bag, her bag…she crawled over hardwood and a man’s flung jacket and hit a cold, metal pole. Something crashed down on her, crashed to the floor but she crawled more, over broken shards with her breath coming harder, wheezing high like a small, dying animal.
Where, where…? She gasped and scrabbled.
There.
Her bag, way under a desk. How could it be under a desk? She was always so careful to keep it close but no time to think, she was upon it, fingers fluttering getting it open, her cries a child’s high mewling as she dug past her phone – no time to call – found her inhaler, got her fingers around it then saw it fly from her and skitter through an open doorway.
“No…”
Wheezing harder she crawled toward it, the little white plastic thing that meant life or death to her. Her chest heaved, and heaved again. Her vision blurred and she couldn’t pull in air. She made it through the door onto a wider floor, was inches away with her hand reaching desperately.
Then her vision darkened and she collapsed, crying; lay her cheek down on the polished cold hardwood. From far away she heard a crash. Her eyes closed. She lay, her fingers stretched futilely toward the inhaler. Her desperate wheezing stopped.
Running feet. Someone’s hands on her, strong hands. “Lady! Omigod, lady!”
From deepest, dying sleep she felt herself raised up; heard a voice, urgent, telling her to breathe, breathe – “Please, lady!”
She felt hard plastic pushed through her lips. Felt the little blast of life, then a man’s warm stubble press his lips on hers. He was breathing her. Two good breaths and then holding her, rocking her.
Her eyes stayed closed as she heard him call 9-1-1…

Her Last Breath is available to pre-order now but publication date is 21st October.  To purchase in the UK you can use this link and to purchase in the US you can use this link

 

About the Author:

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J.A. (Joyce Anne) Schneider is a former staffer at Newsweek Magazine, a wife, mom, and reading addict. She loves thrillers…which may seem odd, since she was once a major in French Literature – wonderful but sometimes heavy stuff. Now, for years, she has become increasingly fascinated with medicine, forensic science, and police procedure. Decades of being married to a physician who loves explaining medical concepts and reliving his experiences means there’ll often be medical angles even in “regular” thrillers that she writes. She lives with her family in Connecticut, USA.

For more information about Joyce Schneider and her books, go to her website, or follow her on Twitter at @JoyceSchneider1

 

 

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Author: Elisabeth Herrmann

Published: 24 March 2016
Reviewed: 9 September 2016

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

 

Description:

An unforgettable heroine. An unforgiveable past.

For fans of Child 44, The Lives of Others, and Stasi Child, The Cleaner is a gripping thriller that will chill and intrigue as the sins of the past catch up with the secrets of the present.

Pools of blood, scenes of carnage, signs of agonising death – who deals with the aftermath of violence once the bodies have been taken away?

Judith Kepler has seen it all. She is a crime scene specialist. She turns crime scenes back into habitable spaces. She is a cleaner.

It is at the home of a woman who has been brutally murdered that she is suddenly confronted with her own past. The murder victim knew Judith’s secret: as a child Judith was sent to an orphanage under mysterious circumstances – parentage unknown. And the East German secret police were always there, in the background. . . .

When Judith begins to ask questions, she becomes the target of some powerful enemies.

My Thoughts & Review:

The Cleaner is a Cold War thriller rife with espionage, deceit and intrigue.

The opening scene in Yuri Gagarin Children’s Home in East Germany in 1985 really reinforces the mentality of period – a young girl named Christel Sonnenberg is found wandering in the corridors and is escorted back to her bed.  However the member of staff is advised she is mistaken, this is not Christel Sonnenberg but Judith Kepler, and afraid of any fallout, the member of staff agrees (during the Cold War in East Germany it was easier and safer to not argue with what you were told), and henceforth this girl is known as Judith.

Some years later and after the fall of the Berlin Wall, we encounter ‘Judith Kepler’ again, but now she is an adult and working  as a cleaner – making homes habitable again after death has occurred.  Her latest assignment is to clean an apartment following the murder of the previous occupier, but whilst she is there she finds a letter with her name on it, and details of her time at the Children’s Home.   This leads her to an intelligence expert for help to find answers but leads to some very dangerous developments.

Intelligently written, Herrmann pulls together strands of a fascinating story with factual nuances of Stasi Germany to create an atmospheric and immersive read.
The character of Judith/Christel is a great creation, here we have someone who is realistic, flawed yet strong, and the job that she does ties in so well with her nature, quiet and methodical.

The pace of the story is fast, the suspense really builds and keeps the reader hooked throughout.

This is without a doubt one of the cleverest thrillers I’ve read,  the political tightrope of the period makes for a very intriguing layer to the story.  The idea of job that Judith does is very intriguing and not one that I had ever really given much thought to, but definitely adds another pull of intrigue to this book.  The translation to English has lost nothing of the original brilliance.

You can buy a copy of The Cleaner here.

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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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Lie in Wait

Author: G.J. Minett
Published: 25 August 2016
Reviewed: 21 August 2016

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

Description:

Owen Hall has always been different. A big man with an unusual fixation, one who prefers to put his trust in number patterns rather than in people, it’s unsurprising that he’d draw the attention of a bully.

Or a murder investigation.

And, in the storm of emotions and accusations that erupts when a violent killing affects a small community, it soon becomes clear that a particularly clever murderer might just get away with it.

All they’d need is a likely suspect . . .

My Thoughts & Review:

Lie in Wait is the second novel penned by Graham Minett, his first The Hidden Legacy was published electronically in November 2015, and secured this reader as an unwavering fan.  I was absolutely delighted when I found out this novel was in the pipeline, I really hope to see more of his writing in the future.

The story opens with a thought provoking prologue, ensuring the reader is captivated.  It’s from here that Minett’s prowess as a writer really shines through, in the hands of lesser authors what follows might evolve into a tangled mess of characters and backstories, but instead he cleverly weaves together a tale of mystery, intrigue, and murder.

As the story develops the separate threads came together flawlessly all the while remaining coherent and thrilling, the pace moves along swiftly and this is a book that deserves to be read in one sitting.  Clearly marking each chapter as either ‘Earlier’ or ‘Now’ means that the reader is able to follow the complex tales from the dual timelines.

The remarkably descriptive setting of South England gives the reader a real feel for the setting, indeed it allows the reader to conjure a clear image mentally which adds to the dark and chilling atmosphere.  The characters are all well developed, each bearing their own unpleasantness, darkness or dangerousness.  It almost felt like a case of which one of these awful people would you attempt to trust the most, superb writing to create such a cast that evoke such ill feeling and mistrust.   I was fascinated at how Minett analysed the relationships between the characters – the school days, tales of life and memories of bullying in particular added to the plot

Minett’s style of writing is absolutely ingenious; clever plotting, richly complex characters that get under the skin of the reader and overall the ability to drop the reader right into the heart of the setting make these books some of the best I’ve ever had the pleasure to read.

You can pre order a copy of Lie in Wait here.

About the Author

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Image and author information courtesy of Amazon

Graham Minett studied Languages at Churchill College, Cambridge before teaching for several years in Gloucestershire and West Sussex. In 2008 he completed a part-time MA in Creative Writing at the University of Chichester and subsequently won both the inaugural Segora short story competition in 2008 and the Chapter One competition in 2010. The latter consisted of the opening sections of what would eventually become The Hidden Legacy, which earned him contracts not only with Peter Buckman of the Ampersand Agency but also Twenty7, part of the Bonnier publishing group.

The Hidden Legacy is his first novel and his second, Lie In Wait, will be published as an eBook in August 2016 and as a paperback in February 2017. He is at present planning his third and is still working at the Angmering School.

He lives in West Sussex with his wife and children but retains close links with Cheltenham, where the rest of his family live.

To find out more about Graham Minett’s books go to his Facebook Page  his website http://www.grahamminett.com/ or follow him on Twitter @GJMinett

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