Little Siberia by Antti Tuomainen Translated by David Hackston #BookReview #BlogTour (@antti_tuomainen) @countertenorist @OrendaBooks @annecater #LittleSiberia #nordicnoir #scandinoir #finland #Orentober

Little Siberia Cover

A man with dark thoughts on his mind is racing along the remote snowy roads of Hurmevaara in Finland, when there is flash in the sky and something crashes into the car. That something turns about to be a highly valuable meteorite. With euro signs lighting up the eyes of the locals, the unexpected treasure is temporarily placed in a neighbourhood museum, under the watchful eye of a priest named Joel.

But Joel has a lot more on his mind than simply protecting the riches that have apparently rained down from heaven. His wife has just revealed that she is pregnant. Unfortunately, Joel has strong reason to think the baby isn’t his.

As Joel tries to fend off repeated and bungled attempts to steal the meteorite, he must also come to terms with his own situation, and discover who the father of the baby really is.

I could not be more thrilled to be taking part in the blog tour today for Little Siberia by Antti Tuomianen. Regular readers of the blog will recall that his last book, Palm Beach Finland, was one of my Top Ten Books of 2018. (You can read my review of that book, here.) Huge thanks to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for my coveted spot on the tour and to the author and Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books for my digital copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

Sometimes when you read a book you have to marvel at the ways people’s minds work. I just know that I could never come up with this story and you can understand why people frequently ask authors that age-old question, ‘where do you get your ideas from?’ I know it is a trite and boring enquiry, but I really would like to know where this author gets his ideas from, because this one is literally out of this world.

The story in question here being, what happens when a meteorite that might be worth a million euros hurtles to earth, lands in a remote Finnish town peopled with dubious characters who all seem to need money for a variety of nefarious reasons and lies in the town museum for four days, guarded only by the town priest, who is atypical in every way? Mayhem, that’s what.

This book is another masterpiece by Antti Tuomainen, and another book that will bear repeated reading to peel backs the layers of nuance that run through it. On the surface, this could be a straight forward thriller, with a variety of baddies battling bloodily for possession of the potentially profitable inter-planetary pebble. There is a lot of slapstick mishaps as different folk try to snatch the meteorite from one another, with varying degrees of success, which has a lot of comedic value for the reader, but beyond that, their stories are revealing about life in a remote, northern backwater where there are endless days of darkness, a claustrophobic community where little changes and everyone knows everyone’s business and we learn the different motives that drive people to commit acts they might not otherwise be able to imagine themselves doing.

The choice of narrator and ‘hero’ of the book is fascinating and a genius move. We have a priest, Joel, who would by nature of his job be at the centre of village life and privy to private information that other would not know. Ideally placed to unveil the story. Beyond this, though, Joel is no ordinary priest. He is not native to the village for a start and, as anyone who has lived in a small community knows, if you weren’t born there, you will always be an ‘incomer’ and treated slightly with suspicion. He is also no ordinary priest. He is a war veteran with the wounds, physical and emotional, to show for it. He also seems to have an unusual approach to his religion, not fervently pushing it in his parishioners, but calmly accepting their questioning of it to a degree that the reader must question how strong his own belief remains. This early line from the book marked him out as different from the early stages, “I spent half an hour reading the Bible, and the rest of the night with James Ellroy.”

So, for me, one of the themes of the book that stood out for me was the question of faith, the testing of faith, whether the committing of obviously illegal acts in the pursuit of justice is morally excusable, and where the line between good and evil really falls. Or maybe I am searching for meaning where there isn’t any and this is simply a thrilling heist story? Having read Antti’s books before, I don’t think so, there are a million ways to read this book. What do you see? Does Joel renew his faith through his trials? You’ll have to read the book and draw your own conclusions.

One of the most compelling things about this author’s writing, is the fantastic sense of place he always manages to imbue his books with, and this is no exception. The dark and bleak landscape are the perfect foil for the lives of these characters, and create the understandable environment for their discontent to blossom. The oppressive nature of being trapped in a tiny town on the edge of the world with  nowhere else to go, nothing new to experience, no-one new to meet, flows from the page to infect the reader and make the character’s behaviours, if not excusable, then at least more understandable, which is quite a feat given how unpleasant some of them are.

The characters themselves are a joy to read, as always. Aside from the Joel himself, we have a drunken discontent in the shape of the local once-famous-now-failed rally driver, two Russian henchmen (one love-lorn to add extra amusement), a femme fatale, local business owners with their own small town troubles, and the ongoing mystery of who might be the father of the infertile priest’s wife’s baby. For a small town, there is certainly a lot going on under the surface and all it took was one tiny space stone to bring it all to the surface, who knew?

This book is a tad darker than Antti’s last one, but still imbued with a vein of black humour, as well as providing a thrilling heist story and additional layers of ideas to unpeel. His books never fail to provide a read that rewards the reader above and beyond expectations.

Little Siberia is out now in e-book format and will be published in paperback on 17 October and you can get a copy here.

The book is taking an extended tour throughout October and there are many other fabulous bloggers on board so do check out their reviews:

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About the Author

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Finnish Antti Tuomainen was an award-winning copywriter when he made his literary debut in 2007 as a suspense author. The critically acclaimed My Brother’s Keeper was published two years later. In 2011, Tuomainen’s third novel, The Healer, was awarded the Clue Award for ‘Best Finnish Crime Novel of 2011’ and was shortlisted for the Glass Key Award. Two years later, in 2013, the Finnish press crowned Tuomainen the ‘King of Helsinki Noir’ when Dark as My Heart was published. With a piercing and evocative style, Tuomainen was one of the first to challenge the Scandinavian crime genre formula, and his poignant, dark and hilarious The Man Who Died became an international bestseller, shortlisting for the Petrona and Last Laugh Awards.

Connect with Antti:

Website: http://anttituomainen.com

Facebook: Antti Tuomainen Official

Twitter: @antti_tuomainen

Instagram: @anttituomainen

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Death by Indulgence by A. B. Morgan #BlogTour #GuestPost (@AliMorgan2304) @Junctionpublish @BOTBSPublicity #DeathByIndulgence

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Ella Fitzwilliam’s world is about to spiral out of control.

She’s not cut out to be a private investigator. With little or no aptitude for the job, she’s been sent undercover to expose the hidden lives of two men who meet nearly every week at Buxham’s – a private members’ club where portions are large and secrets are held in strictest confidence.

One of those men is Harry Drysdale, a defence barrister.The other is Marcus Carver, an eminent surgeon with a tarnished past and much to lose.

Ella knows he has unhealthy appetites, she’s sure he’s feeding his perverted habits and putting his female patients at risk but she has to prove it.

When Harry Drysdale goes missing, Konrad Neale TV journalist tries to reveal the truth behind the lies, but some of the secrets start to reveal themselves… and they are big.

*This book was previously published as Fat Chance.

I’m delighted to be taking my turn on the blog tour today for Death By Indulgence by A. B. Morgan. My thanks to Sarah Hardy at Books On The Bright Side Publicity for inviting me to take part in the tour and to the author for providing this wonderful guest post for you to enjoy. So, over to Ali to tell us more about the writing of this book.

Where did the idea for this story spring from?

The initial nugget came from a friend of mine who likes to play with words and she was constantly asking me if I could make up stories from information on mundane packaging or objects. At the time she was landlady of a village pub and after a trip to see her I had a small bill to pay. When she handed me the receipt it had a table number at the top. Table No 88. There weren’t more than thirty tables in the place.

‘Bet you can’t make a story out of that,’ she challenged.

After few milliseconds I replied. ‘Bingo. Two fat ladies eighty-eight.’ Then another idea popped into my unpredictable mind. ‘…Or a story about a bariatric surgeon who has a penchant for the larger lady.’ In the end I married the two thoughts.

Why not call the book ‘Table Eighty-Eight?

That is a very good question. While I was writing the first draft, I had a working title of ‘The Enormity of Table Eighty-Eight’ but during a book launch at a local village library the well-meaning librarian told me book titles shouldn’t have the number eight or eighty-eight because these had Neo-Nazi connotations. I thought she was kidding, but when I looked it up I was amazed to find she was right (but not far right…). H is the eighth letter of the alphabet and is code for Hitler, and 88 therefore translates as Heil Hitler.

Death by Indulgence was originally published as Fat Chance, but the title and the cover didn’t seem to attract the readers, possibly not obvious enough as a crime title, more like a diet book. Therefore after a conflab with the publishers we took the plunge and re-launched. To be honest there are times when I wish I’d stuck to the original title.

In Death by Indulgence we meet Ella Fitzwilliam. She’s larger than life in more ways than one. Where did the idea for her character come from?

Ella begged to be created and because of her personality she’s a joy to have in my head when I’m writing. I see her. She’s plumptious, with thick chestnut wavy hair and always smiling. A people-pleaser and a loyal friend she wants to help out her old pal Valerie Royal and that’s when she comes unstuck. Ella lives with a bipolar disorder which in the main is well controlled, until the pressure gets too much, then the social boundaries start to crumble with disastrous but at times hilarious consequences. She doesn’t make a natural private investigator but she’s a trier!

‘Become a private investigator. One day taster course for anyone considering a career change but who doesn’t know exactly what a private detective does. Why not find out if you’ve got what it takes?’

It’s all in the book.

Why did you go down the route of exploring adipophilia? Or fat fetishism as it’s more commonly known.

Like many other people, I watch documentaries featuring the lovely Louis Theroux. Why? Because he gets to the nitty-gritty of some peculiar people and their bizarre lifestyles. Fascinating stuff.

Taking on the tricky subject of obesity was merely one way of exploring the issue of body image and acknowledging that those of us on the larger side are sexy. We’re just as vulnerable to sexploitation as the slim girls, the young girls, the wrinkly girls, the short or the tall. Male or female we all have different ideas of what is sexually attractive.

The storyline takes a twist because the antagonist, or one of them, is a bariatric surgeon and he is hiding in plain sight, tempted every day by the women he is supposedly helping. I wanted people to question why holding a preference for big beautiful women can sometimes be seen as a perversion. It’s not – it’s normal. Take it underground to private clubs and then it becomes one. Exploit and assault women because of their size and it’s a crime.

She’s such a fabulous character, will we see Ella again?

Yes, you will! Ella is too lovely and unpredictable to leave behind just yet and she has such a great turn of phrase.

She’s very much alive and has another story to drag you into. I’m not sure when it will be published, but you won’t be surprised to hear that Ella’s clumsiness hasn’t improved, and her habit of getting into trouble continues to make her life less ordinary. 

Thank you for that fascinating peek into your writing world, Alison.

Death by Indulgence is out now and you can get a copy here.

Do make sure you visit the rest of the blogs on the tour for more reviews and content:

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About the Author

A B Morgan

Alison Morgan: A former mental health nurse, country bumpkin at heart, married to a hairy biker, fascinated by words, loves live music and she has an innate ability to make people smile and laugh.

Her crime thrillers have a strong cast of characters helping to define the style and pace of each story inspired by her life and career as a Psychiatric Nurse, and her fascination with the extremes of human behaviour.

AB Morgan is the critically acclaimed author of A Justifiable Madness, Divine Poison, The Camera Lies and Stench.

Her latest psychological suspense has again been applauded for being refreshingly different within its genre.

Connect with Alison:

Website: http://www.abmorgan.co.uk

Facebook: A B Morgan writer

Twitter: @AliMorgan2304

Kult by Stefan Malmstrom #BookReview #BlogTour (@kpstefan) @silvertailbooks @BOTBSPublicity #Kult

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THE PAST WILL NEVER LET YOU GO…

When a four-year-old girl and her father are found dead in the Swedish city of Karlskrona, the police quickly conclude it was a murder-suicide, a tragedy requiring no further investigation.

But Luke Bergmann, a reformed criminal still haunted by his violent past, believes they are wrong. The dead man, Viktor, was his best friend, and Luke knows he would never commit such a horrific crime.

When more bodies turn up, Luke is certain the same killer has struck again. Alone, he embarks on an investigation which reaches back through decades to his friend’s involvement with a sinister cult and dark secrets are exposed as Luke struggles to keep his own long-buried demons hidden away.

And when Luke finds himself in a killer’s sights, his search for the truth becomes the fight of his life.

Can Luke get justice for Viktor and his daughter and prove his best friend was not a murderer, or will the shadows of the past overwhelm him?

Happily taking my turn on the blog tour today for Kult by Stefan Malmstrom. My thanks to Sarah Hardy of Books On The Bright Side Publicity for inviting me to take part and to the author and publisher for my digital copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

This is a really fascinating, if very dark, read that stood out because it was partially based on the author’s own experiences as a young man with Scientology, which leant the story an extra level of authenticity.

I don’t think I am alone in finding cults a compelling subject. The idea that people can be influenced into believing the most extraordinary things that seem totally bizarre to the rest of us, to the extent that they are prepared to distance themselves from their family and friends, devote their lives and money to the cause and enact the most extreme forms of behaviour, including murder, is a topic I find riveting. I have read quite a lot of non-fiction on the subject of cults, and also enjoy fiction books that have this as a central subject matter. The Girls by Emma Cline was a recent novel based around a cult that was very popular, but the attraction of reading a book about possibly the world’s most famous cult, Scientology, by someone who was actually a member was too good an opportunity to miss and this book did not disappoint in any way.

The book is cleverly constructed with three story threads running through it that start off seemingly separate but are gradually drawn together as we go throughout the book until it forms a complete picture at the denouement. One of the threads follows the story of a group of young people as they are enticed into the world of Scientology in a small town in Sweden in the early 1990s. The main protagonist of the book is, Luke, a not quite whiter-than-white American now living in Sweden, who discovers the apparent murder-suicide of his best friend and his friend’s young daughter. However, Luke refuses to believe that Viktor was capable of any such thing and, despite warnings from the police investigating the matter, is determined to discover the truth for himself. The third thread…well you need to read the book for yourself to find out how that weaves in.

This book is gripping, to say the least. I read it in a day and could not put it down. The construct of the book was extremely effective in keeping the reader turning the pages and trying to work out how the pieces fitted together. The characters were cleverly portrayed to make you either love them or loathe them, as appropriate, and they felt realistic and well-rounded. I thought Luke was a great character to carry the story and would be very keen to read further books featuring him. I have to warn readers that some aspects of this book involved extremely disturbing subject matter that some readers may find distressing, but this was not done in a gratuitous manner and was relevant to the story. I found the insight into Scientology the most fascinating part of the book, though. To gain such a glimpse into the secretive world of Scientology from someone who has been there, and hear first hand the kind of damage it can do, was riveting. The author gives us a note at the end regarding how much of the book is fact and how much is fiction and it was eye-opening to say the least.

This is a dark, gripping and tense thriller with a fascinating back story and I would highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys a bleak but enthralling read.

Kult is out now and you can buy a copy here.

Make sure you check out the other reviews posted by my marvellous fellow bloggers on the tour:

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About the Author

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Stefan Malmström is a former news journalist who has worked for Sveriges Radio and Swedish TV4. Today he works as a consultant, lecturer and author. At a young age, Stefan was manipulated into the Church of Scientology in Hässleholm, a small town in southern Sweden. KULT, his first book, is based on his experiences in the cult. Stefan lives in Karlskrona in Sweden with his family.

Connect with Stefan:
Facebook: Hjarntvattad
Twitter: @kpstefan
Instagram: @hjarntvattad.se

 

Bloody Sheets by Andy Rausch #BookReview #BlogTour (@writerrausch1) @BlackthornTours #novella #pulpfiction #crimenoir #BloodySheets

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When a young black man is lynched in a small Alabama town, his estranged father — a crime world enforcer — sets out for revenge, embarking on a blood – soaked journey that will leave the ravaged bodies of dead Klansmen in his wake.

I am delighted to be one of the blogs rounding off the tour for Bloody Sheets by Andy Rausch, today. My thanks to Isobel Blackthorn at Blackthorn Tours for inviting me to review the book and for my digital copy, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

This is a no holds barred, bloody, brutal story of racism, murder and revenge that is told without pause or apology, shining a relentless light on the schisms that currently fracture society in parts of America. And, whilst this tale is set in a particular section of US society, the deep divisions it portrays are not limited to its locale and the truths it reveals should make all of us sit up and take notice.

A young black male is lynched in a backwards, backwoods town in rural Alabama, and the culprits are the local Klan. Unfortunately for the Klan, the father or the murdered boy is an ex-felon enforcer for a crime kingpin and the death of his turns his particular skills away from his boss’s enemies and towards his own. Revenge is not pretty, but it is swift and brutal.

This book is not suitable for the sensitive or squeamish, peppered as it is with the basest language of racism and the goriest of violence. Some may find it offensive, although in the context of the story it is vital and not gratuitous and should be approached as such. The book is designed to shock, and that shock is necessary to make the reader confront the grotesque nature of the attitudes portrayed in it. We should be made uncomfortable by the issues, and Rausch does a fine job of making it so. However, at the same time as blasting the reader in the face with the horror of the inequalities and bigotry displayed in the story, there is also an underlying tenderness, love and pain on display in the actions of Coke as he tries to avenge his son. Something you may not expect in quite so black a story.

This is a short novella, it took me only about an hour to read, but it is fast paced and punchy, not a word wasted, with a distinctive style that takes no prisoners. Not something I pick up every day but a story that gave me food for thought and left me unexpectedly affected.

Bloody Sheets is out now and you can get a copy here.

To explore some different views of the book, please do check out the rest of the blogs on the tour:

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About the Author

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Andy Rausch is a a freelance film journalist, author, and celebrity interviewer. He has published more than twenty books on the subject of popular culture, including The Films of Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro, Making Movies with Orson Welles (with Gary Graver), and The Cinematic Misadventures of Ed Wood (with Charles E. Pratt, Jr.). His work has appeared in Shock Cinema, both Screem and Scream magazines, Senses of Cinema, Diabolique, Creative Screenwriting, Film Threat, Bright Lights Film Journal, and Images: A Journal of Film and Popular Culture. He has written several works of fiction including Mad World, Elvis Presley: CIA Assassin, Riding Shotgun and Other American Cruelties, and the short story collection Death Rattles. He has also worked as a screenwriter, producer, and actor on numerous straight-to-video horror films.

Connect with Andy:

Website: authorandyrausch

Twitter: @writerrausch1

Goodreads: Andy Rausch

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Deadly Prospects by Clio Gray (The Scottish Mysteries Book One) #BookReview #BlogBlitz (@ClioGray) @urbanebooks @LoveBooksGroup #LoveBooksTours #DeadlyProspects #TheScottishMysteries

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1869, Sutherland, Scotland. For years the people of this remote area of the Highlands have lived a hard life. Now a local Gold Rush has attracted the Pan-European Mining Company to the area, and Solveig McCleery is determined to re-open the Brora mines and give the population the riches they deserve.

But when work starts on re-opening the mines, the body of a prospector is discovered, and odd inscriptions found on stones near the corpse. Before the meaning of these strange marks can be deciphered another body is discovered.

Are these attacks connected to the re-opening of the mines? Will Solveig’s plan succeed in bringing peace and prosperity back to the area? Or has she put in motion something far more sinister?  

I am delighted to be taking my turn on the blog blitz for Deadly Prospects by Clio Gray, first book in the Scottish Mysteries series. My thanks to Kelly Lacey at Love Books Group for offering me a place on the tour, and to the publisher for my ecopy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

I found this book very different and refreshing, combining as it did very detailed, historical issues and a gripping mystery. I’m not sure I have read a book that felt quite so like a  fascinating history lesson and an intriguing crime puzzle at the same time.

The author chose a time period and location in which to set the book that I have never come across used in a fictional mystery before, the Highlands of Scotland around the time of the Clearances. I have always been fascinated by Scottish history and the plot really intrigued me, which is why I applied for the blog tour in the first place, but I got far more than I was expecting with this book. The level of historical detail was impressive, I learnt a huge amount about emigration between Scotland and Scandanavia that I had never known before, but it was woven into the book so cleverly that it did not feel like it was detracting from the plot in any way, but only enhancing it.

The book really captured the hardship and bleakness of the period and location, remote as it was, and barren, and the struggles that the people had to try and hang on to their homes and scratch out a living in the face of adversity, both natural and man-made. The characters were well drawn and compelling and I was completely pulled in to the story and held captive while it played out. I found it sinister and disturbing, and I did not see the twists it was going to take coming at all.

The author is clearly passionate about the topic she is writing about and has taken a great deal of time and care in researching this book before writing it. The depth and breadth of the research that has gone into it can only be a labour of love and I think this shines through in the writing. The book affected me more than I expected, and was one of those happy surprises that come along rarely, an un-hyped book that exceeds expectations and takes you places you never saw coming but swept you away. I highly recommend this for lovers of great historical fiction.

Deadly Prospects is available now and you can buy a copy here.

About the Author

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Clio was born in Yorkshire, spent her later childhood in Devon before returning to Yorkshire to go to university. For the last twenty five years she has lived in the Scottish Highlands where she intends to remain. She eschewed the usual route of marriage, mortgage, children, and instead spent her working life in libraries, filling her home with books and sharing that home with dogs. She began writing for personal amusement in the late nineties, then began entering short story competitions, getting short listed and then winning, which led directly to a publication deal with Headline. Her book, The Anatomist’s Dream, was nominated for the Man Booker 2015 and long listed for the Bailey’s Prize in 2016.

Connect with Clio:

Website: https://www.cliogray.com

Twitter: @ClioGray

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Dead Inside by Noelle Holten #BookReview # BlogTour (@nholten40) @KillerReads @0neMoreChapter @BOTBSPublicity #DeadInside

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The killer is just getting started…

When three wife beaters are themselves found beaten to death, DC Maggie Jamieson knows she is facing her toughest case yet.

The police suspect that Probation Officer Lucy Sherwood – who is connected to all three victims – is hiding a dark secret. Then a fourth domestic abuser is brutally murdered.

And he is Lucy’s husband.

Now the police are running out of time, but can Maggie really believe her friend Lucy is a cold-blooded killer?

I am delighted to be one of the blogs rounding off the tour for Dead Inside by Noelle Holten. My thanks to Sarah Hardy of Books on the Bright Side Publicity for my place on this coveted tour, and to the author and publisher for my copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

I feel like I have been waiting so long to write this review! I read this book almost as soon as I received a copy as I was eager to find out what Noelle had written, knowing as I did that her personal experience as a probation officer had fed into the plot of her debut novel, and I have to say I was not disappointed.

This is the first in a projected series following DC Maggie Jamieson, and it was a great set up for this character. Noelle revealed just enough about her to whet our appetite and make her someone whose story we would want to follow through future books, but still left a lot to be developed as far as she was concerned and an interesting hook to entice the reader in to the next book. However, this story was not really Maggie’s but Lucy’s.

Lucy was a fascinating character, and the perfect one to carry the story and deal effectively with the issues that Noelle wanted to raise. She is a woman with a foot in both camps of the narrative, firstly as a probation officer having to deal on a day to day basis with the perpetrators of domestic violence, and secondly as a woman who is herself a victim. The idea that someone who so clearly sees on a daily basis the reality of these men and the harm they cause to their victims and, at the same time, be able to justify to herself in her personal life putting up with this exact same treatment herself was devastatingly effective in illustrating just how hard it can be for women to break out of these situations. I thought the premise and execution were genius, and it really made me confront the reality of the problem, as someone who has no personal experience herself but who might have thought it was something I could never put up with. It is clear, reading this, that none of us should be complacent and we should all educate ourselves and have sympathy and understanding for women who find themselves in impossible situations.

The writing in the book is affecting and immersive. Noelle has a very interesting and unique style, an individual author voice that I found refreshing. The short chapters and unflowery style were perfect for the story, maintaining the tension and bringing into relief the starkness of the situation the characters were facing and it was a read that propelled me through the pages without any wasted words or break in impetus. I found the descriptions of the symbiotic relationship between the different agencies involved in the criminal justice process fascinating, and a very different take than we often see in crime novels. The focus on probation as much as the initial investigation was really interesting to me and definitely something I would like to see more of.

This is a great debut, with a fascinating premise, compelling writing, a unique perspective and a fresh, individual author voice and we should all be excited about this interesting, new author in the genre. I would highly recommend this book for crime fans looking for something new and a little bit different to read. It is well worth consideration and I am looking forward to the next in the series.

Dead Inside is out now and you can get your copy here.

Please do go back and check of the rest of the reviews from the other excellent bloggers on the tour. You can find them listed on the poster below:

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About the Author

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Noelle Holten is an award-winning blogger at www.crimebookjunkie.co.uk. She is the PR & Social Media Manager for Bookouture, a leading digital publisher in the UK, and a regular reviewer on the Two Crime Writers and a Microphone podcast. Noelle worked as a Senior Probation Officer for eighteen years, covering a variety of cases including those involving serious domestic abuse. She has three Hons BA’s – Philosophy, Sociology (Crime & Deviance) and Community Justice – and a Masters in Criminology. Noelle’s hobbies include reading, author-stalking and sharing the #booklove via her blog.
Dead Inside is her debut novel with Killer Reads/Harper Collins UK and the start of a new series featuring DC Maggie Jamieson.
Connect with Noelle:
Twitter: @nholten40
Instagram: @crimebookjunkie

Countdown by Matt Phillips #BookReview (@MRPhill25) @ADRBooks @DownAndOutBooks #crimefiction #noir #california

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Welcome to California. Weed is legal. Grow it. Sell it. Smoke it. Eat it. But the money you make off it—there’s the rub. Bank it, and the Feds will ask questions. Keep it around, and you’ll get robbed. LaDon and Jessie—two hustlers who make selling primo weed a regular gig—hire a private security detail to move and hold their money. Ex-soldiers Glanson and Echo target the cash—they start a ripoff business.

It’s the wild, wild west. Except this time, everybody’s high.

With their guns and guts, Glanson and Echo don’t expect much trouble from a mean son-of-a-gun like LaDon Charles. But that’s exactly what they get. In this industry, no matter how much money there is for the taking—and no matter who gets it—there’s always somebody counting backwards…to zero.

Today I am delighted to be reviewing Countdown by Matt Phillips. My thanks to Henry Roi, the author and the publisher, All Due Respect, for my e-copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

This is my first book by Matt Phillips, although I do have a copy of Know Me From Smoke sat on my TBR which I was given as a birthday present, mainly because I love the cover!

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Now that I have read Countdown, I will be moving this up the pile, because I really enjoyed the story and the style of writing, despite the fact that it is very different from my ‘go to’ comfort books. Although I seem to be reading more and more outside my comfort zone these days, due to the opportunities book blogging has afforded me, so maybe I no longer have a comfort zone.

What I really mean is that this is not a book I would normally pluck off a shelf in a shop when I am browsing, which is a mindset I need to get out of because some of the most profound reading experiences I have had over the past couple of years have been via books that I would not have chosen for myself but that I have been offered via blogging. For me, one of the greatest joys of reading is living vicarious experiences and lives that I will never have myself outside the covers of a book, and this book is a perfect example. The story follows the trials and tribulations of running a not-quite-legal marijuana business in California, where trade in the drug has been legalised, but the banking of the money made from the trade has not.

You know from the off that the characters in this book are not people that are naturally going to be people you can sympathise with, or particularly relate to, when you are a middle-aged mother living in rural England who has always been fairly puritanical when it comes to drug use. The fact that I actually did find some of the characters, especially LaDon, sympathetic and a person you would like to succeed, even if their goals are fairly nefarious, was testament to the skill in the writing in this novel. Either that, or the fact that I started grading on a curve with the other, very repellent, characters! Either way, I became invested in the adventures of the main protagonists in this book in a way that I did not expect, given the subject matter and, in spite of the fact that I have never met a Californian drug dealer and these characters were like no one I have ever known IRL, I still felt the characters were believable, with clear and authentic drives and desires and character traits.

The story takes part over a short period of time, and in a tight location, which gave the story a very fast and natural pace which kept it bowling along and carried me with it. It felt like a fairly quick read because of this and there were no lulls or doldrums to interrupt the flow of the book. I felt like the author had done an amazing job of cutting all the flab from the book and leaving only a lean, efficient reading experience which I thoroughly enjoyed being carried along by. I just sat back and let the writing sweep me through with little effort on my part, but obviously a good deal by the author.

The setting of the book is what really set it apart from other things I have read in the genre. The gritty, mean streets of southern California are the net that holds this story together and were convincingly and brightly portrayed in the book. The author does not shy from writing about the unpleasant underside that exists in the city, rather he revels in it, describing it truthfully, but almost lovingly, so that the reader is fully immersed in its sights, sounds, scents and its constant tensions and dangers. For the author, it feels like these traits, which are things that would deter many of us from visiting such places, are what actually draw him and his characters to them, because they are alive and honest in their darkness. I certainly felt this myself during the reading, even if I would only dare revel in them from the safety of my sofa in rural Yorkshire. As I said, one of the many joys of reading.

This book was a very different read for me, but what that certainly catered to a lot of the things are look for in a satisfying book and I would highly recommend it to anyone who is not offended by violence, sex, strong language, graphic scenes or drugs. So Mary Whitehouse types probably should not pick it up, I’m sure anyone else will enjoy it.

Countdown is out now and you can buy a copy here.

About the Author

Phillips_Headshot_2018

Matt Phillips was born in Palm Springs, California and raised in the Coachella Valley and nearby Mojave High Desert. He lives in San Diego. He has worked as a busboy, pool attendant, waiter, bartender, halfway-decent restaurant manager, film festival administrator, newspaper reporter, and editor.

His books include Countdown, Know Me from Smoke, The Bad Kind of Lucky, Accidental Outlaws, Three Kinds of Fool, Redbone, and Bad Luck City. Short fiction has appeared in Mystery Tribune, Yellow Mama, Shotgun Honey, Flash Fiction Offensive, Tough Crime, Near to the Knuckle, Powder Burn Flash, Pulp Metal Magazine, Manslaughter Review, and Fried Chicken and Coffee.

Matt earned an MFA in creative writing from the University of Texas at El Paso.

Connect with Matt:

Website: https://www.mattphillipswriter.com

Facebook: Matt Phillips

Twitter: @MRPhill25