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** My thanks to Thomas at Transworld Books for my copy of The Cornoner’s Daughter **

 

Description:

1816 was the year without a summer. A rare climatic event has brought frost to July, and a lingering fog casts a pall over a Dublin stirred by zealotry and civil unrest, torn between evangelical and rationalist dogma.

Amid the disquiet, a young nursemaid in a pious household conceals a pregnancy and then murders her newborn. Rumours swirl about the identity of the child’s father, but before an inquest can be held, the maid is found dead. When Abigail Lawless, the eighteen-year-old daughter of Dublin’s coroner, by chance discovers a message from the maid’s seducer, she is drawn into a world of hidden meanings and deceit.

An only child, Abigail has been raised amid the books and instruments of her father’s grim profession. Pushing against the restrictions society places on a girl her age, she pursues an increasingly dangerous investigation. As she leads us through dissection rooms and dead houses, Gothic churches and elegant ballrooms, a sinister figure watches from the shadows – an individual she believes has already killed twice, and is waiting to kill again…

Determined, resourceful and intuitive, Abigail Lawless emerges as a memorable young sleuth operating at the dawn of forensic science.

My Thoughts & Review:

When the opening line of a book reads: “For my eighteenth birthday, Father promised me the hand of a handsome young man, which he duly delivered mounted in a glass bell-jar“, you can’t help but fall somewhat in love with the way Andrew Hughes writes.  That one sentence sums up Abigail Lawless perfectly, inquisitive and headstrong, pushing back against the notions of what is deemed appropriate for her in the time.

Abigail Lawless is not what society would expect of an 18 year-old woman, her unique upbringing surrounded by medical texts and the wealth of knowledge from her father has given her an interest that some may describe as unsavoury, almost borderline macabre.  But that does not dampen her thirst for knowledge, and having an inquisitive mind is what leads her to ask questions that she really should leave well alone.

Set in Dublin in 1816, the reader is transported to the gloomy streets where trouble and rumour are rife.  Unease is prevalent with the upsurgence of the Brethren, a religious group who seem to have connections throughout society and are not afraid to share their righteous messages with others.
The discovery of a dead newborn at the home of a Brethren household prompts an investigation by the coroner, which in turn captures the interest of his daughter.  Abigail seems almost disturbed at the notion that the nursemaid murdered her own child and resolves to find out what really happened.  Her quest for answers leads her down some dark alleys and facing unknown dangers, but it would seem that our plucky protagonist will not be deterred.  Despite her plucky attitude, she must conform to some social constructs and asks her father’s assistant Ewan Weir to accompany her when venturing out.

The way that the plot is constructed is nicely done, the details that develop into the bigger picture are cleverly sewn into the narrative, small hints and clues scattered throughout for readers to enjoy.  Alice’s love of science makes for some interesting reading and indeed the lessons taught by her father give readers extra information that proves useful later in the plot – I certainly learned something new about a plant I’d never considered poisonous before.
The mystery element to the plot coupled with the increasing tension makes this a very enjoyable read and one that my mind kept coming back to when I reluctantly had to stop reading.  I loved the way that things linked up, and despite being told not to think any further about things, Abigail’s mind kept working on ideas and notions, questioning anything that didn’t sit right, the same way that my own mind would.

Wonderfully descriptive settings transport the reader whether it’s to the dissection rooms, the gloomy lecture theatre or lavish ball, there’s a great sense of realism there that leaves a reader feeling that they can conjure clear images to enable them to enjoy that story that little more.

An absolutely wonderful historical fiction novel full of mystery, intrigue and forensic science!

You can buy a copy of The Coroner’s Daughter via:

Amazon UK
Wordery
Book Depository

 

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** My thanks to Anne Cater and the folks at Transworld Books for my copy of this book and for inviting me to be part of the blog tour **

 

Description:

When a paragraph in an evening newspaper reveals a decades-old tragedy, most readers barely give it a glance. But for three strangers it’s impossible to ignore.

For one woman, it’s a reminder of the worst thing that ever happened to her.

For another, it reveals the dangerous possibility that her darkest secret is about to be discovered.

And for the third, a journalist, it’s the first clue in a hunt to uncover the truth.

The Child’s story will be told.

 

My Thoughts & Review:

The Child is the second novel by Fiona Barton, and features her character Kate Waters.  Barton takes her readers on a chilling journey through complex themes of mental health issues and abuse with dignity and sensitivity whilst ensuring that her wonderful writing wows readers.

Told through four perspectives, this is a story of four women and how they are affected by  the discovery of a newborn baby’s body .  The secrets that are unearthed and the impact they have on family dynamics make for some intense reading that will have readers struggling to put this book down.
As I mentioned above, there are some themes woven into the plot that could make for difficult reading, but I do believe that the author has done a good job in ensuring that they add to the story without becoming sensationalised.
The cleverness of the writing means that readers are kept guessing with the twists and red herrings dotted around.

Perhaps it’s because she was my namesake, but I really loved journalist Kate.  Her drive to investigate and find out the truth was impressive and certainly could show a few fictional detectives a thing or two!  Her integrity makes her such a wonderful character, despite wanting to chase down a story she is always careful to never reveal her informants information.  All of the characters in this book felt realistic and well thought out, their backstories were intriguing and I found that the more I read the more invested in them I became.

The build up in the pace of this book is perfect, slowly building up and drawing you in.  Hinting at mystery and suspense before the conclusion that will leave readers surprised and full of emotion!  I loved the short chapters that were perfectly baited, it kept me hooked and needing to read “just one more chapter” before bedtime.

A cleverly complex thriller that will test the strength of your heart!

You can buy a copy of The Child via:

Amazon UK
Wordery
Book Depository

 

Follow the blog tour:

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I am delighted to welcome you along to my stop on the blog tour for Simon Beckett’s latest brilliant novel “The Restless Dead” and I have a wonderful treat for you,  a fascinating piece written by Simon on the importance of setting.
For those not familiar with the Dr David Hunter series I urge you to check the books out, they are superb!  I have to admit that this was the first book by Simon Beckett that I’d had the chance to read, but soon went back and bought the previous books so that I could devour them all.  Fear not though, this book reads perfectly well on it’s own as there is ample detail given as to David Hunter’s background etc so that you don’t feel you’ve missed anything salient.

You can buy a copy of “The Restless Dead” via Amazon here or via Wordery here

Now enough of my ramble, lets hand over to the wordsmith….

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When Written in Bone, the second novel to feature forensic anthropologist David Hunter, was published, a reader got in touch to ask if I could give him the co-ordinates for Runa, the Hebridean island where the book was set. He was frustrated because he’d been searching for it on maps and couldn’t find it. There was a very good reason for that: as with most of the locations where the David Hunter take place, Runa doesn’t exist.

But I took it as a compliment that he thought it did. The same applies for the reader who contacted me to say he recognised the remote Norfolk train station where Hunter disembarked in The Chemistry of Death, or those who thought themselves familiar with the particular area of Dartmoor where the events of The Calling of the Grave play out. They all had one thing in common: even though none of them are actual physical places, I try to make them as realistic as possible.

To my mind, the setting of a novel is more than just a background for the action. There’s a risk a writer can be self-indulgent when it comes to describing places and locations, but narrative description should still earn its keep rather than be simply decorative. The setting can help establish atmosphere, convey a sense of mood and even reflect a character’s emotional state. I’ll spend a lot of time planning whereabouts a story is going to take place, and what sort of landscape it involves. Is it moorland or woodland, a remote village or inner city? That’s important, because until I have a clear picture in my own mind I find it very hard to write about it.

For The Restless Dead, the latest in the David Hunter series, I tried a variety of different locations before eventually deciding on the Essex coastal marshes – ironically, the very first place I’d considered. The windswept landscape of mudflats, estuaries and tidal creeks became not just a vivid backdrop to the story, but an essential part of it. I’m often asked if I base my characters on real individuals, which I don’t: that would be asking for trouble. But I want them to seem real, and I take the same approach when it comes to the settings of my books. Like my characters, they’re inventions drawn from real life; perhaps inspired by actual locations but changed, enhanced and added to according to the needs of the story.

Which, for me, is key. Whenever possible I try to visit the area where a story is set, and I’ll carry out research so I can include those small details that help bring a place to life. But my books are fiction, not travelogues. My aim is to evoke scenes that readers can readily visualise, and I hope anyone who reads one of my books will feel they can see, hear and smell whatever landscapes I’m describing.

Just don’t try finding them on a map…


A huge thank you to Simon for joining me today and sharing that.
I certainly believed that the settings he used in his books were 100% real, they felt so real to me while reading and the way in which the descriptions flow make it easy to feel like you’ve been transported to the setting of the book.

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

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Author: Tammy Cohen

Published: 21 April 2016
Reviewed: 9 October 2016

4 out of 5 stars
Copy supplied by Black Swan / Random House UK, Transworld Publishers in return for an honest review

 

Description:

You see the people you work with every day.

But what can’t you see?

Amira, Sarah, Paula, Ewan and Charlie have worked together for years – they know how each one likes their coffee, whose love life is a mess, whose children keep them up at night. But their comfortable routine life is suddenly shattered when an aggressive new boss walks in ….

Now, there’s something chilling in the air.

Who secretly hates everyone?

Who is tortured by their past?

Who is capable of murder?

My Thoughts & Review:

When a friend recommends a book that they have enjoyed I am somewhat cautious, sometimes we don’t like the same books but sometimes she hints about a book being utterly brilliant and needs to be read as soon as possible.  When it’s worded like that, how could I refuse?

Cohen cleverly weaves together two seemingly unconnected strands of a story to create a fantastically twisted thriller.
One thread is narrated by Dr Anne Carter, who recounts the details of a dark and distressing case from earlier in her career.  It is made clear that this case involves one of the office workers in the second thread of the story.  The team in the office are the stereotypical office workers, each one has a secret, they all have their flaws but the appearance of a new boss sets the cat amongst the proverbial pigeons.  A team building weekend causes rivalries and when it turns to suspicion it’s not long before the bonds of friendship are shattered forever.

Short chapters make this a quick read, and coupled with the tension in the book it makes for a very addictive read.  It’s practically impossible to get one step ahead with this one, Cohen ensures the reader is kept guessing throughout this mystery, and even when you do think you’ve cracked it…..nope, Cohen keeps you guessing some more!
There is a real sense of menace when reading this, skilfully Cohen leads the reader deeper in to the mysteries of the book and leaves them feeling a little uncomfortable at times.

The clever use of each character narrating a chapter allows the reader to see the perspectives of each.

Be warned, this may leave you wondering just how well you know the people you work alongside.  But more importantly, it reminds the reader that whilst the physical scars of child abuse may fade, the psychological damage may never heal.

You can buy a copy of When She Was Bad  here.
About the Author:
Tammy Cohen (who also writes as Tamar Cohen) is a freelance journalist writing for national magazines and newspapers. After a late start, she has now written six novels – The Mistress’s Revenge, The War of the Wives, Someone Else’s Wedding, The Broken and Dying For Christmas and First One Missing – all published by Doubleday/Black Swan. She is a member of the Killer Women crime writing collective and lives in North London with her partner and three (nearly) grown children, plus one very badly behaved dog.

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