Blog Tour: One Of The Girls by Lucy Clarke

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I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour today for One Of The Girls by Lucy Clarke. My thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part, and to the publisher for my digital copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

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One of us is a liar. One of us is a stranger. One of us is a cheater.

But who could be a killer?

The six of us arrived on the beautiful, sunbaked island of Aegos to leave it all behind, our suitcases packed with flip flops and beach towels, our heads full of dreams for the perfect weekend away with friends…

On the first night, we laughed and danced under the stars. On the second night we went skinny dipping in the warm, summer sea. On the third night the wine loosened our tongues, the lies spilling and the masks starting to slip.

And on the final night it all ignited as we celebrated around the beach fire – for someone, the holiday in Greece would be their last…

This is one of my favourite thrillers that I have read so far this year. I thought I would probably enjoy it, which is why I volunteered for the tour. I am a fan of this author’s work and the blurb suggested it had all the elements I love in a book – female dynamics, exotic location, death…. Even so, it exceeded all my expectations.

The tension in this book is palpable from the very first page and it has all to do with the awkward dynamics between a group of people who have only been brought together by their loose connection to one of their number. Anyone who has ever been on a hen night will recognise the friction between groups of women who don’t know each other, who come from different areas of the bride’s life and are forced into camaraderie and jollity with people they would not personally choose to hang out with. The author captures this feeling absolutely perfectly and it gives this thriller an uneasy feeling even before there is any indication that anything is particularly wrong. It’s easy to see how a tiny nudge can send this trip off the rails.

Once she has set up this tense scenario – awkward group of women, isolated location, too much expectation for the trip – she plays on it beautifully by introducing hints that each of the women is hiding something. Some personal issue, some resentment, some secret, so the reader then doesn’t know who trusts whom or who is in conflict with whom, or who they themselves can trust. This is what makes for the perfect thriller – suspicion. Suspicion abounds between all the characters, and between the characters and the reader and the tension sits like a brick in your chest as you proceed through the story, until it gets to an almost unbearable pitch, because we KNOW something is going to go wrong, which just don’t know what or to whom or why. She dangles us on a string, waiting for the drop. The literary equivalent of Disney’s Tower of Terror.

The pacing of the book is perfect, the writing is easy to read, the characterisation is totally believable and the dynamics between the characters feel authentic and work perfectly for the story. There was not one thing about this book that I didn’t enjoy, it’s a wonderful example of the genre and I would not hesitate to recommend it to anyone looking for their next fantastic thriller. The perfect book to take to your poolside lounger this summer- just make sure you are travelling with people you trust!

One Of The Girls is out now in ebook, hardback and audiobook formats and will be published in paperback in July. You can buy a copy here.

Make sure you follow the rest of the tour for more reviews:

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About the Author

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Sunday Times bestseller Lucy Clarke writes from a beach hut, using the inspiration from the wild south coast to craft her stories. Her debut novel, The Sea Sisters, was a Richard & Judy Book Club pick, and she has since published A Single Breath, The Blue/No Escape, Last Seen, You Let Me In, and The Castaways, which was a Waterstones Thriller of the Month. Lucy lives by the sea with her husband and two children.

Connect with Lucy:

Website: http://www.lucy-clarke.com

Facebook: Lucy Clarke

Twitter: @lucyclarkebooks

Instagram: @lucyclarke_author

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Blog Tour: Guilty Women by Melanie Blake

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I am thrilled to be topping off the blog tour for Guilty Women by Melanie Blake, the follow up to last year’s sensational Ruthless Women (you can read my review of that book here.) My thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me to take part in the tour and to the publisher for my copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

Guilty Women Cover

Can they get away with murder?

On a beautiful island off the English coast, four TV actresses gather.
Their fifth member is missing – and only they know why she was killed.
As the secret between them threatens to come out, tensions on set run high.
The women are determined that the show must go on – no matter what it costs.
But one of them is on the edge of telling the truth – and no show in the world could survive this scandal…

All of the women have something to hide – but the question is, are they all guilty?

If you have read my review of the prequel to this book, Ruthless Women (and, if you haven’t, why not? Go and remedy that immediately, I put the link above!) you will know that I absolutely adored it. It was a flashback to the outrageous ‘bonkbusters’ I devoured in my youth, in the best traditions of Shirley Conran and Jackie Collins, and I could not wait to return to the set of Falcon Bay and the lives of its cast and crew. You can read Guilty Women as a standalone but I think you will get much more enjoyment from your reading of the book if you have read Ruthless Women first and are familiar with the characters and their back story.

This book picks up only eight weeks after the end of the last book, and the women are all still reeling from the shocking events that ended that novel. Despite their closeness, and what they have risked to protect each other, they are all struggling with the secrets they are keeping and their feelings about what they have done, and the cracks in their friendship are beginning to show. They are all doing their best to get on with their jobs and keep Falcon Bay at the top of the ratings, but there is more than one person trying g to throw a spanner in the works and derail their best efforts.

Everything that made the previous book so marvellous is here again in spades. Sex (and, I mean, sex in graphic detail, no holds barred. if you blush easily, you might want to avert your eyes from these parts), drugs, glamorous women, gorgeous men, betrayal, revenge, rows, fist fights, death, drama and destruction are all present and correct, and the book is action-packed from start to finish. Just as with the last storyline, there is shock after shock in the plot as the author does not let the tension up from a moment and takes the story to unexpected places.

As before, the strength of this book lies in the writing of the female characters, who are all beautiful and driven and loyal to one another and their friendship is at the heart of the story. This makes appealing to anyone who likes to see women get the upper hand in a male dominated world. Despite all the trials she puts them through, they remain true to one another which is lovely to see to the end.

I wasn’t quite sure what the point of the Honey Hunter storyline was, it seemed to start off strong and then peter out into nothing of any significance, but other than that there were no weak parts of the story. It is a thoroughly enjoyable romp through murder and mayhem, if those are the kinds of things you like to romp through, and I loved every second of it. The ending has left me asking whether we have seen the last of these fabulous women, I am sincerely hoping not.

Guilty Women is out now in all formats and you can buy a copy here.

Make sure you go back and revisit the other blogs that have featured on the tour for alternative reviews:

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About the Author

Melanie Blake Author Pic

MELANIE BLAKE is the bestselling author of Ruthless Women, which became a Number 4 Sunday Times hardback bestseller and an ebook bestseller in 2021, selling over 150,000 copies. Guilty Women is her second novel about the cast of Falcon Bay, and her first with HarperFiction. Growing up in a working-class household with severe dyslexia, Melanie has her own Rags to Riches story, just like that of her characters – at 15 she was told by her school career advisors that her decision to work at a record shop was ‘a clear example that she wouldn’t go far in her career’. They were wrong. By 19 she was working at the BBC’s iconic Top of the Pops show and by 26 she had built a reputation as one of the UK’s leading music and entertainment managers. She also created her own acting agency from scratch which became the most successful independent boutique agency in the UK. Melanie still represents a high-profile stable of actresses, but is also now enjoying success in her own right as a author, playwright and producer.

Connect with Melanie:

Website: https://www.melanieblakeonline.com/

Twitter: @MelanieBlakeUK

Instagram: @melanieblakeuk

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Blog Tour: The Secret Voices by M. J. White

The Secret Voices

So excited today to be taking my turn on the blog tour for the first crime thriller by Miranda Dickinson writing as M. J. White. I love Miranda’s romance novels, so I was excited to see what she would do in this new genre with The Secret Voices.  My thanks to Rachel Gilbey of Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part in the tour and to the publisher for my digital copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

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They said they’d keep me safe.

They said, ‘It’s okay, Hannah. You know you can trust me.’

They lied.

When eight-year-old Hannah Perry goes missing in the small Suffolk village of St Just, the community is rocked. Heading up the investigation is Acting DS Rob Minshull, but he’s out of his depth in a case that seems to mirror the disappearance of a young boy, seven years ago. That search ended in unimaginable tragedy…and Minshull is praying that history won’t be repeated.

But with an investigation full of dead ends, and a kidnapper taunting the police with sinister deliveries of Hannah’s belongings and cryptic notes, the young girl’s life hangs perilously in danger.

Until Dr Cora Lael enters the picture. A psychologist with a unique ability, Cora’s rare gift allows her to sense emotions attached to discarded objects. When she is shown the first of Hannah’s belongings, she hears the child’s piercing scream.

With few leads on the case, could Cora prove Hannah’s only hope? And as time runs out, can they find Hannah before history repeats itself…?

Every parent’s worst nightmare, your child going missing, is the basis for this story. The hectic scramble to find them as soon as possible, the fading of hope, the suspicion pointed at family and friends. Inside the police investigation, the officers trawl for leads, trying to get one step ahead of whoever is responsible before tragedy occurs. Pressure piling on from all sides – the press, the public, the family, your superiors. What toll does this take on the detectives charged with finding the missing child, especially if the case has echoes of a similar investigation that failed years before? You might think these are all ideas that have been explored in crime fiction before, what new territory does this book explore? Plenty, I assure you.

Sure, all of these standard elements are present but I have to tell you that Miranda really explores the emotional aspects of this to a degree that I’m not sure I’ve experienced in a crime novel before. I don’t know whether this is some of her experience as a romance novelist making her come at this from a slightly different angle but I really felt the emotional toll of this investigation all the parties involved oozing off the page. Told from the perspectives of the different people involved in the story, including the abducted child herself, the reader is really drawn in to the horror and stress of the story from a full colour, 360 degree perspective. It is totally immersive.

Add to this a completely unique idea for a different dimension to bring to the investigation, and you have a cracker of a story. Cora is a psychologist blessed, or cursed depending on your perspective, with emotional synaesthesia – the ability to detect people’s emotions from their discarded objects. Persuaded to use her ability to help the hunt for Hannah, Cora hopes to find acceptance and purpose for the ability which has made her feel apart and alone most of her life. But is she prepared for the emotional toll the experience will take and will openly revealing her abilities achieve the exact opposite of what she hopes? Following Cora’s journey through the novel was a fascinating and thought provoking process for me and really adds a fresh dimension to the crime thriller genre.

I would say that Miranda’s detour into the world of crime fiction has been a resounding success based on this book. I thoroughly enjoyed it, found it to be fresh, complex and accomplished and I can’t wait to read more featuring these characters. I highly recommend this to anyone who loves Miranda’s writing, because all the skill evident in her romance novels is at play here too, and anyone looking for an interesting new voice in the crime thriller genre. Outstanding stuff.

The Secret Voices is out now in ebook and paperback formats and you can buy a copy here.

Please check out some of the other blogs taking part in the tour for alternative reviews of the book:

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About the Author

MJ White author photo 2021

MJ White is the crime pen name of the internationally bestselling author Miranda Dickinson. To date she has sold over one million books worldwide and has been translated into sixteen languages. Miranda has always been a huge fan of crime fiction and The Secret Voices marks the start of a new and exciting departure for her writing.

Connect with M J White:

Twitter: @MJWhite13

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Blog Tour: The Rabbit Factor by Antti Tuomainen; Translated by David Hackston

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Today I am thrilled to be taking my turn on the blog tour for the paperback release of The Rabbit Factor by Antti Tuomainen. Thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part and to the publisher for providing me with a digital copy of the book for the purposes of review, although I had already purchased a physical copy. I have reviewed the book honestly and impartially.

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What makes life perfect? Insurance mathematician Henri Koskinen knows the answer because he calculates everything down to the very last decimal.

And then, for the first time, Henri is faced with the incalculable. After suddenly losing his job, Henri inherits an adventure park from his brother – its peculiar employees and troubling financial problems included. The worst of the financial issues appear to originate from big loans taken from criminal quarters … and some dangerous men are very keen to get their money back.

But what Henri really can’t compute is love. In the adventure park, Henri crosses paths with Laura, an artist with a chequered past, and a joie de vivre and erratic lifestyle that bewilders him. As the criminals go to extreme lengths to collect their debts and as Henri’s relationship with Laura deepens, he finds himself faced with situations and emotions that simply cannot be pinned down on his spreadsheets…

Sometimes you come across a book and everything about it makes your heart sing. I know my fellow bookworms recognise that feeling, know that it is rare but, when it does occur, it’s joyous. My friends, The Rabbit Factor is one of those books.

This is the story of Henri, a very uptight man who likes everything in his life to be ordered and logical. He is an actuary, and he makes all of his life decisions (and I do mean ALL of them) based on logic and probability and he doesn’t like anything which disrupts this system or seems to him not to make sense when viewed from this perspective. This is itself makes reading about his life a ludicrous business, and I’d give you some examples from the book which made me laugh out loud but I don’t want to include any spoilers in this review. I’ll just say that this is one of those books that makes people look at you oddly on a train if you decide to read it in public.

So, the premise of this book is a classic ‘fish-out-of-water’ story. What happens when this man is accosted by a set of circumstances that don’t make any sense, can’t be dealt with on a purely logical basis, involve people who made illogical decisions or don’t behave in a predictable way and force him to think things and feel things that he has never had to think or feel before. This is what confronts Henri when his wild, reckless and unpredictable brother dies and leaves Henri his adventure park, responsibility for its employees and all the difficulties that go with it.

Seeing uptight Henri the loner actuary in charge of a children’s adventure park would in itself be hilarious enough for a story. However, this is also a crime caper, because the adventure park is in financial difficulty and his brother seems to have been caught up in some dodgy dealings which Henri has also inherited. How do you logically calculate your way out of criminal enterprise involving people who use violence instead of reason? Read this book to find out. However, this implausible story is not the biggest delight at the heart of this novel, it is merely the ingenious skeleton on which the flesh of this fantastic novel hangs.

There are two things which makes this book a standout for me. The first is the writing. Antti Tuomainen has the most delicious way with language, a gift for finding the hilarious in the mundane and a wicked turn of phrase that is music to the visual ear (if that is even a thing… you know what I mean anyway!) As I said before, this book is funny, laugh out loud so in parts, but it is also clever. Beyond this, he also knows how to write tenderly when tenderness is required, with tension when that is appropriate and with insight and consideration when this is needed to bring the plot to life. This book, as well as making me laugh, also really touched me in places, with a beautiful exploration of human nature, what speaks to our hearts, how relationships can change us, and how even the most cut-off and stringent of souls can be reached and touched by the right people. This book contains so many facets that there is something here for everyone – comedy, crime, love – the layers open up throughout like an unfurling flower to reveal its full beauty by the end.

The second, and most important aspect that brings this book alive are the characters. Everyone is individual, well-developed and integral to the plot. Even the one that doesn’t appear until right at the end, because there is a reason for this that adds to it. You can tell that no one is there for any reason other than they are essential, and every one has been given the same care and consideration in their development. Henri, of course, is the star and I could read a book featuring him every day of the week. For someone so alien to most of us, he is relatable and completely lovable and I am so glad to hear that this is the start of a series in which he will feature. Henri aside, I love everyone else. Laura, Kristian, Johanna, the security guard – the way they all interact and play their part. Even Henri’s old boss who he has written off proves to have a use in Henri’s life after all, they are all brilliantly interconnected in his awakening to a future he never knew existed, or that he had craved. It’s beautifully done, heart-warming and uplifting. The reason this book made me so happy.

I have always been a fan of Antti’s books but this may have just overtaken Palm Beach Finland as my favourite. I’ll have to go back and read the latter for comparison, which won’t be a hardship. While I’m here, just a word on the translation. If the name of the translator were not on the cover, you would never know this was a translated text, it is that seamless. This is no mean achievement and deserves recognition.

If you want a real treat, treat yourself to this, I promise you will close the back cover with a smile on your face and a warm, Ready Brek glow around your heart.

The Rabbit Factor is out now in all formats and you can buy a copy here.

Please check out the rest of the fantastic blogs taking part in the tour for more great reviews:

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About the Author

Antti-Tuomainen

Finnish Antti Tuomainen was an award-winning copywriter when he made his literary debut in 2007 as a suspense author Iin 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. Palm Beach Finland was an immense success, with Marcel Berlins (The Times) calling Tuomainen ‘the funniest writer in Europe’. His latest thriller, Little Siberia, was shortlisted for the CWA International Dagger, the Amazon Publishing/Capital Crime Awards and the CrimeFest Last Laugh Award, and won the Petrona Award for Best Scandinavian Crime Novel of the Year.

Connect with Antti:

Website: http://anttituomainen.com

Facebook: Antti Tuomainen Official

Twitter: @antti_tuomainen

Instagram: @anttituomainen

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Blog Tour: The Club by Ellery Lloyd

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The Home Group is a collection of ultra-exclusive private members’ clubs and a global phenomenon, and the opening of its most ambitious project yet – Island Home, a forgotten island transformed into the height of luxury – is billed as the celebrity event of the decade.

There’s no place like Home…

But as the first guests arrive, it turns out that even the most beautiful people can keep the ugliest secrets – secrets some will die to keep and others will kill to expose.

I’m delighted to be opening the blog tour today for The Club by Ellery Lloyd. I’m very grateful to Becca Bryant at Pan Macmillan for inviting me to review the book and providing me with a copy for that purpose. I have reviewed the book honestly and impartially as always.

There have been lots of thrillers recently involving small groups of people stranded in remote locations falling foul of a murderer. You might think that The Club is just another in this group by reading the blurb, but it is actually something a little different, and well worth picking up, even if you think you have heard it all before.

Ned and his brother Adam run a group of exclusive private members’ clubs around the world, catering to the glitterati and indulging their most extreme excesses. The opening of their latest venture, a club on an abandoned island just off the South Coast, promises to be a glamorous weekend of indulgence for the creme de la creme of the entertainment world, and everything has to be perfect. However, under the surface of all this perfection, dangerous tensions are simmering, ugly secrets are about to be revealed – it’s going to be murder!

This book is a fun thriller that exposes all the dark heart and flaws of celebrity and the lifestyle that some of these people live. The way that some believe their power, fame and money will protect them, even as they indulge in activity that society finds abhorrent or is actually criminal. The lengths they will go to to protect their reputations and how this leaves them open to manipulation by unscrupulous characters masquerading as friends.

The book is told from the viewpoint of four different characters, interspersed with extracts from a Vanity Fair article detailing the events of that weekend in the aftermath. It is a very clever way of revealing the story and the truth of the events bit by bit, leaving you guessing what has actually happened right until the end. It’s very easy to follow who is telling the story at any given time and, as the story is told sequentially, it is not at all confusing. The tone is quite light and easy, not too dark, despite the bleakness  of the story and the whole thing is very entertaining. The press release blurb suggests the book will appeal to fans of The White Lotus and, as someone who loved this show, I think this is a most apt comparison. (If you haven’t watched this show from 2021 on Sky, I highly recommend it, it is excellent and darkly humorous.) I was completely caught up in the story and read it over the course of only 24 hours because it was so addictive.

A lot of the characters in this book are unpleasant, but deliberately so. There are some you are desperate to see get their comeuppance, others you will be rooting for, and you might be left wondering which celebrities these two wicked writers have taken as their inspiration! Having read this, I will definitely go back and read their first book, which I seem to have overlooked despite it being a Richard and Judy Book Club pick. The Club has been chosen by Reese Witherspoon for her book club, which is a good enough endorsement for me and may persuade you to pick this up, if my review doesn’t.

The Club will be published on 31 March and you can pre-order your copy here.

Please follow the rest of the tour for alternative reviews of the book:

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About the Author

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Ellery Lloyd is the pseudonym for London-based husband-and-wife writing team Collette Lyons and Paul Vlitos. Collette is a journalist and editor, and former features editor at Stylist, content director of Elle and editorial director at Soho House. She has written for the Guardian, the Telegraph, and the Sunday Times as well as two travel books. Paul is the author of Welcome to the Working Week and Every Day is Like Sunday. He is subject leader for English Literature, Film, and Creative Writing at the University of Surrey.

Connect with Ellery Lloyd:

Website: https://www.ellerylloyd.com

Facebook: Ellery Lloyd Author

Twitter: @ElleryLloyd

Instagram: @ellerylloyd_author

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Blog Tour: Faceless by Vanda Symon

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Worn down by a job he hates, and a stressful family life, middle-aged, middle-class Bradley picks up a teenage escort and commits an unspeakable crime. Now she’s tied up in his warehouse, and he doesn’t know what to do.

Max is homeless, eating from rubbish bins, sleeping rough and barely existing – known for cadging a cigarette from anyone passing, and occasionally even the footpath. Nobody really sees Max, but he has one friend, and she’s gone missing.

In order to find her, Max is going to have to call on some people from his past, and reopen wounds that have remained unhealed for a very long time

and the clock is ticking…

Vanda Symon has become one of my favourite authors over the last few years so I am delighted to be taking part in the blog tour today for her new release, Faceless. My thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me to take part in the tour and to the publisher for my digital copy of the book which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

Wah, where is Sam? That was my first thought when I heard that Vanda Symon’s latest novel didn’t feature the detective in whom I have become so invested. Was I going to enjoy one of Vanda’s book as much without Sam? No, Julie, I chided myself, keep an open mind and don’t go into the book loaded down with prejudices. I’m really glad I did because, despite the Sam-shaped hole, this is an excellent book.

Told in the voices of the four main protagonists, we get the story from every angle. An ordinary family man picks up a teenage prostitute on the streets of Auckland, an action completely out of character. What happens next takes this man further and further away from where he started. Unluckily for him, the girl is not the friendless, lost soul he assumes. She has someone looking out for her, and he has friends, and so a chain of events is set in motion that quickly spiral out of control.

Vanda has created a quartet of fascinating characters here to carry this story, every one of them complex, rich and believable. Billy, the girl, has a tragic story that gradually unfolds across the pages until we fully understand why she has ended up where she is. She is a victim, but refuses to surrender herself to that identity and the reader’s heart goes out to her from the beginning. It is only too easy to imagine any young girl finding herself similarly exposed by only a tiny slip of circumstance and, as a mother of girls, it is troubling and heartbreaking. Max is similarly sympathetic, once we understand what has lead him to the streets. The book is a thoughtful exploration of how one mistake, one bad decision, one untreated mental health catastrophe can quickly lead to the disintegration of someone’s life and them falling through the cracks.

Bradley is an entirely different proposition, He embodies the darkness that can lurk behind a benign facade. How a seemingly mild-mannered personality can hide suppressed proclivities that, once unleashed, cannot easily be put back in their box. The fact that he is so believable as a character makes for uncomfortable reading for women; it reminds us that it is all too easy to fall foul of a person who hides their demons behind a bland face, that we can never really know what lurks beneath the surface of a person.

This book is a hard tale to read, because it shines a light on a subset of society that it is too easy for the rest of us to forget. The souls who have dropped off the grid of normality that the rest of us inhabit and eke out an existence in the shadows that puts them at great risk. It is shameful that, in modern, wealthy nations, so many people are homeless and lost and prey to people who wish to exploit them. I admire Vanda for taking on this topic and dealing with it so tenderly and with great understanding. This is not a book I am comfortable saying that I enjoyed, but I was certainly gripped by it and left with the uneasy feeling that I am sure the author fully intended.

Faceless is out now in all formats and you can buy a copy here.

Please do visit some of my fellow bloggers to find out their views on the book:

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About the Author

Vanda-Symon

Vanda Symon is a crime writer, TV presenter and radio host from Dunedin, New Zealand, and the chair of the Otago Southland branch of the New Zealand Society of Authors. The Sam Shephard series, which includes Overkill, The Ringmaster, Containment and Bound, hit number one on the New Zealand bestseller list, and has also been shortlisted for the Ngaio Marsh Award. Overkill was shortlisted for the CWA John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger.

Connect with Vanda:

Website: http://vandasymon.com/index.php

Facebook: Vanda Simon

Twitter: @vandasymon

Instagram: @vandasymon

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Blog Tour: Murder at the Summer Fete by Victoria Walters

Murder at the Summer Fete

I am delighted to be taking part in the blog tour today for the second Dedley End Mystery by Victoria Walters, Murder at the Summer Fete. Huge thanks to Rachel Gilbey of Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part and to the publisher for my digital copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

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A fete worse than death…

After finding the killer of Lucy Roth six months ago, life has settled back to normal for bookshop owner, Nancy Hunter, and her grandmother, Jane. The annual Dedley End village fete is just around the corner, and Nancy is delighted when bestselling author, Thomas Green, agrees to launch his first new novel in ten years there.

But then a series of sinister events lead Nancy to realise someone is trying to sabotage their fete, so she, along with Jane and their journalist friend Jonathan, must turn detective to discover who isn’t at all thrilled about the return of Thomas Green.

When a body is discovered at the summer fete, the death scene mirroring that in Thomas’ latest bestseller, they realise that there’s another killer in Dedley End, but can they outsmart someone who appears to have pulled off the perfect crime?

The clues are right under Nancy and Jane’s noses, if only they can find them. Because the answers to life’s questions can always be found in a book…!

I absolutely adored the first book in the Dedley End series by Victoria Walters when I read it back in the autumn (you can find my review of Murder at the House on the Hill here) so I was really looking forward to returning to the Cotswolds for another dose of cosy crime-solving with the dynamic granny and granddaughter duo. I am happy to say that Victoria did not disappoint and I enjoyed this sequel every bit as much as the first one.

This time, Dedley End are preparing for their annual summer fete and, to publicise their crime-themed bookshop, Nancy and Jane have persuaded bestselling author, Thomas Green, to attend and launch his new novel. They are anxious for it all to go well, so the intervention of a determined saboteur who seems intent on disrupting proceedings is most unwelcome. Then things take a murderous turn and the inquisitive duo, along with journalist Jonathan, can’t resist getting involved again.

The book contains all the best ingredients of the ludicrous cosy crime plots that we fans love. Quaint, picturesque settings; bubbling feuds in insular villages; passion; deceit; secrets; meddling; potential adultery; family tensions; and extremely nosy villagers who are so intrigued by everyone else’s business, and so suspicious of outsiders, that it is impossible for anyone to get away with dastardly deeds unnoticed. If you love Midsomer Murders or Agatha Raisin, this book will be right up your street.

The plot is fast paced and full of intriguing twists and turns. There are plenty of clues scattered throughout the book to help the amateur sleuth amongst us solve the murder along with Nancy and her gran, whilst still making you unsure enough of what is happening to draw you quickly through the pages to the end. I have to say this time I did guess the murderer and the motive before the end, but this did not stymie my enjoyment of the book, I was just eager to finish it so I could check if I was right and then bask in a sense of satisfaction to have my suspicions confirmed.

Victoria’s prose is very easy to read, her characters are warm and likeable, her settings lively and vivid. This is the perfect book to read if you want to be intrigued and entertained but not stretched too much, and it will make you look forward to light summer evenings on the village green or in the garden with a G&T. Also another triumph of cover design, I have already bought the book in paperback to grace my library shelves. I highly recommend it and hope there are going to be many more in the series for me to enjoy.

Murder at the Summer Fete is out now in paperback and digital formats, and you can buy a copy here.

Make sure you check out the rest of the blogs taking part in the tour:

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About the Author

Victoria Walters author picture

Victoria Walters writes up-lifting and inspiring stories. She’s the author of the bestselling GLENDALE HALL series, which continues with its third book HOPEFUL HEARTS at GLENDALE HALL in September, as well as two other standalone novels – SUMMER at the KINDNESS CAFE, and THE SECOND LOVE of my LIFE. She has been chosen for WHSmith Fresh Talent and shortlisted for two RNA awards. Victoria was also picked as an Amazon Rising Star, and her books have won wide reader acclaim.

Victoria is a full-time author. She lives in Surrey with her cat Harry, and loves books, clothes, music, going out for tea and cake, and posting photos on Instagram.

Connect with Victoria:

Website: https://victoria-writes.com/

Facebook: Victoria Walters

Twitter: @Vicky_Walters

Instagram: @vickyjwalters

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Blog Tour: River Clyde by Simone Buchholz; Translated by Rachel Ward

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Mired in grief after tragic recent events, State prosecutor Chastity Riley escapes to Scotland, lured to the birthplace of her great-great- grandfather by a mysterious letter suggesting she has inherited a house. In Glasgow, she meets Tom, the ex-lover of Chastity’s great aunt, who holds the keys to her own family secrets – painful stories of unexpected cruelty and loss that she’s never dared to confront.

In Hamburg, Stepanovic and Calabretta investigate a major arson attack, while a group of property investors kicks off an explosion of violence that threatens everyone.

As events in these two countries collide, Chastity prepares to face the inevitable, battling the ghosts of her past and the lost souls that could be her future and, perhaps, finally finding redemption for them all. Nail-bitingly tense and breathtakingly emotive, River Clyde is both an electrifying thriller and a poignant, powerful story of damage and hope, and one woman’s fight for survival.

I am so thrilled to be taking part in the blog tour for the latest Chastity Riley novel by Simone Buchholz, River Clyde. My thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part in the tour and to the publisher, Orenda Books, for my digital copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

I always go into writing reviews of Simone Buchholz’s books with a sense of inadequacy and trepidation because I know, whatever words I put down on the page, they are going to be inadequate to describe what I just read. In the case of River Clyde, I am feeling this even more keenly than usual because this book is so unlike anything I’ve read before, so difficult to describe, so impossible to categorise.

It’s more of a surreal dreamscape than a classic crime novel, with the story wandering between the mean street of Hamburg, the mean streets of Glasgow, the blasted heath of Rannoch Moor and the interiors of the messed up minds of the main characters, all still trying to process the tragic events which occurred in Hotel Cartagena. This book brings the reader much closer to Chastity than we have ever been before, I left the book feeling like I had crawled into her skin and was watching things unfold from behind her eyes, and it was sometimes a bizarre place to be.

Anyone who has read any of the previous Chastity Riley novels will know that they are not your run of the mill crime novel, but Simone has taken the story telling to a completely different place in this book. The crime that the police in Hamburg are trying to solve is a mere footnote in the book, and afterthought, a distraction from the real meat of the story, which is the fallout that are all feeling personally after the horror that unfolded in the last book and the fact that Stepanovic treats the investigation as such is a clear indicator of what is important to all of these people now. Riley has gone a step further and removed herself from Hamburg and her old life altogether to travel to Scotland in search of family history. Both running away, and running towards, her story here is one of soul-searching. She is looking for a place in the world, now that everything she had in Hamburg seems to be gone.

Anyone looking for a straight forward crime investigation is looking in the wrong place and I think, if you aren’t familiar with the previous Chastity Riley books, this wouldn’t be the ideal place to start. Go back, at least one novel, and catch up on previous events. It will help make sense of what is going on here and be immensely rewarding in its own right. For those of you who have read the previous books, be prepared to be confronted by a completely different novel, and a different view of all of the characters you believe you’ve come to know. They are all finding surprising ways to process their grief, none more so than Chastity herself. All of her usual BS-free, no-nonsense acerbic personality is here, but we see more of her underbelly, more of her inner softness and vulnerability and it is enlightening. There is a blurring of reality and fantasy throughout, the reader, along with the character, finds it hard to tell what is true and what is imagination. There is confusion, pain, understanding, realisation and a letting go. It’s melancholy and life-affirming in equal parts, and I found the whole thing painful and very moving.

Simone Buchholz writing continues to be brutal, honest, startling, fearless and utter unique and her books leap out from the literary landscape in a way that demands they be given attention. Once you’ve read one, you’ll never forget her voice and you’ll be addicted to the rush immediately. A year is too long to wait between hits. I feel the need now to go back to the beginning and ride the whole rollercoaster from beginning to end, although I’m unsure if my nerves could take the force of the full blast in one sitting. I don’t know where she will go with this character next, that’s part of the appeal of the books, but I’m here for the hit.

River Clyde is out now as an ebook and will be published in paperback on 17 March and you can buy your copy here.

Please make sure you check out some of the other blogs taking part in the blog tour:

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About the Author

Simone-Buchholz

Simone Buchholz was born in Hanau in 1972. At university, she studied Philosophy and Literature, worked as a waitress and a columnist, and trained to be a journalist at the prestigious Henri-Nannen-School in Hamburg. In 2016, Simone Buchholz was awarded the Crime Cologne Award as well as runner-up in the German Crime Fiction Prize for Blue Night, which was number one on the KrimiZEIT Best of Crime List for months. The critically acclaimed Beton Rouge, Mexico Street and Hotel Cartagena all followed in the Chastity Riley series, with River Clyde out in 2022. She lives in Sankt Pauli, in the heart of Hamburg, with her husband and son.

Connect with Simone:

Website: https://simonebuchholz.com

Twitter: @ohneKlippo

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Book Review: The Village by Caroline Mitchell

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Ten years ago, the Harper family disappeared. Their deserted cottage was left with the water running, the television playing cartoons, the oven ready for baking. The doors were locked from the inside.

Overnight, the sleepy village of Nighbrook became notorious as the scene of the unsolved mystery of the decade, an epicentre for ghoulish media speculation.

For crime journalist Naomi, solving the case has turned into an obsession. So now, with Ivy Cottage finally listed for sale, it’s her chance to mount an investigation like no other. And her husband and stepdaughter don’t really need to know what happened in their new home… do they?

But Nighbrook isn’t quite the village she expected. No one wants to talk to her. No one will answer her questions. And as she becomes increasingly uneasy, it’s clear that the villagers are hiding something―that there is something very dark at the heart of this rural idyll. And the deeper she digs, the more it seems her investigation could be more dangerous than she ever imagined… In raking up the secrets of the past, has she made her own family the next target?

I am delighted to be sharing my review today of The Village by Caroline Mitchell. My thanks to Katrina Power for asking me to review the book and providing me with a copy for that purpose. I have reviewed the book honestly and impartially as always.

There is nothing more sinister than an abandoned, neglected, isolated house buried deep in the looming woods, is there? It’s a premise that has been quite popular in novels in recent years, and you might think the trope has been done to death, but don’t let that put you off picking up a copy of The Village by Caroline Mitchell, because this book takes the storyline to the next level of creepiness with a historic disappearance and a village full of unfriendly locals that will do anything to see the back of you. Think an adult version of Hansel and Gretel meets The Wicker Man. That is the level of creepiness we are talking about with this book.

Crime journalist, Naomi, has always been fascinated by the story of the Harper family and their unsolved disappearance a decade ago, so when the chance comes to buy the very cottage in the New Forest from which they disappeared, she can’t resist. Dragging along her hostile step-daughter, Morgan, who has secrets of her own, she moves her family there to see if she can solve the mystery, only to meet silence and hostility from the locals. What are they hiding?

This book starts off with tension between Naomi and Morgan, and it does nothing but ramp up and ramp up throughout the book until your nerves are twanging like a banjo string in the duelling scene in ‘Deliverance’ and you will be physically unable to put the book down until you find out what happened to the Harper family. You will find yourself sharing Naomi’s obsession with the disappearance, as well as her fear and distaste and conflicted emotions. This book is a masterclass in keeping the reader on the edge of their seat.

I must warn you, this book is dark. Very dark. It covers some disturbing issues that are going to make you uncomfortable as you read. The author plumbs the murky depths of human behaviour in this story, but stick with it to the end. There is hope. There is some light at the end of the tunnel. All is not darkness and despair is you keep trying. I got a lot more from this book than I was expected when I started it, and it has haunted me more than I anticipated now that it is finished. Affecting and surprising, it has made me want to pick up further books by this author, and I can highly recommend it.

The Village is out now in all formats and you can buy a copy here.

About the Author

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A New York Times, USA Today and Amazon No.1 bestselling author, Caroline originates from Ireland and now lives with her family on the coast of Essex. A former police detective, Caroline writes full time, with over 1.3 million books sold worldwide.

As well as her crime series, Caroline also writes stand-alone psychological thrillers. Her books have won first place as best psychological thriller in the US Reader’s Favourite Awards, been shortlisted for the International Thriller Awards in New York and been shortlisted for ‘Best Procedural’ in the Killer Nashville awards. Her crime thriller, Truth And Lies is a No.1 New York Times best seller and has been optioned for TV. 

Connect with Caroline:

Website: https://caroline-writes.com

Facebook: Caroline Mitchell Author

Twitter: @Caroline_writes

Instagram: @caroline_writes

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Blog Tour: Bitter Flowers by Gunnar Staalesen; Translated by Don Bartlett

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I’m delighted to be taking part in my first blog tour of the year for the new book in the Varg Veum series by Gunnar Staalesen, Bitter Flowers. My thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for offering me a place on the tour and to the publisher for my digital copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially as always.

Bitter Flowers proof cover

PI Varg Veum has returned to duty following a stint in rehab, but his new composure and resolution are soon threatened when three complex crimes land on his desk.

A man is found dead in an elite swimming pool. A young woman has gone missing. Most chillingly, Veum is asked to investigate the ‘Camilla Case’: an eight-year-old cold case involving the disappearance of a little girl, who was never found.

As the threads of these three apparently unrelated cases come together, against the backdrop of a series of shocking environmental crimes, Veum faces the most challenging, traumatic investigation of his career.

What a fabulous way to start off the blogging year. This is my first Varg Veum novel, but it definitely won’t be the last one I read, as I was completely sucked in to his world.

Coming in to the series completely cold, it took me a little while to sort out what Varg’s situation was and who he was as a character, but that just made me more intrigued by the book. We are dropped straight into the action as there is the discovery of a corpse and a disappearance in the first couple of pages, and we are introduced to Varg’s fractious relationship with the local police in Bergen. In the best traditions of hard-boiled PIs, Varg can’t resist getting involved in situations that should really be left to the police and inveigles his way into the heart of the investigation, managing to get information that the police struggle to access, because he doesn’t have to do things by the book.

There were three particular aspects of this novel that particularly made this book stand out from a run-of-the-mill PI novel. The first was the intricacy and complexity of the plot. Taking the very topical issue of climate change and ecological protest as one of its central plot points, Gunnar weaves together two different crimes to make a story of such devious twistedness that I truly had no idea what was behind the crimes or who was the perpetrator at any point and I would never have got to the conclusion by myself in a million years. The author clearly has a mind like a fiendish labyrinth and how he managed to keep it all straight as he was writing is a skill I would like to learn. I think I need to go back and try and find all the clues I missed the first time now I know how it unravels.

The second aspect I loved was the writing. For a dark crime novel, the writing is utterly poetic. I’m not sure I’ve ever read a book in this genre where the author manages to wax so lyrical about landscape, people and feelings and have it sit so naturally beside the darker aspects of the plot. It was a real pleasure to read, and made the book stand out for me as a literary cut above the herd.

Finally, and probably most appealing to me, was the beautiful evocation and exploration of the landscape of Norway. The book really brings it to life and it is fascinating to me as a country that is so vastly different to our own. A place of vast wilderness, where travel by ferry is as natural as taking a bus or train. Where being surrounded by nature is the norm and the populace really appreciate and revel in the natural landscape that surrounds them. It is a place that fascinates me and which features at the top of my bucket list, and I thoroughly enjoyed losing myself in the sense of place which this book evoked. A book that was transportative in so many different ways.

This book has set a high standard for the coming year and I highly recommend it to fans of Nordic Noir, who are looking for a novel that represents the pinnacle of the genre.

Bitter Flowers will be published on 21 January and you can pre-order your copy from all good bookshops or online here.

Please do check out the rest of the tour as detailed below:

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About the Author

Granite Noir Fest 2017
Granite Noir fest 2017. Gunnar Staalesen.

One of the fathers of Nordic Noir, Gunnar Staalesen was born in Bergen, Norway, in 1947. He made his debut at the age of twenty-two with Seasons of Innocence and in 1977 he published the first book in the Varg Veum series. He is the author of over twenty titles, which have been published in twenty-four countries and sold over four million copies. Twelve film adaptations of his Varg Veum crime novels have appeared since 2007, starring the popular Norwegian actor Trond Espen Seim. Staalesen has won three Golden Pistols (including the Prize of Honour); Where Roses Never Die won the 2017 Petrona Award for Nordic Crime Fiction, and Big Sister was shortlisted in 2019. He lives with his wife in Bergen.

About the Translator

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Don Bartlett lives with his family in a village in Norfolk. He completed an MA in Literary Translation at the University of East Anglia in 2000 and has since worked with a wide variety of Danish and Norwegian authors, including Jo Nesbø and Karl Ove Knausgaard. He has previously translated The Consort of DeathCold HeartWe Shall Inherit the WindWhere Roses Never Die and Wolves in the Dark in the Varg Veum series.

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