Killing State by Judith O’Reilly #BookReview #BlogTour (@judithoreilly) @HoZ_Books @LoveBooksGroup #LoveBooksGroupTours #KillingState

O'Reilly_Killing State_Banner (1)

I am really excited to be on the blog tour today for Killing State, the new thriller by Judith O’Reilly. I have been a huge fan of Judith’s non-fiction writing, so I was eager to see what she would produce when she turned to fiction. It was not what I expected, I can tell you! My thanks to Kelly Lacey at Love Books Group Tours for inviting me to take part and to Head of Zeus for my copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

9781788548922 (1)

WHAT IF THE PERSON YOU’RE ORDERED TO KILL IS THE WOMAN YOU WANT TO PROTECT?

Michael North, assassin and spy-for-hire, is very good at killing bad guys. But what happens when his shadowy bosses at the dark heart of the post-Brexit British government, order him to kill an innocent woman and North can’t bring himself to do it?

The woman is a rising political star, Honor Jones, MP.  She has started asking dangerous questions about the powerful men running her country. The trouble is, Honour doesn’t know when to stop. And, now that he’s met her, neither does North…

Well, this book has it all going on! Right from the opening pages, the action never lets up for a second and we find ourselves in a labyrinth of cross and double-cross, people switching sides in the blink of an eye, assassinations, explosions, fights, intrigue, paranoia, shadowy organisations and political machinations (do those of you who grew up with Blackadder always want to finish that phrase with ‘of the evil Pitt. Lord Baldrick’ or is that just me? Blackadder the Third, Episode 1: Dish and Dishonesty, in case you were wondering.)

The main character here is ex-soldier, Michael North, a man damaged both physically (a bullet lodged in his brain) and mentally who is now working as an assassin for a shadowy political organisation that has him getting rid (in the most permanent sense of the word) of people they believe threaten the security of the country and he does this without question until he is instructed to kill MP Honor Jones. Something about her makes him question his mission, and then everything changes for him and he begins to wonder if he might be on the wrong side after all.

The action then takes off at a cracking pace and doesn’t let up until the shocking climax which will take your breath away so you had better buckle in as you are in for a bumpy, wild ride through the book. The book involves a feisty teenage cyber-genius, thugs on both sides, prisoners of war, blackmail, storms at sea and a million other excitements. It reminded me of every Mission Impossible, Tom Clancy and Jason Bourne thriller I have seen all mashed together in an explosion of events. At times it was quite hard to keep up with what is going on because everything is happening so quickly and the action bounces around between characters and settings, so you need to pay attention. It is also a big book and requires and investment of time and attention but, if you are fans of action and poetical thrillers by the likes of James Patterson and Lee Child, you will enjoy this novel.

Michael North is a grizzled, damaged but sympathetic action hero in the best traditions of the genre and there are enough surprises and take-your-breath-away moments to hold the tension. A rip-roaring read. A sequel is already planned for release later in the year so, if you enjoy this, there is more to come. Watch this space.

Killing State is out now in hardback and ebook formats and will be available in paperback on 11 July. You can buy a copy here.

To follow the rest of the tour, check out the details on the poster below:

killing-state

About the Author

Judith

Judith O’Reilly is the author of Wife in the North, a top-three Sunday Times bestseller and BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week. Judith is a former political producer with BBC 2’s Newsnight and ITN’s Channel 4 News, and, when she isn’t writing novels, she writes for The Sunday Times.  Judith lives in Durham.

Connect with Judith:

Website: http://www.judithoreilly.com/p/home-page.html

Facebook: Judith O’Reilly

Twitter: @judithoreilly

Love Books Group Tours (1)

hoz-logo

 

The Two Hearts of Eliza Bloom by Beth Miller #BookReview #BlogTour (@drbethmiller) @bookouture @NetGalley #TheTwoHeartsOfElizaBloom #NetGalley #PublicationDay

51DUwy3rkxL

She followed her heart to change her life, but she didn’t realise how much she left behind…

Eliza Bloom has a list of rules: long, blue skirt on Thursdays, dinner with mother on Fridays, and never give your heart away to the wrong person. Nothing is out of place in her ordered life…

Then she met someone who she was never supposed to speak to. And he introduced her to a whole world of new lists:
New foods to try – oysters and sushi
Great movies to watch – Bambi and Some Like It Hot
Things I love about Eliza Bloom

Eliza left everything she knew behind for him, but sometimes love just isn’t enough. Especially when he opens a hidden shoebox and starts asking a lot of questions about her past life. As the walls Eliza has carefully constructed threaten to come crashing down, will she find a way to keep hold of everyone she loves, and maybe, just maybe, bring the two sides of her heart together at last?

Oh, I am so VERY happy to be kicking off the blog tour on publication day for this most marvellous book! Happy Publication Day, Beth. The hugest thanks to Kim Nash at Bookouture for giving me a place on the tour and for my gifted copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

The blurb of this book doesn’t really give you a clue what to expect between the covers and gives very little hint of the main plot device of the novel, so it is going to be quite difficult to write a comprehensive, spoiler-free review. Still, I’m up for a challenge so let’s give it a go.

This is a ‘two worlds collide, fish out of water’ story about a couple falling in love from opposites sides of a divide that throws up a multitude of problems in their relationship. If you scout other reviews, you will probably find out what the differences are that divide them without reading the book, but I think that will be a shame for you and I would advise you going into the book naively and discover the secret for yourself as you read. For me, it was really eye-opening, as the world Eliza comes from is one that I know nothing about, and learning about the conventions and rules of the society in which she lives was fascinating and humbling; I’m embarrassed that I have never taken the time to learn more about it before.

However, aside from the particular issues Eliza’s background presents to the relationship, there is a lot in this story that rings true for anyone who has ever been in a relationship, especially one that has been entered into at a young age when, whilst we might feel we are adults, we are largely unformed and uninformed as people, and we are making life-changing decisions joining ourselves to other people when we don’t really know who we are ourselves. Through the book, the author explores all kinds of relationships that shape all of our lives, not just romantic ones. The bonds of family – spouses, parents, children, siblings, friends, extended family, wider community- their needs, expectations, ideologies, personalities, dynamics, all of these things affect each of us in different ways and impact our behaviour and decisions and part of life is learning where we fit, how to manage these things, when we should comply, when we should rebel, what is important and what isn’t. The arts of empathy, understanding and compromise are something we all need to learn, whoever we are and wherever we come from.

The author writes with sensitivity, warmth and approachability. Her characters felt so real to me, even though the world she is writing about is so alien in many ways, I was totally drawn in. The main character, Eliza, could be me, you, or any of us because, as humans, we have more similarities than we have differences, no matter who we are or where we come from, if we choose to see them and focus on them, rather than our differences. Given some of the current things going on in the world today, I think this message is an extremely relevant and important one to be getting out there, and this book does it beautifully.

This is a gorgeous story, the writing pulls you through with ease and pleasure. There was nothing but joy in the reading of it for me, and I cannot recommend it highly enough. Pretty close to reading perfection.

The Two Hearts of Eliza Bloom is out today and you can get a copy here.

To read some alternative reviews of the book, please do follow the tour as detailed below:

Two Hearts - Blog Tour

About the Author

L0uHNNud_400x400

Beth Miller is the author of two novels and two non-fiction titles, including For the Love of The Archers. She has worked as a sexual health trainer, a journalist and a psychology lecturer and is now a mentor and book coach. Beth is a member of the Prime Writers, has a PhD in Psychology, and is a world class drinker of tea.

Connect with Beth:

Website: https://www.bethmiller.co.uk

Facebook: Beth Miller Author

Twitter: @drbethmiller

 

Desert Island Books: The Edge by Dick Francis @felix_francis #BookReview #racingcrime #thriller #crime #bookbloggers #bookblog #desertislandbooks #readinggoals

51f6aGu-7OL._SX304_BO1,204,203,200_

Tor Kelsey, an undercover agent for the Jockey Club’s security service is involved in the attempt to rid racing of one of its most notorious villains, Julius Apollo Filmer. The court however, does not go along with their beliefs, but Tor knows that to let Julius even suspect the service are still on his tail would mean certain death for a number of witnesses.

Meanwhile, several racehorse owners have planned a luxurious train trip across Canada, with race meetings fixed for every major city. Julius Apollo Filmer and Tor are on the passenger list. The beautiful journey through the Rockies gets uglier by the minute and Tor finds himself pushed to dangerous limits to defeat Filmer’s wily scheming.

I can’t remember exactly when I read my very first Dick Francis novel, but I know it was some time early in my horse-mad, teenage years. I know that it was lent to me by my friend, Mary, and that the first one I read was one of his books featuring racing detective, Sid Halley. I also know I was hooked from that very first book and quickly raced through his back catalogue. I then waited eagerly each September for his latest book to come out and bought every new one in hardback. He wrote 44 thrillers before his death in 2010, the later ones with his son, Felix, as co-author. Since his death, Felix has continued to write racing thrillers under the Francis name, and I have continued to buy them.

I have huge nostalgic affection for these books, as Dick Francis was one of the first authors I discovered for myself, without the books being parentally approved, and he was an author that was just my own. No one else in my family was particularly a fan, I didn’t have to share the books with my sisters (who never took care of my books properly- remember the Freya North book you left in Australia, Catherine? Remember the book you dropped in the bath, Rebecca?), these were just mine.

Do you want to see my Dick Francis shelf? Of course you do, here it is:-

IMG_0422

Anyway, of all of these excellent books, The Edge is my standout favourite. I must have read it at least a dozen times over the years. In fact I could probably recite it off by heart by now, but I never get bored of it and it was a no brainer as one of my Desert Island Books.

The blurb of this book singularly fails to do the plot justice, so I will try and explain to you what exactly is so marvellous about it, even to people who are not remotely interested in horses or racing.

Although Dick Francis is dubbed the king of the racing thriller, his books are about so much more than horse racing. His plots have involved stories centring around reporters, photography, gold mines, movie-making, wine experts, air taxis, art fraud, diamond dealers, authors, medical experiments, hurricane-chasing and toy making, amongst many other subjects, all of them meticulously researched. To say that he writes racing thrillers does not do his imagination justice, and The Edge is one of the best examples of this diversity in his writing.

The book follows Jockey Club investigator, Tor Kelsey, a man who works undercover investigating racing crimes. When the Jockey Club believes the biggest villain in racing might be plotting a major sting, Tor is sent on the trip of a lifetime across Canada to try and discover and foil his plans.

So far, so ordinary. However, there are things about the book that make it a cut above the average thriller. Firstly, it has the topsy-turvy plot device of the reader knowing who the villain is from the off, but both the investigator, and the reader, not knowing what crime he is planning and having to find this out together. Secondly, the action is set mostly on a glamorous train travelling coast-to-coast across Canada with the elite of the racing world, plus their horses, aboard. There is also a murder mystery being acted out on board for the entertainment of the passengers, so there is fun in trying to work out which parts are the real mystery and which are part of the entertainment. There is also a love interest sub-plot for added spice. A huge cast of great characters, descriptions of a great train journey visiting some of the amazing sights of Canada, and a gripping mystery plot which delivers continual twists and turns and highs and lows – what’s not to love?

This book has a special place in my heart. It has also inspired one of my top Bucket List destinations which I will be blogging about later in the week (picture below might give you a clue!). Having read it again, I am also struck by how well the book has stood the test of time, despite it being 30 years old and not featuring cell phones, the internet or other modern equipment. There are not many crime books that I can read over and over and still enjoy, despite knowing whodunnit, but all of Dick Francis’s books fall into this category and this is the best of the crop IMHO. Definitely a keeper.

IMG_0424

The Edge might be difficult to get your mitts on new now, but try your local library or you should be able to track down a copy in some format here. Sorry, there is no way I am lending out my copy, no matter how much you beg!

About the Author

Unknown

Richard Stanley Francis (31 October 1920 – 14 February 2010) was a British crime writer, and former steeplechase jockey, whose novels centre on horse racing.

After wartime service in the RAF, Francis became a full-time jump-jockey, winning over 350 races and becoming champion jockey of the British National Hunt. He came to further prominence in 1956 as jockey to Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother riding her horse Devon Loch, which fell when close to winning the Grand National. Francis retired from the turf and became a journalist and novelist.

Dick Francis was widely acclaimed as one of the world’s finest thriller writers. His awards include the Crime Writers’ Association’s Cartier Diamond Dagger for his outstanding contribution to the crime genre, and an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Tufts University of Boston. In 1996, Dick Francis was made a Mystery Writers of America Grand Master for a lifetime’s achievement and in 2000 he received a CBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list.

The Craftsman by Sharon Bolton #BookReview @AuthorSJBolton @TheFictionCafe @TrapezeBooks #FictionCafeBookClub #FictionCafeReadingChallenge2019 #amreading #bookbloggers #challenges

51nPUicGSZL._SX336_BO1,204,203,200_

Devoted father or merciless killer?

His secrets are buried with him.

Florence Lovelady’s career was made when she convicted coffin-maker Larry Glassbrook of a series of child murders 30 years ago. Like something from our worst nightmares the victims were buried…ALIVE.

Larry confessed to the crimes; it was an open and shut case. But now he’s dead, and events from the past start to repeat themselves.

Did she get it wrong all those years ago?
Or is there something much darker at play?

The third category for the annual reading challenge in my online book group, The Fiction Cafe Book Club is ‘A book you received as a gift.’ You can see details of the challenge in this post.

For this challenge I have chosen The Craftsman by Sharon Bolton, which my mum bought me for Christmas (admittedly after much heavy hinting on my part!) This book has received rave reviews from my fellow bloggers, being included in a fair few of their ‘top books of 2018’ lists, so I was excited to get to it.

I finished this a few days ago but I have only just been able to sit down and consider writing my review, as I am still processing my thoughts about this book. It is so much more than a crime novel; there is so much going on that has left me with so many thoughts and feelings. I can understand why this book has received so many rave reviews, I haven’t read such a multi-layered, complex, thought-provoking and gripping thriller for quite a while.

Where to start, where to start. Okay, let’s go with the basics. This is a dual timeline crime novel that follows the investigation into the disappearance and murder of three children in the 1960’s. On this very basic level, the book works brilliantly. The crime is deeply disturbing, the horrors being revealed slowly, the clues to the investigation snuck in to the prose subtly for the reader to pick up, with plenty of dead ends and red herrings. I truly had half a dozen suspects for the crime throughout the course of the book and was equally convinced each of them was right until a new piece of information sent me spinning off on a different course. Exactly the kind of plotting that crime novel aficionados love. But there is so much more going on.

Next, there is the setting of the book, in the small, isolated town of Sabden in Lancashire, at the foot of Pendle Hill. Sharon presents a community that is insular, wary of outsiders and full of secrets and closely woven relationships that anyone not local will find hard to penetrate. And so it proves for the protagonist of the book, WPC Florence Lovelady – young, female and Southern, she doesn’t fit, isn’t trusted and has to work hard to understand the town and its inhabitants. In addition, the first mention of Pendle Hill brings to mind the witch trials and the suggestion of the supernatural immediately permeates the story, creating an extra layer of mystery and suspicion and fear throughout. Sharon also makes reference early on to the crimes of Hindley and Brady which happened close by just prior to the original crimes in the novel, which brings its own sense of menace, and a certain oppressive atmosphere to the book. It is all very deftly done.

As mentioned, this is a dual timeline novel. We begin in 1999, when Florence returns to Sabden for the funeral of the man who was convicted of the murders back in 1969. However, certain events take place that lead her to begin to review the original investigation, so we are taken back to 1969 and relive that investigation through Florence’s memory of it, when she was a young WPC newly working in an area where she is an outsider. This was also a time when women were rare in the police, and she faces overt sexism and huge obstacles to being involved in the investigation and being taken seriously. Florence is a strong, intelligent, determined woman with instinct and flair for police work, but she has to fight every step of the way, against all the disadvantages of her age, sex and background, to be heard. Given these obstacles, she sometimes has to take unorthodox steps to explore her suspicions and none of this endears her to her colleagues. One also wonders whether she is being sidelined because she is getting too close to the truth. Florence is a brilliant character to lead the story, and I had total empathy for her from the beginning.

The most unusual element in this book, is the supernatural one, and I am guessing that some people may have an issue with this as a device in a crime novel. However, here there is a specific, underlying reason the author has used this and it is because Sharon is, to a degree, using the witchcraft as a metaphor for the oppression of women throughout history. This whole book has a strong message of feminism and the empowerment of women running through it, at least for me. I don’t want this to put anyone off, it is not a book that is anti-men, but it is definitely a book about the strength, resourcefulness and intelligence of women and how men have been afraid of this and tried to suppress it through the ages, the persecution of women as witches being one of the most overt ways. The treatment of Florence in her role as police officer in the 1960’s is another example of this, and as a piece of social commentary, this book is also a riveting read. I don’t know if it was just me, but by the end, I was shaking my girl power pom-poms in the air and shouting, ‘Yay!’

There are so many things to unpack in this book, I really don’t think I have done it justice. This is a book about love, and the things people will do for it; how it can be used to control others and how it can bring out the best, and worst, in all of us. It is a book about family, and the strength of the bond between parent and child. It is a book about community, and how people will band together to support and protect one another. It is a book about ambition, and how far people will push boundaries to achieve their goals, and it is a book about finding the strength within ourselves to do what needs to be done in the most adverse of circumstances. The more I think about it, the more things I find going on, and this book works on every level.

This book is terrifying, gripping, entertaining, intelligent, informative and complicated. I am sure it is also one that will reveal additional secrets on subsequent readings. I am in awe of how much the author has managed to layer into this novel and everyone should definitely read it.

The Craftsman is now available in all formats and you can buy a copy here.

About the Author

Sharon-Bolton-Orion-Author-pic-March-2017-200x300

Sharon (formerly SJ) Bolton grew up in a cotton-mill town in Lancashire and had an eclectic early career which she is now rather embarrassed about. She gave it all up to become a mother and a writer.

Her first novel, Sacrifice, was voted Best New Read by Amazon.uk, whilst her second, Awakening, won the 2010 Mary Higgins Clark award. In 2014, Lost, (UK title, Like This, For Ever) was named RT Magazine’s Best Contemporary Thriller in the US, and in France, Now You See Me won the Plume de Bronze. That same year, Sharon was awarded the CWA Dagger in the Library, for her entire body of work.

Connect with Sharon:

Website: https://www.sharonbolton.com

Facebook: S J Bolton Crime

Twitter: @AuthorSJBolton

Instagram: @sharonjbolton

One Last Prayer for the Rays #BookReview #BlogTour (@MarkinWes) @RaRaResources #RachelsRandomResources #OneLastPrayerForTheRays

One Last fb_banner02_0312_blog copy

Today is my turn on the blog tour for One Last Prayer for the Rays by Wes Markin. Thank you to Rachel Gilbey of Rachel’s Random Resources for my place on the tour and to the author for my copy of the book which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

51yntL+cV8L

DCI Michael Yorke faces his most harrowing case yet.

When 12-year-old Paul disappears from school, Yorke’s only clue is a pool of animal blood. Fearing the worst, he turns toward the most obvious suspect, recently released local murderer, Thomas Ray.

But as the snow in Salisbury worsens, Ray’s mutilated body is discovered, and Yorke is left with no choice but to journey into the sinister heart of a demented family that has plagued the community for generations. Can he save the boy? Or will the evil he discovers changes him forever?

I had no idea what to expect going in to this book as it is a debut from a new, and potentially exciting, crime novelist. The blurb doesn’t give a huge amount away about the book, so I went in to in with an open mind and was treated to a rollercoaster of a ride  of a book with a few niggling issues.

The plot of this book clever; the writer comes up with some ingenious twists and turns and devilish ways of torturing both his fictional victims and his readers as he tugs them through the book before revealing what is going on. The book opens with a shocking abduction at a school and the action doesn’t really let up all the way through as the police of Salisbury, led by DCI Michael Yorke, try to fathom who has kidnapped the boy, and why, which proves difficult given the very strange nature of the crime. I have to warn readers, there are some very graphic, gory and disturbing scenes in this novel, so the book will delight crime readers who like their murders explicit, but may turn the stomaches of some.

The crime centres around the notorious Ray family, who have a brutal and twisted history in the area, to the extent that seems to be a curse on the family. Is this why one of the last of the Rays has been abducted and is this in revenge for crimes committed in the past? This is a labyrinthine plot that readers will enjoy trying to decipher, alongside the police, and it romps along at a goodly pace.

There are some great characters in this book, particularly amongst the ‘baddies’ whose personalities and motivations are, by and large, are clear and fully fleshed out. I got the feeling that the author really enjoys and has great fun writing these characters. The exception to this seemed to be Lacey Ray who, although a character I enjoyed very much, seemed to be lacking a clear motivation for her actions other than – ‘she’s a psycho’ – which seems a little simplistic. Parts of what were happening to her, such as the Blue Room, were not fully explained and her story left hanging so I got the feeling that the author was possibly being deliberately vague so she could return for another instalment, but I would have liked a little more development of her psychopathy to make this instalment fully satisfying.

The main police protagonist, Yorke, seemed a down to earth and solid policeman with good relationship with his colleagues and he was dogged in his efforts to solve the crime. What he was lacking though was a fully fleshed out personal story and the lack of this made it hard to really invest in him as a character. Again, I really feel that the author enjoyed writing and devoted more time to developing the baddies and their stories. I believe the author has written a prequel featuring Yorke, and that this is the beginning of a series, so no doubt more will be revealed in future books but here he seems curiously devoid of any life or interests outside of his job.

There are a lot of other minor characters on the police side of the story. Way too many in fact, it was practically impossible to keep up with them all and, aside from Jake Pettman, none of them were developed at all. People were given names and job titles that were repeated that really didn’t warrant that level of identification based on their relevance to the story. People’s full job titles and roles were repeated and repeated in a way that dragged parts of the story to a crawl and didn’t add anything to the narrative. However, I think this eased towards the end of the book and comes down to the experience of the writer. Time, practice and a good additional edit could eliminate this issue in future volumes and doesn’t take away from the fact that here is a talented writer who has real potential to produce gripping and addictive crime fiction.

This is a strong debut with a gripping plot and a real flair of imagination, marred slightly by some rookie errors that can easily be addressed and I expect to see this author go from strength to strength. I would recommend you give this book a go for its inventive plot, and watch out for exciting future books from this writer.

One Last Prayer For The Rays is available by following this link.

To read some alternative reviews of the book, make sure you follow the tour as detailed below:

One Last Prayer For The Rays Full Tour Banner

About the Author

One Last Author Photo

Wes Markin is a hyperactive English teacher, who loves writing crime fiction with a twist of the macabre.

​Having released One Last Prayer for the Rays he is now working on the second instalment of DCI Michael Yorke’s wild ride, The Repenting Serpent. He is also the author of Defined, a prequel to his DCI Yorke novels, which takes the reader back to his blood-soaked university days.​​

​Born in 1978, Wes grew up in Manchester, UK. After graduating from Leeds University, he spent fifteen years as a teacher of English, and has taught in Thailand, Malaysia and China. Now as a teacher, writer, husband and father, he is currently living in Harrogate, UK.​

Connect with Wes:

Facebook: Wes Markin Author

Twitter: @MarkinWes

Gap Years by Dave Holwill #BookReview #BlogTour (@daveholwill) @RaRaResources #RachelsRandomResources #GapYears

Gap Years

Delighted to be taking part in the blog tour today for Gap Years by Dave Holwill. My thanks to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources for my place on the tour and to the author for my free copy of the book which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.Gap_Years_Front

19 year old Sean hasn’t seen his father since he was twelve. His mother has never really explained why. An argument with her leads to his moving to the other side of the country.

Martin, his father, has his life thrown into turmoil when the son he hasn’t seen in nearly eight years strolls back into his life immediately killing his dog and hospitalising his step-daughter.

The one thing they have in common is the friendship of a girl called Rhiannon.

Over the course of one summer Sean experiences sexual awakenings from all angles, discovers the fleeting nature of friendship and learns to cope with rejection.

Martin, meanwhile, struggles to reconnect with Sean while trying to delicately turn down the increasingly inappropriate advances of a girl he sees as a surrogate daughter and keep a struggling marriage alive.

Gap Years is an exploration of what it means to be a man in the 21st Century seen from two very different perspectives – neatly hidden inside a funny story about bicycles, guitars and unrequited love.

I read Dave Holwill’s last book, The Craft Room, last summer and absolutely loved it so I was looking forward to more of the same. However, this book is completely different, but that is not necessarily a negative.

This is a story about family in the modern age, where people don’t marry, have 2.4 children, celebrate their ruby wedding anniversary and then die and get buried side by side in a family grave plot they bought thirty years ago. In the current climate, family is a much more fluid idea, where people have children, split, have new families, take on other people’s children as their own, make family units that are entirely unique.

This story reflects that, and how these more transient relationships affect the different generations involved. Martin split with his wife eight years previously and she moved away and took their young son with her. Martin most touch with Sean and hasn’t seen his son since, until the day Sean reappears and announces he’s moving in with his dad. The only problem is, Martin has moved on and now has a new family, including a step-daughter with whom he has a closer relationship than he has with his natural son.

This is a book that explores our family relationships. About how they are formed and maintained and fractured and broken and rebuilt. About whether blood really is thicker than water. About what it means to be a parent in the modern day and what it means to be a child. The author tells this story in the alternating voices of father and son, so we get to see the relationship from both sides, and it is absolutely fascinating.

Sean is a fairly typical confused teenager, with unrealistic ambitions who ends up stuck in a dead end job. He has a fraught relationship with both of his parents, each of whom has badly let him down as far as I can see, and he is trying to find a place where he feels at home. Oddly, it is his step-mother and new step-sister with whom he has the easiest relationship, which begs the interesting question as to whether the problems we have in our blood relationships are the expectations we place on them which can probably never be fully met, which don’t exist with people we aren’t actually related to and from who we have no right to expect anything and we have to work at meaning something to. His hormones are also racing, and leading to complications of the female kind.

When we are young, we expect our parents to know what they are doing, but as we grow older, we realise they are just as clueless as everyone else. Everyone is winging it, and this is certainly true with Martin. He feels fairly impotent, one failed relationship behind him, struggling to maintain his new one, estranged from his son and unsure how to rebuild that bond, wondering why he finds it easier to love his step-daughter than his own flesh and blood. Stuck in his own dull job. Add in a manipulative, self-serving female playing father off against son and this leads to some taut drama.

This book is very well-written and, despite the plot being a fairly small, domestic drama, absolutely riveting. The author does a magnificent job of showing the pressures and problems that beset the ordinary people up and down the country in the modern age and every reader will find something to relate to in this story. It is unusual to see male relationships portrayed so honestly and accurately, and I felt really moved by it. At the same time, it contains the same blackness and humour that I loved from Dave’s last book.

This is a really accomplished story that reflects family relationships in the twenty-first century and it was a joy to read.

Gap Years is out now and you can get a copy here.

To follow the rest of the tour, check out the poster below:

Gap Years Full Tour Banner

About the Author

Gap Years - AuthorHeadShot

Dave Holwill was born in Guildford in 1977 and quickly decided that he preferred the Westcountry – moving to Devon in 1983 (with some input from his parents).
After an expensive (and possibly wasted) education there, he has worked variously as a postman, a framer, and a print department manager (though if you are the only person in the department then can you really be called a manager?) all whilst continuing to play in every kind of band imaginable on most instruments you can think of.
His debut novel, Weekend Rockstars, was published in August 2016 to favourable reviews and his second The Craft Room (a very dark comedy concerning death through misadventure) came out in August 2017. He is currently in editing hell with the third.

Connect with Dave:

Website: http://davedoesntwriteanythingever.blogspot.com

Facebook: Dave Holwill

Twitter: @daveholwill

Instagram: @dave_holwill

Goodreads: Dave Holwill

Flowers Over The Inferno by Ilaria Tuti #BookReview #BlogTour (@Ilaria_Tuti) @wnbooks @gigicroft @orionbooks @Tr4cyF3nt0n #FlowersOverTheInferno #NetGalley

cover153656-medium

An idyllic village in the alps.
A legacy of sin.
An evil lurking in the woods.

In a quiet village surrounded by the imposing Italian Alps, a series of brutal assaults take place.

Police inspector Teresa Battaglia is called in when the first body is found. Soon more victims are discovered – all horrifically mutilated – and when a new-born baby is kidnapped, Teresa’s investigation becomes a race against the clock.

But Teresa is also fighting a battle against her own body, weighed down by age and diabetes, and her mind, once invincible and now slowly gnawing away at her memory…

Delighted to be rounding off the blog tour today for Flowers Over The Inferno by Ilaria Tuti. my thanks to Tracy Fenton of Compulsive Readers for inviting me on to the tour and to Virginia Woolstencroft of Orion for my copy of the book which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

This is the debut novel by Ilaria Tuti, and the first novel featuring Detective Teresa Battaglia, and I have to say it is impressive to see such a strong and unique novel coming from the pen of a brand new author. Everything about this book is accomplished and confident, you would be forgiven for believing that this is a writer who has been doing this for years.

There is so much to enjoy about this book if you are a fan of the Euro-crime genre. Firstly, and probably the strongest aspect of this book, are the main detective duo. Teresa Battaglia is a really refreshing change to the standard grumpy male or feisty, young, ambitious female detectives you find carrying these stories. A woman of middle years, not beautiful, not thrusting, not particularly stand out in any way except through her intellect, her dedication to her job and the devotion she inspires in her team. I absolutely loved her, and was willing to follow her through whatever ups and downs she might face throughout the novel. She is brutal and forthright in her opinions, no nonsense, dedicated. She has personal issues, health issues, issues with relationships, but battles all these quietly and with dignity to get the job done.

She also does not suffer fools gladly, which appears to be a problem when she gets a new, young, male wet-behind-the-ears inspector to add to her team. To begin with there is the usual chalk and cheese friction between the two, but this has the makings of a great partnership for future books and the two will find that their differences can be an asset, as they have lots to learn from each other.

There is a great supporting cast for this book, but these two carry the book, along with the third standout star of the novel, which is the setting. Forget Scandi-noir, here we have Italy as a back drop for the drama, but not the picturesque coastal towns of Amalfi or Sorrento or Portofino; not the glamorous cities of Rome or Venice or Florence; not the rural beauty of Tuscany or the Italian Lakes. This is the remote, forgotten, mountainous area on the Italian-Austrian border which very rarely has the literary spotlight shone upon it. This author, however, obviously has a great fondness for the region, she brings it vividly to life throughout the book, illuminating the forests, gorges, peaks, rivers and isolated villages making the landscape an integral part of the story, a character in its own right.

The setting of this book is what gives it its atmosphere, and that atmosphere is deeply claustrophobic and unsettling. This is a place cut off from the outside world to a large degree. They are insular, superstitious and extremely suspicious of outsiders. Protective of their community and any perceived external threat, they close ranks and shut out interlopers, protecting their secrets, even if that means protecting a serial killer from the police. This makes the investigation more complicated, and the diplomatic skills of Teresa Battaglia vital to crack the case. The area is sparsely populated, mountainous, heavily wooded, large areas unexplored or long forgotten. The intrusion of the modern world into this ancient wilderness, upsetting the dynamics unchanged for centuries, is one of the fascinating themes of the book and adds to the air of menace and threat.

The case itself is gruesome and deeply disturbing. It is hard to say too much about it without including any spoilers in the review, but there are links to unpleasant echoes of a unedifying era of the area’s past. Some aspects of the book are quite graphic and upsetting, but the plot is completely gripping from start to finish and the reader will find it very hard to break away from the story without finding out what happens. I am still thinking about the plot, even now the book is finished and I have moved on to my next read. There are some moral questions raised in the book that will get you thinking more deeply than is often the case in a standard crime novel, a deeper dimension to the narrative.

The book is written from a few different perspectives, in a variety of time periods, and through different mediums, such as diary entries. As it hops around quite a lot, I did find it tricky to keep up in places. Some of this was due to the way my review copy was formatted on my Kindle I think, but I do believe that this is one of those odd books that would be more easily and enjoyably read in physical format, rather than on an e-reader. Fortuitously, this is also a book where I would suggest that the story is worth the investment in an actual book. This was something new and different and interesting din would highly recommend it. A brave new voice in the crime genre.

Flowers Over The Inferno is out now and you can buy a copy here.

To follow the rest of the tour and read some alternative reviews of this book, check out the blogs on the poster below:

FLOWERS blog tour banner

About the Author

nSNiVReM_400x400

ILARIA TUTI lives in Friuli, in the far north-eastern part of Italy. FLOWERS OVER THE INFERNO, her debut novel and the first book in the Teresa Battaglia trilogy, was a top 10 bestseller on publication and the biggest debut of 2018 in Italy. Rights for the novel have been sold in over 15 countries, making her one of the most internationally successful Italian authors of recent years.

Connect with Ilaria:

Twitter: @Ilaria_Tuti